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Velocity SHEroes: Sandi Rosenfield

In their own words, our Velocity SHEroes series showcases the awesome women who make up our global company. This week, we're shining a spotlight on Sandi Rosenfield, who joined Velocity in April 2004 in our NYC HQ office. Today, she leads the Velocity contracts team as VP of Contracts Management based out of the Charlotte office.
This is a guest blog post written by Sandi herself.

Sometimes you find your footing in the last place you ever thought to stand. I came to technology purely by happenstance, a job interview in a division of an accounting firm that was newly calling itself  “Velocity Outsourcing” spinning off to provide consulting and hosting services for some of the accounting firm’s clients. 

Technology is a unique, vibrant, and, almost by definition, ever evolving discipline with its own lingo by way of numerous acronyms and cadres of techies dedicated to solving problems and providing support. My background was the law and I knew I would have to rely on some transferable skills as I was thrown into the deep-end in those early days. There were just twenty-five people in the company and a lot that needed to be
done in order to grow as we were planning to do. 
Sandi - New Photo
Having spent most of my academic life making end runs around math and science, now here I was right in the thick of it. Spreadsheets upon spreadsheets of sales data that needed organizing and analyzing. Implement a CRM system? Sure, just remind me again what “CRM” stands for? Budgets. Contracts for services with more acronyms. We could also use a methodology for our contracts, and a contracts process, too, while you’re at it. On it! Annual company meetings that grew each year as the company grew until they became three day off-site company forums for hundreds of people that you plan from top to bottom, and here come those budgets again, more math! Throw in another few thousand responsibilities and that was my initial foray in a start up in the world of technology. 

In those first few years there was something I could not help but notice, that there were very few women, not only in the company at that time, but also among our customers’ tech departments from the CIOs on down. But where I would notice it the most was in the conference room. There is something about sitting in a conference room where you cannot help but observe your immediate environment and the behavior of others. It is also usually a space where you are supposed to share ideas and ask questions. Oftentimes I would observe how natural it seemed for my male colleagues to command the room by being direct and forceful, and sometimes bombastic and loud, fighting for their points while my female colleagues, while certainly not meek, would finesse their language more, be more aware of tone, and weigh the options of taking something on in this meeting or wait and address it separately maybe in a one-on-one or a smaller group. It was a microcosm of the bigger picture, which was that this was still a male dominated field with women trying to use their skills to make their way through. I knew for me, one-on-one interactions were more effective, participating in the bigger meetings as necessary but taking that time to really listen and learn to distill what was important for more targeted conversations.

In that early period I knew I had to be a sponge soaking up as much knowledge as possible, listen more than speak, and collaborate and engage. It was quickly apparent that people in technology love what they do and love talking about what they do, which is how I learned so much in those years. Over time, as more women joined the company in more technical roles, there would be subtle shifts in the working culture while still remaining male dominated, especially at the executive level. I could see the in roads some women were making, as well as the setbacks endured by others. It was never easy. There were great times, but there were also some dark times when the male dominated leadership were not always respectful towards their female colleagues, when some women didn’t think they had a voice, which is what we all want. Any professional wants respect and a voice to be heard, not preferential treatment but equal treatment. For me, I carved a path for myself by a lot of hard work (which was time taken away from family and friends), forging relationships, being proactive and innovative, and building a reputation that gave me the confidence to use my voice. In recent years that has enabled me to onboard three pretty amazingly talented women, all novices to working in technology, to form a dynamic, supportive team. Each of them has built their own technological skill set, which is really a great thing about working in technology because it just absorbs you right in where you can learn and develop new skills you never before imagined.

Now let me take you back to that job interview I mentioned at the start. I was interviewed separately by each of the nine executives, which included two women, the Marketing Director and the Customer Relations Director. I will never forget the interview with the Marketing Director. She gave it to me straight, and told me it was an old boys club and that a woman would never succeed here. The entire interview was this theme and she did not spare me any of her thoughts. The Customer Relations Director was more subtle. She was more of a no-nonsense person who didn’t seem to take the environment too seriously but she could definitely hold her own if required. She did not sugarcoat that it would be an easy position to come in to, but she was not as negative as the Marketing Director. 

I took the job. The Marketing Director left within the first year and I am still here over sixteen years later. I sometimes think back and wonder what if I had listened to her? I am sure in her mind she thought she was offering guidance steering me from a situation that had scant chance of success for a woman. But if I had heeded her warnings, I would have missed out on so much. I think of all the people I have worked with over the years, all the experiences, the travels and the life that working in a technology firm called Velocity has given to me.

That is why I am so excited for Women at Velocity (W@V). It is so important for women to share experiences, mentor, and provide support because we are each worth that investment in each other. Velocity has emerged as a leading-edge growth company with many women in varied roles including executives and managers, line of business leaders, technical support, project managers, as well as in the sales, marketing, finance, and legal fields.That is something to be prideful about and to be focused on moving forward because it is so far from where we have come. An obstacle is not there to stop you from moving forward. It is there to challenge you to get yourself around it and on to the other side.

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