Renee Bergeron | Senior Vice President | General Manager | AppSmart

Renee Bergeron: Committed to Making Technology Accessible for Businesses of All Size

A Radioshack TRS-80 Personal Computer led Renee Bergeron to technology. This machine arrived at her house through a family friend who gifted it to her since he saw no purpose in it. Toying around with that piece of hardware piqued Renee’s interest in technology empowered her to love technology and finally inspired her to embark to study computer science which led her directly into the technology world.

As an enthusiastic young technologist, Renee was programming for clients like Air Canada, Hudson Bay Cap, National Bank of Canada which allowed her to glance into various businesses and amass knowledge. When presented with an opportunity, she moved to Australia as the CIO for the Bank of Melbourne. Operating in the service provider spectrum in corporate America allowed her to experience technology from the business aspect. As she progressed, her journey with Ingram Micro granted her an insight into technology supply chain management for SMB and building cloud businesses. Currently, she is the Senior Vice President & General Manager of AppSmart.

“In retrospect, my life could have been drastically different if I was gifted with a stethoscope or if I was not passionate about technology in all its form. I am incredibly lucky to work in a technical field that excites me and motivates me,” she asserts.

In an interview with Insights Success, Renee shares her valuable insights on how she is empowering businesses to soar through technology innovation.

Below are the highlights of the interview:

How do you diversify your organization’s offerings to entice the target audience?

We are all consumers of technology in the personal and professional aspects of our life. Consumers are sophisticated and differentiate solutions based on their needs and convenience. So ultimately, as providers, we focus on the customer experience. I invariably put myself in the customers’ shoes to experience our offerings. If you do not appreciate your services as a consumer, why should a customer experience it? Hence, we internalize before we build on it.

Businesses are essentially groups of individuals who employ technology to ease their workload, and I think about their goal to serve them. For instance, if our customers are dentists, as a business leader, my role would be to find what technology would enable dentists to serve their customers best. This process would involve me personally reaching out to my dentist to understand their requirements to build a roadmap of new solutions we can develop. Without the desire to solve customer problems, and deliver the best experience, your solutions do not make an impact.

How do you strategize your game plans to tackle the competition in the market?

The general assumption suggests that tracking your competitors allows you to structure a better plan to get ahead of them. However, I believe that practice only  puts you in a box with desperation to redesign the box, without scope for reinvention. Hence, I prefer market analysis; building strategies require market study, understanding complexities, and identifying opportunities.

Data is my best friend. Slashing and slicing the market to understand the organizational type, their growth, and market scope gives me a unique edge. The market study also helps us predict future trends and equips us to transform the space. Looking at the overall space rather than constantly be engrossed by competition is essential to play the long game in technology.

What are the vital traits that every businesswoman should possess?

Intensity determines your success. Intensity is the key to success and is required to consistently and reinvent customer experience. Perseverance has been one of my greatest strengths over the years. However, investing the energy to consistently deliver and maintain pace requires intensity and passion. Perseverance has been one of my greatest strengths even at my lowest points.

As a leader, a positive mental attitude is critical. Imbibing an optimistic outlook creates an uplifting environment for your team to deliver their best results. Optimism is contagious and should be adopted by every business executive for motivating oneself and others.

Lastly, I follow True North; a concept of undertaking decisions based on data rather than emotions. We are humans with biases, and business judgements made with emotions ultimately fail us. Data, however, are facts. Facts are essential for business development and sustainability. In my opinion this one of the most important characteristics one must strictly follow.

As per your opinion, what roadblocks or challenges were faced by you in a corporate business? And how did you overcome them?

My journey in this industry allowed me to experience some mainstream challenges, which I witnessed were the same obstacles faced by my peers irrespective of gender and nationality; like a board rejecting your proposal. In my opinion, these are roadblocks that are essential to transform into a leader. The most dangerous roadblock we face is the limitations we create for ourselves. Constantly questioning our capabilities, judging our experience, and assuming perception hampers inculcating a growth mindset.

However, there are specific challenges, like communication gaps which could affect your performance and growth chart. In an instance, my manager was an outspoken individual to everybody on the team except me. The anger, the appreciation and the guidance were all out there for them, while I received passive-aggressive feedback leading to confusion.

Transparent communication was the key to identify the root cause. He assumed that his being direct would make me emotional since I am a woman. This was an eye-opening perspective but my solution was to encourage him to accept my emotional response, if any. I presented him with piles of paper which said, ‘This gives you a right to make me emotional’, and normalized something he was terrified of. My communication abilities changed the relationship which led to him mentoring and providing growth opportunities for me. The intention of this story is to promote honest conversations to address awkward undefined problems.

What are your insights on “The myth of meritocracy”? And how it could bring a change in today’s business arena?

Working hard is a basic qualifier in the industry today. Beyond that, one must understand the stakeholders and their requirements. It is about demonstrating the ability to do your job under any circumstance.

Often people overlook the dimensions of ‘what’ and ‘how.’ Our industry houses many credible and hardworking experts who are good at ‘what’ they do. But ‘how’ they do their work sets them apart; not all hard-working individuals are agile, team-players, or the most efficient workers.

Personally, your ability to present yourself also adds value. People will fail to recognize hard work if it is done behind closed doors. It is vital to draw a roadmap, present your outcomes and secure a sponsor, who will vouch for you. You have to chart a path for yourself surrounded by the right people that will help you expand your arena.

How do you cope up with capricious IT and other technological trends to boost your personal growth? 

Technology forces change. As consumer demand increases, the market dynamics shift, propelling change; this cycle constantly helps me evolve. Being in this space, you inevitably embrace the role of being a change agent; which affects personal life as well. As we age, we are required to work our brain to stay healthy, and this environment of continual shift, helps us do just that.

Seldom do we focus on the real forces behind this constant change, people. It is a beautiful cycle between humans and technology; one change forces the other.

What are your future endeavors/objectives and where do you see yourself in the near future?

The perk of operating in the technology industry is, my future can take any glorious form. While I know what the next few years will look like on a broader spectrum, it will be exciting to be on that journey, as new opportunities emerge. The goals I intend to pursue, making technology accessible for businesses of sizes, will be constant; but my path to reach there will definitely take different forms introducing me to bigger and better experiences.