Careers: Interviews
Women in IT Management

This week, Stephen Ibaraki, I.S.P., has an exclusive interview with Trish Gulbranson, President of NetPro, a leading provider of directory infrastructure management software.

Q: As a point of introduction, can you describe your career and the decisions you made to reach your current position at NetPro?

A. I have been in finance since the start of my career. I spent six years in the public accounting field, most notably with the “Big 5” accounting firm of PriceWaterhouseCoopers. I have spent the past six years at NetPro and have worked my way up to the President’s position from my finance role in the company.

I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to explore areas outside of accounting and finance during my tenure at NetPro, and my decision to be involved heavily in the operations of the business and work closely with the team to achieve Company goals is what ultimately positioned me for my role as President.

I am also heavily involved in the software industry, serving on the Board of Directors and leading the Software Association’s annual equity conference for up and coming software companies.

Q: You have an outstanding record. What remarkable qualities can you share that allowed you to achieve this stellar performance? What tips would you provide to other executives?

A. NetPro’s success comes from being customer driven -- from listening to its customer and delivering what they need. NetPro’s staff of dedicated employees embodies that philosophy and executes on it every day. They have built our outstanding record, and I am extremely proud and grateful to have the opportunity to work with all of them.

My personal success is driven out of my passion to be the best that I can be. I absolutely love my work and because it’s fun for me, it’s easy to work hard and make a total commitment to the company.

The people who have touched my life as mentors, especially Joanne Carthey, the former President & CEO of NetPro, have played a huge role in my success. And, that feeds beautifully into my advice to other executives. My advice is this: Listen to your customers, listen to those around you, and listen to your mentors.

Q: Where do you see NetPro, strategically in 2001 and where do you want NetPro to be in 2003, and 2005?

A. NetPro is the leader in the Directory Infrastructure Management space today. With that expertise and a healthy list of 4000 customers, many from the Fortune 1000, we are well positioned to expand our offerings. We have had exceptional success in the Novell arena, and we now offer three products for customers running Microsoft Windows 2000 Server. With the product breadth and our reputation, we are ideally poised to achieve even greater levels of success.

Strategically, our success will come through a renewed leverage of the channel, specifically through large systems integrators like Compaq and ePresence. Growth and expansion into new areas will also be driven by our strategic relationships with such industry partners as Quest and OpenNetwork with whom we have signed lead referral and product integration agreements.

Over the course of the next three to five years, our goals include expansion of products in the Directory Infrastructure Management space as well as expansion beyond Directories into the broader Network Systems Management space. We will do that through internal development of products, but also through leverage of such partners as NT Sim, Inc., developers of DirectorySim.

Q: How will NetPro’s services evolve over time for businesses and how will you shape this process?

A. NetPro has a core group of professional services professionals who work with our customers to ensure that our software is installed quickly and efficiently. And because our products are easily installable and stable, our customers don’t require a great deal of training or consulting. For this reason, we don’t have any immediate plans to expand our services offering.

Q: How will NetPro’s partnerships and distribution channels evolve and how will you direct this change?

A. NetPro is committed to building and leveraging our partnerships with both technology partners and global reseller partners. In the past, we have sold our software fundamentally through a well-trained direct sales force because it was appropriate for the space in which we were operating. Now that we have moved into the Microsoft space, the reach of a skilled integration channel will be vital to our success.

Understanding this, we signed an agreement with Compaq last year that formally integrated our software into its Windows 2000 service offering. Just last month, we signed an agreement with ePresence, a leader in the Windows 2000 integration services space. And, we’re also signing some new and exciting agreements with industry partners like Quest and OpenNetwork for lead referrals and product integration. I will be driving this new focus on the channel and vital strategic partnerships from my position as President, leveraging our Vice Presidents of Sales and Strategy to ensure that our goals are accomplished.

Q: What is your grand vision for computing and the Internet and other related technologies and how will you enable this vision for businesses?

A. The computing industry, and indeed the entire high-tech arena, is in the middle of a significant shake up in the aftermath of the demise and the economic downturn. However, computing is vital to the economy and to the productivity of businesses throughout the world. And networking technology, in particular promises to be a huge area of growth. We expect to see the network and the Internet become one and become virtually invisible to the user. And, through this evolution of the technology, computer services and information will be always on and always accessible – from anywhere at any time. Over time, we also see the network becoming more reliable and self-correcting, and we are pleased that our software provides significant value in this area by ensuring the reliability and performance of network directories.

Q: What advise would you give to businesses as they plan their own evolution in the next five years? Do you have specific technologies and processes they should watch out for and implement?

A. Through all the growth and change of the coming years, fight like Hell to maintain a strong sense of entrepreneurial spirit and empowerment among your employees. When they believe in the dream, they can achieve just about any goal put before them. Processes are necessary, but be careful. They can quickly turn an organization into an inefficient machine and result in the loss of that critical entrepreneurial spirit.

Q: Can you describe your latest press release on providing predictive modeling and what benefits can be had using this innovative technology? Can you provide details, case studies, examples and models of its benefits? Where do you see this technology evolving?

A. In our recent press release regarding DirectorySim, NetPro announced our exclusive agreement to partner with the product’s London-based developers to sell the software. The most comprehensive solution available for modeling Active Directory, DirectorySim has the potential to be one of our best-selling products ever. Early customer reaction has been extremely positive and the consultants who are heavily involved in Windows 2000 integration efforts are clamoring for it because it enables them to model the Active Directory environment before rolling it out. It saves considerable time and effort and it has the potential to bring huge cost savings, particularly in the way of hardware expenditures.

Because the product is not yet shipping, there are no case studies available at this time. However, we will make them available on our website as soon as they are. We anticipate that DirectorySim will evolve over time to offer modeling capability for other business-critical applications like SQL and Outlook. And we are exploring options for integrating the software into a suite of products that are designed to make the network self-aware and self-maintaining. Stay tuned!

Q: How have you been able to leverage your education and what top 10 career tips would you give to those considering a career in computing? What aspects of your own personal experience and education did you find the most useful in your own very successful career?

A. I graduated with a degree in accounting and my education and extensive experience in finance has given me the opportunity to experience the Company from a more global perspective. The accounting department in a company is truly the linchpin of all of the different departments and it gives the leader of the department the opportunity to participate on many levels.
Career Tips:

1. Don’t underestimate the people skills you will need. You can have a brilliant technical mind and fail because you’re unable to relate to people.
2. Management isn’t for everybody. Be comfortable in whatever role you choose.
3. Listen to your customers, both internal and external.
4. Technology for technology’s sake is a recipe for disaster. For technology to win, there must be a business need.
5. Assume that people that don’t understand the intricacies of your technology and leverage the people in your organization who can effectively teach it.

Q: What ten career pointers would you provide specifically to women?

A. 1. Speak Up- women are excellent business people, but sometimes lack the confidence to just speak their mind.
2. Don’t be afraid to take on new things. If you don’t have the required skills today, you can learn them as you go.
3. Network-in your industry as well as in your profession. It will have a dramatic effect on your credibility.
4. Be decisive
5. You don’t have to be loud and overbearing to be effective.
6. Stay on top of things in your industry by attending or helping drive local and national organizations and activities.
7. Don’t focus on gender differences
8. Get involved with outside groups that include at least some professional women in various stages of their careers.
9. Work with a mentor, either male or female.
10. Have confidence in yourself. You can do it!

Q: Where do you see yourself personally in five years?

A. I see myself as the President of a Company in the technology sector.

Q: Traditionally there hasn’t been a high penetration of woman in computing and in executive management but the landscape is changing. What are your views in this area?

A. It’s true. I recently returned from a Red Herring NDA conference for executives on the Top 10 trends in technology. Nearly 95% of the attendees were men. This may be due, in part, to the fact that few women pursue educations in the fields of math, science and engineering. And, I believe that women in general tend to be less assertive and confident than men. If they acted as confident as their male counterparts, they might tip the scales a bit.

Q: Consider this a blank slate. Are there additional comments you want to make?

A. I am thrilled with the opportunity to become the President of NetPro, and I am committed to ensuring its success through a formula of exceptional products, outstanding customer care, and entrepreneurial spirit.


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