Ruth Fornell is a results-oriented leader who thrives on building innovative and high-performance teams to deliver profitable growth. Her superpower is the ability to get to the heart of issues and a talent for building a winning culture.

Tell us a bit about yourself, background and your current role?

As the Chief Operations Officer for Sovos, I lead all customer facing teams spanning sales, account management, alliances, customer success, professional services, managed services and customer support. I have the pleasure of working with employees across 17 different countries which is a non-stop learning experience for which I am grateful. I am passionate about this role because all of these functions are customer facing and our success directly impacts the future of our business.

Prior to Sovos, my career was largely focused on financial services, leading teams across various functions including sales, marketing, product, and services at ACI worldwide and NCR Corporation. All of my past experiences prepared me for my current role as Chief Operations Officer at Sovos.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

I didn’t actually plan my career in great detail. I have always been focused on learning and finding ways to do my current job better. I am naturally curious about business, customer relationships and processes. I always asked questions and was interested in continuous improvement. My work ethic coupled with my quest for additional knowledge and driving better outcomes caused others to notice me and I was rewarded with new opportunities. I treated each new assignment as a challenge, and I loved figuring out the best path forward. This approach has worked well for me and has given me the opportunity to work across many different job functions while learning all aspects of business.

Have you faced any career challenges along the way and how did you overcome these?

Absolutely, every position has brought new challenges and problems to solve. I always approached significant challenges by building qualified and effective teams. I believe in hiring the best person for the job and I have always done that regardless of the package that person came in. Diversity was intuitive for me long before it was a buzzword for corporations. Hiring talented people and watching them work their magic is extremely rewarding and I have never been intimidated to hire people who were experts in their field. I wish everyone were open to diversity and inclusion – I genuinely believe businesses would reap better results. Building strong teams and surrounding myself with individuals who can do their job better than me has been a cornerstone of my management approach. When you hire the best talent, you have time to focus on shaping the business for the future.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

Being successful in multiple countries and working across multiple cultures has been one of the achievements I’m most proud of. I feel fortunate to have had the opportunities to live and work internationally for the majority of my career. Further, most of the assignments I’ve taken were roles that were new to me and involved various nuisances that presented both challenges and learning opportunities – figuring out how to be successful has been a fantastic journey for me.

What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in your achieving success?

As I mentioned previously, building strong teams that are diverse and talented has been a backbone of my success to date coupled with a natural curiosity and desire to always be learning something new.

What top tips would you give to an individual who is trying to excel in their career in technology?

Focus on excelling in your current role – strategically moving the business forward while delivering on current year commitments. Others will take notice and doors will open… and you’ll have success stories to share.

Do you believe there are still barriers for success for women working in tech, if so, how can these barriers be overcome?

Women are still a minority in the tech space and so it’s important to have mentors – both men and women. In addition to mentors, sponsors who will speak for you in rooms where you aren’t present can have a notable impact. Being smart and hardworking isn’t always enough, you need alliances and support systems.

What do you think companies can do to support and progress the careers of women working in technology?

Companies can support women by providing visibility and networking opportunities. Initiatives such as the Women’s Alliance give women the chance to network with other women, develop important relationships and build alliances that can last throughout their career. In tech companies, exposure matters, development matters, and when companies put real support behind these initiatives, women are successful in tech roles.

In an ideal world, what would you do to accelerate the pace of change for women in the industry?

Have grade schools encourage girls to participate in STEM classes and make it exciting for them to learn. By the time a lot of girls enter high school they have been led to believe that they aren’t good at courses that are foundational for careers in tech. If we develop a passion in girls at an early age, they will embrace STEM majors in college and look forward to successful technology careers.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech?

There are several resources on LinkedIn. It’s a terrific way for women to broaden their perspectives in the tech area, leadership and overall business. I would also encourage them to be proactive and reach out to potential mentors. You would be surprised just how many people out there are willing to lend a helping hand.