Authority Magazine
Published in

Authority Magazine

Inspirational Women in STEM and Tech: Karen Meyer of Contract Logix On The 5 Leadership Lessons She Learned From Her Experience

An Interview With Candice Georgiadis

Keep track of what works and doesn’t work in a simple way. When you move from company to company, some things will consistently work, some will sometimes work again, and some just can’t be replicated. This applies to all things -.people, process, tools. At my last company, we were acquiring companies quite rapidly so I started documenting everything I was doing during those integrations. I realized that I couldn’t keep reinventing the wheel every time, so I built an integration playbook and we customized it for future negotiations. Certain things become second nature but keeping things simple helps when business is not.

As a part of my series about “Lessons From Inspirational Women in STEM and Tech”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Karen Meyer, CEO, Contract Logix.

As CEO of Contract Logix, Karen Meyer leads strategy for the company and oversees all aspects of the business. She brings more than 20 years of SaaS experience building organizations to scale and drive growth. Prior to joining Contract Logix, Meyer led Upland Software’s Global Customer Success organization. She led commercial and customer engagement teams for over a dozen products and played a critical role in driving Upland’s M&A and integration strategies leading to high growth and strong customer retention.

Meyer also held executive leadership roles at Qvidian, a proposal and RFP automation provider, leading to the acquisition of the company in 2017. She has also held prior roles at Manulife Financial, eHealth and Imagine Software.

Meyer holds a BS from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

There are two things that I have always loved: helping people and solving technical problems. I originally wanted to be a designer and run a business, and I eventually got there. It just happened to be in the software industry. Now, I am in a position where I can mix the technical problem solving and communications skills that I’ve developed over the years. It’s been a natural progression.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began at your company?

I am about 30 days into my role as a new CEO, so I don’t know what I don’t know. One night, I was packing a lunch for my son and then the next day, I’m the CEO, walking into this new role and new room of people in the middle of a literal snowstorm. Looking around that room, I understood immediately that I’m responsible for these great people and all of the company’s assets. It really changed my perspective.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

I think, in time, we’ll be able to see the humor in returning to the office after COVID. Recently, I was in the office and it looked like time stopped — there are TVs and couches and magazines from 2019, some mail piling up. I turned on the television and Planet of the Apes was on! It’s like we’re all waking up from a two-year nap.

From a lessons learned perspective, I don’t know that I’m there yet, but as a new leader, it’s going to be important for me to dust off the plans of an organization muscling through its Covid comeback and build a plan to re-engage and re-energize employees and customers. I also learned that I miss seeing people in an office setting, and there’s value in having the Golden Girls on in the background all day when things get too quiet!

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

Over the past month, I’ve been able to see up close what makes Contract Logix a standout company. We are so small, so mighty and very humble. We’re delivering so much product to our customers at such a high velocity, and we have some of the original pioneers in the industry on staff. When customers ask us to show them how to “do” contract management, this is a differentiator. A lot of people in the tech industry don’t understand how to make customers successful after they deliver a product, but the fact that customers are asking us to show them what to do (three in the past week, in fact!) is such a credibility factor. The combination of a great platform, combined with people and passion, makes us unique. Employees call themselves Logicians to show their passion for data and analytics and are truly invested in helping customers leverage all the data in their contracts.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

From a product standpoint, we are working on adding even more intelligence to our platform to help our customers find what they need easier and help them continue to use data to drive risk reduction inside of their organizations. Since many organizations are fully digitizing contract management for the first time, they need to be guided to what to measure, how often and be able to prove impact. Internally, we are working on initiatives and campaigns like Executive Outreach Programs and Customer Advisory Boards that will suit the needs of our reengaged- post-COVID customers. We want to help them deliver even more value to the business. We’re also getting our own organization excited about this next phase of growth. We’re putting processes and procedures in place and aligning them to good customer engagement.

Ok super. Thank you for all that. Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview. Are you currently satisfied with the status quo regarding women in STEM? What specific changes do you think are needed to change the status quo?

The short answer is no, I am not happy with the status quo, but I think we need to take a more nuanced look at what is going to help in the long run. When you look at the data, there hasn’t been much change over the past decade. The biggest percentage of women in STEM is still at the individual contributor level, and they tend to leave before or as they move into more senior leadership positions. We have to address the why. What’s even more pressing to me, though, is looking beyond just the representation of women in STEM and looking at how to increase equity for all groups — we need more minorities in STEM, we need more LGBTQ representation, we need to push even further beyond historical stereotypes and toward inclusion.

Increasing inclusion is not a “set it and forget it” type fix. First, anyone who has crossed that barrier like me has to help more — mentor, coach, and encourage growth and participation across all races, genders, and identities. We also have to look at how we teach and educate about careers in STEM. While the increased focus on STEM in U.S. education is great, there’s a tendency to look at it very classically. You go to an engineering school, and you think that to be successful, you have to be an engineer. What doesn’t get explored is all the surrounding categories — product management, user experience, technical marketing, etc. There is a lot of opportunity to be creative in STEM, but if you’re not already inclined to be an engineer, you may not be exposed to it. Developing programs to make ALL of the parts of STEM (skills like risk management, analytics, communication) an integral part of education will help ensure diverse, creative representation in the future.

In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges faced by women in STEM or Tech that aren’t typically faced by their male counterparts? What would you suggest to address this?

Probably the most significant difference is that men don’t have to deal with people commenting on their maleness all the time. When you are a woman in STEM, people point out that you are a woman in STEM and you’ll be asked to speak for women in STEM, as if we are a monolith. And the more senior you are, the more acknowledgement there will be because there are less and less people that look like you. I have to not be distracted by this and have the confidence to address it and ask why it’s relevant. I would like to see more male counterparts openly supportive of acknowledging it when it happens and neutralizing it.

What are the “myths” that you would like to dispel about being a woman in STEM or Tech. Can you explain what you mean?

You don’t have to play golf to be successful. There’s a myth that you have to play golf, be one of the guys and that this is the way to grow your career. There are other ways to find your way to customers, both internally and externally. I haven’t played golf, but I have been respected by my peers and customers for rolling differently.

What are your “5 Leadership Lessons I Learned From My Experience as a Woman in STEM or Tech” and why. (Please share a story or example for each.)

I have a few that have consistently worked for me over the years.

  1. Keep track of what works and doesn’t work in a simple way. When you move from company to company, some things will consistently work, some will sometimes work again, and some just can’t be replicated. This applies to all things -.people, process, tools. At my last company, we were acquiring companies quite rapidly so I started documenting everything I was doing during those integrations. I realized that I couldn’t keep reinventing the wheel every time, so I built an integration playbook and we customized it for future negotiations. Certain things become second nature but keeping things simple helps when business is not.
  2. Be consistently fair. I try to be thoughtful and fair about decisions. Sometimes the customer is not right. Sometimes it’s hard to figure out where the line is, but if you are consistent, that brings you credibility and allows you to be objective. For example, if you have a customer with a complaint, try and be fair in resolving it. This applies to the people side of things as well. Hiring, firing, and growing are not easy, but should be fair.
  3. Don’t shy away from the hard stuff. Hiring, firing, saying no. Oftentimes you know when you have a bad egg on your team, or you know when you have a problem technically that is going to take resources and time to fix. But if you don’t address it quickly, there will be more problems down the line. If you don’t deal with the bad egg, you may lose valuable team members, and if you don’t deal with the product issue, it may cause more long-standing issues later. The hard stuff is why people get paid to be leaders.
  4. Find your non-STEM allies. You can’t lead just from a technical standpoint. Find your allies in finance, accounting, marketing, etc. These are the people that will help make your business successful. They can be your eyes and ears in a different way.
  5. Stay close to your customers — whoever that is. More outside-in thinking helps you make better business decisions and staying close to your customers will ensure that you don’t lose sight of who you’re in business for. Customers can also help you break ties quickly if you are having trouble making investment decisions.

What advice would you give to other women leaders to help their team to thrive?

I think the lessons I outlined above about being fair and embracing the hard stuff causes teams to be successful, rather than just individuals. When you help people grow, they thrive.

What advice would you give to other women leaders about the best way to manage a large team?

In addition to consistency and fairness, at a more practical level, pick a few key goals and metrics and drive hard to those. If a team has a unified goal, it can be the north star, helping drive and guide all key internal and external decisions. If a team has too many goals or it’s just a roll up of individual goals, the team won’t perform well as a unit.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

Without question, it’s my mom. She graduated from Warren County Tech as one of two women in the drafting program and was a draftswoman. She consistently sacrificed, but her grit and positivity, even when everything around her was broken, still influences me today.

In the business world, Lewie Miller, the Chairman of the Contract Logix Board and software industry veteran, has been a mentor to me. At one of our prior companies, he trusted me to develop the vision, the product, and to get the customers. And once we grew that business and realized it was not a sustainable business model, he trusted me to divest that product and return our strategy to investing in our core product and what we were great at. We worked on other projects together, and he has always believed in my abilities. I’m here in this role because of him.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

I have done this in a number of different ways.

I have been fortunate, and I want other people to have the same opportunities to grow as I have. I take helping people develop their careers very seriously. At my last company, more than half of the team that I left have taken steps forward in their careers.

At my last company, we provided the software that does global messaging and email for some of the world’s largest non-profit organizations. Being able to help those organizations communicate during COVID, social unrest, the election, as well as during hurricanes and other disasters, were some of the proudest moments I’ve had. I saw how technology, and the position I was in as a leader, could affect people.

I’ve also used my background in technology and business to help groups get better organized. There are basic tools that people who don’t work in tech know exist. One example is in my current hometown of Nashua, NH. We had a recreational soccer program but were losing girls because the league didn’t provide a pathway that people could afford. I used my organizational, tech chops and communication skills to help get Nashua in the Travel Soccer Program and provide a way for kids to continue playing soccer at a higher level.

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 😊

I would go back to STEM education and help create programs for students that are focused more on unlocking creative thinking around the industry, especially with younger women or girls. I want to invest more and influence people on nontraditional paths to look more at the creative side of STEM.

Can you please give us your favorit“ “Life Lesson Qu”te”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

Give all you can, then give a little more. This is a mindset and energy. I can always do more. If I had a deadline, I would break it down into smaller chunks. If I’m tired and I failed four times, go for the fifth. If I didn’t think this way, historically, I would have been in a mindset of not reaching or growing.

We are very blessed that very prominent leaders read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them :-)

Do I have to pick just one?

Without a doubt, I would love to sit down with Dr. Shirley Jackson, President of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, my alma mater. She was the first African-American woman to have earned a doctorate at MIT, the first woman and first African American to be Chairman of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the first of so many things. She’s about to retire, but the theme that she brought to my college was “why not change the world?” and it’s always stuck with me. She’s driven so many changes at the college and there is a much higher percentage of women in STEM programs now. I want to know how she did it! She’s an inspiration.

From a pure fun perspective, I would love to hang out with Hoda Kotb. She’s a mother and is consistently positive!

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this.

--

--

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Candice Georgiadis

Candice Georgiadis

825 Followers

Candice Georgiadis is an active mother of three as well as a designer, founder, social media expert, and philanthropist.