Jackie Kent, chief customer officer at Medidata, has both a knack for plants and people — a green thumb and a whole host of experience leading teams.
She has served in her role for two months. Prior to becoming chief customer officer, where she says her role is to “delight customers each and every day,” Kent was the EVP and head of product. Today, she adds that she “runs all day long” and is constantly in meetings, checking in with key leaders and responding to emails.
We caught with Kent to hear about how she prioritizes her day-to-day tasks and leads her team while doing it.
How would you describe your leadership style?
This answer may be better asked of the team, but I will give it a shot. I try to build relationships and meet different leadership styles in the middle. I feel it lets us solve the hard stuff quicker and understand each perspective when you know someone pretty well. I always start in a place of trust and honesty, which has served me well (most of the time). I do not do very well when trust is lost. I am always seeking to find the best talent — diverse and open to taking risks.
I work hard to empower the team and let them lead their teams. As the leadership team works well together, we align on objectives and initiatives and then continue to collaborate to ensure we remain aligned.
What’s one thing you think young job seekers should know about Meditata? What about those who are in a more advanced career stage?
Medidata is a great place for people who want to innovate technology solutions that really help people. You can feel your impact everyday. It is the only software company that is centered around patients in a very special way.
We help to bring medicine to patients unlike anyone else. It creates a passion for what we do and allows us to be more innovative and problem-solving than our competition. We also, through our Business Resource Groups (BRGs), take our skills right into the community, finding projects that we can have a direct impact on folks/patients.
This passion for patients is something that can start early in a career, and it did for me, I have carried it through out and now focus on diversity in clinical trials and access for all patients. Coming to Medidata late in my career after an early retirement was for this reason — the ability to carry my passion for patients and access to clinical trials for all into my work at Medidata.
How have you used your role to help bring up other women behind you? How do you build time into your schedule for this kind of work?
I have always tried to keep an open door, meet, and mentor at any level. I create meaningful relationships for support and mentor women both inside Medidata and outside in other industry organizations to which I belong.
Let’s just face it, I am pretty social, and I like to have friends at work. I love to learn about the people, their families, and what is important to them. It makes coming to work all worthwhile — the people and relationships you have and maintain throughout your entire career. I want to connect people, too, creating bigger networks of women in the industry. The people are what make us successful; it is always an important part of each day and is a key way that I build energy and motivation.
What’s something you’re especially good at related to your work?
Good… well let’s just say what I like to do is enable customers to be successful in clinical trials and getting medicines to patients. My current role as chief customer officer allows me to discuss complex issues facing our customers and help to find solutions, enabling them to find value in our solutions and services.
I do miss working with the customers and partners face to face, and I hope to see them soon.
What about outside of work?
Plants, more plants, flowers and on and on. The pandemic has allowed me to learn about gardening in Florida, year-round growing, and so many new things for me! I have really enjoyed planting and learning about all of the new fauna available to me. We have a large lemon tree, and I have made everything you can imagine with lemons: lemon vodka, lemon pound cake, limoncello, lemon curd, and the list goes on.
What are you trying to improve on?
I am always trying to improve my patience. It is not new to me, but I can get distracted very easy and also not listen end to end.
What are the top three qualities you look for when you’re interviewing a candidate?
Honesty, learning agility, and communication.
Why do you think Medidata is a particularly supportive work environment for women?
We demonstrate our commitment by the number of women in the workplace. We are at 40 percent globally.
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