We’ve enjoyed celebrating Women’s History Month with you! As this historic month comes to a close, we’re shedding light on one more woman pioneer we’re inspired by in our corner of the tech woods!
Amy Barzdukas is our chief marketing officer and fearless leader. She joined Omnitracs near the end of 2020 and is vigorously working to innovate our marketing strategy, brand vision, and global customer reach. Amy holds extensive leadership experience from previous executive and management positions at Polycom, Inc., Hewlett Packard, and Microsoft. Here’s her story!
1. Hi, Amy! Tell us a little about yourself.
I live in San Jose, CA, with my husband Gytis and our two dogs, Reacher and Bronius. Reacher is named after the Jack Reacher character in the books. That’s an important distinction because there’s no way Tom Cruise is as tall as the book character. My husband and I lived for 20 years in the Seattle area, which was difficult because I don’t like grey skies or rain. Of course, once the pandemic is over, we’re looking forward to moving to Dallas (the home of our headquarters). There’s lots of sun there, too!
I have been in tech for over 20 years. I love marketing — I could talk about it all day. I’m so excited to be a part of Omnitracs. It’s really cool seeing digital transformation coming to a key vertical. I have learned a ton about the transportation industry in the seven months that I’ve been here.
2. You were recently named in the Women in Trucking: Women to Watch in Transportation list. What does the recognition mean to you?
It’s quite an honor — particularly for someone so new to this industry! I think there are exciting places for us to focus on women in transportation.
I take a lot of interest in how we advance other women, regardless of where the industry is. Transportation and logistics, much like technology, are very male-dominated businesses. As a woman leader, I want to find ways to put my hands out and help other women up.
3. How has working in transportation changed your perception of the industry?
One thing I think about while working at home is I sit a lot more than I used to. When you think about being in the office, you’re walking around and going from place to place. Even though you’re working, you’re still moving. At home, my watch at noon says seven steps. It’s given me a lot more empathy for what it’s like to be sitting in a cab and driving all day. It’s very sedentary, and that’s challenging. How do we find ways to allow for more healthy movement within the construct of what it’s like to be a driver and in the back office? It’s certainly something to think about.
4. As Women’s History Month draws to a close, do you have any reflections you’d like to share?
One of the observations that I’ve made about women in male-dominated industries is that you can easily get so good at being the only woman in the room that when another woman shows up, it feels like competition. We’ve got to get over that and help make other women successful. Part of that is making sure that we’re making the men and non-binaries around us successful. We are all better when we embrace the diversity around us and think about different ideas and different points of view. One of the things that’s great about Omnitracs is curiosity is one of our values, because really being curious is what allows you to ultimately solve super-hard problems.
5. What is an exciting aspect of your role as a chief marketing officer that people wouldn’t guess?
I care a lot more about product and business strategy than a lot of people realize. In one of my previous roles, we had this talk around demoing servers to represent the business. I said I could do that, and one of the guys looked at me and said, “You?” Yeah, me! All of us need to be able to demo our products. If I can’t demo the products, you should fire me.
I firmly believe that really good marketers are much more versatile than many people give them credit for. Yes, we can tell stories and design things, but a lot of that comes from being curious about how and why things work. In our other lives, we might have been engineers. So, I think people are sometimes surprised at the fact that I care about some of the strategic aspects of the business.
6. As a leader, how do you define success?
The first success is understanding what success looks like — defining success so that everybody in the organization understands what it means to win. In our business, that is profitable growth. Profitable growth can’t come at the expense of having a solid and vibrant culture. In fact, culture will eat strategy for lunch. It’s so important that we take care of our people and invest in them. How do they feel? Are they being challenged? Are they facing roadblocks? Do they have the tools they need? Success is about making your people successful.
7. What advice do you have for women looking to get into marketing and leadership spaces?
Ask questions. Be curious. Wonder why.
My single biggest piece of advice is not to self-censor. By that, I mean that women will look at the job requirements and have nine out of ten of them. And then they’ll think, ‘Hmmm, I’m not qualified.’ Many men will look at that same list and have four of ten qualifications and go for it. Don’t self-censor. Believe in yourself and go after the things you think are interesting. And stay up on tech. Follow what’s going on in social media. Be an early adopter. When Twitter first came out, I wondered why I would ever use 70 characters for anything. But I signed up and started playing around with it, and now it’s a marketing tool.
8. Do you believe the tech industry is becoming more inclusive to women?
I think it is trying to be. It starts with trying. There’s still a lot of unconscious bias — particularly here in Silicon Valley with so many startups created by engineers, who are stereotypically more male than female. Engineers hire people they know — like-minded people. Unless you’re being explicit and trying to build a diverse workforce, it’s very easy to get to a certain stage and say, “Oh, we’re not diverse. Let’s hire diverse people!” But it has to start from the beginning. There are well-documented examples of AI biases because the developers are not thinking about things from a diverse point of view. Being aware of the challenges and trying to be more diverse is a great place to start. We just can’t take our foot off that pedal.
9. What lasting impact would you like to make at Omnitracs?
A couple of years down the road, when we do what I hope to be our annual brand survey, I would like for our results to indicate that our customers love us. Now that’s not all marketing, but that is working hand in hand with product, sales, customer service, legal, and across the board to help make this a company that customers love. I want to take all those assets and tell the story through marketing so we can take our customers on the journey with us.
I had a colleague at Microsoft who was the biggest BMW nut I ever met. He said, “Don’t you wish people were as passionate about Microsoft as I am about BMWs?” So that’s my approach. I love my Peloton bike, and I want others to be as passionate about Omnitracs as I am about my Peloton.