Denise Sangster | President and CEO | Global Touch, Inc.

Denise Sangster: Unleashing the Power of Partner Ecosystems

One of the biggest gaps in women’s careers is the lack of in-field global experience. Working globally is not for the faint of heart as it is hard on your body with continual time zone changes and jet lag, missing family time, and long work days managing three geographic time zones,” believes Denise Sangster. With that said, Denise has been a road warrior for 30 years and enjoyed nearly all of it, and is looking forward to getting back on the trail post-pandemic.

How it all started? 

A firm believer of change, Denise wanted to be a lawyer and follow in her father’s footsteps. However, before attending law school, she decided to take a few years off to work. During this time, she worked for a large law firm and realized that she likes a thoughtful, well informed, data driven approach to representing clients, and did not want to be a lawyer. She wanted to be out in the field creating and building business opportunities with clients and not only working with them when there was a problem.

The husband of one of the top female attorneys in this law firm had started a Silicon Valley database start-up. He recruited Denise to head the international business even though she knew nothing about their business. It was a massive learning curve about the technology, international business, localization of product and documentation, marketing and sales activities, and developing partner ecosystems. What she found easy was the ability to build business and personal relationships. When the company was acquired by Microsoft, she was not interested in the job she was offered and three customers from her prior technology company retained her to work with them on strategy, IT partnerships, and other tasks. All were located outside the US market.

Then she needed to build her reputation outside of the database world, so she started writing for a number of IT publications in Europe (UK, France, and Germany), Australia, and the US. She was then approached by a group of IT executives to create the first IT pan-European event for the IT industry that focused on a go-to-market with partners. The event, called “EuroChannels,” was a big success, but it was met with initial resistance from some European IT leaders who did not want an “American girl” to help grow the European IT market. Denise eventually won over most, and some even became clients. Many became very good, life-long friends, as did their spouses and children. In fact, she has had four children of European technology executives work for her company over the years.

In a way, Denise grew up with the PC business. There is no doubt taking this first technology job was the greatest career step for her, and one that changed her life. Since then, she has never looked back. Today, Denise is the President and CEO at Global Touch, Inc., a digital transformation consulting firm that helps IT organizations to build partnerleveraged strategies for the hybrid and digital computing world.

A Take on Impactful Leadership 

In Denise’s opinion, women should be held to the same standard as men. She believes the key traits of all leaders should be action-mindedness, calculated risk-taker, problem-solver and culturally direct when needed. She generalizes her experience of watching the best of class male and female leaders around the world by saying that men are typically more often top-down, “command-and control” leaders, while women tend to have a more participative leadership style. Denise believes that given the need for collaboration and innovation to drive competitive differentiation, women have a natural advantage if they can break through the glass ceiling.

According to Denise, ten traits female leaders should possess are as follows:

  1. Honesty and integrity at all times with quick admission when something did not go well.
  2. Voice is your harshest critic.
  3. Resilience and persistence even in the face of uncertainty such as the pandemic the world is currently experiencing.
  4. Strength and courage to learn from failure as you learn more in “rough seas” …
  5. Think strategically, prioritize goals and keep the business focused.
  6. Commitment to disruptive innovation.
  7. The ability to align the business with customers and partners to achieve predictable results.
  8. Communication skills that are grounded in both listening and talking.
  9. Hard work and a sense of purpose.
  10. Commitment to mentor the next generation of leaders who will stand on our shoulders.

Key Areas 

At present Global Touch is focused in three areas in the IT industry. First is aligning IT companies’ predictability (revenue, growth, profit, etc.) with their partners’ profitability and readiness, customer success and business outcome gains. This triangular alignment is what’s missing for most companies in the IT industry. Second is defining a partner profit journey to complement and energize the customer lifecycle journey that most IT companies have prioritized as a key strategy in the next few years. Lastly, it is focusing on helping IT companies create partner investments, programs, and incentives that shorten the sales cycle, improve the time to achieve return on investment, and increase the margin through next generational partner programs and readiness strategies.

An Initiative towards Women Empowerment 

Global Touch, Inc is spotlighting women around the world in its new blog series called, “IT Wondrous WomenTM.” Launched in mid-October 2020 it showcases top and emerging technology industry leaders from around the world. Some of these women are well known in the IT industry, others are quietly driving success, and some have moved to corporate customer or non-profit roles. Each are driving game changing success and deserving of recognition as they are expanding the future of the IT industry through their prowess, intelligence, and impact. They are also inspiring those who will stand on their shoulders.

All participants in this blog series answer the same set of questions, which provides a glimpse into their careers and backgrounds and, more importantly, what makes them such wondrous and inspirational leaders! As Denise says, “they can’t be us if they can’t see us, so we are making noise about these awesome leaders!”

Embrace New Technology Trends 

According to Denise, the IT industry is consistently changing through disruptive innovation. The race to build a “better mousetrap” is what fuels the IT industry. “If you don’t like roller coasters, stay away from the technology industry, but this is really not realistic as technology is bringing competitive advantages to everything from consumer products, automobiles, and business technology,” says Denise.