TelecomDrive.com | Spotlight on Women in Tech
Jennifer Kyriakakis – Founder & VP Marketing, MATRIXX Software sees success as being willing to help solve any and all problems to ensure team success, she always looks at the bigger picture of success and this is what makes her special and a dependable decision marker for the organization.
Jennifer Kyriakakis interacts with Zia Askari from TelecomDrive.com about her personal and professional journey and her future plans.
Personal Profile – Adaptable and Dependable Decision Maker
How would you describe yourself?
Goal driven, yet still laid back with a good sense of humor. But I hate to waste time…it’s my biggest pet peeve.
What are your personal priorities?
My son is the biggest priority and getting to spend ‘fun’ time with him along with the everyday activities. Family, friends, and experiences/travel. I like discovering new things, new places, learning about things that are very different than our every day lives.
Please share with us some of your personal milestones and their contributions towards developing your personality?
When I was 23 I took a job in Mexico City, having never been there, and not speaking Spanish. It was a complete unknown and turned out to be massively enriching from both a personal/professional relationship perspective and a professional growth perspective. Since then, I think taking (intelligent) risks has always paid off for me. Leaving a comfortable job at a big software company to start MATRIXX was another instantiation of that, a decade after the Mexico city Gig.
How do you see yourself as a person?
I see myself as friendly and open. I’m very much a GSD type though (get shit done) so I’m sure that comes across in other ways that I probably don’t see. Maybe impatient? I’m what you call a social introvert. I’m quite social, but I need my alone time, my down time away from people.
What are your three qualities that have helped you grow as a person and a professional?
Highly adaptable – to me that means finding ways to get where you want to go, even if it’s not the path you’ve laid out or imagined. I learn by doing, not by studying, so trying different things, tactics, etc. provides experiences which is how I relate to the world around me.
The ability to move on – I don’t dwell on things that I can’t change. So learn and move on and don’t let failures, or negativity weigh on you.
Decision maker – so much of leadership is just about being able to make the decision and stand by it. I don’t like to analyse or linger too long on any one problem or situation, so make a decision and act on it. If mistakes are made, they can usually be corrected.
Please share with us some of your hobbies and interests?
My hobbies are – Traveling, finding cool music, running. Reading fiction, historical fiction also interests me a lot.
Please tell us something about your family?
I have a 4-year old son with 3 passports☺. He was born in the US but his father is European so he has 2 EU passports as well and he’s been to Europe probably 20 times in his 4 short years. Pretty amazing, since I didn’t get to Europe for the first time until I was 25.
How has been their support in terms of helping you grow professionally?
My husband is very involved in child rearing which helps me work and do business related travel with less guilt. I say ‘less’ because you always feel guilty about leaving children! Doesn’t matter if working moms are more common, it’s hard not to miss them and feel guilty from time to time.
Professional Profile – Working Towards ‘Team’ Success
How do you define success? What is your mantra to succeed?
I define success as being willing to help solve any and all problems to ensure team success, since then, I’ve always considered the bigger picture of success the most important thing to focus on.
My mantra is grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.
How has been your professional journey so far? Please tell us about your various job profiles?
I started my career in Washington, D.C. at the office of Andersen Consulting, which is now known as Accenture. There, I worked on larger information technology system implementation projects developing in C and writing SQL reports. I worked at Andersen Consulting for a few years and eventually moved up into a project management position. Moving from D.C. to Mexico City, I started running a project for a mobile operator. Working with Logica, now part of CGI, I was part of the boom of mobile phones.
After a few years, I moved from technical delivery into marketing at a billing software company which was my first non-technical role. I enjoyed the storytelling aspect of it, as well as using my technical background to build positioning and help drive the company strategy. That software vendor was acquired in 2006, so in 2009 I co-founded MATRIXX Software together with the CTO/CEO of the previous company and a small group of engineers. Since then we’ve been growing the company to where it is today, around 250 people across 17 countries.
MATRIXX Software provides next-generation, cloud native digital commerce solutions that transform how companies do business. Serving many of the world’s largest communications companies, IoT players, and emerging digital service providers, MATRIXX is committed to delivering a modern commerce platform that easily scales to support global market places and consumption-based services. Through its relentless commitment to product excellence and customer success, MATRIXX empowers businesses to reinvent themselves and succeed as digital leaders.
When you look back in your career – what according to you can be termed as big turning points. How have these turning points helped you professionally?
I spent the first year and a half of my career doing the things I was told to do. This was fine, but you don’t advance very fast that way. So I started finding the white spaces where my help was needed that weren’t necessarily in the job description or tasks I was given. This made a huge difference. I started to train myself in other areas of the project and products I was working on, broadening my knowledge, and this made me more valuable to the team.
And then the move from a technical role into a marketing role, essentially took from me being project or regionally focused, into a global role that touched all parts of the company. Having done delivery and technical sales, this helped me put it all together to really understand the end to end mechanics of how a successful company needs to function.
What are some of the challenges that you faced and overcome during your professional journey? How did you overcome these challenges?
As a woman in my career I am faced with two main challenges: standing my ground when I’m the only woman in the room and expressing a differing opinion.
I think women are still perceived as being ‘overemotional’ and men worry about ‘hurting our feelings’ in a workplace environment. It’s good to be passionate and emotional — in a way that is positive and is perceived as positive. Often, I think women don’t get coached enough or don’t get the same professional feedback a man is given, because a male manager feels they need to be ‘gentler’ in the delivery of constructive or even negative feedback. I always encourage those around me professionally to be direct and honest, as doing the right thing for the team, project or company is the ultimate goal.
How do you see yourself five years from now? What are some of your big goals that you want to achieve?
In five years, I’d like to be doing something less global, more local. So maybe my big goals are on a smaller scale. I’d like to be involved with helping female entrepreneurs and local businesses execute and achieve sustainable growth. Our company today is very corporate and globally focused so I think it’s natural to want to do something that is more individually impacting as a next phase.