Anna Schlegel is the Vice-President of Product, International Markets, and Globalization of Procore Technologies, Inc. Anna’s journey into leadership started at Cisco Systems in the 90s, when she was selected for a young female program for the duration of a year, where, a small cohort was handpicked to get us started on the management track. She says, “I have a lot to thank Cisco for that program.” Anna asserts, “During a year, we were paired with women that were senior to us at very important companies in the Bay Area at that time. I was at Cisco for about 6 years, and each year I was asked or pushed into several programs to learn how to get organized, lead, and manage virtually. One of my favorite base programs was The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. “
Below are the highlights of the interview conducted between World’s Leaders and Anna Schlegel.
Describe your award winning book “Truly Global” address the needs of your customers.
“Truly Global, The Theory and Practice of Bringing Your Company to International Markets” was born in 2017. At that time, I had co-founded Women in Localization in 2008, an organization that promotes the art of globalization and, at the same time, does two more things, it trains women in our profession, and it creates a very much needed community to support each other. The more I talked to professionals in the space of globalization, I could not find a book that explained what we do. There was no such a book, and to this day there is not another one that encompasses what a globalization professional does inside an enterprise, or even a small business that wishes to go global. There are books that explain how to design global websites, or do global marketing, but none that explain how to form a team, who to hire, how to take a company from point A to point Z. In 2017, the book was a success, and at the same time, it was very controversial as we got a new President in the US who severed several international treaties and agreements. So I believe I gave about 400 interviews at the time about the book.
Enlighten us on how you have made an impact on this industry through your expertise in the industry?
I believe by doing a few things: First, I co-founded Women in Localization back in 2008, when we had not seen an association for globalization professionals. Since then, we have offered hundreds it not a thousand meetings, webinars, videos, trainings, celebrations, that discuss anything around the world of globalization. We are in 30 sites, we are about 7000 members globally, and the wait list for more women to lead in new countries is very long.
What are the challenges you and your teams come across in your day-to-day operations?
I have managed many teams, in many areas, not just around globalization, but I have been managing digital transformation, programs that redo entire company product lifecycles, so we have seen many challenges. We mostly overcome them. Sometimes we fail, but it is also seen as a learning opportunity.
What people, what books, what life factors have influenced and impacted you?
My parents and brothers first. They gave me the Catalan values I grew up with. I simply adore Catalunya and the fact that I was raised in my town of Olot, and then Girona. We had a healthy balance of family, community, studies, incredible friends, and a very awesome Mediterranean and Pyrenean culture. I would certainly be a very different person today if I had not grown up with family telling me I could be whatever I set my mind to. My parents are incredible role models.
Taking into consideration, the current pandemic, and its impact on global economies, how are you driving your organization to sustain operations and ensure the safety of your employees at the same time?
I personally have seen more innovation than ever during the pandemic. We accelerated it. All the major businesses I typically work with or relate to had to leapfrog their digital strategies and learn how to serve their customers around the world. At first, we thought our productivity would slow down, but I am beyond impressed with how everyone stepped it up even if our internet was slower, and the kids were studying from home. We have seen many people change their careers, me included. After being an executive at NetApp for nearly 12 years, I jumped to a new challenge.
Describe in detail the values and the work culture that drive Truly Global Business.
I do a lot of listening to get to the bottom of each team member. That allows me to see how we can work together, who is good at what, and modify how we work while they grow in their own careers. I laugh a lot with my teams. We work very hard, so we try to offer an open place for ideas, a place to collaborate. We create our own forums, we spin up industry forums. I have to say that I spend a lot of time looking at who we need to hire to be able to support these giants as they go global. I often prefer to hire for attitude and innovation spirit, people that are good to work with, who will be open to collaboration and learning. Accountability, clarity, speed, positivity, all play a huge role.
Where do you envision yourself being in the long run and what are your future goals for Truly Global Business?
I just stared to work at Procore Technologies, so that is where I see myself for the next few years. As for the book, I am already thinking of its third version, but this time I will ask graduate students of international studies to help me write a few new chapters I have in mind. I think the book will keep evolving as I evolve, I learn new major things each year. I am now studying a lot about globalization for global good, and the use of artificial intelligence to speed up what the world needs asap.
What would be your advice to budding business leaders?
Hire the best team, train them, I try to spend a lot of time developing my leaders. Without them, I go nowhere. Spending time during interviews to make sure you are onboarding people who are clear on what they are being asked to do, and spending time with them once they are in the organization is crucial.
Proven expertise in establishing strategic direction and delivering results through executive influence. And please develop the females in your organization. For example, I am the Chair of the Board of Aula Magna Business School and I encourage everyone to enroll their up and coming female leaders in thorough training! Check it out here: https://aulamagna.us/