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While some leaders are good at leading, some just take the charge and change the way the industry operates. Janet Schijns, CEO of JSG, is one such leader. With her result-oriented leadership, Janet is shattering every bias that has been stopping her from taking center stage. An inspiration for every aspiring entrepreneur, Janet brings a completely new perspective to the leadership domain.
In an interview with PerceptivX, Janet spoke about her journey to success, areas of interest, and future plans. Below are the highlights of the interview.
PerceptivX (P): Could you tell us a bit about yourself, your brand, and how it all began?
Janet Schijns (J): “I am the CEO of JSG. We are ecosystem acceleration experts and work with companies in the tech, FinTech, consumer goods, and electronics industries to define their routes to market, accelerate results, and ensure success. Unlike most consulting firms, we are comprised of people who have done the role and have real-world expertise. We take pride in delivering 25x+ ROI on all of our engagements, and this year we delivered an average ROI of 37x while also building more than $2 billion in the funnel for our clients. In everything we do, we strive to assist and preserve all marketing channels that work for the client. We have locations in Palm Beach, NJ, Chicago, and Dallas.
Although an indirect channel or partnership (ecosystem) accounts for 75%+ of all business worldwide, many firms struggle to achieve success through third parties because they fail to develop the right strategy and programs to ensure their indirect businesses are engaged and loyal. My co-founder Roy and I knew there was a better way to do it than the way the industry was doing it, so the concept for JSG was born. We were inspired to start JSG because we saw the gap in the industry due to all our years working to lead channels and ecosystems for firms. Our mission statement is simple but very pointed: #savethechannel.“
P: What, according to you, makes you the best in the business?
J: “The essence of what makes our services the best in the business is our people and our experiences. Due to our highly experienced team of leaders, we stand out from our competitors at every level. We also have a proven proprietary process to identify the right partnerships that will work for our clients. We know how to make things happen and achieve the goals your board and/or investors have given you through our unique approach to ecosystem mapping, planning, programs, and activation. Finally, because we have an industry-leading demand generation practice, we also have the highest engagement rating with both vendors and partners in the industry, as we help both achieve success through our services.”
P: Was leadership always on your mind? How did you get into the business?
J: “I never planned to be a leader earlier in my career, but as I began working in the technology industry, I saw there was a gap for leaders who were empathetic and fully engaged with their teams, and thus began my climb to leadership. Many years ago, I visited a Software City Store owned by my friend Barry Smolowitz and saw firsthand how a partner could help a business have and use the right technology. This began my love story with the channel. I always admired the journey of the entrepreneur and enjoyed working with the partner community in the tech industry. Their ability to fully support customers impressed me and I wanted to help them get what they needed from the industry. Over the years, I have dedicated my career to being involved in, supporting those channel partners, and ensuring that every partner received the necessary support from the industry at large.
P: Do you think being a woman can be a challenge in an industry dominated by men?
J: “Being a woman in technology has been a challenge. Unlike some other industries, technology has been a male-dominated industry for decades, and although progress has been made, it has been difficult and lonely for women in our industry. There are always unconscious biases at work, but the most vexing has been the bias regarding women in leadership roles. Our differences in how we lead—with empathy and inclusion—are often misrepresented by our male counterparts as weak. I have not let being a woman hold me back but have had to fight to be treated equally along the way. That fight has never been done in a manner that antagonizes people, but rather in a manner that challenges these antiquated beliefs and challenges the cultures that allow them to exist. This approach has helped me emerge both as a fair and positive leader and as a respected member of the leadership team because I seek solutions vs. assigning blame. I have practiced a leadership style of inclusion and team building and have found that in this manner I can get even the most doubtful peer, team member, or boss on board with my point of view for the business.”
P: Who inspired you to be a leader?
J: “Growing up, my mom, who was a professional accountant and business leader, was my inspiration. She was the first female GM of a Ford dealership and showed me that women can do anything they put their minds to. Now that my mom is gone, my daughters Ashlyn and Maggie inspire me and teach me how to be super connected in a digital world and how to practice empathy and create a culture of inclusion at work.”
P: How do you usually spend your day? Any special practices?
J: “My typical day is very busy and spent on virtual meetings and team meetings, helping ensure the team is delivering what our clients need to succeed. I also make sure I save some time for my family, learning, and getting in a healthy walk or meal. My days vary the most when I travel for work and events, but regardless of the location or timing, I always ensure I take the time to check in on the team and see how I can help them. I love to cook, and so my creative outlet is shopping for, learning to prepare, and preparing new foods.”
P: What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs?
J: “Be patient but not complacent. Have a written career plan that illustrates where you want to be in 2, 5, and 10 years and how much you want to earn as you execute that career plan. Money matters, both what you make and what you invest, so ensure your career plan focuses both on roles and the earnings inherent in those roles so that you can create the financial independence you need to live your life.”
P: Where does JSG go from here? Do you have any personal goals set for the coming year?
J: “The technology industry is changing rapidly, with more and more solutions and partners coming into the market every day of every year. Making sense of the players, understanding the newest technology, and determining how best to take it to market is what we are working on at JSG every day. This coming year, we see a huge focus on building and driving influencer and referral channels for our clients as the biggest game changer we can help provide. In addition to this, we are launching a “50% club” designed to help women be 50% of the leaders in the ecosystem by 2030 (currently we are less than 25%), which is an exciting initiative. Our growth will be driven by helping vendors, ISVs, SaaS firms, and OEMs succeed in building, evolving, and activating their partner communities.
My current goal is to prepare the next generation of leaders for our company. I will continue to be very active in our business, serve on boards, and give back to women in our industry. I hope my legacy will be one of helping women succeed in our industry.”