DataStax Exec Jodi Sutton Sees ‘The Possible’ In People

For Jodi Sutton, vice president of global go-to-market operations at DataStax, the hybrid cloud database company, boosting marketing and sales productivity and efficiency means keeping her team focused and motivated.

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By driving increased productivity and efficiency, DataStax is able to advance and accelerate its mission, which is to win, grow, and retain enterprise customers.

“We are laser-focused on building an Operations Center of Excellence, replete with an enterprise-wide data warehouse, business intelligence and insightful models and analytics, innovative tools and platforms, and a recruiting team that helps us land unstoppable talent,” said Sutton in a recent interview with The SaaS Report. “Our team’s rallying cry is: Think Strategically. Act Urgently. Challenge Confidently. #BeAwesome.”

Sutton credits her team’s high motivation to close-knit relationships, which breed energy and thus increased productivity. After all, the more you work with someone, sooner or later they are going to be part of the family.

But it’s not just the close professional relationships that keep Sutton motivated and her team functioning. The executive said she is constantly challenging herself to seek a higher level of her personal best. That means accepting challenging goals, even if it requires her to step out of her comfort zone.

“What’s even more motivating is to work in a culture of high-performing people and being surrounded by people who know how to do not only what is asked of them but to do more than what is asked,” said Sutton. She also noted that she is also motivated by roles that have an impact. “I have traded off money and titles for roles that are meaningful.”

Sutton’s leadership style at DataStax was honed over the years, but she credits her career trajectory in part to the people who took risks on her early on. Take her resume, for example. According to Sutton, while she may have not been the most qualified or had the highest GPA, people took a chance and hired her anyway.

Today, she pays that forward in her professional career. “I try to see ‘the possible’ in people and help unlock that potential, hopefully providing support, encouragement, and inspiration along the way,” she said. “I also lead with a deep sense of empathy and sympathy, and always try to treat people with respect.” Sutton knows firsthand how demoralizing and demeaning a bully boss can be. She has witnessed firsthand how short-lived their careers were because of the toxic environments they created.

While dealing with bully bosses ranks high in terms of challenging times for Sutton, she said the toughest lessons have involved making mistakes—and not just the little ones, which we all make every day. She means those, big impactful mistakes that can impact the business and colleagues. How a manager handles those mistakes determines his or her ultimate success.

“Once I realized the mistakes, I proactively revealed them, each time acknowledging the mistake and holding myself, and only myself, accountable. Even if the actual mistake was committed by a member of my team, the buck stops, and has always stopped, with me,” said Sutton. “I immediately built process/buffers/redundancy into the situations to prevent a re-occurrence. In none of these situations did I lose my job or the respect or credibility that I had earned. On the contrary, it was because I had built credibility and had earned their confidence that they still believed in me. The hardest part was not allowing mistakes to shake and undermine my confidence.”