Business and technology consulting firm Logic20/20 earlier this year hired Juliana Su as the company’s managing director of consulting. She has more than 20 years of experience in international consulting services.
Su has broad experience managing people, products and projects across multiple countries and disciplines, including software development and customer-care solutions. She served previously as president of Volt Customer Care Solutions and as the chief information officer at Volt Information Sciences. Prior to that, Su served as president of VMC Consulting Corp., which served the video gaming and connected digital marketplace.
Su, a graduate of the University of Colorado at Boulder with a bachelor’s degree in economics, two years ago moved from Washington, D.C., to Seattle with her husband and 11-year-old daughter. Outside of work, Su likes to spend time hiking, cycling, skiing and traveling with her family.
As part of the latest Daring Woman interview, Su shares some insights about the challenges faced by women in leadership roles and ways to overcome them, her views on mentors and networking, and she also offers some advice for the upcoming generation of female leaders.
What are the most important characteristics of a good leader and what leadership traits are overrated?
In my experience, one of the most important leadership characteristics is to be humble and check your ego. It’s important to understand when something (people, process, tools) is not working well and be able to quickly re-plan and re-position. You should be receptive, inclusive and always listening.
Another important characteristic is courage. Collaborate, but have the bravery to be decisive and lead the charge. Communicate with confidence and build trust. Encourage diversity, innovation and positive disruption to continue evolving an organization and its people.
I believe the most overrated qualities of a leader are needing to be the “smartest” person in the room and being a subject-matter expert on everything. As leaders, we still have the opportunity to be a mentee. There is always someone you can learn from and something new to learn.
As a woman, what is the most significant barrier to becoming a leader?
Staying informed of new opportunities in order to advance in your career, both inside and outside of your company. Also having a mentor to provide guidance throughout that journey.
How can women achieve more prominent roles in their organizations?
It’s important to socialize your desire to take on more challenges with your direct manager.
In addition, identify a career coach and mentor (may not be the same person). Develop a career-progression plan with both your manager and mentor, and take ownership of following the plan. Have frequent check-ins for feedback on your progress and ways you can continue to improve. Remember to be flexible as things change along the way, but it may be for the best.
What key lessons did you learn from a woman who has inspired, mentored or sponsored you?
There are four key lessons I have learned from my mentors that stand out to me.
1. I’ve learned to be fully present, speak up and have a voice. This means leading without having to be “one of the guys”.
2. Find stretch opportunities that challenge you and advance your career, both upwards and horizontally.
3. Don’t be overly self-critical; we all have missteps. Learn and move on.
4. Take what you’ve learned and pass it on; support, coach and mentor other women.
What advice do you have for the next generation of female leaders?
Believe that your team is stronger because of the diversity women bring to the table. As leaders, we have an unparalleled opportunity to properly set that table and bring all voices into the conversation. Actively seek opportunities to sponsor and/or host events to sow seeds of interest, create role-models, and contribute to a vision of success for future generations of women leaders. There’s no better way to invest in our future than investing in our youth.
How important is networking and how do you expand your contacts?
Keeping your network current is so important and an ongoing investment. It takes effort and time, but it is well worth it. I expand my network by attending relevant conferences, accepting speaking engagements, attending local networking and alumni events, nonprofit volunteering, and by joining advisory boards/boards of directors for nonprofit and for-profit organizations.
What would you do differently in your career?
Have courage to find my “voice” and my seat at the table much sooner than I did.
Where will we find you on a Saturday afternoon?
Most Saturday afternoons, I am attending my 11-year-old daughter’s lacrosse or soccer games or hiking with my family and our dog to catch up on our week and reconnect.
What would be the title of your autobiography?
“Less Is More: The Art of Keeping It Simple.”
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Daring Women Q&A responses have been edited and condensed.