Lisa Pope President of Epicor on the Driven Podcast

37. How to Find Success with an ERP Industry Titan | Lisa Pope, President of Epicor

Episode 37

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Kicking off the new season of Driven is our special guest, Lisa Pope, President at Epicor, to join us for a deep dive into her career and the focus and strategy that drives her success. Before her role at Epicor, Lisa’s impressive background also included holding strategic leadership roles at Infor, QAD, and Oracle, driving growth and the shift to SaaS.

In this exclusive interview with Karthik Chidambaram, the Founder & CEO of DCKAP, Lisa reveals what she is most passionate about, what goes into developing high-performing sales teams, how she sees the future of the distribution industry and much more.

Guest Bio

Lisa Pope is a dynamic leader and go-to-market executive that develops high-performing sales teams that drive significant value and growth.

In addition to P&L responsibility, Lisa is a key member of the Executive Leadership team, instrumental in key acquisitions and in the strategic sale of Epicor to Clayton, Dubilier and Rice in October of 2020. Prior to Epicor, Lisa held strategic leadership roles at Infor, QAD and Oracle, driving growth and the shift to SAAS.

Lisa’s professional accomplishments include 2022 Gold “Women of the Year” Stevie Award, 2020 “Women of the Year in Sales”-Stevie Award, 50 most Powerful Women in Technology and prior year’s “Channel Chief from CRN the Channel Co. Lisa is an active speaker on a variety of sales and leadership topics including recent interviews and podcasts with Nasdaq, Enterprise Times and the Institute for Excellence in Sales.

Show Links and References

  • Read how DCKAP Integrator works with Epicor’s Prophet 21 and Eclipse ERPs to elevate customer experience in the distribution space.

Karthik Chidambaram: Hello, everyone! Welcome to the new season of the Driven show. We are excited to have Lisa Pope, the President of Epicor, join us today. Lisa, welcome to the Driven show.

Lisa Pope: Thank you so much for inviting me! I really appreciate it.

Karthik: Lisa, you were a business communications major at University of California, Santa Barbara, and then right out of college, after studying business communications, you started in presales at a company called Triad Systems. And then, it's ironic that Triad got acquired by Epicor and now you're the President of Epicor. Life has come a full circle. It's very interesting.

When you started at Triad, I'm just curious to know your initial learnings there and did you have aspirations, or did you ever think that you would become the President of Epicor?

Lisa: No, at the time, it was really a great opportunity for me. Software was just sort of getting started and I had quite a bit of business background and financial background.

And so, I did get the opportunity to go in as a pre-salesperson and work with a lot of customers back then in the Southern California area and really get to know those business owners, learn accounting. Not just teaching them how to use the software, but actually learning all the things that they did to close the books and the month-end, and the year-end processing.

And then obviously learning a lot about order management.

So many of these companies were small retailers and distribution companies. I only stayed at Triad actually for three years, and I learned so much in those three years, very quickly moved into larger software companies.

And I think one of the things that was great about Triad and their thought process is they did send you and sort of train you out with clients, right? So, it wasn't just sitting back and trying to learn, it was actually full-on working in those customers' environments. But obviously, I did move through a number of major ERP companies over the past, now 30 years, including Oracle, QAD, Inform, and of course, now Epicor.

So, no, I think at the time I just really loved software. I love being able to solve customers’ problems. And each role that I took in each company that I worked for, I really focused on that, making customers successes strong and then continuing to drive additional product capability to address those needs. So, it is ironic now that Epicor owns Triad.

Interestingly enough, we have a number of people that are still here at Epicor that were there back when I was at Triad. So, we have employees that have been with the company 25, 30 years and their roots are from that. So, it’s really great to see that sort of employee loyalty, if you will, and real dedication.

Karthik: It's very interesting that you started your career doing presales because I love presales as well. When you start working in presales, you learn a lot. You're on the front end of the customer and they ask you a lot of questions and you ask them a lot of questions – a great way to learn.

Lisa: Yeah. And I think for me, I think so many people ask me, why are you successful? And how did you help continue to drive that success? I think having industry and product capability, if you're going to be in sales, is so key and so important because I do consider myself a subject matter expert in the verticals. I work on the products that we sell and in sales in general, right? That's my functional specialty. But I think that's really important, if you are looking at a career in sales or really anything, is to make sure you bring content. You need to have that content background.

And that's really what presale sort of taught me, that discipline. Even when I've started to look at a new opportunity, the first thing I always ask is if I can see the product. And they're literally like, we're hiring you to be an executive vice president and you want to see a demo. But yes, that's kind of my background. I really want to see what it is, what we're doing, how we're solving it. And I really expect that same kind of content and depth from the people that work for me.

Karthik: Great nuggets for anyone watching this, because sales is not just about selling, it's about product experience and product knowledge. Awesome. Great, Lisa.

Lisa, can you tell us about the Epicor business? What is Epicor and what is an ERP? If a 6th grader were to ask you that question, how do you explain that?

Lisa: Yeah, that is absolutely a great question. And I think ERP has been around so long. I mean, we joke about it. I've done other discussions around, is ERP dead? Clearly, kids coming out of college today don't want to study or major in ERP. They really don't even talk about it in terms of it being a focus.

But ERP really is essential to any business. It is now a digital operating platform for a company to build on top of. And because it does connect the inside of your four walls as well as extend into your supplier and really your whole supply chain, it's crucial that our companies, whether they're a small SMB all the way up to large enterprises, invest in a modern enterprise resource planning system.

And of course, Epicor’s focus is a little bit different. We don't try to do everything for everyone. We are very focused on what we consider to be the make, move, and sell economy and really focused on that essential business.

And so for us, that narrow focus allows us to come in with very specialized solutions for our manufacturers, our distributors, and our retailers in those segments and then also providing them capability across that entire supply chain.

So, for us, that maybe makes it a little bit easier in terms of that focus, in terms of our ability to really service our clients differently. But I think, as I said, now when we recruit people coming out of college, we talk about a lot of things, whether it be sort of cloud, digital modernization and then obviously data, right?

Lots of data, scientists, majors out there. And clearly the beauty of putting in sort of a full ERP and really having that digital platform is the fact now that you have the ability to really leverage the data, the insights, the analytics, and make better business decisions.

Karthik: Yeah, you have businesses who make, move, and sell, as you call it, very interesting. And being the president of Epicor, you have a lot of insights working with a lot of distributors into the distribution industry. How do you see the distribution industry evolving in the next few years?

Lisa: Yeah, I mean, I think the pandemic for so many of our customers was interesting because they were still deemed essential. And so, what that meant is that they were open, they were still very busy, they still went to work every day in many cases.

And so, I think there was sort of an opportunity there for them to really realize this is an important time of change and we probably need to really be looking at modernizing our system. So, I think number one is really we're seeing sort of a return to saying, ‘hey, I do need to invest in sort of new infrastructure, new systems, and new capabilities’.

And I think part of that is driven by the industry, right? Big supply chain challenges.

Of course, we've all seen that the distributor sort of getting squeezed potentially from either really large consolidators or many of our customers are also considering taking on components of the supply chain that before they may decide to go ahead and do some light manufacturing now, because that helps them control some components of their supply chain.

Certainly, they're reaching out and doing a lot more with the end consumers making sure that there's easy ecommerce, the ability to configure and price and quote something easily and really extending that reach.

So, I think the consolidation that we've seen with some large players, the supply chain challenges and disruption, and then I also think we talk about it quite a bit, but just the changes in workforce, it's hard to find really qualified people. We have a significant amount of people at a certain age point that are thinking about retiring.

And some of those people may be on the It side. And they've been running that distributor's legacy system for 15 years. And now the person that customized it and that really knows how it works is leaving. And so, we are seeing, like I said, this interest in sort of modernizing and really thinking about, ‘hey, we've got to move forward and be able to just be more agile’ as we face these industry supply chain challenges and competitive pressures.

Karthik: I have a follow up question on that. One of our customers, SRS Distribution, one of the largest roofing distributors in the country, they are based in Dallas, Texas as well. They have grown by acquisitions.

They have acquired a lot of landscape and pool supply companies, and some of them are Epicor customers as well. And as you said, a lot of consolidation is happening in the industry today, and a lot of distributors, as you know, are family-owned businesses. How do you see this consolidation impacting Epicor as a business, and how does it impact America in general?

Lisa: Yeah, it's definitely been, I think, an interesting couple of years. And the proliferation that we're seeing of consolidation, I think is going to continue to happen. And it's not just necessarily a large player in that industry.

We're also seeing a big influx of private equity, which also changes dramatically. The metrics they use are different, their time to value and the way they think is very different. So, I think for Epicor first, the good news is we really have focused on scaling not just our product, but the way we go to market, all the way from that small business that may be family owned up into those large multibillion dollar consolidators.

So, the software scales and that makes it nice, because when a customer does get bought, it doesn't mean they have to leave Epicor and go on some corporate system, right? We've got the ability to still allow that customer to grow with Epicor and change and evolve, it does affect our sales strategy, for sure.

I mentioned private equity, but they do have a very different philosophy about assets versus operating expenses. Their time to value is very different. So, they don't want to do a twelve-month selection process and analyze a lot of things if they're only planning on maybe owning an asset for three to four years.

So, we find them very quick to make a decision. They want fast implementations and just a very different pace than say, maybe a family run business that is a little bit more cautious and expanding slowly, a little slower, I think, for America and for the industry as a whole. I always tell my team, our job is to embrace change, right? You can't fight it. So, I don't like to think anything's a negative.

I think we also see some family businesses, frankly, that have been growing substantially and are now in a position where the kids that are coming out of college in their 20’s don't want to take on that family business. And it is an opportunity for that family to make a decision, to either sell that company or make a change.

So, it can be a positive thing. I think the main thing is as long as we keep diversity, and I see that I see a lot of distributors fiercely wanting to stay independent which I think is great and they're able to continue to do that by differentiating with service special capabilities that some of the larger companies aren't going to be able to match.

And, also, just that small town feel and focus knowing everybody in your local town. So, I think there's plenty of room for both. I do think it's just a change in terms of how we think about supporting when we talk to our sales teams and our support teams, we do talk a lot about ownership and understanding that because customers priorities are different based on whether they're privately held, publicly held, or owned by private equity.

Karthik: Yeah, embrace change and look at it as an opportunity, as something I learned from that. That's great.

I was chatting with one of our joint customers, Ryan Van Hoozer. He's the Vice President of operations at Marysville Marine, a marine distributor based in the Nashville, Tennessee area. And you talked about talent shortage and that was a very similar conversation I was having with Ryan. And he was saying that, “Hey, it's very hard to find technicians today and it's very hard to find talent”’. And one thing he recommended was to promote and market non-tech careers, as careers outside of tech you have to market them well with students. And he also talked about college becoming more expensive and student debt rising.

So, why don't some of these students go to technical trade schools and learn the trade and they can have really successful careers and also make a lot of money in the process? What are some of your thoughts here, and how do you think distributors can address the talent shortage problem in the industry today?

Lisa: Yeah, I think that it's really a top priority for us as well. Because like many companies, we have an aging workforce and so we have to address those same issues. But, I think for a distributor, I'll talk about the IT side of things first and then we can drill down more maybe into just the talent of the industry, knowledge and capability.

But obviously many of those companies that are in different locations across the US. Some very remote, are having a hard time getting the right IT talent to continue to run systems. So, I think that is one of the things that started in the pandemic and shortly after, but we saw a huge proliferation of our customer base in manufacturing and distribution that had technically maybe resisted migrating to the cloud going to the cloud for that reason.

Clearly, it's easier for an Epicor or one of the other software providers to maintain all of that capability, to actually manage your systems and also deal with security and all the other complexities now that companies are sort of concerned about.

So, I think that does help and I think that's one of the reasons why the software as a service solutions are so popular now, just because talent is hard to get on the IT side from an industry knowledge perspective.

I think that's a perfect point about trade schools. We used to have a requirement that sort of to get into Epicor and be in sales in one of our industries. We wanted the college degree and that's who we screened for. And we had a board member join us and really talk about and really question why they're like you're selling into automotive and manufacturing and distribution. There's got to be great trade schools that are available to you where you could get people from the industry and then train them to show the software because they clearly know it or train them to go into sales.

So, we definitely have sort of changed that requirement for some of our key industries and we think that's helping. And then another big focus for us, which is hard, but it is developing talent. So, we do make a tremendous amount of effort now on both, especially on the services side, that the teams that go into implement is looking for talent.

Maybe they have a supply chain background or major, right if they did go to college and then really working to bring them into the company and provide a career path where they can come and stay and continue to learn.

I think we're all sort of dealing with the same issue in terms of that shortage of talent and then clearly operational efficiency, right? If there are things that you can do to make the people that you have their job much easier and they're able to do more through the systems, then that automation can also help deal with it. But I do like the idea that we continue to look for options and think out of the box when it comes to how to continue to staff and really make sure we've got that industry capability inside the company.

Karthik: That's great. Look for talent everywhere. And as you said, change is the only thing that is constant. And especially after the pandemic, the pace of change is accelerated and we hear a lot of terms like Generative AI, ChatGPT, and more. How are you viewing these changes with respect to the distributor and what challenges and opportunities do you see for them?

Lisa: Yeah, there are some great technologies out there. Right now, we have our big customer conference in May, and I know our Chief Technology Officer and Product Officer are going to be talking a lot about some of those new things and how we'll deploy them in our products, but also some of the concerns that we've seen.

Right, I think there's been a lot of discussion recently about AI and I think there are definitely great use cases for where things can be automated and we should do that, but clearly, we also have to look at that and be careful.

I know we've seen some situations where something as simple as debugging code could end up really causing some privacy issues and IP related issues if that code is shared outside of the people that are supposed to have access to it. So, I think we're definitely being open and creative in terms of how we apply some of those new technologies.

And one of the things that I think Epicor has done a really good job is we don't tend to just focus on a new technology for the sake of the technology. We look very specific for customers to come to us with a specific use case and then we work with them on sort of joint development.

That allows us to bring more of a focus, concentrated approach to that, solving that problem with that technology. And it also sort of helps us stay away from what I like to call the ‘Shiny New Penny’. But if you just think about how much new technology is constantly released, you can kind of always be chasing the new cool thing, either trying to build it in house or going to buy a company that does it without really understanding the impact to the customer base.

So, we tend to really look at our customers, work with them on what use cases, for example, they're interested in, and then from there look to embed it into the products in a more, I'd say, consistent fashion. We've done that, for example, with we released this past year a big focus on data as a service. And again, because of our narrow supply chain, we feel that that's a unique asset and capability that we have to be able to really provide predictive data that can solve real world business problems.

And so again, started there in automotive with a few big customers who have asked us specifically to address it. And now moving into the LBM space and distribution where customers have brought us challenges on.

Either getting the right product at the right place at the right time, a lot of different types of things that they're struggling with, and then applying sort of that data look to say, ‘okay, this is where we can help’, but more to come on that. So, love to talk to you about it after we make some additional announcements in May.

Karthik: I’m looking forward to Insights and the ‘Shiny New Penny’.

So, let's shift gears a little bit. Interviewing candidates is a privilege, and you still do a lot of interviews at Epicor, you interview a lot of candidates. What do you look for when you hire someone new or when you hire a salesperson?

Lisa: Yeah, I've had this philosophy that I should interview every person coming into Oracle I'm sorry, into Epicor in my organization first, and I actually started that when I was back at Oracle as a Sales VP when the organization was smaller. But I felt like by doing that, it helped me make sure that there was the right culture fit.

I knew our team and how we worked, and I felt it would help us sort of build and balance the team. You can't have a sales team of all, sort of what I would call the Hunter player type that is super aggressive, right? You have people like that are going to focus more on maybe your net new, real competitive, but you also need talent that is really there to nurture customers over the long term, and that's a very different sales and skill set.

And then clearly on the presale side, very key. But the other reason it's important for me to meet so many of our candidates is I really feel it's important to present. So, most people know that if they're going to come to Epicor, they're going to be in a panel interview, and they will stand up and present.

And that doesn't matter if you're a sales rep, a sales manager, sales VP, presales. I just feel it's really important to see how they can present themselves, how they handle questions and answers. We don't make them present on Epicor, we're fine. If they present on anything, they feel they're a subject matter expert. It could even be a product or something they're familiar with. But the idea then is that many people get to hear that we get to ask questions and then we do sort of what I would call a group hire.

So, again, just given the size of our company and how important our teamwork is across the board, we use cross functional, so we'll have services, people, part of that panel, other people that are going to be part of that team just to make sure that they're a good fit.

And also, for me, I feel really strongly if I bring someone into Epicor, I want them to be successful, right? I pride myself on our sales tenure. We're close to ten years now in terms of our tenure, which is like unheard of in the industry. So, when I bring someone in and I meet them early, I feel obligated in some ways to make sure that they are doing well.

So, I feel like if things aren't well and there's performance issues, there's a lot we can do to address that, whether that's training, better coaching, maybe they would be better as a channel manager or a customer account manager, and that may be something we can move them to instead of just assuming it won't work. So, I think sales talent is crucial.

I'm also very biased to my presales team. They know that because I do think that's the hardest skill in the industry. It just takes years to be proficient, to be able to walk into a distributor and know their entire operations and be seen as someone who can add value. So, I'm very protective over the presale consultants and the people that interact with the clients on a consistent basis.

Karthik: Yeah, hiring is teamwork and it's amazing how deeply involved you are in hiring, and yeah, that's great.

So, let's say you hire someone and as a sales leader, you always have sales quotas. You have a quarterly target you need to hit, you have a yearly target you need to hit, and sometimes the quota is missed and you're not able to hit it. How do you deal with that?

Lisa: Yeah, and I think one of the things we've done, and this is something I've just learned over time, but I try to address that at every level. So, first of all, at my level, they know we have a number ahead at the company level that we're very focused on.

And what's good is, even though I have five vertical leads underneath that are very driven and focused on their teams, they all know how we're all doing. So, there's a lot of transparency and a lot of trust at my leadership level.

So, if one vertical is not doing as well in one quarter, which is normal to have that happen, the other teams know that they're going to step it up, right? They're going to do everything they can to bring in their upside and their opportunities to try to make sure that we hit that. So, my leadership style and the team we have is very collaborative. So yes, there's always some fun on who's going to be the best performing team, but just the way the economy works.

Lumber prices were crazy for a while. Our lumber and building material, housing starts were down. There's lots of factors that can come into why a particular vertical may not be as strong.

Durable goods, for example, with distributors can be challenging. Or certain segments of the market. So, we do look at that and we try not to focus too much on the quarter.

We do need quarterly results, for sure. I actually enjoy the fact that we are not a public company just because I think sometimes when you're public, you can make wrong decisions to get to a quarter that aren't really healthy for the overall company. So that's been kind of nice that we've been able to balance investment reward and that quarterly pressure.

And then from a sales management perspective, we spend a lot of time really trying to develop our sales managers because we expect them to be very much sort of in the field. So even my sales VPs and myself included, I view myself as a field general. I'm out in the field, try to do at least two or three days a week and try to see as many clients as possible.

And so that cadence is expected all the way down. So, if we have a sales rep not performing, my first question is going to be, well, how much time has the sales manager spent in the field with that person?

Right? Because you do sort of learn by observing, watching, and seeing. And so, we definitely use that focus. And then, as I said, if we continue to have some performance challenges, either at the management layer or at the rep layer, we have definitely been able to solve the issue by, like I said, moving them into a different role that they may be better suited for. Or ultimately, if they really don't feel it's a good fit for them, we'll see them leave.

But overall, I'm really pleased. We have very little voluntary attrition where people want to leave us. We're really good at sort of developing and making sure people stay for the long term.

And one other data point on that. This really made my well, it's probably made my career, but this last year, we just gave our Global Sales Rep of the Year award out, and it was a woman, which was awesome to see, especially given the fact that our industries are definitely more male dominated. But she had been with the company 30 years. So, to see someone sort of continue to excel at that level was just great. So that's an important part of sort of continuing that mentorship.

Karthik: That's great. It's great that you're in the field a lot, and also a lot of people in the company have been there for like 20 years, 30 years. And I was also reading that you pair new employees with people who have been with the company for long or even you take the new hires, like you rightly pointed out, into the field to meet with customers and you really leverage the Epicor ecosystem very, very well.

So, what have been some of your key learnings when you meet with customers since you're in the field a lot?

Lisa: Well, I think when you go and you actually walk a warehouse or walk the shop floor with a client, it's just a whole different experience. And that's really it for me. When I go see a client, I don't want to sit in their executive conference room. I mean, we will do that and we'll have our meeting, but it's really getting out and seeing what they do and being able to see their workers actually interacting with the software.

And so, I'm lucky. As you mentioned, there's a lot of distribution and lumber and building materials here in Dallas. So, I participate in a few executive steering committees for one of our large distributors here and have done the same on the lumber and building materials.

And those are great because I really get insight into how projects are run, challenges in projects, which is usually communication and expectation setting and really making sure. That there's alignment there. So, I think that's an important part of my job is getting involved at that level. But I also spend quite a bit of time going out to see our larger clients or even some of our sort of newer customers that are getting started and really looking at their operations.

I was out at Magna, one of our large automotive clients out in Canada, and got to see really their entire shop floor and how all the orders come in, how everything's processed very much just in time inventory, and how they're leveraging our solutions to help drive that.

And I think that allows me to come back, sit down with product development and really say, ‘Hey, these are some areas that we still need to work on’, or ‘here are some areas that would help them even more’. And when I bring that kind of level of detail back, it's a lot different than just a quick conversation over the phone. And in this case, our head of development actually did go out as well and meet with them.

So, I think that's probably the main thing is you see real world challenges that are happening as they're happening and then you have the ability to kind of say, ‘I know how we could address and fix this’. And so that seeing is key.

One of the things we also learned during the pandemic is a lot of our competitors weren't traveling to see clients, and yet many of the people that were still looking at purchasing systems were deemed essential, so they were open.

So, one of the things we found is that if our team went on site, our win rates went up dramatically because you can't do a discovery on a video phone trying to look at a warehouse, right. It just doesn't give you the same perspective. So, I think for me that's really the difference. It's getting into what they do, seeing how they do things, and that's the feedback we get from clients, is they love when we're out there on site. So that's probably the biggest takeaway, is just the reaction they have in terms of you being there, really understanding things. It develops a different level of trust with that customer for sure.

Karthik: Yeah, travel gets you a lot of exposure. Well said, Lisa. I always wonder, that's a good segue to my next question. I always wonder if I'm doing a good job or if I'm organizing my day well. Recently, what I did is I started using a book. So, even before I open a laptop, I write down the list of things I need to do in a day and things like that. So, what does a typical day look like for Lisa Pope?

Lisa: Well, funny you should mention it. I have my little Epicor book, right? So same thing. I know everybody likes PCs and iPads and all these really cool things. I'm on a plane a lot. It can be awkward to pull out the laptop. So, I'm the same way. I actually finish the day with sort of my Must Do’s in the morning and then sort of reevaluate it in the morning based on what might have happened overnight. But I have a pretty simple rule.

I mean I do focus on customer issues, questions, emails. First of all, it just reminds me of why I do my job, right? And I have filters on my PC to look for anything from a customer so that those go to the top. But I also check LinkedIn because I've had customers reach out to me on LinkedIn because they quote, didn't know how to reach me and you don't want them ignored. So, if I get a customer request at all, and I got one yesterday morning and I had it resolved within 2 hours, which A, the customer is delighted. But also, I think it's like I said, it reminds me of what I'm supposed to do every day.

So, that's number one. The second thing I do, oddly enough, is I get rid of 70% of things that I don't need to do. And so again, filters help with email and all that, but there's a lot of things that I might get asked to do that I don't need to do. So, it can be delete and delegate, but I've gotten much better at that. It's like clearing my plate also allows me to focus. And if all of that is still there, sometimes it's hard to just sift through it. So, it doesn't take more than ten minutes and that's a really good ten-minute thing for me.

The other thing I do with my calendar is I refuse to join what I call the obligatory weekly calls. If I attended every weekly call that was on the Epicor calendar, I wouldn't have anything else to do, right? That becomes the nature of those calls. So, I do have a weekly call with my team and of course I'm on my boss's weekly call. The other calls are on there and they stay on there for me, sort of optional. So Insights is a good example.

We have a planning meeting every week for that. I will join for key times, usually when I either have to speak or decisions getting made and the rest of the time it's there. If I'm free, I join it. But you can get into this habit of thinking that every call that you're invited to somehow is your job, right? Just like email, I tell people email is actually not your job. It's not your job to wait for an email to come in and then be the first to reply. That's not why we hired you, right? It's a means to the end. So, I'm very careful about sort of making sure I limit that.
And then the third thing, I very good at blocking my calendar, so I do put focus time every day. It changes in terms of when it is to work on the things that actually need to be done that are strategic or key or important. So again, it keeps you from just getting in this mode of meeting email. That's what I did for 8 hours, and I didn't really sort of make a difference and move the needle. And then the hardest thing, honestly, is travel.

I think it's hard to be as productive when you travel. I know for a lot of people they're either black or white. So when they're out of office, then they are literally traveling and they don't do anything else. One of my, I guess lessons is I do multitask when I travel. I'll do a call on the way to the airport, usually internal, but that helps me sort of stay on pace and not come back from a trip and find I've got 18 requests for meetings or calls.

And then the other thing is I'm very accessible. A lot of leaders tend to use, I think, too many gatekeepers. All of my leadership team, and that's not just my Direct but my management team, all have my cell phone, as do many of my customers. And they know it's okay to say do you have five minutes? And I'll be like, yes, I'll call you as soon as I can, and I can call them back and in two minutes we can make a decision instead of that being put on my calendar for 30 minutes eight days from now.

So, I don't use my assistant when it comes to my team. And my customers know that as well. Like they know if they need something, they can reach out. And I just find for me that's a more effective way to sort of deal with things in real time versus having things take too long for decisions.

Karthik: Great insights for anybody watching this, and multiply by subtraction. So, it's great. Thank you, Lisa, for that.

So DCKAP, when we started, we just started with two desks, two computers and two people. We were bootstrapped. We made a lot of mistakes, had our ups and downs. And when we were small, it was easy. You can tap on somebody's shoulder saying let's get this going and get going. Right? But then as you grow and as the company starts growing, you have to nurture leaders. And a leader's job is to always keep nurturing talent. And you nurture a lot of talent, and you nurture a lot of women talent as well.

You're a part of the Achieve network where you encourage women in a large company. When a company is small, it's easy. But as the company grows and in a large company, how do you get noticed? How do you keep progressing both for men and women? How do you keep progressing the career chain?

Lisa: Yeah, great question. Well, and I said it earlier, I think it does start with content, right? So be seen as a subject matter expert, an industry expert, have that as your core and your backdrop because that does get noticed. I mean, in my company we always say who would you have in your lifeboat? Right? And for me it's going to be people that have that deep, deep capability and product or industry, depending on your background. So, I think that's, number one is make sure that that doesn't somehow not become important.

Second thing is clearly network and to me that's internally and externally. So internally cross functionally, I would say if I look back at my career, a number of the promotions I got were put in front of a group of people that weren't in my chain. So, people from services or finance or other areas of the company and they said, what do you guys think about Lisa? Do you think she's ready for the next level? And if that feedback isn't positive, yes. She's very collaborative. She's punctual everything that we need done, she gets done on a timely basis. Customers love her.

That feedback trickles back and I think more companies use that today. I know in our company now to get promoted to a Vice President, our executive team does review those candidates and we feel that's important because that is a position in the company that is going to be speaking externally and being involved with customers and we want to make sure that there is that cross functional alignment.

So don't ignore, I mean, really focus on those collaborative relationships, and make sure that you're not treating your presales or services people and if you're in software differently or if you're inside the company, same kind of thing, making sure that you've got a very good internal network and then clearly external matters as well. And not because not the LinkedIn type of network where how many connections do you have. But getting involved locally with business or with an industry association, I encourage our sales reps to do that.

So, they're involved with whatever industry they're selling into. But that network can also help mentor you. So that would be the next piece of the three would be finding a mentor that can sort of help guide your career as you're making changes.

They can help you decide how to get more visible and how to sort of stay more visible. And then finally, don't be afraid to volunteer for maybe something outside of your wheelhouse a little bit. Sometimes in a company there'll be an opportunity to step up into something as a learning experience.

I always found that to be very helpful in terms of being considered for the next level again, because you get that opportunity to get out of your maybe wheelhouse and get some more cross functional background and then ultimately performance does matter. So you've got to still execute on your role, perform at a high level. But I think just performing at a high level doesn't get you there nowadays, right? It is really about having that whole ability and that package, if you will, cross functionally and being able to lead.

Karthik: Yeah, it's not one or the other, it's everything together. Great. Great insights, Lisa. I really enjoy listening to this. That's awesome.

And a few last questions. How was Lisa Pope as a kid in your teens, were you too naughty or how were you as a kid?

Lisa: Oh, as a kid. I have all brothers, so I would probably say as a kid, I grew up being the good one, right? Because I had the good grades, and my brothers were always doing things way worse than I was. So, in some ways I got away with a lot is the other way you could interpret that? But no, I think definitely I've always been a people person, so I was always organizing friends, people's parties, things like that. I've enjoyed that side of it.

But I also, I think, given the all-male, not just with my brothers, but also I have all sons, it sort of became this thing where I'm a huge sports fan as a result, which, frankly, has helped me a lot in business, especially being a woman, because I am able to use sports as sort of that connector. Football, basketball, baseball, you name it, college pro.

I stay really engaged and involved in that and I think a lot of that came up through my childhood as well. So those things can be really key and important in business, and I think leveraging some of those things can also just make you more personable again, especially with the customer side.

Karthik: Great failures can be a great asset for anybody. Can you talk about some of your failures and what you learned from them?

Lisa Pope:
Yeah, and failures, lessons learned, whatever name you want to give them. I can think of two things like in my career, sort of looking back where I probably made sort of the wrong decision, right, that ultimately later you can go back and say that might have been the wrong thing to do. But I do think jobs evolve and so that's why it is one of these things where what could be perceived as a failure sometime is a failure in the company or what's happening in the market, right, and not a personal failure.

So, I do try to make sure, especially for people young and career not to be too hard on yourself. You get a lot more perspective after this amount of time to realize that those things that might have been really hard to take back then actually really help develop you and are why you're successful at the next level. But two things specifically for me one, I really felt I left a very good company because of a boss.

And you read about that, you hear about that. But I'd been in a role where I'd had a number of bosses that were not particularly stellar and didn't react and for whatever reason, I got to a certain point, and I don't know what it was.

But I think looking back, I clearly resigned because of an individual, not the company and certainly not my team, and in doing so ended up at a great company, in a great position with a lot more potential. So, it all worked out good. But I think back on that and think, I did not like my boss. And I think the lesson learned there was it's not about liking your boss, right? It's really about how you can add value to your boss. And that's the frame of mind that you need to be in, especially when you may not like them as a person or as an individual.
So, I think that's probably lesson number one is don't quit because of your boss. Try to focus on how you can help that person and then look for other opportunities inside the company. If you don't like your boss and you don't like your company and you don't like your coworkers, that's a good reason to leave. But one individual is you just want to be careful. And then the flip side of that, which is the exact opposite, is I stayed at a company too long, right?

And I did it for a lot of reasons. I was a working mother, balance all those things. But I realized when you do that, you can be in a situation where you become complacent, right, and where you're not as focused maybe on driving the company to the next level.

And again, that was in my position. So, if you're in an individual contributor role, like a sales rep, and you're able to stay at a company the whole time and you love it and you love the team and you're successful, that's not a reason to leave. But I think if you're in a leadership level and you're staying for the wrong reasons, a, that's preventing someone else maybe from moving up, and B, it's potentially stagnating the company if you're at a significant level.

So, I think for me, those two things, one starting in early in career and one happening a little bit later, I can look back on and say, okay, those were probably really good lessons learned. But, as long as you're continuing to move, and you've got passion around what you're doing, then I feel like Epicor is a good example. The company is in such a great sort of growth space, I kind of feel like I've worked my whole career to be here, and I feel like I can continue to keep moving the needle regardless of how long I stay.

So, I think that's a key message, is just making sure you think through those reasons and maybe not act impulsively, right? And one of the pieces of advice I give to people that come here, especially on the sales side, because you could be having a bad first six months, and your immediate reaction is, oh, I should just leave, because if I'm not going to make my number, it won't look good. I always really try to encourage people, no matter what, to stay through a year.

And by doing that philosophy, you tend to not. It's almost like signing up for a fiscal year one year at a time. It gets you renewed and committed to say, yes, I'm staying this year, and here's why, and here's what I think I can do. And then as things get tough mid-year, it also keeps you from just making a bad decision. And then that philosophy has worked well for me. Each year, I'm like, all right, I want to stay again because here's what we're focused on and here's what we're going to do. And I try to get my team sort of with that same thought process to keep them sort of renewed about what's next.

Karthik: Yeah, never stay in your comfort zone. Great. Lisa. Two last questions. What is that one advice you would give for a young girl watching this who wants to be a Lisa Pope?

Lisa Pope:
Well, I guess this sounds crazy, but I think, and my team knows this it's like, work hard, play harder, right? And that means both at work and also at home. So, I think for me, I've really enjoyed my career. I think that comes across, and I think that's why people like working for me, right? So, it's not just about me. It's about developing a team and having people that want to be part of my organization and team.

And so, we have fun. We enjoy our time with our clients. We sponsor one of the Formula One cars. We take clients to that. We do events with them. And even when we're together, we'll try to make sure we're having fun. But also externally, I think you are a better person at work if you have balance and you're enjoying your time off.

So, I think that's a big piece of this is not letting your career sort of suck the life out of you to where you're not even fun to be at work or pleasant. So, we really encourage that. We usually on our Monday calls, we sort of talk about either what game happened over the weekend or what people were doing.

And we do sort of encourage that. So, we're not all feeling like, well, we need to be working all the time. So, I think that balance is key, especially if you're young, work hard, and maybe in the beginning, work harder, and play hard, maybe not flipped.

But that balance, I think, is important. I see too many people getting involved in companies where they can get to a sort of a burnout level, and I think that's really dangerous.

Karthik: That's great advice. I always like to end with this question, what book are you reading right now?

Lisa: Well, that's a good one. I actually joined a board of directors for a company called Apex Analytics about eight or nine months ago. And they are very focused on data, predictive data, and a lot around security, compliance, some really cool things. And so, there's a book called Data Juice, and I have it here somewhere by, here it is, Doug Laney.

And this is a really cool one because it's 101 stories of actual customers. And some of those customers are manufacturers, some of them are distributors, some of them are retailers, government agencies, sports teams. But 101 stories of how they pulled data out of their systems that basically ended up solving sort of a strategic problem that either created significant shareholder value or decreased their cost or risk or compliance.

So short sound bites of sort of data monetization and how it was really used to make a big difference in their company. And so, just as Epicor evolves more into the data as a service business, for us, this book was just really timely because it made it real. That's the beauty of being on an outside board, too. You meet other people, and you get a chance to really learn new things. So, as I said, I do travel a lot and I like having a hard book, actually in my briefcase at all times.

Karthik: Yeah, Data Juice. And I see that you're on quite a few boards. That's amazing. And I just picked this up from the Round Rock Library, Option B by Cheryl Sandberg. She talks about never taking things for granted. That's what I'm reading.

So, Lisa, I really enjoyed chatting with you. There were a lot of learnings for me personally as well. So, this was a great conversation. So much for joining the driven show. It was great to have you with us. Thank you, Lisa!

Yeah, thank you! Loved it.

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Episode 37