Terri Burmeister: Taking Risks and Ensuring Customer Satisfaction

VictoriaShanks - Business Magazine | CIOLook

To get the best out of yourself, you must continuously analyze and acknowledge your own strengths and weaknesses. Leaders who have this self-awareness, who are open to new learning and have a decisive approach create the most success, for themselves and their companies. Possessing such leadership qualities is Terri Burmeister, President of Catapult, who focuses her company on delivering customer satisfaction and fulfilling their ever-changing requirements. Her industry experience and magnetic personality have helped elevate her organization to a leadership position in the field of cloud & IT services.

Below are the highlights of the interview conducted between Terri and CIOLook; 

Kindly take us through your journey on becoming a proficient leader. 

Leading teams is truly my passion, which began early in my career. I found that not only do I have a passion for helping clients solve their business challenges; I thoroughly enjoy helping others to reach their full potential. My inner desire is to see others succeed, which guides me professionally. That attitude comes from the values that I was raised with growing up in a small rural farm community in southwestern Minnesota. I was raised by hardworking parents who taught me at an early age that if you work hard, listen to and respect others, educate yourself, and learn from your mistakes, you can do anything you set your mind to. This approach to life has been the cornerstone of my career.

One of the most exciting parts of working in the technology industry is the ever-present change. During my tenure at Catapult, I’ve continued to embrace and push the boundaries of what it means to be a service provider. The last few years have seen the most dramatic changes for our company and our industry as a whole. To remain a leader in our industry, Catapult has not only had to adopt technological change, but also look for new ways to better support our customers’ businesses. Our creation of Solutions-as- a-Service has led the charge in changing the way businesses purchase technology services, moving from a project-based approach with large capital expenses to continuous improvements via subscription services that create predictable spending and better long-term outcomes.

How do you diversify your organization’s offerings to appeal to your target audience? 

Catapult provides service to companies of nearly every size and industry. While they all have different priorities and needs, most companies have one thing in common. The pace of technology change and innovation is incredibly hard for them to keep up with, impacting both employees and customers. We’ve had to change our approach in order to help our customers thrive in this new business climate. For Catapult, this has meant moving many of our services to a subscription-based approach, as mentioned earlier, and offering IP-led solutions to enable our customers’ digital transformation.

Catapult is unique due to our deep, lasting partnership with Microsoft. Over 25 years, we have become one of Microsoft’s top US-based partners, in the top .01% among their 20,000+ partners. Due to this deep Microsoft expertise, our IP-led solutions were created to extend the Microsoft stack. For example, in 2013 we introduced our first ever IP-led solution, Fuse. Built-in SharePoint Online on Office 365, Fuse is an intranet solution that supports employee communication and collaboration. Our solution makes it faster and easier for companies to adopt SharePoint, as well as adding additional functionality not present in the base platform offered by Microsoft. Since then, we have developed two additional IP-led solutions that are built on Microsoft technology: Spyglass, which manages IT Security & Compliance (using Microsoft’s Enterprise Mobility + Security), and Launch, which supports IT Efficiency and Automation (leveraging Windows 10).

Describe some of the vital attributes that every business person should possess. 

As a leader, one must not only believe in one-self and lead with the passion but should encourage their teams to stand behind their core values. Strong core values are what attracted me to Catapult 11 years ago. I was at a point in my career where I wanted a new challenge and was looking for an organization that had similar values to mine. Catapult recognizes people for their accomplishments and provides a path for executive leadership based on merit. It was clear that their vision and core values aligned with mine, and once I joined the executive leadership team, there was no looking back. I have had the opportunity to develop new markets, oversee a talented sales and operations organization, and work with some of the most talented employees and leadership teams in our industry. Catapult takes pride in creating a work environment where our employees embody our core values: Accountability, Passion, Initiative, Teamwork, Agility, and Fun. These are the attributes that make Catapult great and separate us from other companies. From a leadership perspective, I believe confidence, decisiveness, focus, staying true to your values, leading by example and knowing that it’s okay to fail sometimes are some of the characteristics that make a great leader.

  • Confidence- People look to you for cues on how to behave, particularly if things aren’t going 100% right. If you remain calm and poised, team members are far more likely to be calm as well. As a result, morale, and productivity will remain consistent, obstacles are removed, and problems are solved more quickly.
  • Decisiveness- The ability to make tough decisions, which often impact others, but must be made to ensure your environment, is healthy for your employees. As a leader, employees trust that you will always be looking out for them versus personal gain for yourself.
  • Focus- Knowing that success today will pave the way for success in the future.
  • Staying true- Protect what you value, stay committed, and don’t be afraid to share your values with your employees.
  • Leading by example -Stand behind your commitments and promises, be a good example and work hard so your teams see that you are invested in their success. By doing this, you will inspire others to do the same.
  • Failure- Failing is a part of learning, how you handle the failure is what matters. We all fail and those that can recognize their failures will rise to the top. It’s okay to point out your weaknesses if you know how to overcome them.

As per your opinion, what roadblocks or challenges do women face in a corporate business? And what is your advice for overcoming them? 

There has been and will always be roadblocks in the corporate workplace. These can come in many different forms, often due to a lack of vision, lack of self-discipline, fear of failure and even hiring the wrong type of people. However, these roadblocks are equally relevant across all genders. Fortunately, today we continue to see an increase of women in key leadership roles. I feel this is because women have stood up for what they believe in and their voices are being heard. I have been very fortunate to work with people that recognized my strong character, which allowed me to see through the roadblocks and focus on what I could influence and change. Today, I am extremely excited to see the younger generations succeed in a workforce which is now focused on equality. Finding the right organization, one which values people for their contributions above all else, is critical to your success. Catapult is a Microsoft partner, and equality in the workplace is very important to their organization. I have taken great pride in working with Microsoft throughout my career due to their leadership around workplace equality.

It is essential that you do your due diligence to ensure the culture and values of an organization are aligned with your beliefs and goals.

Have you contributed towards the cause of women empowerment? 

I am an active member of Women in Technology Network (WIT), an organization that is passionate about diversity and has created an inclusive environment where everybody feels welcomed and valued. Not all women across the world will face the same challenges. WIT is committed to supporting women from all nations and to raising awareness of issues they are facing – with local teams growing and managing their individual communities.

I also spend my time providing career guidance and direction to DigiGirlz, a Microsoft Youth Spark program, which gives middle and high school girls’ opportunities to learn about careers in technology, connect with Microsoft employees, and participate in hands-on computer and technology workshops. Through both organizations, as well as other volunteer efforts, I’m working to help lessen inequality on all levels—not just those confined to gender.

What are your insights on the necessity of ’women in the position of power’? How could it bring a change in traditionally male-dominated industries? 

Today, women represent almost 50% of the workforce. I feel the number of women in leadership roles will continue to rise and it should be encouraged. In the male-dominated technology industry, women in leadership roles often mentor other women as they build their careers. Women seek mentors and the more women they see are successful in technology, the more likely they will want to pursue a role in the industry.

Being part of the growing number of women leaders in technology, I’ve had the opportunity to see the immense amount of positive change it can bring to an organization. That’s not to say that women bring more to the table. It’s to say that having a wide representation of employees—from different generations, genders, experiences, etc.—makes a company stronger by having diversity company-wide.

How do you strategize your game plans to tackle the competition in the market? 

Competing is at the heart of all great leaders and directing a team to victory is what we are all trying to accomplish. As a leader, we look to differentiate our offerings and services from our competition. We strive to outperform our competition and deliver excellence in everything we do. It is my duty to ensure my team has everything they need to be successful, at all levels of the organization.

We took a risk back in 2013 with our first IP-led Solutions as a Service offering, Fuse. The timing for us to go to market with this technology was crucial, establishing us as an innovator and leading intranet solutions and services provider. At the time, we were one of the first in our industry to commoditize and change the way technology services were sold. We now take this approach with all our solutions. Taking a partner-centric approach to service delivery, rather than traditional vendor relationship, means that we assume a larger risk of ensuring our customers are successful in their efforts to digitally transform.

How do you keep up with technological trends to boost your professional and personal growth? 

We always need to be learning, and in our forever-changing industry, I spend a great deal of time reading books about leadership, as well as looking for ways to stay abreast of the technology trends. Learning can be a full-time job, so I have adapted my learning to include various mediums including books, podcasts, and online resources, as well as formal leadership training for myself and my leadership team.

What are your future endeavors/objectives and where do you see yourself in the near future? 

As I mentioned earlier, I have been truly blessed and continue to find myself fulfilled in my current role as President of Catapult. I hope to continue to expand our team and build a desirable, dynamic work environment where our employees can grow and deliver innovative technology solutions for our customers. 

What is your career advice for upcoming and budding female business leaders and entrepreneurs? 

Choose to commit and everyone can succeed—I personally feel that if you commit to making a difference, you will be amazed at what you may accomplish. Maintaining a balance is very important. Having been married for 28 years and as a mother of two adult children, I have found that is critical that you have a strong support system in place. As a woman in the technology industry for over 25 years, it has been amazing to see the shift in generations. Embrace change and challenge yourself. Don’t be afraid to ask for a seat at the table.

About Catapult: 

Catapult is digital solutions and services that use technology to solve complex business challenges. Catapult has consistently been recognized as a leading Microsoft partner for its expertise in digital transformation and cloud-based technologies. Catapult was named the 2018 Microsoft US Partner Award Winner for Azure Compete, the 2017 Partner of the Year Finalist in Cloud Productivity and the 2016 Microsoft Partner of the Year (US).

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