It’s not too often we hear about or see women in technology leadership roles. In a world where women now make up the majority of the workforce, this ‘women in technology’ (or lack-there-of) stigma needs to change.
Discover how Gayle DeRose, L-Tron’s COO, Marketing Director, and Co-Owner, grew into a leadership role in our company and how she chose the path of technology.
Here’s our interview with her:
What are your ties to L-Tron’s beginnings and what are your earliest memories about the Company?
L-Tron was originally my dad’s company, so L-Tron has always been a part of my life in some way, shape or form. I remember my dad talking about barcodes in the early 70’s, saying how barcodes were the future. He drew a picture of a barcode on a piece of paper when I was 9 years old and told me that the lines were pieces of information and that all products would have a barcode in the future. This was the very beginning of L-Tron’s formation – and something I never forgot.
My dad started very small, with his first office in the basement. I recall my mom taking phone calls when he was out on the road and shushing my brother and I as we ran around playing in the background. Technology was always part of our lives. My father would be the first to have everything new, and as a result there was a lot of technology equipment in our house. This was normal to me and as I think back pretty amazing!
My first job with L-Tron my dad hired me to file faxes for him at a rate of 25 cents per hour. I decided I was underpaid and quit. I could make more money babysitting! When I “officially” began working here 25 years ago, I started from the ground up. I began my career here as an order processor- customer service rep and worked my way up to where I am now. There is nothing I won’t do.
How does it feel to be part of the “C-Suite”? Describe your typical day, as well as your leadership strategy.
I love being part of the strategy. My position as a leader provides me with the opportunity to have input on the strategy for the growth and success of our Company. There is no such thing as a “typical” day. My favorite part of the job is that it’s ever-changing, fast-paced, and agile, but my goal remains the same – to deliver quality service and delivery results for our clients at every opportunity, no matter what challenges come along. Challenges are opportunities to shine! I love overseeing the day-to-day operations and working with our teams to deliver quality to our clients. I set clear expectations and model to them every day.
I am a collaborator. Everyone on our teams gets a voice, not just to be “heard” but to be “listened to” and then we implement our team’s great ideas always keeping in mind the end goal of improved service and delivery. We actually have our own term here for “everyone gets a voice,” known as “intellectual sparring” – we spar every single day, it’s fun and creative ideas are generated and also implemented!
As the head of operations, we have a 100% quality standard goal that requires a total team effort across every department. We have good procedures in place that enable a quality result, but the key is having team members that honor the process. They have to buy into it and become passionate about delivering quality themselves. We are fortunate to have such a team, making my job easy. The fact that I can positively influence the team through training, teaching, and coaching is one of the very best parts of my role.
What is it like working alongside your husband, L-Tron’s CEO? What challenges have you faced? The Company has grown by 2000% since you both became involved, so it’s clear something is working.
It’s fun working together because we share the same goals. We trust each other 100% so there are no politics, no games. I get to be extremely direct, open and honest because RAD knows and trusts that my only objective is what’s best for our company. No, we don’t agree on everything, but we get it out on the table. The beauty is that there are no hidden agendas – what you see is what you get! Each of us brings different strengths and leadership styles – which provides good balance and great results. The challenge is not bringing the business home with us every night.
How do you keep yourself current on industry trends? How have you helped the Company grow?
I’m always learning any way I can. I am forever a “techie” at heart. I like to stay in front of the trends by maintaining interest and curiosity, and then implementing what I’ve learned at the right time. My goal is always to improve!
When I inherited the role of being head of the Marketing department, I must say it was intimidating at first – but what an opportunity! Marketing is a major strategy for the growth of the Company and my competitive spirit is always determined to succeed. How have I gotten there? I learned, I failed, and I learned some more. We’ve hired the best, learned from the best, and I can say with confidence that our team is a team of experts. The LTC “M-Team” is a critical piece of the growth strategy for our Company. Operations is my love but the truth is marketing is my passion.
What are your interests outside of work? How do you balance work and home life?
Outside of work, my life is centered on my family. I also love to read, garden and watch tacky reality TV shows with a glass of really good wine.
It can be challenging to find a balance because I am passionate about everything I do. When my children were growing up there was never any question. Raising my children was the most important and most rewarding experience of my life. When they were young, my responsibilities at the Company were not as demanding and I was able to make it all work. As my children grew up, my work roles and responsibilities also grew. The timing was perfect.
As the mother of three grown children, one with a Master’s degree, one with a PhD, and one with a Law degree, it is clear that you value education. What advice do you have for today’s mothers in raising successful children?
My advice is that there is no more important job than raising children. As a mom, I was visible and involved in anything that interested my kids. In our family, education was the number one priority. We wanted our children to gain as much education as they needed/wanted to. Our goal was to set the expectation that getting an education was our children’s number one “job” and then provide them with the guidance, support, and life experiences to help them reach their full potential. The rest was up to them.
In my life, the achievement that I am most proud of is raising three kids that are each contributing positively to the world. All three are “square pegs,” which I love – they are game changers! Now, they are having children themselves and I see the great parents my children are. I know that I have grandchildren who will be game changers, too!
What has been your most vulnerable moment as you’ve climbed the ladder to success?
Moving into the role of COO and Marketing Director as the wife of a CEO, I had to demonstrate that what I had to bring to the table was valuable. It made me work a lot harder to prove that I was here to deliver results and contribute to the growth of our company. It took 4 or 5 years to prove myself to the company as a whole. I am also extremely transparent, maybe too transparent at times, but I can’t be any other way and I think that in itself makes me vulnerable.
How do you feel about females pursuing STEM education and leadership roles? How can the technology industry work to close the gender gap?
My aunt was the valedictorian of her class, a scientist, and a true inspiration. She was a trail blazer, using her computer and technology as a lifelong learner her entire 99 years of life. I think it’s extremely important that more women are involved in the math, science, and engineering fields. We think a little bit differently and it’s always good to bring a different perspective and new ideas to the table. It’s important to find your passion and then own it!
As for closing the gender gap, the industry itself won’t do it – but we can rise to the challenge and do it ourselves. My mother was my number one role model and helped shape me into the woman I am today. I taught my daughter very early on to be curious and to question – find her voice; use her words, to have the confidence to express herself, encouraging her to always be forthright and open. I wanted her (and my boys) to find her passion, live her passion and to trust her instincts, using her problem solving skills to make decisions that are best for her. Now that she is grown, I look up to my daughter and learn from her all the time!
I think it’s important to consciously instill confidence in our daughters, granddaughters, nieces, and other females in our sphere of influence, letting them know that they can do or become anything they choose. Our girls should be taught to use their voices, be curious, ask questions, stand strong, be heard, and don’t back down. I’ve gained more confidence as I’ve “grown up,” and now I understand that it’s a good thing to be assertive and to stand strong.
How did you become interested in technology? What technology roles do you see women holding in the future? Share your thoughts with us on Twitter, @LTronCorp.
Do you have any questions for Gayle?