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21 Questions With...OpenText Senior Prod Mgr Barbara Ballard

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21 Questions With...
Senior Product Manager, Barbara Ballard

  1. Name: Barbara Ballard

  2. Title: Senior Product Manager-Host Connectivity (AMC)

  3. Location: Seattle, Washington, USA

  4. What product forums are you most active in? Host Access

  5. What was your very first job ever? I planted seedlings at a greenhouse for a very nice older man who ran a nursery.

  6. Tell us about your career journey: After working several odd jobs as a teen and attending my first year of college, I was at a point where I just did not know what I wanted to do for a career.  So, I joined the US Airforce.  I spent 9 years working on fighter jets as an electronic warfare technician and got out only because I had babies.  When it was time to look for a civilian career, troubleshooting was in my blood from my military days and I turned that passion towards software and became a support technician for a small tax software company for 5 years.  When it was time to look for the next adventure, I found Attachmate.  That is where I have been for 28 ½ years.  I fed my passion through customer support and then moved into a role designed by the VP of engineering that ensured customers had a seat at the engineering table.  At the merger with WRQ, I moved into product management where I took that same passion for customers and combined it with my interest in data security to manage 3 product lines.  I have been a product manager for almost 18 years and absolutely love what I do. 

  7. What did you want to be when you were younger: So many choices and I was never sure, but I knew I wanted to work with people; I think I wanted to be a teacher.

  8. Who is your role model? When I first joined Attachmate, there was a person I worked with often that was in the publications department and eventually became the VP of engineering.  Her name was Jennifer Shettleroe.  She was my role model and mentor for years.  She managed with grace, she was very customer-focused and she led by example.  She left at the Microfocus merger, but still to this day, I think about her positive attitude, her ability to lead by example and handle pressure with a cool head.

  9. What do you like to do in your free time? I am a mother of 6 so there is not much “free time,” but if you mean time when I am not working, that is what I do­—my family.  I have a large family and live on acreage with a garden and lots of animals­—all of this takes any free time I have.  I also love to travel.

  10. Best piece of advice you have ever received? To act as if you are a role model in everything you do. When you think about how others see you, it alters how you behave.  Even when no one is watching, if you can put forth your best as if they were, you will be better for it and it will become engrained in your everyday behaviors.  Once practiced enough, you won’t even think about it.  If you slip, then get back into the thought pattern and you will pick it right up.  We all act better if we think someone is watching.

  11. What technology innovation made the most impact on your life? I would say wireless technology.  It does so much to enable other technology to be used and make things easier for so many age groups.  Reading can be easier with access to books on a wireless device.  Bluetooth can get sound to an elder when hearing aids aren’t enough, and knowledge at your fingertips can empower so many things.

  12. What is one important skill every person should have? The ability to listen, really listen.  I did not learn this until later in life and I am so grateful I did, but you also must put it to practice, which is not always easy.  Without really listening to others, we don’t get the real message.  I am an interrupter by nature, especially when I am excited or passionate about the subject at hand, but you can’t really listen if you are talking and so many ideas are lost because they fall on deaf ears.  There is always time to talk, but we all need to make time to listen.

  13. What is the best benefit that you have ever had at a job? (for example, every Friday you got to wear jeans, every Monday there was coffee and donuts, you played sports for the company team, etc.) Flexible work hours.  Most folks work long and hard at their jobs, but it is so nice to be able to modify your hours when necessary.  I have had flexible hours for most of my career and it allowed me to be a better mother during most of the phases of my children’s lives and recently allowed me to be a bigger part of the end of my father’s life—this time and events are irreplaceable.  Being able to get the job done, but at hours that are different than traditional office hours at times has truly been a blessing.

  14. What is the most important personal attribute that you bring to your job? I think it is my passion. When I’m enthusiastic about what I’m doing, I am almost unstoppable. 

  15. Who would you like to exchange roles with? What a great question. I would say a support person, as it reminds me of what my customers experience firsthand.  If I better understand what my customers struggle with, I can make a better product.

  16. What is one of the things on your bucket list? Travel to countries I have either not been to, or not been to enough.  I love to see how other cultures live, taste the food, and walk their path.  I learned so much when I was in the military and served time in Spain, Italy, and Turkey. I have continued to travel and want to do more. 

  17. If you could only take one physical item with you on a deserted island, what it would be? A journal with a pen—you never know how long a journey will last but everyday can become memorable if you write down what you do, what you fee feel, and what you are grateful for.

  18. What is a recent book that you have enjoyed? “Becoming” by Michelle Obama.  I have always been a fan but wanted the backstory and a better understanding of her personal life and I got that and more. 

  19. What do you consider your greatest work achievement? Following my passion. It of course can happen only when you work for a company that has similar goals but to be able to represent customers (both existing and future) in the role of Product Management and champion their issues is something I am very proud of.

  20. What should they teach in school, but don’t?  No one person is like the other and many groups of people find it hard to accept other groups.  While I understand differences, we have grown as a culture where it is okay to not accept another person or group based on things they are, do, or represent.  It is okay to be different and we all need to be more tolerant of others in our communities.  The foundation of tolerance should be taught in school.  It does not mean you like or agree with the other person’s beliefs or culture or walk in life, but you tolerate it and understand they are different than you. You are also different from them and it is okay. 

  21. What do you want to do when you retire? I look forward to days of reading for pleasure, traveling and enjoying the companionship of my soulmate and family.  Gardening and long walks and making the best of each and every day is what retirement looks like for me. 


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