Meet The Female Leaders Of Finance: “When there’s gender balance at the top, shareholders win.” with Jamie Barnett and Tyler Gallagher

Tyler Gallagher
Jun 19 · 8 min read

As a part of my series about strong female finance leaders, I had the pleasure of interviewing Jamie Barnett, a marketing, product, and customer success leader in SaaS, security, and mobile. She serves as chief marketing officer of AI leader AppZen. Prior to that, she was chief customer officer for DevOps monitoring company Scalyr, and before that, chief marketing officer for cloud security leader Netskope. After spending her early career as an investment banker and equity analyst, she held a number of senior marketing and product management positions in high-technology companies. She serves on the board of La Comida and is actively involved with a number of non-profit and social justice initiatives. Jamie earned a Bachelor of Science from UC Berkeley, an MBA from Stanford University, and is a Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP). She is a die-hard Monty Python fan.

Can you share with our readers the most interesting or amusing story that occurred to you in your career so far?

Earlier in my career, I worked for a large tech company. There were almost no women in senior positions, and the culture was dismissive toward women. Even though I was junior, I got to attend some meetings with the executive team because I was involved in an important company initiative. They held these meetings in a large boardroom in the executive wing of the building. It had a huge table with maybe 30 or 40 seats, but since lots of folks from around the company attended, people sat in chairs around the perimeter of the room when the table was full. In one meeting, I was at the table because I needed to present. Only about half of the seats at the table were filled, but the entire perimeter was full. A woman walked in a few minutes into the meeting, took a look around, and realized that there were no empty seats at the perimeter. Rather than sit at the table, she stepped out of the room and proceeded to drag a large, overstuffed chair from the executive waiting area into the room so she could sit at the perimeter and not the table, never mind that there were at least 15 open seats. To this day, I am angry at the executives for not asking her to join them at the table…and at myself for not speaking up.

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

We recently formed a women’s group at our company called the Awesome Women of AppZen (AWOA). We meet once a month and one of the members — no matter how senior or junior — leads the group in an exercise or discussion. The topics are around risk taking or speaking truth to power, topics that are good for anyone but women especially. Once a quarter, we have a casual dinner at one of our homes and invite a guest speaker. Last quarter, the president and founder of Lean In talked to us about combating gender bias. It was empowering.

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

AppZen has developed an award-winning product and grew 600 percent last year, but that’s not the reason we stand out. We stand out because we walk the walk of customer empathy. We have a number of programs, one of which is the cross-functional check-in (I know, boring name!). A few months after a customer goes live, we set up a Zoom with them and invite everyone from our company — product, engineering, UX, data science, marketing, customer success, sales, and more — to attend. We ask that at least one person from each function attend each customer call, and we often have more than 50 people on every call. We use the time to ask customers about their priorities, projects, stakeholders, goals, and KPIs, as well as watch closely as they use our product. It’s incredibly informative, an efficient way to get our employees on the same page (and reduce disagreements about what’s important to our customers), and a way to reduce risk of having customer information filtered through only a few people.

Wall Street and Finance used to be an “all white boys club”. This has changed a lot recently. In your opinion, what caused this change?

I don’t think it has changed! The finance function is broad. If you separate out financial firms from the finance function in enterprises, the former is higher paid and white male-dominated. And then if you slice by title, females are in the junior roles and males are in the senior ones. And it’s way worse for African-American and Hispanic women. All of this needs to change!

Of course, despite the progress, we still have a lot more work to do to achieve parity. According to this report in CNBC, less than 17 percent of senior positions in investment banks are held by women. In your opinion or experience, what 3 things can be done by a)individuals b)companies and /or c) society to support this movement going forward?

17% is already low, but the number falls to half that if you look at private equity! Since VCs (the subset focused on startups) are the funding gatekeepers, it’s no wonder only 2.2% of VC dollars went to female-founded companies last year. Sheesh!

We need to promote women in finance in three ways: 1. Put more women on boards; 2. Encourage women to take more risk (and reward vs. penalize them for doing so); and 3. Increase bias awareness. On 1, I love what Coco Brown is doing with Athena Alliance — preparing women for and placing them on boards. Yes! It’s a fact that when there’s gender balance at the top, shareholders win. On 2, our society steers women to less-risky jobs: HR vs. corporate finance. Operations vs. trading. Accounting vs. M&A. I say stop it! The next woman you advise, check your bias and tell her to reach as high as she can. Believe it or not, our government is having an impact. Seeing more women in Congress — and seeing our first women-majority state legislature (Go, Nevada!) — has changed the conversation in our government, and that trickles down to the state and local level, and business too! On 3, we should make people aware of bias. The first thing I did when I joined my company is send my fellow executives a copy of the Lean In and McKinsey & Co. report, Women in the Workplace 2018 (please do this if you haven’t already!).

You are a “finance insider”. If you had to advise your adult child about 5 non intuitive things one should do to become more financially literate, what would you say? Can you please give a story or example for each.

Here are three:

  1. Know how to read financial statements.
  2. Listen to at least one investor call every quarter.
  3. Know these fundamental economic and financial concepts. Understand the math underlying them. a. price elasticity of demand; b. marginal utility; c. economies of scale; d. game theory; e. asset allocation; f. beta (and alpha); g. Black-Scholes (and the value of optionality generally); h. efficient frontier; i. portfolio management; and j. cost of capital.

We used game theory recently to help make a decision about whether to announce a new product. We used efficient frontier to explain how AI helps finance teams optimize for both efficiency and leverage at the same time. And — believe it or not — we used Black-Scholes to help a life sciences customer use our AI product to comply with the Sunshine Act.

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?

Jeff Wishner, Geoff Beard, and Bill Burnham were my bosses in my early investment banking career. They took a chance on me even though I was immature and inexperienced. In my first investment banking role, we worked for a department that chose all-male deal teams because “the client wants to go to the titty bars,” among other enlightened reasons. When the head of our group wanted to use me as a pitchbook-making machine instead of assigning me to deals, Jeff chose me to be part of his team for interesting transactions. Similarly, Geoff gave me good assignments and pushed me to do my best work. And Bill taught me to be extremely rigorous and take more risk.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“Go for a B-.” I realize that sounds nuts, but if you don’t give yourself permission not to be perfect, you’ll make yourself crazy. Plus, my B- isn’t that bad!

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

My movement would focus on creating educational equality, leadership opportunities, bodily autonomy, and freedom from violence for women. Freeing up half of the world’s people to learn and reach for the stars educationally and professionally, control when and under what circumstances they become mothers, and contribute to the biggest problems our planet faces will have the most profound and long-lasting impact on our global population.

Thank you for joining us!

About the Author:

Tyler Gallagher is the CEO and Founder of Regal Assets, a “Bitcoin IRA” company. Regal Assets is an international alternative assets firm with offices in the United States, Canada, London and United Arab Emirates focused on helping private and institutional wealth procure alternative assets for their investment portfolios. Regal Assets is an Inc. 500 company and has been featured in many publications such as Forbes, Bloomberg, Market Watch and Reuters. With offices in multiple countries, Regal Assets is uniquely positioned as an international leader in the alternative assets industry and was awarded the first ever crypto-commodities license by the DMCC in late 2017. Regal Assets is currently the only firm in the world that holds a license to legally buy and sell cryptos within the Middle East and works closely with the DMCC to help evolve and grow the understanding and application of blockchain technology. Prior to founding Regal Assets, Tyler worked for a Microsoft startup led by legendary tech giant Karl Jacob who was an executive at Microsoft, and an original Facebook board member.

Authority Magazine

Leadership Lessons from Authorities in Business, Film, Sports and Tech. Authority Mag is devoted primarily to sharing interesting feature interviews of people who are authorities in their industry. We use interviews to draw out stories that are both empowering and actionable.

Tyler Gallagher

Written by

CEO and Founder of Regal Assets

Authority Magazine

Leadership Lessons from Authorities in Business, Film, Sports and Tech. Authority Mag is devoted primarily to sharing interesting feature interviews of people who are authorities in their industry. We use interviews to draw out stories that are both empowering and actionable.