Level Up Leadership: Julie Doleman

Listen to the podcast (FULL TRANSCRIPT):

Level Up is a podcast for anyone interested in improving their leadership skills. The series is designed to help you gain insight into the skills needed to grow your career.

You can subscribe to Level Up Leadership on Apple PodcastsGoogle PlaySoundCloud and Spotify.

Most recently, we spoke to Julie Doleman, Managing Director of Global Expansion at Experian Consumer Services. Julie has been with Experian for 18 years and has worked to establish and build businesses in Brazil, Colombia, Peru, India, Uganda and more.

Here are some takeaways from our conversation with Julie:

Don’t underestimate the power of a good network.
When Julie made her way across the pond to work in the UK, she didn’t realize how important having a network was, something she felt that she lost in the move. Whether it’s friends, family or coworkers that have come to feel like family, your network is going to provide a great support system and it’s important to continuously build and improve it.

Take the chance to travel.
If it’s something you’re interested in, Julie highly recommends you raise your hand and let your managers and regional leaders know that traveling for work is something you are open to. Julie has gotten to experience various countries, cultures and people and in turn, she has been able to learn how to lead through influence and motivate different kinds of teams.

No one immediately nails the job.
Like Julie said, “If you don’t start by thinking to yourself, ‘I sure fooled them into thinking I can actually do this,’ you picked the wrong role.” Nobody completely nails the job in the first couple weeks and if you do, then the role wasn’t challenging enough for you. Remembering this is a good way to deal with your impostor syndrome.

Break up the monotony of the meeting.
As we deal with a global pandemic and working remotely full time, it’s only natural that our weeks are filled to the brim with meetings. This can be exhausting. Julie recommends breaking up the monotony however you can. Maybe you set aside time in the beginning and end to share about what’s going on in your personal life. Maybe you go on a walk during your meeting instead of sitting at your desk. Whatever it is, it’s important to make sure you aren’t experiencing burnout.

We were so happy to have the opportunity to chat with Julie for Level Up.

Check out interviews with other leaders.

Full Transcript

Patty: Julie if you could start us off by telling our listeners about your professional and educational background.
Julie: Sure. I started at Experian with Consumer Services about a year after we were acquired by Experian, so we were a bit of the newbies on the block. It was a really fun and interesting time in that nobody really understood what we were or who we were. We were just a bit of the cowboys in the corner. I’ve spent my entire Experian career, which is 18ish years, but all at ECS. I was at ECS in the U.S. for 10 years. Then I went over to the U.K. for three years and had a brief repatriation back to the U.S. I worked in the global strategy team for a short stint, and then I ended up going back to the U.K. to run global expansion of consumer services, which was really fun and interesting. I’ve spent the last four years helping to establish and build our ECS businesses in Brazil and Spanish [inaudible 00:02:53], Colombia, and Peru, and India, and now beginning in South Africa and Uganda. It’s been a fun journey, and it’s always been very ECS focused.
Mike: I love how you described ECS as being like the cowboy in the corner. I wonder if you could expand on that.
Julie: Yeah, it was really interesting. When we came into the Experian family, Experian had never done anything directly with consumers. They were a bit unsure about what we did and who we were. We had to explain why we have to spend money in customer acquisition, why channels like Google and at the time Yahoo were some of our biggest clients, and why clients like Google are not really ones that are up for negotiation. It was an interesting process from start to finish. We had to educate the business on the consumer, but we also had to educate the business on customer acquisition marketing. I think that in those early years, we really had to prove the value of what we did directly for consumers, and I say that were the cowboys in the corner because one of my favorite stories to tell is our first sales summit, we were literally in the very back corner of the room at this little table by the service staff. That was funny and entertaining, and we were truly in the corner.
The next year, I think they moved us a few tables up, but we decided that we were all going to wear matching outfits.
Mike: Nice.
Julie: And that didn’t go down very well either, but we certainly made our mark.
Mike: When all that went down, because I know it’s very, very hard when teams are acquired, especially when you have certain ways of doing things, and then a larger organization is going to help you to grow. There’s a lot of learning that take places. There’s culture changes that happen. Can you walk us through, maybe the initial feelings as you were acquired by Experian and how the ECS culture just got absorbed into Experian. Because I feel like very much the Experian culture has been shaped a lot by ECS.
Julie: Yeah, you know what? It’s a great question, and I think for many years, ECS really operated as its own island, particularly in the U.S. where we had our own offices, we had our own culture, we didn’t just have jeans on Friday. We had jeans every day.
Mike: Yeah.
Julie: We were very young. Our staff was young. We were very small. We were very hungry. We were very innovative from the beginning, and I think that we feared Experian a bit, and I think that we used to call them corporate [crosstalk 00:06:04].
Mike: Yeah, I remember.
Julie: The guys across the street, and it was always so funny because once we integrated a bit further, people would say, “We hated that you would call us corporate. We’re just like you.” But, the cultures were really different and I think that we kept ourselves separate for quite some time. I think it was good for us because it was a slow burn to really integrate into the Experian culture, and to integrate Experian into us. I think that it was a big move for us to move on campus. We always used to say that… Even we got close to campus, but then there was a big parking structure in between us because they didn’t want us to get too close. It took a long time, and it was a big learning curve for all of us, but it was all part of the journey. I think that we’ve brought some different ways of working and thinking, and we’ve certainly learned a ton along the way as well.
Mike: And Patty, I remember back in the day, when the ECS offices were right across the way, that’s where I would go to hang out for lunch time because ECS office had all the cool stuff. It was very modern.
Patty: [inaudible 00:07:31].
Mike: Yeah, the video game room, ping pong tables, discounted drinks and all that kind of stuff.
Julie: The snacks.
Mike: Yeah, that was the cool place to hang out, so I went over there as often as I could just to hang out. It was a cool feeling, and then I was always at corporate, Julie, and we had, back then, talking eight years ago, we had a dress code of blacks and a dress shirts, very much the old school banking. I was used to that because I came from that environment, so dressing up was nothing new to me. But then I remember being in meetings with anybody from ECS, and they were always dressed very casually. I just like oh, I wish I could wear jeans. It was very funny because it was very obvious whenever we would have meetings together because you’d have one group who were definitely more dressed up, and then you had one group that was definitely like sneakers, and jeans, and tee shirts were cool and totally fine. Culturally it was fascinating to see how corporate ECS operated together, and I feel like ECS made a very big impact culturally because now we’re all very much dressed down.
Julie: Yeah it’s funny. I remember bringing a team over to the training center, and I said to the woman who was hosting us, we all walked in, and it was like oh my gosh. Who brought those guys in? We walked by the fountain, and I remember saying to the woman hosting us, she was in HR, and I said, “So, how many people have lost bets and had to jump into that fountain?” She said, “Why would anybody jump into the fountain?” I’m like, “Nobody’s ever bet anyone that [inaudible 00:09:32] the fountain? Say if we hit a target, or smashed a number.” And she literally looked at me like I was insane. My team was like what a great idea. I’m like no, no. I guess it’s a bad idea. Don’t ever do it.
Mike: Oh my gosh.
Julie: We’re going to have to work on that now [crosstalk 00:09:49] go into the fountain.
Mike: I love that. Yeah. I feel like ECS culture brought a lot of personality to I guess, I’ll just revert to the corporate side which I was part of because even the fun stuff, like the Halloween vulture, and the ways that ECS would decorate and go all out, prepare maybe a week in advance to make sure that every floor had a theme, and contest, and the pumpkin throwing off the building.
Julie: Yeah.
Mike: It was super fun and it made work like a fun place to be. I’ve always enjoyed working in very innovative spaces and being around innovative people, which is why I love working at Experian, but I feel like ECS brought another element of fun to that.
Julie: Yeah, Halloween is such a funny one. In the very, very early days, before it was a huge extravaganza. It started out that the founder of Consumer Info. who worked with us and led the team for quite some time was this guy named [Ed Odanna 00:11:08], and he loved Halloween. He was this quite serious guy, but Halloween was his thing. I remember, he would walk around and hand out candy, and one year he was in this Incredible Hulk suit, and I just thought, we all went, all right, we’ve got to get into this. We can’t just let this guy walk around in an Incredible Hulk suit and hand out candy. We’ve got to get into this and embrace it and lean it. It sort of went from a guy in a Hulk suit to this complete extravaganza, and it isn’t planned out weeks in advance. It’s planned out months in advance because if you haven’t noticed, we’re also an incredibly competitive bunch, and nobody likes to lose. Of course, it had to become a competition, and we’ve done everything from dead celebrities to you name it we’ve done it. It’s really, really fun.
In fact, coming to the U.K. I was like oh, you guys don’t really believe in Halloween? How strange. My first year, when I was in the U.K. I’m like, guys, we’ve got to celebrate Halloween, and I remember a woman said to me, “You Americans are the only people that would send your children door to door begging for food.” I was like, “What, [inaudible 00:12:32] Halloween. It’s Trick or Treat.” They’re getting a little bit more into it, a little bit. a I guess that is what we do, but it’s worth it.
Patty: That’s so funny.
Mike: Can you, oh go ahead Patty.
Patty: You spent 10 years in the U.S. and then went to the U.K. then back to the U.S. and then back to the U.K. I want to know if you had any struggles with deciding to make that big move that first time, and then where your mind was at each time you moved and if you had any struggles with that. Can you give us some insight on your experience?
Julie: Sure, when I was first asked to go to the U.K. I remember leaving the office and calling my husband and saying I had the weirdest meeting today. They asked me if we’d want to move to London for a few years. My husband at the time was a very senior leader at MetLife, and I thought for sure [inaudible 00:13:34] sort of grimacing as I was talking to him on the phone. His immediate answer was, “Well, hell yeah, let’s go.” Then I thought, well interesting, okay. Let’s do it. Our kids were really young at the time. They were four and seven, and we were certainly up for the adventure. When the ETS business in the U.K. started, it started because we had sent a few people from the U.S. over to the U.K. and thought oh, we’ll dip our toe in the water and see if we can get this business model to work there as well.
By the time I got there, I think it was probably the business had probably been going for seven or eight years, and so I was initially there to run sales and marketing. When I got there, it was right before the Olympics in London, so that was really, really cool, and really fun. There was certainly this real buzz about what an adventure. We’re coming to a new country. It’s English, so it should be really easy. The culture should be really similar. No problem. I quickly learned that it wasn’t that similar, and English is English, but it isn’t really English because there’s lots of things that don’t mean the same thing. That just meant that, more than normal, I put my foot in my mouth a lot. And that’s probably for another podcast, but it was much harder than I expected.
I think once I settled in I was like great, we’re here, this is so fun. And then, about a month in I went oh my God, I don’t have my network at all. And I came in to run a pretty sizable team, and so I didn’t really have friends at work. I didn’t have my network of my family and close friends that I have in California. And after being at ECS for 10 years, the thing I always say about Experian as a whole, but certainly my time at ECS, is that the people are the best in the world. We became a family, and we went through so much that we were, and still are, a very tight knit crew. It was all of a sudden quite challenging that I didn’t have anything, and so that was really, really hard.
I would say the first nine months was really, really hard. At about three months in, I was asked to take over the whole direct to consumer business and was given a promotion. While that was really, really exciting, it was like we really want you to do this job. You’ve got all the experience. We need you to sign on for a third year, and at the time I thought another year, I’m ready to go home. After about nine months, and once I started to build my network internally, and certainly meet friends and find our people in our community, it’s amazing how quickly it became home. Once the three years was up, it was really, really hard to leave. We found ourselves in this really bizarre place where we had two different places where we called home that just happened to be on opposite sides of the world.
I’ll also say that ECS in the U.K. is different in many ways from the U.S. but because it was born inside of the business, it was more of an integrated business unit than we were in the U.S. That was interesting because I quickly had the opportunity to learn more about the greater business than I had before, but I also put myself out there and after I was done feeling sorry for myself, that I didn’t have any friends and didn’t have a network, I realized that it was sort of my opportunity to really in and challenge myself, and throw my hat into the ring for different things. If there was going to be a network to be built, I was going to have do it.
Everybody was really welcoming, and accommodating, and it was great because I learned a lot. I really, not only did I stretch myself outside of my comfort zone, but I really, really enjoyed the ride. I guess that meant that it was relatively easy to then come back the second time. However, moving your family across the world twice in a 15 month period of time is a bit scary, but they’ve learned to be very adaptable people in my house. They also really had missed it, so it was easy to come back.
Mike: Julie, what advice do you have for those who may be given an opportunity to travel to a different country for Experian and they’re feeling a hesitation. They’re also going to be going through what you went through which is not having their network anymore. I’m wondering if you could share some advice, some tips you would say to them if they are making that move on what they need to do when they arrive and how to also deal with the insecurity and the self-doubt that comes along with that.
Julie: It’s a great question, and I don’t know maybe it’s easy for me to say and people may think well easy for you to say. But I think anybody who has an interest, raise your hand, throw your hat into the ring. Nobody will know you’re interested unless you tell them. I would say I’ve learned over the years that you have to declare what you want, and you have to put it out there. Even if you’re not entirely sure, just go for it. There’s no harm in just putting out what you want, and stating your ambition. If you have an opportunity you should absolutely go, even if it’s for a short period of time. This is an incredible company. Our footprint is immense. I have learned more in the last four years in this global role than I have in my entire career because I’ve been lucky enough to do business in every one of our regions around the world.
Mike: Wow.
Julie: I’ve spent a significant amount of time with our incredible colleagues in Brazil, in India, in Spanish [inaudible 00:20:23], in Africa, in [inaudible 00:20:27] as a whole, in Singapore. It’s taught me more, I would say more on the soft skills side. I’ve really had to learn how to lead through influence. I have had to learn how to do business with different cultures and how to motivate different teams. It’s been absolutely fascinating, and I would say over my 18 years I’ve seen the world through the eyes of Experian, and it’s been absolutely incredible. It’s been an incredible journey. I absolutely recommend it. Anybody who’s a bit worried because they think oh I have kids and how will they adapt, well kids are really, really adaptable creatures. Far more adaptable than we are, and giving kids, and each other, a global perspective is truly a gift. We are a global business, but we operate quite regionally, and the more that we can do to connect the dots from region to region, the better we’re going to be as an overall business. I beg you.
If you have any slight bit of interest, please raise your hand and share it with your managers and with your regional leaders. Go for it, because it is truly a phenomenal opportunity, and I’m forever grateful for it.
Patty: It’s so impressive that you worked in so many different regions, and I was actually going to ask this earlier, but how do you get accustomed to how business operates in a different country and culture, and how do you make sure that you’re not stepping on any toes, or that you’re adapting to how everyone else communicates and operates there?
Julie: I would say you have to listen a lot and be really open to learning and be really open to the fact that the way that you know, based on where you come from, is not the only way. It’s hard because cultures are so very, very different, and you have to respect the other culture or whatever the host culture is and be very, very willing to learn. And know that you’re not always going to get it right, and be humble enough to course correct. And I think that there’s been plenty of times that I’ve gone into one of our businesses or one of our offices, and I haven’t got it right. You’ve got to just be willing to sit back and say okay, how do things work here? And how do you get the best out of people here based on how they operate.
I suppose I cheat a little bit in that being part of the consumer business, and being as passionate for the consumer as I am means that I will always start with the needs of the consumer. Part of that means going into the country, understanding what keeps people up at night from a consumer standpoint. What their [inaudible 00:23:47] are, where they’re struggling, how we could potentially overlay Experian capabilities to meet those needs, and in doing so it also obviously helps me really learn a lot about our people’s culture and about our Experian culture in that region. I guess I cheat a little bit.
Patty: Just a short tangent. Is there a favorite country that you’ve been to or worked with?
Julie: Oh man, I can’t answer that. [inaudible 00:24:18].
Mike: Good one, Patty.
Julie: It’s [inaudible 00:24:28] anarchy.
Mike: Excellent question, Patty.
Patty: [inaudible 00:24:28] I was just curious.
Julie: There’s so many great ones. There’s so many great ones. I would say probably the most unique, certainly the most unique and the one that is just so polar opposite of what I know growing up in southern California and going to University in Arizona is certainly the Indian culture. I absolutely love it there. It is so different in every way, shape, and form. I’ve been there probably eight or 10 times over the last couple of years, and the people are so incredible and so colorful and so passionate. I’ve been lucky enough to actually be on the streets and talking to consumers. You’ll talk to people who sell tea on the side of the road, and you ask them what their aspirations are, and they just want to get their children married. And they want their children to have more and better than what they’ve had, and it’s quite a simple answer but actually it’s what we all want.
I would say that’s been the most eye opening, and I really tried every country that I go to, at least one or two of the trips, try to stay an extra day or two, but that’s hard because I also, being a working mom, I’m also really committed to keeping trips as short as possible so I can get home to my kids.
Patty: Right.
Julie: But I really try to see something culturally everywhere I go because there’s so much incredible, there’s so many incredible things to see and experience.
Mike: I love that you mention your kids, and it must be really cool for them to have lived in Europe, traveled, see their mom take these different leadership roles. I’m curious about how you approach work time and family time, especially right now during COVID 19 as work time now has become home life, and I was wondering if you can speak to that.
Julie: Sure. My answer to that is it’s always about balance. My life, all day every day, is all about balance, and especially being in a global role. One of the benefits of COVID is that I haven’t traveled, and that’s benefited them. I’ve been able to be home and be with my family. It’s harder. My job is much harder because it is much easier to just get on a plane and be face to face with my various teams, but I would say that because I’ve historically traveled quite a bit it is all a balance. My time is always at a premium, and I’ve worked very hard over the years to realize that the balance is very rarely perfect. Sometimes it skews heavier to family, and sometimes it skews heavier to work, but it is a constant job to balance it.
If I know I’m going to be traveling, then I will take as many red eyes as I can to make sure that I minimize my time away, and I know that I’m going to land from India at 6 a.m. in the morning, and it’s going to be a Saturday morning. I’m going to go home, and grab a cup of coffee, and be at the soccer game at 8:00. And then drive to crew practice for one, and I just host a birthday party that evening. It’s not exhausting, it’s my life, and it’s fun. It’s how I do the very best I can to be there for my kids and do what I need to do to be a successful contributor at work, and a good leader. One of my must haves on a personal and professional level is to do the very best I can, but know that I’m not always going to get it right and that’s okay.
My kids know that I’m there for as many of the important things as I can. And for the ones that I can’t I will absolutely do my very best to make it happen. I think for girls and boys, it’s important to see their moms working hard and contributing, and feeling really proud of what they’ve accomplished. I do. I feel proud of what I’ve accomplished as a leader, and I’m very, very committed to waking up every morning and doing something at work that I’m proud of for my kids. I like that they see me working hard, because that’s the work ethic that I want to instill in them.
Mike: Yeah, I love that you’re modeling that for your kids and showing them what balance looks like. Are there any specific leadership lessons you’ve talked to them about?
Julie: Gosh, now you’re getting hard [inaudible 00:30:15].
Mike: Well, it’s called level up so it gets harder and harder to the point where you say I don’t know, I don’t know Mike. [crosstalk 00:30:23].
Julie: Yeah, my daughter, the day after tomorrow she turns 16. My son is 12. I would say that my daughter is, for better or worse, quite a bit like me. We have lots of discussions around the fact that you’ve got to treat others the way you want to be treated. You’ve got to be willing to do any job, and it doesn’t matter what level you are. I always teach her that I clean up the sinks in the bathroom, and if I had to fix the toilets I would fix the toilets because that’s everyone’s job. I’m just trying to instill, in both of them, that you have to go for what you want. You might not be ready for it, but you’ve got to really put yourself out there and know that you’re going to make lots of mistakes along the way. I think that’s one of the hardest things that I find, as a mom, and that my husband and I talk a lot about is that we have to enable them to make their own mistakes because we certainly did and continue to do all the time.
It’s hard because you want to shield them from that, but I think at the end of the day we’re doing the best we can, and we’re just trying to raise good, happy, productive members of society. I’ll let you know how it goes.
Mike: I love that you talked about putting yourself out there, and I think the hard thing is that once you put yourself out there, you declare what you want, and then you finally get it, the self-doubt creeps in. At least for me.
Julie: Yeah.
Mike: All of a sudden I’m like oh no, what did I just do? I was in a really good mood that day, that’s why I asked for it. But I didn’t really think I’d get it. And then you get it, and you’re like oh no. I think they chose the wrong person. I was just in a really optimistic mood when I agreed.
Julie: Yes.
Mike: Could you talk about that, because that’s something that I feel like we don’t talk enough about.
Julie: Yes, oh gosh this is my favorite topic. I think that if you don’t start, whether it’s a new job or a new project, or some sort of new initiative, if you don’t start by thinking to yourself oh my God I sure fooled them into thinking that I can actually do this, you picked the wrong role.
Mike: I like that.
Julie: There’s nobody that goes into a job, and if you’ve actually nailed it in the first couple of weeks, you’ve made a mistake. You picked the wrong role, because whatever role you’re going to go into, or project you’re going to take on, if it’s an easy layup then what’s the point? You’ll be bored in a second. We did a talk in Cardinal Place in London about a year and a half ago, and it was about Imposter Syndrome. We invited everybody in Cardinal Place, and actually I would say probably 40% of the people that showed up were men, and it was a women in Experian event. I was thrilled that we had such a big male turnout. The best part about it was everybody has Imposter Syndrome, no matter who you are. Man, woman, CEO, junior product manager. It doesn’t matter what role you’re in or how senior you are, this idea of oh my God what have I done, we all have it. And that’s when you know that you’re pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone. You can let it paralyze you, or you can say right, okay, I’m going to [inaudible 00:34:29] a way, I’m going to draw a line here, and I’m going to lead.
Mike: Yeah.
Julie: We are all smart, capable people who have a lot of resources at our disposal, and people will ask me also like what do you do when you’re stuck? Or what do you do when you don’t know what to do? And my answer is always the same which is I phone a friend. I’ve got an incredible network, inside of Experian, an incredible network outside of Experian, and I know really, really smart people in this organization who will always pick up the phone, and you can go I’m stuck. I don’t know what to do. You know what? There’s not one person that won’t help. And so, phone a friend. And even if you sort of sit there and think I just need some inspiration, you don’t even have to talk about what you’re struggling with. You can just sit back and listen to the interesting things that they’re doing, and you will get motivation and get some of that passion from them, and put it into whatever you’re doing.
The thing that I love about Experian, besides the people, I’ve stayed for 18 years, really for three reasons. One is the people, two is that my career has continued to progress, and I’ve never not been able to do something that I wanted to do. It might take time, and it might take a bit of patience, but I’ve never not been able to just get after something and have the support. Yes, it’s scary. And yes, all the time I sit back and think oh my God what am I doing and who am I to think that I could actually do this. But, do you know what? You can. Or you can fake it until you make it, and you will make it, for sure.
Mike: Yeah, and I think right now Julie, one of the hard things is leading during COVID 19.
Julie: Yeah.
Mike: You have cross the pond to work with teams because it was better for you to be face to face. It was much better for you to be with the people, and that’s how you can really grow and nurture relationships. And right now, us being all separated, us being at home… I have found, my challenge has been keeping up relationships when we’re all super busy at home, and we can’t just walk by somebody’s desk and say hi. And there’s a lot of people that I would see all the time in the office, and right now I’m like oh I haven’t seen that person in four months. I haven’t even talked to him in four months, because I’m interacting just with my team. And I’m just curious, you talked about how important the people are and networking, keeping in touch. Right now it’s just so hard. We have to be really intentional about it. And I’m curious if you can talk about what maybe mentorship looks like, what relationship building looks like amid COVID 19.
Julie: Yeah, you know what it is really, really hard, especially when that’s where you get your energy. For me, I’ve never had a job where I worked at home for. I get my energy in the office. I get my energy being around people. This has certainly tested all of us in many different ways. I would say I’ve done a couple of things. One is, I do a Monday morning catch up where it’s 30 minutes with my ECS expansion team. It’s 30 minutes, and it’s not anything business related. In fact, what it is is I actually ask a question, and it’s usually something really lame like what’s your signature dish. If you were on death row, what would your death row meal be? Mountains or beach? But it’s just 30 minutes to get us talking about something that is not work related, but connecting, and it’s always on video. I have conducted… You guys are really probably my first call in a while that hasn’t been a video, and for me it is all video. And that is exhausting, but I do think that you’ve got to be as face to face as we can, particularly with teams and particularly in trying to keep that connection point.
I have made it a point to reach out weekly to a handful of people within my network, both within Experian and outside of Experian just to keep those relationships going, number one, but number two just find different ways to get inspiration and motivation, and hopefully share some of what I’ve got with them as well. And so that’s been fun, but it’s tiring. It’s funny, people talk about, during the quarantine, doing all these Zoom happy hours, and Zoom with their friends, and Zoom with their family, and Zoom with their high school friends. By the time Friday comes for me, I’m Zoomed out. I don’t want any more video. I’m done. But, it’s worth it, I think. It’s been challenging, for sure. I miss the comradery of the office, certainly. I definitely miss my travels, and I’ve got plenty of people that I work with all around the world that I work really, really hard to see in person as much as I can. We just had to get really creative, and I need to make sure that I’m really consistent with my schedule as well because I don’t want them to think that because I’m not flying there, and we’re not having meetings, that they’re any less important.
The schedule has been a bit challenging, but again, it’s a really important piece of keeping those connection points.
Mike: Yeah.
Patty: I think.
Mike: Oh, go ahead Patty.
Patty: Go ahead.
Mike: I was going to say, I’m very much, I love seeing people, so video calls are really important to me. I think what’s hard has been that I realize that a lot of people who I like interacting with don’t necessarily always want to be on a video call for a variety of reasons. So how do you also remain sensitive to those who maybe don’t feel comfortable on video all the time, or those who maybe going through a hard time and they just can’t be on a video call. They’d rather just converse through e-mail for right now.
Julie: Yeah, it’s a great point, and for me I’ll be on the video. If they don’t want to, that’s completely fine. And certainly, styles, this is a really important time to be very flexible with style. And to be very flexible in the fact that my office, when I’m in London, is in my bedroom. It’s not great to have your bed in the background, but at the same time my kids need to have their rooms for school, and the wifi is better in some places than it is in others. It’s interesting. I think that historically if kids would walk in the room during a video conference, you’re a bit like shushing them out the door, but it’s a different time now where it’s actually kind of fun when people walk in and the fact that there’s dogs barking. I would say equally, in the heart of the quarantine, there was quite a bit that I did with my different teams around hey, let’s make this a walking meeting. Go outside, and just walk around your block.
Mike: Oh.
Julie: What was fun, I lead a [inaudible 00:42:49] team, a global [inaudible 00:42:50] team, and we are all over the world. What that turned into was taking photos of where you were actually walking. It was fun to see where everybody was. But, I’ve just been trying to get creative and think of different things and different ways to motivate myself as well as the team.
Mike: Yeah. I was thinking about how I was talking to [inaudible 00:43:20], my boss, about sometimes some of these big group calls, I feel like they’re more like podcasts because sometimes I can’t see the facial reactions. I feel like I’m just talking. I don’t know if is it resonating? How do you, maybe when you’re on calls where not everyone’s on video, how do you get a sense of is this message coming across? Is this interesting? Is it helpful? When you can’t get facial cues, or all nonverbal information?
Julie: It’s hard. It’s really hard, and especially when you’re dealing with language barriers as well. It’s really challenging for sure. I learned a really great trick from my friend [Genevieve Julliard 00:44:08] and I steal it all the time now. Sometimes I cite my source, but she taught me this really great trick of a check in and a check out word. When you start a meeting and people start to give their updates, you ask them to share a check in word. And they can either share the background behind the word, or it’s just whatever they’re feeling, they don’t have to share it. Before you hang up at the end of the call a check out word. What’s fun about it is that it gets people to relax a bit. It gets them to share something. It’s just a nice break from the monotony of oh, it’s another update meeting, great. And it also just keeps people engaged as well. I love it. I steal it. [crosstalk 00:45:03]
Mike: Wait, wait. I love that. Can you give an example of that? On this call, what would be your check in?
Julie: Yeah, sure. On this call, I would say my check in word is ocean, and I’m looking at the ocean right now. My check out word would probably be birthday because I’m going to have a 16 year old the day after tomorrow, and our house is decorated, and she’s pumped.
Mike: Aww.
Julie: And so, some people might just say my check in word is frustrated. I’m not interested in sharing why. Okay, cool.
Mike: Yeah, totally.
Julie: But most of the time, people will be really happy to share what it is, and it turns pretty fun because people will say oh, my check in word is cycling. I’m staring at my bike right now because I haven’t done it for two weeks, so I now put it in my office so that I go for a ride after work. And it’s fun. Or it may be something work related, but nine times out of 10 it’s not. And it gets people thinking a bit differently, and it gets them to relax and engage a bit.
Mike: I love that.
Julie: So thanks Genevieve.
Patty: Yeah.
Mike: So how do you like that?
Patty: We’ll have to try that.
Mike: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Okay Patty.
Patty: So, obviously the world is so different now with COVID 19. I’m a little curious to see how your leadership has changed along with it. If there are any priorities that have changed, or maybe there’s something that you used to think was super important, but kind of seems not as important now. Can you speak to that a little bit?
Julie: Yeah, there’s certainly some silver linings to what we’ve all been going through since March. It still completely blows my mind that everybody in the world is going through the exact same thing. That just never happens.
Patty: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Julie: I’ll answer from a personal standpoint first, and then I will go into the leadership side of it. I would say that it has been a pretty stark reminder of how fragile things can be and how fragile life is. Who would’ve thought that when we celebrated New Years, that 2020 would shape up like this. At the same time, I think that having a nearly 16 year old and a 12 year old, with their sports schedules, with my travel schedule, with how busy their lives are, that we would’ve never been able to spend this much time together, and so that’s been really, really fun. And I’ve loved it. I would say from a leadership standpoint, it’s been quite interesting to, certainly from being in the consumer space, it’s been a very great time to sit back and reflect on are we really, truly meeting consumer needs? Considering the fact that consumer needs are changing dramatically during this period, what can we do with all of our capabilities to better meet those needs, and to better meet demand?
Considering the fact that I’ve got ECS expansion, I get the best of both worlds because we now have that innovation framework, and not that we haven’t been an innovative business to date. We absolutely have, but what Athena’s brought us is a consistency and framework, a consistency and language, and some really valuable tools to actually take different customer and consumer challenges, spot opportunities, and find ways to really deliver against those opportunities. I’ve seen a crazy amount of innovation happen in a very short period of time which I think has been fantastic. I’ve also, this seems really crazy, but having everybody home means that you’ve actually been able to have more quality conversations, and we’ve been able to progress quite bit of our strategy just in having that captive audience and all of us being able to sit back and really reflect on what’s important and focus on that and have less of the distractions.
Now, I love distractions, which is probably why [crosstalk 00:50:21] chaotic office environment and love to do work on airplanes and things like that, but it’s also been nice to just take a step back and focus, and really, really focus on what is most important. I also think that it’s been, because we’ve been so focused on the people first agenda, and we’ve really sort of said we’re going to reduce other costs so that we can focus on people has meant that scrutinizing our costs, I think, has been great, at least for my team. My team, our travel costs are so incredible that not having them has meant okay, great, let’s think about travel as we move forward. Let’s think about how we can really start to engage with different teams and with different tools without spending so much time and resources and money on as much travel as we’ve been doing.
It’s been a very interesting reset I would say. And I think that there’s been lots that we’ve learned and lots that we’ve learned about ourselves and certainly about what’s important in the business.
Patty: Mike, do you have any last questions? We are [crosstalk 00:51:49] hour.
Mike: I do, and this is actually, it’s a question about something you said earlier about leading through influence. I know we only have a couple minutes left, but Julie, I think that that is something that everyone faces, especially when either they’re moving to a new division, moving to a new company, coming to Experian, having to deal with how to lead when you’re not managing certain people. Influence, and learning to lead through influence can be very, very difficult. I was wondering maybe if you can share just some tips around, as you traveled, and having to navigate the new teams, of working new people. How you think about leading through influence.
Julie: For me, it’s all about the relationship, and it’s all about building relationships and understanding what motivates people, understanding what keeps them up at night, understanding at the end of the year, what’s going to mean success for them and where some of their challenges lie. It’s really interesting being in a global role. I always say there’s sort of two different ways to manage a global role. One is to sit centrally up in an ivory tower and ask things of people. And then there’s the other side which is to really dive into the regions and really figure out how we can leverage our capabilities and our skills to support them to be successful. Those are two fundamentally different ways of operating, and for my teams and I, it’s definitely the latter which is we’re very, very committed to going into our different businesses and really understanding who the stakeholders are and how we can help them be successful. And so, the relationships, I mean for me relationships are everything. I really believe that when we take the time to stop and listen and figure out how we can help each other be successful, we will continue to be wildly successful.
That makes the influence piece just one of the benefits.
Mike: Thank you so much Julie.
Patty: Julie, we do like to devote the last minute or so to our guest, so if you have any parting words for our listeners you can go ahead and take the floor now.
Julie: Great, well thanks for this. You guys, thanks for the opportunity, and certainly for giving me the stage and this opportunity. I would just say my journey at Experian has been a fantastic one. I’ve said it a couple of times over the course of our discussion, but our people are truly the best in the world. It’s pretty amazing to me that we attract, our brand attracts a very similar person which is really passionate people that come to work every day to win. My journey has been a very, very fun and interesting one where I’ve learned a ton, and for me I’m always really committed to always learning and growing and consistently pushing myself outside of my comfort zone. I’v

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