Christina Luna, senior director, digital experience at Blue Yonder (formerly JDA Software), channels her entrepreneurial spirit in everything she does in her role and 15-year career at the company. From an early age she took interest in retail and the customer experience. That interest is the common thread throughout her career, which is sprinkled with passion and dedication to breathing new ideas and innovation into everything she does.
Can you give us a 30 second overview of who you are?
I am from a small town in South Dakota and my roots are a big part of who I am. I am the oldest of three and have three kids of my own. Their names are Ryann, Cael and Declynn though my colleagues joke that they should be named Manugistics, i2 and RedPrairie because with each of those announced acquisitions by (then) JDA, I had my own announcement to make. So, the exact age of my kids aligns with those three companies we acquired!
What was your first job (ever)?
My first job was at 9 years old! My mom had the idea to buy the children’s clothing store in town as it was closing, and it was the only place to buy kids clothes. She was a healthcare provider, so my aunt ran the store for my parents, and I was her right-hand girl. Every day after school, I worked in the store, pricing inventory and cleaning up. By middle school, I was helping with storefront windows and even traveled on some buying trips.
What did you do before joining Blue Yonder?
I joined the company two years after college. Before that, I was a web project manager for a healthcare company. I helped build their first beneficiary portal which would end up being helpful background for my career here.
You’ve been at Blue Yonder for 15 years – can you tell us about your career progression?
I started as a support analyst for our point-of-sale solutions and my retail background was beneficial. I had an acquaintance that worked here in customer support leadership. He knew about my role at the healthcare company and (then) JDA needed someone dedicated to the support portal. It was a great opportunity for me to own the portal as part of my overall role. I saw the opportunity and took it.
I grew up through the customer support organization, with roles like team lead and manager across Store Operations, Category Management, and legacy Workforce Management. I raised my hand to then join an operations team for the customer support organization as I felt it was important to put a focus on the self-service customer experience. A lot of what I was bringing to the organization were industry best practices to modernize the customer experience at that time. What I love about this company is that we have always looked at best practices and industry trends to evolve the customer’s experience. That’s what gets me up each and every day! There’s always room for improvement and to differentiate our services.
What are your favorite parts of your role?
Being able to influence our customers’ experiences is absolutely my favorite part! Another reason that I ‘bleed blue’ is the people we work with and our customers. I love helping to find ways to help us evolve.
Have you ever been professionally stuck? How did you become unstuck?
I can’t think of a time where I’ve felt stuck. That’s probably because I haven’t slowed down enough to be stuck! I always have lots of plates spinning because I am passionate about a lot of things and I see an opportunity or challenge and I want to find a way to address it.
What is your proudest achievement?
The customer portal. If I could show you an evolution in pictures of how the portal has grown and evolved, it’s incredible. We have essentially taken black and white TV and turned it into virtual reality. There is no end in sight, and we continue to evolve and I am really proud of that.
What is the best risk you’ve taken and why?
Coming here! I planned to be in Arizona for two years. I simply wanted to experience warm weather and a big city and was drawn to Arizona. There was never a doubt that I wouldn’t go back home, but I’m still here 19 years later.
What do you believe is the biggest challenge facing leaders today?
I think about it from a technology industry perspective. Our industry evolves very quickly. As a leader in a fast-paced leading technology company, the biggest challenge is managing your business and your people through changes. You could easily get wrapped up in the whirlwind of changes to your business and lose sight of the impact on the people that matter – employees. Leaders must balance managing change with keeping the customer experience and associate experience a happy one and that is very challenging!
What makes Blue Yonder a great place for women to work?
We put an emphasis on diversity in general, which makes it a great place to work for everyone, not just women. As a company, we have put a lot more emphasis on the value of diversity and how it can inspire innovation. You need to surround yourself with all types of people bringing those perspectives together which always elevates the end result.
What advice to you have for young women seeking a career in technology?
Don’t be afraid to raise your hand. If you see an opportunity to take ownership of something, whether it is small, medium, or large or you identify something that isn’t working or could be improved – say so. Bring forward the problem and solution to fix it. That’s what has allowed me to progress here and has brought me opportunities beyond my wildest imagination. Sometimes people know that things can be improved but aren’t comfortable raising an idea. Just remember today’s idea can be tomorrow’s opportunity to stretch and grow.
How do you maintain a work/life balance? Do you believe it exists?
I do believe it, but it depends on the day if I maintain it! I know Girish [Rishi, Blue Yonder’s CEO] has been very vocal about the system he uses and I admire him sharing that story. I never thought about how I manage the balance between an individual, a mom, a wife, and a leader – as a system that I have. I really have to be organized, plan ahead, and if I do those things, I feel that balance exists. If I do not focus on my own system personally and professionally it is harder to find balance.
What books are you reading right now?
I am a mentor in our WIN program and together, we are reading How Women Rise. It offers an interesting perspective on the habits that helped you excel early on in your career will hold you back as a leader. I thought I’d relate to one or two of them, but I was able to connect and learn from several. It’s been a great book, I would highly recommend it to women regardless of where they are in their career progression.
What are three key words you would use to describe yourself?
Collaborative, innovative and motivated
What’s one fun (or surprising) fact about you?
I was raised with an entrepreneurial spirit as my own family is self-employed. I was one of the few grandkids that went off to work at a large company, but I have kept that spirit and been able to be an entrepreneur here as the lead of digital experience. I used to think I was different from my family, but I am actually using everything they taught me.