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Precisely Women in Technology: Meet Jean

Authors Photo Precisely Editor | February 10, 2021

At Precisely, recognizing individuality is a key value of our organization. This week, we’re introducing you to Jean Sullivan, VP of Insurance Sales. Based in Portsmouth, NH, Jean has spent over 25 years in technology and is a member of our Precisely Women in Technology program.

How did you get into the technology field?

My father was a Certified Public Accountant with his own small accounting business. I was an inquisitive daughter who liked to compete, so I would ask him a lot of questions about his business, his clients, and why some were more successful than others. He shared with me that many of his successful personal clients were in sales. Based on our many conversations, I pursued a career in software sales, which at the time was in its infancy.

My first software sales position was selling MultiMate (a predecessor to Microsoft Word — and yes, there really was one!), and Lotus 123 (a predecessor to Excel) to businesses. I met Mitch Kapor the founder of Lotus Corporation located in Cambridge, Mass. (Lotus was eventually sold to IBM), and Mitch was instrumental in the design of Lotus 123, which replaced VisiCalc as the next generation spreadsheet.

During this time, Microsoft was a start-up and they gained traction when IBM asked them to build an operating system for their first personal computer. I eventually migrated to selling the Microsoft products and never looked back. I was always intrigued about how businesses can leverage technology and I wanted a new challenge, so I pursued selling mainframe business application software. Landing that position forced me to meet and work with the business folks within the largest financial services, insurance, and healthcare companies in North America, and I loved it. It was that position that secured my passion for the industry, and I never looked back. My career has come full circle from selling personal computer software to mainframe software, to distributed platform software to data, and now SAAS and Big Data offerings.

Who has had the greatest impact on your career?

My customers can be credited for having the greatest impact on my career. Over the years I was able to learn about their business and their strategic initiatives: improve profitability, increase revenue, reduce costs, and improve internal processes. The use of software technology was instrumental in all components of the business and how to achieve those goals. As I helped them achieve their initiatives with the use of software, data, and professional services, they were rewarded internally with awards, promotions, bonuses, and more strategic projects. I in turn was awarded by exceeding my quota. It’s always been a win-win scenario for all! Over the years it has be exciting to observe how technology and use of data has become more sophisticated with AI, Machine Learning, Digital transformation, and Predictive Analytics, but the underlying needs to improve business results with technology, and now data, has remained unchanged over the years.

What do you love most about technology?

What I love most about technology is the evolution and fast pace of technology that impacts people’s personal lives and businesses in ways we could not have imagined. It has impacted me personally throughout my career. For example, in the early part of my career, the end of the month or quarter had to be at least a day or two before since my customers had to sign a paper legal document, and overnight it to me for bookings. No last-minute, electronically signed documents emailed before midnight.

Similarly, I sold in NYC for years, and the World Trade Center (WTC) had phone banks on the wall, which became my local office. I would have to make customer calls from a pay phone bolted to the wall in a hotel lobby in the WTC, then I would have to ask for directions to the customer’s office, write them down on a sticky note, ask questions about who was in the meeting and their backgrounds, and then find my way to my next appointment. No smartphone to text, call, or email. No GPS and no access to LinkedIn! I’m not sure how we all survived, but ignorance is bliss!

Most recently I have been impressed with how so many of my customers transitioned from working in very large central headquarters to now having hundreds of thousands of the employees working remotely – and all within such a short transition window of a few days. Beyond just the transition, it’s been incredible to see how effective Teams and Webex meetings have become. These virtual meetings do not replace the necessity for face-to-face meetings, but they have allowed us to find new opportunities, progress current opportunities, and handle customer concerns.

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How have you managed to create work/life balance throughout your career?

Balance is the key to a long and successful career in technology sales! Taking much deserved time off is a must if one wants to operate at peak performance. Family, friends, and hobbies are critical to energy, purpose, and to maintaining that balance. I am a runner, and when not traveling, I hit the pavement most mornings, sometimes solo or with girlfriends even in single-digit temperatures. Running is known to stimulate the thinking part of the brain, and it offers me time to think through issues at work or socialize with friends. No matter what happens that day, if I run, I know I have done something positive for myself!

What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?

Careers are not ladders, they are jungle gyms!

What are your hopes for other women in the technology field?

My hopes for women in technology is that their voices are heard, their ideas are implemented, and most importantly, they have the same opportunities to compete for upward mobility.

I look to my colleagues and leaders in Precisely – women working as strategists, analysts, data scientists, developers, and many more. They are a source of inspiration and hope that makes me believe that the future of women in technology is very strong!

Learn more about us on our Careers and Culture page.