Career Progression Amid Personal Challenges
Margie Jones has been with JDA for nearly 24 years and has evolved her role throughout the HR organization at JDA – from HR representative all the way to her current role today, as vice president of compensation and benefits. She shares how important it is to mean what you say (and say what you mean!) and how coming from a family of 11 kids pushed her to make one of the biggest personal risks that turned into quite the jackpot success.
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I was born in Detroit but moved to Arizona at the age of four, so I am almost a native Arizonian! I am one of 11 children and the 11th child my mom had, so I come from a very big, and very close family. I definitely did not break my mom’s record for most kids, but have four kids of my own – a 21-year-old daughter and 18-year-old triplet boys!
What year did you join JDA? What did you do before that?
I joined in 1995 and have been here for almost 24 years. Prior to that, I worked at a couple of hospitality software companies.
What was your first job at JDA? How did your career progress from there?
When I started at JDA, there were just a couple hundred associates at JDA globally and now there are 4,800! Our HR team consisted of the HR director at the time, and me. I came in as an HR representative and wore many hats as a team of two.
As the organization grew, I began to find my niche and passion which turned out to be the benefits side of things. It was an opportunity for me to grow as we grew as a company to move towards that discipline. From there, I handled the benefits function as a manager for many years. About 14 years ago, I took on the compensation function and have progressed from there as the company expanded. Like any field, there’s always something to learn. With regulatory changes and changes to company dynamics and trends, it is important to align compensation and benefits to this ever-changing environment.
Your role involves working with a lot of regions around the globe. How do you approach collaborating and working with diverse personalities?
You need to listen, appreciate perspective, ask questions, and clarify – not assume – things. Oftentimes, what ‘translates’ here for slang and casual speak doesn’t translate well overseas. For example, once I told a colleague that I’d ‘give them a buzz later’ and she had no idea what I was talking about. So it is about thinking about how you phrase things that are universal no matter what region.
What’s one lesson you’ve learned and taken with you throughout your career?
One of the things I learned while working with Brian Boylan over the years was that I do not need to know everything all the time. I always thought I had to be the expert at everything and it was a failure if I was asked a question and did not know the answer.
He gave me a different perspective and told me that as I progress in my career, that I can’t know everything – it is impossible. Surround yourself with capable, smart people that you can lean on and that are the experts in their areas. While you need to have a foundational understanding, you don’t have to know all the answers.
What is the best risk you’ve taken and why?
My triplet boys. 20 years ago, my husband was diagnosed with a brain tumor. We had my daughter the year before but I knew I wanted her to have a sibling especially as I was so close to my siblings growing up. I wanted her to have that. We faced the dilemma of my husband’s treatments and whether we could have more kids afterwards. We chose an unconventional path to try to have more kids, knowing we may have multiple and that’s exactly what happened! We were blessed with triplet boys.
It was a scary time as my husband was not working and going through treatments and I was pregnant with triplets, but I truly feel like I hit the jackpot with my kids. And my husband is still with us today, and we are very fortunate!
What is the best advice you ever received?
In high school, I was part of a peer facilitator program which was like counseling for other kids that were having difficulty in school. We would do exercises on how to interact and one of the things we talked about was meaning what you say. When you greet someone or passing them in the hallway, and say “hi how are you?” – mean what you say, and don’t just keep walking. If you are going to ask a question, care and ask and wait for a reply. If you are busy and pass by, a simple ‘hello’ will suffice, but if you ask a question or interact, wait for a reply and listen to their words.
What is your proudest achievement?
My kids of course, but also working through adversity as a family, too.
You truly don’t know how strong you are until you are put into that type of situation. I was fortunate to have a big family I could call, talk or cry with. A lot of people don’t have that. We made the decision to have more kids despite my husband’s health and have truly been able to do it because of that family support. JDA has been a wonderful place for me and supported us over the years and was a big part of why we could take that chance to have more kids amid adversity. JDA has been a home for me to grow and learn and also the reason I can support my family!
Who is your role model?
I have two – my mom and dad. My dad was a cop and my mom worked off and on while raising kids. One of my brothers wasn’t doing well health-wise, so we decided to move to a better climate for his health. They were truly partners in everything they did as a family. We moved to Arizona without my dad having a job, and had faith that it would work out. That was an amazing risk, but he did it because he loved his family so much.
How do you maintain a work/life balance?
Honestly, I am better at it sometimes than others.
It comes back to looking at priorities and spending enough time between family and friends and work and trying to balance the best you can. Sometimes, there isn’t a balance, and you have to recognize that may be the case sometimes but make up for it later. You have to be okay with it and not beat yourself up, when life is unbalanced at times. It does not mean you are a failure.
What makes JDA a great place for women to work?
Throughout my career at JDA, there’s been a lot of opportunity. It isn’t necessarily waiting for someone to tell you what your next move is. You have to take control yourself, and as long as you prove yourself, most managers recognize the value of their employees and want to invest. I see that across JDA. If you put in the hard work, we have a top-notch group of people willing to help each other. Everyone has their own demands, but are always willing to lend a hand. It’s about teamwork and believing in yourself and others.