Diversity/Careers in Engineering & Information Technology



August/September 2011

Diversity/Careers August/September 2011 Issue

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Great Minds in STEM
Grace Hopper
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Ines van Daalen Thornburg: busy SVP at Software AG

"My responsibility is to grow the North American footprint of our German-owned company together with my peers on the license side," she explains

Ines van Daalen Thornburg is SVP of global consulting services for North America at Software AG (Reston, VA). German-owned Software AG provides solutions and services for managing business processes; Thornburg is responsible for expanding the footprint of the company's software licenses, and for successful implementation and delivery of solutions for customers throughout North America. Her focus is on the company's customer base for webMethods, Architecture of Integrated Information Systems (ARIS), Adabas, a high-performance transactional database, and Natural, a programming language for building databases.

"I report directly to the chief services officer who is in charge of worldwide consulting, our global support organization and our internal IT operation," she says. "He is responsible for 3,000 of the 5,600 employees of Software AG."

It's Thornburg's responsibility to grow the North American footprint of the German company together with her peers on the license side. "I manage a profit and loss and am responsible for about a $60 million annual revenue stream in consulting. One of my roles is to promote brand awareness among our customers to make sure we're building a level of knowledge about our software and successfully implementing it in their organizations."

A plan to produce a demand
Thornburg has been at Software AG for two years. When she arrived the company was facing profitability issues. Some of her first tasks were to "check the pulse" with key people in the company and develop a plan to produce a demand- and supply-focused matrix organization.

"On the demand side we have managers who work with the license team to position our consulting services, work day to day with the customers and put together the sales of the consulting projects," she explains. "On the supply side are the consultants. The practices focus on the consultants, giving them the right level of training so they're confident when they go on site to their customers."

Thornburg herself spends a lot of time with clients, working to sell consulting projects as well as expanding projects already in place. She also spends a lot of time with the software consulting teams.

"To me, being in front of the customer is the fun part of the job," she says. "I spend fifty percent of my time wearing the business development hat because that's the thrill of the hunt; securing the deal and winning the job."

But what pays the bills, she admits, is running a consulting team, running the P&L; and making sure the house is in order operationally, "and that's something that I'm also very good at."

Diverse corporate culture
Thornburg loves the atmosphere at Software AG. "We have a very diverse, international culture," she says. "As we broke through to the next generation and got away from the mainframe technology and made some relatively recent acquisitions, we brought in a new wave of people.

"There are tons of people from India with computer science profiles. We have a huge presence of Software AG in South Africa and there are several South Africans on my team, both women and men. There's also a big Chinese population that's very strong with computer science. And I also have a group of U.S. security-cleared resources that come from military backgrounds."

Her seventeen direct reports are regional leaders, practice directors, management consultants and operational personnel.

"My management style is first of all collaborative," she says. "The team I have in place today took me almost two years to build: a lot of interviewing and a lot of learning about the employees here. My goal is enrolling them in the process of building an organizational structure to develop a program for scalable and exponential growth over the next five years.

It's a juggle
"My territory is North America but I travel internationally at least once a quarter," Thornburg explains. "Work is important, but equally important is my family. I have two small children and a husband who owns his own business, so it's a juggle."

Her day starts early with a five mile run along the Potomac River. "That's when I do my thinking and plan my day," she says. "At eight I drop off the kids and begin my hour-and-a-half commute to work. My time in the car is work related and I schedule conference calls for then. As much as I can, I want my time in the office to be face time with people."

Thornburg was born in Washington, DC and grew up in Bethesda, MD. "My father is Dutch and my mother is Venezuelan and so I look at myself as a melting pot of different cultures."

At the University of Maryland-College Park she majored in accounting and international business, completing the double undergraduate degree with honors in 1993.

Starting out
Thornburg went to work with Arthur Andersen (Chicago, IL) and stayed three years, but she wasn't much excited by the accounting and auditing world. She moved to lead the financial reporting team of a telecom company in a pre-IPO phase. It was a tough, rigorous environment with long hours, and "At night I administered their financial consolidation systems, working with consultants from Hyperion."

She ended up taking a job with Hyperion in 1997 as an associate level software consultant. "This was my entrée into the IT world."

In 2001 she moved to a managerial job at Hyperion that took her career in an entirely different direction. "It was like what I do today but on a smaller scale," she says.

She was a senior director at Hyperion when it was acquired by Oracle (Redwood Shores, CA) in 2007. She stayed on for another two years, then "changed gears from a technology perspective to find a software technology company that I could naturally grow into."

The winner was Software AG.

More to do
In addition to her corporate responsibilities Thornburg is a CPA and a member of both the American Institute of CPAs and the Technology Services Industry Association. She also participates in local Women in Technology (WIT) events.

"The world is truly a global economy, with a huge opportunity for an interesting and flexible working life. We are at a point in our technology world where if you want to do it, you can do it."

"It's the technology side of my career that keeps me going and focused," Thornburg declares. "Every new thing I encounter puts tremendous learning potential at my fingertips."


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