Here’s another from The Startup Magazine Female Founder Series. We interviewed Ms. Jeannette Collazo, CEO of Lurdez Consulting Group, which offers IT project management advisory and services. Jeannette has more than 25 years of experience successfully leading IT programs for Fortune 500 companies.
Her belief in the need for educating upcoming IT project managers in better relational skills led to her writing of T.E.A.M.: The IT Project Manager’s Secret Decoder for Increasing Relational Excellence. She also speaks on motivational topics related to entrepreneurship, overcoming diversity, and advancing young women in the field of information technology. Jeannette is also a contributing author to Today’s Inspired Latina.
Here Jeannette tells us more about her entrepreneurship journey and success story:
TSM: To get us started, describe what Lurdez Consulting Group does in 10 words or less:
A: Lurdez Consulting Group, Inc. is a boutique information technology project management firm.
TSM: With a bit more detail, what does Lurdez Consulting do? What problems does it solve?
A: We help companies of all sizes and industries expedite IT projects to gain traction on performance and productivity by using a project methodology and processes in combination with customer service and leadership skills that better fit the needs of their organization.
TSM: It sounds like you are bringing to light how much IT is really a people-business. What is an experience or two you’ve had that really led you to the importance of evaluating your team members from a personality perspective?
A: No matter how complicated we sometimes want to make things, or what processes we want to put in place, in the end, building relationships with people is what helps us get anything done in life. We have to understand that not everyone in a team has the same upbringing, same family, social class, background, nor eat the same food, but here we are at the same place at the same time trying to complete the same goal.
As a project manager leading a project to be successfully completed, it is my responsibility to get to know people at a personal level and to understand their perspective in life and what motivates them. If I do that individually with every member of my team, sure enough that project will be successfully completed. Why? They will want to be part of the project because they will feel as a contributor. Once the project is completed what follow is a team that will want to work with me over and over again because the experience of completing that project, although complex and stressful at times, was also joyful to them because they felt they belong to a TEAM.
TSM: With the COVID-19 crisis, are there new factors to consider in the team assessments that are impacting IT project management
A: Yes. Managers and project managers have to understand that flexibility is key for projects to move forward successfully these days. This will be the new normal moving forward. People have to be flexible and understand that everyone’s lifestyle and routine has changed. Respecting those boundaries is fundamental to obtain the cooperation of all resources. I encourage all project managers to wake up, let go of the old 9-5 mentality and work with their resources instead of against them. Unless it’s necessary let them do their own schedule as long as they get the work done.
TSM: As a female tech leader and a Latina, we know you are a strong advocate for women-in-tech and particularly for Latinas. Are the efforts for more diversity in the tech ecosystem working and what do you suggest for further improvement?
A: I am actually a strong advocate for all women and men, not only Latina women. I happen to be a proud Latina that would love for Latina women to also step up and take a leap of faith into a technical career. I believe in diversity and know for a fact that the perspective of different cultures and backgrounds bring into the picture new refreshing ideas that can break the monotony on how we always get things done. If we all open our hearts and minds, we would be surprised as to how much more we can accomplish by allowing the perspective of women and other ethnic groups. I believe the efforts for more diversity in the tech ecosystem is working in general, but statistics clearly show that women in any technical role is still low and we need organizations like Lurdez Consulting Group, Inc. to motivate women to join the technology field and enjoy all the incredible intellectual and financial gratification that it brings.
TSM: Going back to your early career decisions, tell us what factors influenced your decision to be an entrepreneur and gave you your entrepreneurial passion?
A: As a young girl I always wanted to be an entrepreneur so there were not really external factors that had to convince me this was the right path for me. I was waiting for the right moment to show up in my life and I am extremely grateful it did. I have gained over 25+ years of experience in the field of information technology; therefore, I felt I had reached that point in my career where I was ready to share my knowledge with others. I think or at least I want to think that I have a gift to motivate others to become the best versions of themselves in their career. I just want to touch the lives of people in some way shape or form. If I accomplish that even for one person, then I have accomplished my purpose.
TSM: Give us a bit more background on the Lurdez Consulting success. As your company grew, what were the primary challenges? Hiring? Raising capital?
A: The world of entrepreneurship is completely different from working as an employee or consultant in corporate America. The challenges are new and different but extremely rewarding. I have been playing the role not only as the president and CEO, but also as the CMO, CIO, CFO, etc. Therefore long hours of planning, marketing, and sales have become part of my daily life. Finding the right people has been by far the hardest task. I have extremely high standards and hiring a younger crowd was a bit more challenging than expected.
As of today, I strongly believe the success for any business is in the human interactions. The newer generation believes that everything can be done remotely and, although that is to some extent true these days, having that interaction with clients is critical in the growth of any organization, no matter how technical is the role that we play.
I live and breathe technology every day and I firmly believe that working remotely could never replace meeting your clients in person. COVID-19 has been able to prove that the biggest struggle that we are all facing is social distancing. And why is that? Very simple, we are social creatures that need to interact between each other to feel fulfilled. That is applicable in our personal and business life
TSM: What is one piece of advice you can offer other entrepreneurs on how they can be successful?
A: There are many things that I can advise about this journey, but the most critical of all is to believe in yourself. That is half of the battle. Everything else will fall into place in due time if you believe. You just need to pay attention to those signs and people that show up to our lives every day, and take immediate action. If you procrastinate, you will miss that chance.
TSM: What is one interesting fact about you that people may not know?
A: I am an introvert and find the most gratification when I meditate. Also, my biggest joy in life is to see others succeed in life. I am a giver, but as I grow older and wiser, I have learned to give in ways that I know will have a very long-term effect on people. I want people to remember me as that person that planted a seed in their lives and helped them grow to become a beautiful and successful person for our society.