Jeff Taylor

HeForShe: Jeff Taylor | Chief Strategy and Growth Officer, Pega

Jeff Taylor

As Chief Strategy and Growth Officer, Jeff Taylor is responsible for ensuring that Pega has a clear corporate and growth strategy, market validated solutions, the right industry expertise and content, an aligned and effective go-to-market strategy, world-class sales operations and enablement, and the capabilities to bring the message of Pega through pragmatic buyer enablement and client engagement out to individual organizations.

Jeff brings more than 20 years of experience in strategy, building businesses and innovating in go-to-market and sales approaches. He has deep experience in business planning and management, strategy development, and operational excellence, as well as a proven track record of achieving results in gaining market share and sustaining revenue growth.

Prior to Pega, Jeff worked at Bain & Company, where he helped define strategies and execute company-wide and go-to-market transformations for clients in the technology, media, and telecommunications industries. Prior to Bain & Company, Jeff held senior strategy and operational roles at leading technology companies, including VMware and EMC. In these roles, he led transitions to new business models that drove company growth.

Jeff holds an undergraduate degree from Georgetown University with concentrations in Economics and Theology and received a Master’s in Business Administration in Strategy and Finance from the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business.

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

Personally, I grew up outside of St. Louis, Missouri. I hold an undergraduate degree from Georgetown University with concentrations in economics and theology and received a Master’s in Business Administration in strategy and finance from the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business. I volunteer as a board member for Boys Hope Girls Hope. I have been married for over 20 years and have three children. At the core, I am a husband, father, and friend - work comes second to this.

Professionally, I bring more than 20 years of experience in strategy, business building, and innovation in go-to-market and sales approaches. I have deep experience in business planning and management, strategy development, and operational excellence, as well as a proven track record of achieving results in gaining market share and sustaining revenue growth. As Chief Strategy and Growth Officer at Pega, my responsibilities include defining Pega’s corporate and growth strategy, managing Pega’s three main business areas, supporting teams to develop the account strategies for our most important clients, running key GTM operational functions, delivering key sales enablement, programs, and events, and ensuring Pega has the capabilities to bring the message of Pega through pragmatic buyer enablement and client engagement out to individual organizations. I am also honored to be the executive sponsor of our [email protected] Employee Resource Group (ERG), which is the largest Employee Resource Group at Pega.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

Not exactly – I think about life in terms of five-year waypoints centered around specific experiential and learning objectives.

My first waypoint was after graduating from college when I decided to dig in to better understand finance. To do this, I spent 5 years working at a bank and a private equity fund. During this time, I realized I needed a broader understanding of business, so I went back to school to learn more about strategy, marketing, and operations. Even with an MBA, there were still things I was eager to learn. Management consulting at Bain seemed to offer that level of breadth and depth of business expertise development. At Bain, I learned a ton, including how to define and develop a strategy for a company, as well as how to set up a go-to-market (GTM) org, including roles, responsibilities, and compensation. Next, wanting to put that knowledge into practice, I took on an operations and GM roles at EMC/VMware. After spending over five years as an operator, it was time for me to re-sharpen my skills, so I took an opportunity to rejoin Bain. After a few more years of consulting, I realized leading operations in software companies is my real passion.  I joined Pega where I currently have the privilege of leading our Strategy and Growth organization.

Have you faced any challenges along the way?

Yes, there have been challenges, two in particular. One is managing different personalities and types of people. Understanding what motivates people, gets them excited, and drives a sense of belonging and inclusion was and still is can be challenge for me as this varies greatly from person to person. This is especially important when driving through big change efforts. Those efforts tend to put folks under stress. Over the years, I have gained some wisdom in how to engage differently based on the situation and the personalities involved. But, it takes constant care and attention.

Similarly, transitioning from an investment culture to a corporate culture presented challenges in terms of managing timeliness and culture. During my time in investment banking, for example, getting deals done required intense urgency and folks were very hard-nosed and aggressive. During my time in corporate environments, where folks are managing ongoing businesses and refining existing operating models, the pace is naturally slower and the intensity is less. Learning how to take the good stuff (urgency and drive) and apply it in that new environment took some time to figure out.

What has been your biggest achievement to date?

At EMC, we were challenged with solving the innovator’s dilemma, a theory written by Clayton Christensen that demonstrates how incumbent companies can do everything “right” and still lose their market leadership as new competitors enter the market. We successfully deployed a new business model and were able to make a fledgling technology successful without being crushed by existing large storage box business needs. Before this program, we were selling storage into a high-end market (i.e., large data centers) and after the deployment, we were able to move into the mid-market selling smaller storage devices outside data centers. We were able to accomplish this by taking resources from the core business and redeploying them to the new business model. We significantly changed or introduced 14 business functions to make this new model work. It was an inspiring team effort!

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

Curiosity – I am very interested in understanding how and why things work the way they do, including people. Following up this big degree of curiosity with investigation, research, and action has been a major factor for me in achieving success.

How do you feel about mentoring? Have you mentored anyone or are you someone’s mentee?

Mentoring is absolutely critical. I believe it is important for an individual to learn from people who have gone before them and achieved the career progression the mentee hopes to attain. Mentors can teach from their own experience and this guidance is invaluable as it provides real-world examples. I will say to folks, for example, that “I have lived through the next 20 years of the career you are about to embark on” (if I have 20 years more tenure than they do). It’s good for each of us to learn from experiences like that.

Additionally, a big portion of my belief is that sometimes individuals in newer jobs don’t believe in themselves enough and a mentor can help give them the confidence so that they can fly on their own.

At Pega, I mentored a leader who at that point in her career. I was able to support her and help build up her confidence as she became a trusted leader across the organization. One example of how I did this is by taking the seat at the head of the table and when this individual came in, I would give her the seat to signal to the rest of the team that my full support was behind her and they should support her as well. With encouragement and confidence building, this leader has grown into an extremely well-respected thought leader at Pega.

What can businesses/governments/allies do to help diversity and inclusion?

Businesses, governments, and allies need to recognize diversity and inclusion are necessary to create a fair playing field. It is important to not only over-invest in hiring, but also to invest time in, attention to, and care for these professionals so they are able to contribute their unique perspective to the organization.

If we just hire for diversity or inclusion but don’t cultivate these professionals and help them become successful, then we are not truly supporting diversity and inclusion.

Why do you think it’s important for men to support gender equality in the workplace?

It is important for me to support gender equality because I am in a position of influence and leadership, which enables me to help create an even playing field and to make the workplace increasingly fairer. As executive sponsor of [email protected], I try my best to encourage other men in the workplace to join and become allies and help ensure we are partnering to make this change together.

To create true equality, diversity, and inclusion we need to use our influence and power base to make this change, and we need to model the behavior so that up-and-coming leaders recognize this is the cultural norm.

If you could give one piece of advice to your younger self, what would it be?

The slow way is the fast way.

I have recently gotten into meditation and have learned that it is helpful to take a breath, pause, and go more slowly through life (more times than we think) and spend more time making thoughtful decisions. This enables you to better understand people and be more effective – it is also more enjoyable.

What is your next challenge and what are you hoping to achieve in the future?

Professionally, my next challenge is to help Pega achieve its true potential. Part of this includes cracking the code on how we bring the message of Pega through pragmatic buyer enablement and client engagement to large, complex organizations. We want to help them understand what we do and further convince our clients that we drive real, credible transformations that will help their companies and themselves thrive and have interesting and awesome careers as they adopt new technology that helps them achieve their missions

Personally, I would like to continue to grow and learn – this is something I do every day. For example, with the recent expansion of my role to include the marketing organization, I am looking to learn more about certain aspects of marketing so that I can be a good thought partner and leader with the extremely capable professionals on our team.

 

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