Code42’s Fellman Relies On Positive Reinforcement, Independence To Lead

For Ann Fellman, being in charge of the overall global marketing strategy for Code42, the data security company, means she has to get the most out of her team all the time.

After all, the next generation data loss protection company has more than 50,000 customers across the globe that rely on it to protect its data. To achieve her marketing goals and support the business objectives of Code42 she tries to stay out of the way of her team and let them thrive

“The best piece of advice I got early in my management career was to get out of my team’s way because their creativity and ingenuity will surprise me,” said Fellman, Senior Vice President of Marketing at Code42 in a recent interview with The Software Report. “When someone has an idea, I say, ‘Great! Come up with the plan.’ To cultivate this kind of environment, I have to stay humble, human and approachable. This tack takes a lot of time, but I think when you develop strong people connections, you have more success.”

Fellman credits her leadership style with being a competitive athlete as a youth. That enabled her to learn early on the power of positivity and visualizing success. It wasn’t always easy. Fellman had to contend with both negative and positive coaches. The ones that used positive reinforcements were much more effective than those that chose negativity. That stayed with Fellman and has carried her throughout her career. “I’ve always remembered how I responded to those two different approaches, and I apply that today,” she said. “My style is definitely servant leadership. I am committed to listening to the whole team and find a way to bring the group together.”

It hasn’t always been easy for Fellman. But even the challenging times in her career presented an opportunity to grow as a manager. She recalled one company that she worked for that shifted direction, impacting a large group of customers. Instead of hiding, the company decided to be upfront and transparent with customers who were not surprisingly upset about the coming changes. “Sometimes it’s easier to hide than deal with the muckiness when things get difficult. But it’s really true that the truth will set you free,” said Fellman. “For me personally when I’m facing a professional challenge, I always try to remember that, ‘This too shall pass.’” A little me time also goes a long way in helping cope with challenging times. Getting exercise, playing with the kids and dog or getting away for a couple of minutes can help when the stress is getting too much. “For many of the challenges that most of us will face, at the end of the day the world’s going to keep turning and everything’s going to be okay,” she said.

As for advice she would give to aspiring female technology leaders, Fellman said to be confident, jump in and speak up instead of waiting until you have all the experience on your resume. She’s also a big proponent of accepting that you will make mistakes and that with failure comes growth. “Always keep a growth mindset, and in doing so it can do wonders for your development. You also may surprise yourself if you just go for it,” said Fellman. “I thought I’d be in this role someday, but not now. So, it was a big leap to take on my role when I did. But it’s also been really fun and rewarding.”