The Importance of Confidence in Career and Life
Haley Morse is vice president, services sales, North American retail and has been with JDA for nearly 25 years. She is a great example of getting comfortable being uncomfortable and talks about how she’s done this in her career, and how important it is to be confident in yourself and your decisions.
Tell us a little about yourself.
I grew up in Maryland and while I went to school in Delaware, I never strayed too far! I moved back to Maryland while my husband got his MBA from the University of Maryland then to the Northern Virginia area where we still live today with our two kids who are 15 and 18. They keep us busy and aside from cheering them on, I love to do CrossFit. I find working out so important, especially when I travel. It is a good constant.
You’ve been at JDA for more than 20 years – can you share your career journey with us?
I started at Comshare as an associate consultant in 1995 right out of college. They wanted to hire me into sales but I had no experience and didn’t know enough about the software or the industry. I asked to be put into consulting for a year to gain credibility and ended up staying there for 10 years!
In 1998, JDA bought the Arthur suite from Comshare and by that point, I was a consulting manager. I always joked that I was ‘gift with purchase’ when JDA bought the suite since I continued on at JDA from there.
While at JDA I have worn a bunch of hats including services delivery, product management and was even a resource controller for a couple of years. In 2005, I moved into a services sales role which was a new role at JDA at the time. In 2016, I moved into the customer executive (CE) role for two years, and then moved into my current role in 2018.
Sales is sometimes seen as male-dominated – do you agree/disagree? What has been your experience?
I completely agree. While I know many women in sales, we are always the minority in the room or at a conference. While in Services Sales, I was the only female for many years. As a CE in retail, there were only a few others and even less in the vice president role. But it is getting better and I see the change as more women enter the field.
You’ve probably often found yourself as the only woman in a meeting– does that even faze you anymore or has it? How did it feel?
It doesn’t faze me but I do notice it. Sales is generally for the thick-skinned, confident types and those are generally male-dominated traits, not to say women don’t have them!
There was one time where I was the only female services partner and I definitely noticed it then and called it out and things changed. In general, it does always make me realize that sales is more male-dominated but I have never been made to feel less than or not equal to. I appreciate how top-of-mind diversity is at JDA is and the importance of there being a strong mix of female and male leaders here.
Do you think there are barriers to women in leadership? Have you faced any or what advice do you have?
In general, yes, but not as much these days. I am fortunate to be at a forward-thinking, equal opportunity company where opportunities are based on ability and not gender or race. I do feel women can be their own barrier. We still need to feel 100 percent ready before asking for that promotion while men do not. My advice would be to be confident – be confident in your abilities and knowledge. Women are amazing multi-taskers and that is a very underrated skill.
What’s one leadership lesson you’ve learned and really taken to heart?
Work for your team and not the other way around. I am there to support them, make them better and hopefully enhance their careers.
What female leaders do you admire and why?
Condoleezza Rice. She was the first female African-American Secretary of State, as well as the second African-American Secretary of State (after Colin Powell), and the second female Secretary of State (after Madeleine Albright). She broke boundaries and was always cool under pressure and stood toe-to-toe in a male dominated political industry and held her ground. I also really admire the current Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi for similar reasons.
And finally, my mom. She was a teacher but over her 30-year-career as a government contractor, she became an engineer, self-taught! She stepped out of her boundaries in the 60s and 70s and bucked the trend. She always pushed me to be independent and strong-willed.
How has your life experience made you the leader you are today?
I am the daughter of a woman who graduated from college early with a dual major and ultimately became a self-taught engineer, authored an engineering textbook and taught a college level engineering class .There were no old ideals about what women did or did not do in my home and I really learned from that.
What is the best risk you’ve taken and why?
Moving into software sales. I always hesitated for a few reasons. I was concerned about the risk, the lack of experience and the fact that I was so comfortable and successful in my previous role. I decided I needed to expand my narrative and viewpoints by trying something different. I truly believe I was promoted because I took that risk and gained other perspectives.
Have you ever been ‘professionally stuck’? How did you become ‘unstuck’?
Yes, I believe I spent way too long in my services partner role because I was comfortable. It took me a while to be confident in my abilities and try something new.
What is your proudest achievement?
Beside my kids? I think it’s being told that I am valued here at JDA. That I make a difference and make the company a better one. I am very proud of that.
What do you wish you knew when you were starting out that you know now?
That I was good enough to have jumped into sales earlier.
What about your career surprises you?
I never expected to be at the same company going on 25 years!
What is the one characteristic you believe every leader should possess?
How do you maintain work/life balance?
I ensure I am home for the big stuff. FaceTime is a godsend and as mentioned earlier, I have to work out regularly.
How do you motivate yourself and others?
I try to be a team player/coach. I help wherever I can. If they are hitting a challenge, I do it myself to see what they experienced and try and improve it.
What books are you reading?
Team of Teams by General Stanley McChrystal and Becoming by Michelle Obama.
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