An Old Soul Blazing Her Way in Modern World
Jennifer Pesut is a senior product manager at Blue Yonder. She joined the company in 2019 and is celebrating her one-year anniversary this month. She shares her journey to get to where she is today and how her passion to give back to her community helps her drive products that meet our customer’s needs. She never thought she would find herself in the world of IT and hopes other women will take a chance on the field that needs more soft skills and different perspectives.
Tell me about yourself.
I was born into the sun and water in Florida and joke that I didn’t know what grass was until I moved to the Pacific Northwest in middle school. Vancouver, Washington (a suburb outside of Portland, Oregon), is now home and I am in total awe of the beauty in the state of Washington. I attended the University of Portland and double-majored in Global Business and Spanish, spending one semester in Spain. While in college, I dabbled in many different departments trying my hand at something new almost every semester. My university was big on giving back and serving others, and this has really become a core part of who I am today. In addition to seeking out volunteer opportunities, my hobbies include cycling, hiking, photography, and camping. I’m also known to turn on some reruns of my favorite shows and pick up the knitting needles or get out the sewing machine and tap into my right-brain creative side, earning my descriptor of old soul.
How did you get your start in IT?
I worked a lot of jobs while at the university and that is where I had my first exposure to IT – building surveys for different departments and creating reports of the results. During my last semester of college, I met my first boss at a speed networking event on campus. My first job was at UTi Worldwide, a freight forwarding company that was building a global system. Since I was an international business major this seemed to fit. I started as a project administrator and quickly moved into a business analyst role. I was lucky to get exposure so early on in my career to working with co-located teams, other cultures, and terminology like ‘agile’ and ‘waterfall.’ I also continued giving back by joining the volunteer committee and safety committee.
What came next?
I wanted something closer to my heart, so I made the jump to an educational software company where I worked as a business analyst. Then I decided to shake things up and try my hand at consulting – I joined JustEnough Software (now Mi9) as a business consultant. Though I never worked directly in retail, as a consumer and studying supply chain I was curious to learn more. Taking the job was worth the risk; it helped me hone my customer service skills and really understand what it meant to be “in the trenches” with the customer, learning their business and how technology can help or hurt them when things go wrong – lessons that have served me well so far in my role as a product manager.
How did you end up at Blue Yonder?
Prior to joining Blue Yonder, I worked at a supply chain company continuing to work in the field implementing software. The product manager opening at Blue Yonder interested me because I would get to work on the product side building out the IT to meet a client’s needs. What I enjoy is leveraging my implementation experience and keeping the customer in mind when designing and building a product.
What do you like about your role?
I enjoy being able to interact with so many different parts of the organization. In this role, I have the opportunity to learn processes from multiple customers and use that knowledge combined with my experience to guide the future direction of the product. I am grateful to be in a position where I learn something new every day and deliver value to our customers.
What about your career surprises you?
I honestly never imagined a job where I can work from home and also have the opportunity to travel to so many places across the world.
What’s a piece of advice you would have given your younger self?
Don’t just do something because you are good at it if you don’t love it!
Do you have any goals or resolutions you keep track of all year? What are they?
This year instead of large, overarching resolutions, I created a spreadsheet of monthly goals that work toward some bigger goals. I’m a sucker for continuous improvement and tracking more small goals allows me to see progress and adjust course, if necessary. My goals are focused on environmental (swap reusable cloths for paper towels), educational (book or online course), and health (meditate a few times a week).
What do you think is the biggest challenges facing leaders today?
One of the biggest challenges I see is how we engage with the different generations currently in the workforce. Fun fact: there are five generations working at Blue Yonder! To be successful, leaders need to know their audience and adapt to meet the needs of multiple generations and cultures. To be effective, leaders need to redefine the definition of success.
What advice would you give to young women wanting to start in tech?
Everyone should try their hand at tech! Don’t discount your ability to do the job even if you don’t have all the technical skills but you have the desire to learn – just go for it! It takes people from all backgrounds in the tech world to solve a problem – we all see the same situation differently. I believe having a variety of perspectives makes the team better and is critical for innovation.
What’s one accomplishment you’re most proud of?
Last year I climbed Mount St. Helens!