Today we are talking to Mary Beth, the CTO of Blackbaud. And we discuss gaining respect as a new leader, managing quality by hiring A players, and why you should never shop hungry for engineers
All of this, right here, right now, on the Modern CTO Podcast
Mary Beth Westmoreland is Senior Vice President and Chief Technology Officer, responsible for leading Blackbaud’s worldwide technology strategy, architecture and user experience across the company’s entire solution portfolio. She has 30 years of experience in software engineering. Mary Beth started with Blackbaud in 2008 and has over 30 years of experience in software engineering and product development.
Prior to joining Blackbaud, Mary Beth was vice president of research and development at Ipswitch, Inc. where she led product development for the company’s entire product portfolio, including the WS_FTP family of products and WhatsUp Gold Network Monitoring and IMail Server product suites. Before Ipswitch, she spent 15 years at the Savannah River National Laboratory where she started as a programmer and eventually managed the company’s Enterprise and Technical Systems Engineering organizations.
Mary Beth has been named one of the 2017 Top 50 Most Powerful Women in Technology by the National Diversity Council — a definitive list that honors the most extraordinary female leaders, influencers and achievers impacting the technology industry. She was recognized for her leadership in Blackbaud’s transformation to a cloud software company that is innovative, agile, and successful, for her mentorship to inspire other women and for her commitment to corporate citizenship.
Mary Beth is a member of the board of directors of the South Carolina chapter of the Make-a-Wish Foundation and a Computer Science Advisory Board Member for Clemson University, and is actively involved in a variety of STEM programs and Women in Technology initiatives. Mary Beth graduated with a degree in Mathematics and Physics from Immaculata University located near Philadelphia, PA.
- Blackbaud was kind of a take on blackboard baud rate
- What is your background? How did you get to where you’re at
- Graduated from college and went to go work at a department of energy lab. Took a job offer with Dupont and moved down to South Carolina
- Got recruited to Ipswich to run RnD
- What’s the mission of Blackbaud? 24th largest cloud computing company. Delivering software and services for non-profit and social good sector
- Cloud Computing for Good
- Princess physicist story
- Beasley Foundation
- Have the conversation so that girls see STEM is accessible at a young age
- CEO Went to Mattel so that she could transform how toys could have an impact on young people
- Diversity of experience and perspective leads to better software
- About 3500 people at Blackbaud. About 800 in technology.
- What tips do you have for gaining respect as a leader? Need to have influence and impact and passion. Trustworthiness, team spirit. As a leader you work for the team. Do it with passion, integrity.
- The core of who she is an engineer. Believes in ship fast.
- The hardest thing to do is keep something simple. – Joel
- It’s hard to say no to the customers – understand the problem that they have – Frankenstein software is horrible – MVP Mindset – Have to live the spirit of agility every day.
- Clip joel saying all the people he really likes
- On a mission to transform all their products to the cloud. Common elements across all the companies they serve.
- What does the day look like? Work mostly with the person who runs tech strategy, product management, data analytics. User experience. Blackbaud labs – incubation team – new tech. Strategic content development.
- Story about stripe and good API documentation
- How do you manage quality? – How does information travel? – Hire really good people. Hire A Players and leaders. Empower them – Tell them run and go fast. Perfect is not the goal. Create a culture of excellence
- Possibly clip joel talk about early 30s 80% of the problems come from hiring the wrong people.
- Shopped hungry in her career and it has never paid off
- It’s hard when you have a killer engineer but they aren’t a good culture fit
- Moving people around can leave a trail of destruction.
- Have compromised on culture and on timing and has learned that it doesn’t pay off
- Spend time with people and make the decision based on a few days
- What track is Mary Beth on? Spend time with people who she can learn from and share a message with. Did an Ignite talk back in May. 5 Minute talk kind of like a TED talk. N10 conference.
- Spent a lot of time just being an engineer not a woman engineer. Changed her thought process
- In the Fortune most powerful women now
- Seeing a woman talk about engineering is what changes minds
- Nervousness is excitement for when you’re about to change the world.
- Major reward comes from taking risks
- Story of joel on a date like 7 years ago going ice skating
- What are you most excited about at Blackbaud? The cloud transformation.
- Connecting the individual markets. Change How much dollars have you raised to how much impact have you had.