We are celebrating International Women’s Day all week by introducing you to some of the incredible women of Team Daugherty. We want to share their stories — what brought them to our team, what characteristics they value in leadership, what drives them to be successful — and give you some insight into the amazing women that we have the opportunity to work side-by-side with every single day.

Justine Dugan joined Daugherty Business Solutions nearly two years ago looking for a role that would allow her to serve as a leader in an IT organization. She is invested in helping Daugherty’s clients to achieve their business goals, but she is also passionate about helping the next generation of women in technology to realize their full potential. Justine’s path to Daugherty has been anything but typical and she wouldn’t change a day of it. Through “hard work, persistence and consistency” she gained valuable experience before joining the team in St. Louis. Learn more about Justine and you will quickly understand why she is such an asset to Team Daugherty.

Can you share a little bit about your road to Daugherty?

When I was 22 years old, I graduated from Columbia College in Chicago with a degree in marketing. I had the honor of delivering the valedictory to an audience of about 2,000 people. That speech was a pivot point in my life that demonstrated no matter your gender, if you work hard and believe in yourself, you are capable of achieving anything.

I started my career in advertising. I enjoyed my work, but shortly thereafter I discover the technology industry and I knew I had to make the change. My natural curiosity and endless desire to learn made me a perfect match for the constantly changing world of IT. After several years in a recruiting role, I moved into a sales position. This change led me to a new adventure — working toward an MBA at Pepperdine University. During that time, I focused my studies in finance, which was a new experience for me because I had always migrated toward classes such as English or literature. When I was about to graduate, I came to a crossroads — finance or IT? I started down the path of finance. The first step was to take the Series 7 to become a Financial Advisor. While studying for the exam, I struggled with “Options,” which was 40% of the test. I finally got to a point, where I asked myself why I was doing it and if it was what I really wanted to do? The answer was no. I do believe in the commonly referenced quote, ‘Love what you do and you will never work a day in your life,’ and, at that time, this quote became my mantra. So, I began my career in IT working for a management consulting organization. I was exposed to the best in thought leadership research and data. During my tenure I held multiple positions ranging from Project Management to Change Management to Business Analysis.

After working in these roles for some time and gaining valuable industry experience, I made the decision to return to St Louis to be with my family. Living in the Gateway City, my path shifted once again. I moved from Marketing Strategist to Residential Real Estate Relocation Buyer, before deciding to pursue a position in IT sales. I worked to become a Managing Director with a national IT professional services firm. I was happy with my work and felt that I had reached the pinnacle of my career — being a part of the senior leadership team of a $500M company and directly reporting to the COO and CEO. However, once I learned about Daugherty, I was sold. What compelled me the most was the opportunity to be a leader. Joining Team Daugherty would allow me to drive my own book of business, solve for the customer, and collaborate with an amazing team of talented people engaged in interesting work. I knew that this organization valued leveraging powerful tools, techniques and methodologies unique to Daugherty. That was June 2015 and the rest is history.

Who has been the most influential woman in your life?

That’s a great, yet tough question. I would say my grandmother. She was one of 14 children, half of which did not live past the age of 10. She grew up poor, working on a farm. A Midwestern work ethic was in her DNA. She was ambitious, competitive and incredibly athletic. She started competing in table tennis in her teens. She married at 19, moved to Chicago and had three children, when suddenly she found herself in an abusive marriage with limited options. She was fiercely protective of her children and did not want to stay dependent on her husband to support the family, so she got a divorce (which was not common then) and went to work full-time as a paralegal. She was a single mother supporting her children, intent on sending them all to college. Along the way, she competed professionally in table tennis and, once her children were out of the house, she traveled globally. She was ranked among the world’s top players. She loved to play chess, scrabble and bridge. Anything that challenged her intellectually, she was drawn to. Not to let age stop her while working full-time, she graduated magna cum laude from DePaul University earning her degree at the age of 60. She was optimistic, supportive, opinionated, funny, wise and she embraced life. She lived until 94 and left a legacy of grace, generosity and kindness. She was influential, as well as inspirational.

Did anyone in particular inspire you to follow this career path?

So many people (male and female) have graciously and selflessly taken the time to mentor and sponsor me (indirectly and directly), which is why I am so passionate about ‘paying it forward.’ I would not be where I am today, if it wasn’t for those who believed in me along the way. I am grateful for each of them.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

The opportunity to solve big business problems for our clients. Servant leadership has always been a guiding principle throughout my career, giving me the greatest meaning and purpose. To problem solve is what drives me, and having the tools and people to execute on it is utopia.

What advice would you give to girls considering a career in technology?

First and foremost, I would say to follow your heart and to not define yourself by your failures. In other words, it’s not what you can’t do, but what you can and want to do. If you close your eyes and let your mind wander, where does it go? Go to that. Push yourself to go outside of your comfort zones and be fearless. You will only regret what you don’t try.

I’m wildly passionate and enthused to see changes being made in STEM, especially for girls. I mentored girls when I was in graduate school and young women throughout my career. Currently, I am on the Young Friends Board for Marian Middle School, serving on the Women’s Leadership Network for the Girls Scouts, and also volunteering as a co-troop leader for my daughter’s Daisy Troop. The push for STEM is more than a movement, it’s a mindset. There is an abundance of opportunities occurring among us and I believe it is everyone’s responsibility to work together on this critical issue that will affect an entire generation of young girls. As we know, women remain dramatically underrepresented in technology fields.

What makes a person an effective/good leader?

The main qualities that come to mind in my opinion are:

  • Listening as if your life depends on it.
  • Being decisive and making high quality decisions
  • Having integrity, humility, honesty and authenticity.
  • Being an incredible communicator.
  • Supporting and facilitating your team, instilling confidence in their abilities to make a difference and creating purpose and value.

What’s your favorite quote?

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, “Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?” Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

- Marianne Williamson