Jane Dennis on a boat
By Julie Johnson | March 31, 2022

Worried You Lack the Experience or Expertise to Get into Sales or Start Down a New Career Path? Take It from a Luddite Turned High Tech Sales Leader: “People Buy People”

In a new podcast series, I’ll introduce you to the “Women Who Wow” me every day, including Jane Dennis. Find out how she built a rapport as a trusted advisor in tech after selling encyclopedias for 20 years.

There are so many incredible women in my life, and I’m sure you have many you admire as well. So, I want us to celebrate them and, most importantly, learn from them. That’s why I’m hosting a new Your Edge podcast series showcasing “Women Who Wow.”

Some of the guests I’ll invite to join these discussions have had quite remarkable careers and risen to leadership positions within their organizations and industries. Others have been leading the charge for change in their companies, communities, and society at scale. All are paving their own paths in life – and paving new paths for other women to follow. My first guest, Jane Dennis, checks all these boxes and more.

She is a rock star! Seriously. She’s smart, nonsensical, and the type of person who genuinely wants to get to know everyone she meets, even if it’s only for a moment in passing. To be honest, I have never met someone who does not instantly adore her, especially among our customers. And, to give you an idea of how much she is trusted and respected in business, the U.K. native was asked to move across the pond to the U.S. to help guide a large retail brand through its digital transformation as a strategic partner.

Here’s the kicker: Jane – the Sales Director for multinational accounts at Zebra – is known for being a luddite. That’s right! Even after 20 years in technology, she’s still not a technically minded person even though she has helped some of the world’s biggest brands solve even bigger challenges using technology. But I think that speaks volumes about the validity of her assertion that “people buy people before they buy product.”

Of course, it also helps that she’s an earnest listener. As she so eloquently put it:

You only have two ears and one mouth. Use them in proportion.”

Trust me when I say that no matter who you are, what you do, or where you want to be in 20 years, you need to take 30 minutes to listen to Jane’s story and advice to others who want to build strong relationships and successful careers.

We talk about…

  • why Jane decided to reboot her career in tech after spending 20 years selling encyclopedias (and how she got into sales originally).
  • how she went on to manage some of the largest retail, transportation and logistics accounts for a Fortune 500 tech company (after admittedly being the “problem child” in meetings centered on technology discussions.)
  • how her “learn from the ground up” style has benefited her throughout her career (and why she feels her success is credited to the time she spent on the front lines, restocking shelves, making deliveries and just walking in others’ shoes).
  • the challenges she faced over the years as a woman in tech sales (and how she worked to #BreakTheBias.)
  • why she will never “manage” people, preferring to show leadership, but does try her best to manage stress. (The latter of which she attributes as a condition of enjoying her job so much.)
  • how personal style fits into the business equation (and how she defines hers).
  • what she has learned about working and living in different parts of the world (and the emotions she had going back to the office after some time away during the pandemic).
  • how she powered through big life changes despite her nerves (and you can too).
  • the career advice she would give her younger self.
  • what it takes to become a good seller, no matter what you’re selling or what industry you’re in.
  • why success is all about who you surround yourself with (especially as a seller).

Honestly, she shared so many fantastic tips and insights that I’ve bookmarked our conversation so I can revisit it when I need inspiration or just a reminder of what matters most in relationships and business. I hope you will too!

Women Who Wow: Jane Dennis

Podcast, Best Practices, Leadership, Inside Zebra Nation, Corporate Social Responsibility, Retail, Transportation and Logistics,
Julie Johnson
Julie Johnson

Julie Johnson has been a global technology business leader for almost 30 years, creating growth and value in product lines and new market segments for the consumer electronics, enterprise, and Fintech/payment markets.  She has combined an awareness of customer needs and technology proficiency with passion and recognized leadership, delivering growth in highly competitive markets.

Currently, as Vice President & General Manager of Zebra Technologies’ $2.1B Mobile Computing business, Julie creates and delivers Android and Windows hardware, software, and cloud-based SaaS solutions to retail, field mobility, warehouse, healthcare, and government channels globally, providing visibility and intelligent collaboration across enterprise employees.  She is developing robotics automation, computer vision and augmented reality solutions for warehouse, retail, and field mobility customers.

Julie has a successful track record of creating innovative product solutions that meet customer needs, prevailing over tough competitors. As Corporate Vice President of Product Management at Google, she led the Droid Android mobile phone product line, winning exclusive, volume-based contracts with Verizon Wireless to provide their entire Droid product line, competing against leading Asian competitors.   As Corporate Vice President of Product Management at Lenovo, Julie owned a global P&L of up to $5B, surpassing Samsung’s market share in South America, launching a new line of devices to meet market needs and launching the first device with an unbreakable display, winning top smartphone in 2012 Consumer’s Report.  Julie spent 9 years of her career at Motorola in manufacturing operations, running factories in a fast-growth, rapidly changing technology environment, understanding the need to vastly lower operating costs while maintaining flexibility and investing for future enablers.

As Director, Julie currently serves on the board of Lumentum (NASDAQ: LITE), a global leader in optical communications and 3D sensing for facial recognition, and Superconductor Technologies, Inc. (NASDAQ:  SCON), a technology leader in the provision of high temperature superconducting materials and related technologies.  Julie’s strategic insight, experience in global product, technology, and commercialization, and pragmatic execution skills have had positive impact in Lumentum’s development of their 3D sensing market and the development of STI’s superconducting wire business to date.

Her distinctive expertise is in market segment expansion and product line growth, helping companies develop market strategies, create product solution roadmaps, and prioritize M&A vs. organic investments.  Having worked in every global market, she understands the financial conflict between differing market needs and diverse product lines.  She is a passionate, collaborative team player who strives to create value.

Julie earned a Master of Science in Business Administration degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a Master of Science Degree in Materials Science & Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.  She has a Bachelor degree in Math and Physics from Albion College.

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