Diva Tech Talk interviewed multifaceted, tenacious Janette Phillips. In her childhood, Janette was “studious” and “took all the science classes I could,” including Accelerated Chemistry, Physics and Science Seminar (an independent science-oriented curriculum) in high school. Her intellectual interests took a turn in college, when she matriculated to the business school at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (https://www.umich.edu/). Post-college, Janette felt lucky to land a job at Michigan Bell Telephone, which later morphed into Ameritech and then to AT&T (https://www.att.com/). “I was hired as a market administrator,” she said, “which is the implementation portion of networks, and phone systems.” Janette was convinced that Michigan Bell had put her in the wrong role. On the first day of training, she thought: “I am in the wrong room. I should be over there with the account executives.” But she said. “It took me about three years to switch to sales. I had to prove to them that I was good. Within two weeks of entering my training class, I sold a phone system to an advertising company on the 10th floor of where we were!” This underpinned Janette’s belief in herself, and her ability to successfully sell. “If you want to get somewhere, even if you are not officially ‘trained’ in it, just go!” After three years as a market administrator, Janette moved into Ameritech sales for 14 years. “At the peak of my sales role, I handled the General Motors (www.gm.com) account,” responsible for the telephony segment of their large computerization efforts. “They had 200,000 voice ports, across the country.” Daily, Janette managed a team that concentrated on the $25 million, annually, in recurring revenue that GM represented to Ameritech. “It was very complicated,” she said, acknowledging that her biggest sale to GM had a 2-year sales cycle. To accomplish that, Janette worked with EDS and Deloitte (www.deloitte.com) who “helped us do the financial modeling” for a new 7-year, fixed rate, $270 million-dollar GM contract. Janette was proud that “it was the largest single sale Ameritech had ever made. It was a team, but at the beginning, it was me; nobody believed in it.” Her lesson from this was: “It doesn’t matter what level you are in a company; how low you are on a totem pole. You can accomplish a lot!” And her second lesson was to consistently deliver. “Over at EDS, they could see, that if I said something would happen, I could get it done. My word was my word.” Finally, for sales professionals, Janette’s advice is “to be a good salesperson, you have to know how to execute.” After the GM sale, Janette was promoted to direct the Managed Services Department for Ameritech, regionally. “We did a big deal with IBM (www.ibm.com), which was huge.” Then Janette became pregnant with her first daughter. “And this job was really grueling. I was traveling to Chicago every week. I chose to walk away.” Janette had two daughters in a 2-year timeframe. But, “When Michelle (her daughter) was about 1.5 years old, I went to work for Nortel (www.nortel.com).” She took on a Nortel support role, working on automotive accounts including Chrysler (www.fca.com), General Motors, and Ford Motor Company (www.ford.com). “I did that for about a year, but my heart wasn’t in it, because I had young children.” Janette acknowledged that, for her, “it’s difficult to juggle young children, with a big job.” Children, like “big jobs” are “24 x 7, too!” Additionally, she saw that “Nortel started slipping down a slippery slope.” So, she took a Nortel buy-out. Janette and her husband then created a regional pulmonary rehabilitation clinic business. For 5 years, she actively built and managed Valley Hill Therapy Centers, a two-clinic business, employing 20-plus people. “We were very good at what we did,” she said. But “there wasn’t enough margin in it. We were very successful, but not profitable.” With her data background, as Janette was building the business, “we created our own ERP (enterprise resource planning) system. It handled patient care, employee records, charting, electronic medical records. I sold the business to Botsford Hospital, now part of the Beaumont (www.beaumont.com) and they still use my system for medical records.” Janette then became Executive Director for The Michigan Council of Women in Technology Foundation (www.mcwt.com), a Michigan nonprofit whose mission is to make Michigan the #1 state for women, and girls, in technology. After doing that for 3 years, Janette moved to her current role: Vice President of Business Development, for Chrysalis Global Business Consulting (www.chrysalisglobal.com) --- a certified Woman-Owned Business (WBE), Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) and a Small Business Enterprise (SBE), headquartered in Indianapolis, Indiana. “I find clients who need help. We take them by the arm, and walk them through the process” of adopting ERP, and “we stay on the project side, and advocating…” for her clients. In addition, Chrysalis does a lot of things: “business process optimization and everything around ‘how does your business run’ and how can we help you make it more efficient, and automated.” Janette was hired to assist Chrysalis in diversification into vertical markets beyond airlines and airports. “My role is to find business in Detroit. So, we have clients in automotive, and healthcare.” The size of the Chrysalis prospective client varies; “whoever needs our support,” according to Janette is a prospect. While Janette experienced some issues, as a woman at Ameritech, the challenges did not set her back in her career. “I just didn’t care. I wanted to do what’s right for the client, for my own company, for friends, for organizations. The rub is that people don’t give you enough credit for what you know or what you can accomplish. I think it’s a more natural assumption for women. But, I focus on the work.” An acknowledged “workaholic”, Janette’s driving force is “making a difference in an organization, whether that’s informal or formal.” A life lesson for her is “you have to stay true to yourself, and do what you like. Recognize who you are; figure out where you want to get to; get out of your own head, and go! Just go.” In her community life, Janette gave back and continues to give back by participation, as her girls were growing up, in school PTO, and the Rotary Club; and now as a member of the Tech Committee for Southeast Michigan’s Automation Alley (www.automationalley.org), and the newly-minted NEW Tech Group which Janette hopes will serve DPS (the Detroit Public School System) “to help them with technology, mentoring and as the liaison to outside organizations” and also strengthen “the soft skills: things like public speaking.” She is also involved with Detroit’s Mercy Education pilot program assisting women who have obtained their GED to get to the next level. Janette’s advice for girls and women in the tech field is: “You need to enjoy what you do. And make sure that whatever you are doing gives you energy. Pay attention and think. And work first, play second.” Janette Phillips can be reached at [email protected]
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