JoLinda Vega is an innovative, results oriented leader. She has comprehensive experience using a consultative approach to gain an understanding of the client’s business needs. In doing so, she provides a strategic business perspective and technology-based direction to manage organizations into the next era. She is consistently recognized for achieving business goals, providing effective client relationship management, developing strategies and programs, delivering profitable solutions to attract and maintain accounts and customers, and propelling company growth.
- What sort of activities typically fill your free time?
I enjoy golf. I started playing golf for fun and work-related and business reasons. Eventually, I decided it was time to work on my game and have been doing so since. My spouse and I enjoy the game, and since it’s such a great sport we can do it together or with friends. We reside on one of the most beautiful golf courses in Kansas with the most scenic views of our four seasons. When the weather gets wintery, I enjoy reading and sewing.
I also give back by sharing my business-related experiences with the next generation. Currently, I instruct at the graduate level for International Business and Technology for Management at a local university.
- How long have you lived in Kansas City? What is your favorite part about living here?
I was born and raised in the city of Westwood, Kansas. I started my career at United Telecom (which became Sprint) in Information Technology as a Computer Operator, advancing to Software Engineer, to, Strategic Planning and finally into management as an Executive leading major Information Technology Development programs for the company. I joined IBM in 2004 to continue my advancement in business, leveraging my information technology and business experience. I really enjoyed working with business executives across industries worldwide in adopting new technologies to advance their businesses. I have travelled worldwide, but Kansas City is home for me. I have observed the growth in the metropolitan area in many facets: art, music, restaurants, culture, and businesses. The Kansas City metropolitan area is truly one of the best small cities to live in, and for others to visit.
- What led you to pursue a role as an Executive On Demand?
I have had various opportunities throughout my career that have afforded me experience and knowledge that often no one individual gets. At Sprint, I was able to transition to new opportunities in information technology and across the business divisions on average every four years. That alone provided me experiences for a lifetime. Sprint selected me as a high potential executive early on in my career and “groomed” me. Upon joining IBM, I had a desire to gain experience across a variety of industries, and I did. I worked side by side with the executive team at those businesses with various challenges facing them (revenue growth, competition, entry into new markets, acquisitions, organizational change, strategy. etc.). Real business scenarios that excited me. Both Sprint and IBM positioned me with business knowledge that I know can benefit other businesses today. That is why the Executive on Demand program is a good fit for me. I have in-depth knowledge and practical experience in various business situations to share with others.
- What type of clients do you typically enjoy working with?
I really enjoy working with people who like to learn and are open-minded. Learning is lifelong. We know not one person knows it all. When I work with clients, many share that I am easy to get along with, pleasant in my interactions, and a good listener. I also like to talk with folks at various levels of the organization to get their perspective, which often provides me a real feel for the culture and work environment. I am brought in to establish a working relationship to provide ideas, direction, and both positive and not-so-positive feedback. For EOD to be successful in working with clients, they must value our insights and experiences to provide them guidance on a critical decision, direction and/or asking why they are doing something versus just letting that path continue. The key to a successful EOD engagement is working with a client together for mutual success. When a client has achieved what they have set out to do while I am there to direct and/or lead, in the end the experience is mutually fulfilling.
- How has your unique background prepared you to impact clients?
I like to listen to the clients about their challenges, successes, and what is not working to gain an understanding about what is keeping them up at night. At the levels that EOD engages, there are a variety of challenges, priorities, and opportunities to sort through. Given my background, I can apply my knowledge of various business situations towards the client’s business matter and adapt a practical application unique to the engagement. Certainly, each client looks to the EOD role to be upfront in sharing our observations and opinions. Communications is a fine point here in interacting with executives in a professional, concise, and to the point manner. In a recent conversation with my former boss at IBM, he shared, “I refer to a lady from Kansas City who had the skills to communicate with people of all levels as a unique quality that she processed as one of our Senior Client Executives.” When training the up-and-coming IBM Sales Executives, he went on to say that the various client calls he made with me always impressed him by how I handled each person uniquely with style and professionalism. I do enjoy visiting with clients and teams across the organization to get a good feel for their culture and work environment, as well as the challenges the business is facing, to turn them into opportunities. Throughout the years of being in a client-facing role, I have also enjoyed building lasting professional friendships.
- What do you think are some of the most pressing challenges that organizations are facing today?
In today’s work environment, businesses must be dynamic in their leadership and management to compete. A business must remain competitive in how it operates daily by leveraging technology, people, and processes. When looking at new markets for instance, one needs to consider the landscape of where they want to go and assess how to get beyond the competition by thinking strategically. At times, that can be really hard when you reside within your company “bubble.” Getting an outside perspective to share ideas “from the field” often creates open-mindedness to truly view the potential.
This year alone has demonstrated such open-mindedness. Who would have thought a high percentage of employees would be working from home? I know many businesses that were forced to take that route and are doing well. Schools and universities are embracing online learning, with a blended teaching model as the basis for instructing. The one industry that stands out is healthcare. With the pandemic, telemetry processes and technologies have existed for some time, but the health care crisis embraced this medium as a resource to continue to treat patients viable for this path for care.
Granted, businesses that made such shifts in their operating model generated by the pandemic encountered challenges, but persevered. Such pressing challenges were the only means to remain in business. The “not-so-normal approach” generated some high risk, short-term shifts in how a business needed to survive. What a year this has been for all businesses. The freshest example is in less than a year, a vaccine has been created for COVID-19. One thing is for sure, 2020 will be in the history books and, I am sure, a few published Harvard business cases!
- What are some of the key principles that have guided how you navigate business?
A few of the key principles that have guided me throughout my career are respect for one another, integrity, and open communications. Those key ingredients have built many lasting relationships in working with clients and colleagues throughout my career. Clients enjoy working and interacting with anyone that has those key principles, complimented by strong leadership and management know-how to provide coaching direction, thought leadership, and effective messaging within a business.
- What’s some of the best advice you have received?
Always be respectful of one’s opinions and differences, honesty is golden, and be a good listener. When you do not know, go seek to find out more. No one knows everything and we can always learn something new. All voices should be heard. You never know when one of the greatest ideas for your business is going to present itself. All people contribute to the whole success of any business; value all. Be you, be personable, and be professional, as these qualities will take you far and to many places and opportunities. There is nothing better than working with a client who thrives on being real while having some fun too!