|Keynote Services tech services
director Angela Head: "I have great people
to help me."
classes didn't catch her attention. But when Angela
Head had her first real experience with computers in
the Army, it turned out she had a lot of aptitude for
the work. "I was shocked," she remembers with
Today, as director of technical services for Keynote
Systems (San Mateo, CA), she's presiding over a new
diagnostic service that she guided to break-even status
in just one year.
"I'm really proud that my team put together a
product that's set to be profitable very soon,"
she says. "I have great people to help me."
Life at Keynote
Keynote Systems calls itself the Internet performance
authority. The company's 223 employees serve more than
2,300 corporate IT departments and 16,000 individual
subscribers. They help the clients manage their e-businesses
by providing services like benchmarking, diagnosing,
testing, and infrastructure management both inside and
outside the firewall.
Client businesses access Keynote online services to
evaluate the ability of their software and hardware
to meet e-business needs in speed and reliability.
Inside tech services
Head oversees the customer services and training departments,
and has profit and loss responsibility for the diagnostic
She explains that diagnostic services provides root-cause
analysis of problems. "We fix customers' problems
right away, of course," she says, but the diagnostic
analysis is intended to avoid the reoccurrence of trouble.
Head has two managers and thirteen individuals reporting
to her - a lean, mean force due to recent downsizing.
"I am fortunate that they are willing to cross
over into each other's responsibilities when we need
it to get things done," Head says.
From basketball to the army
Head grew up in a small Texas town as the only girl
in the family, and went to college on basketball scholarships.
Her experiences developed her competitive edge: "I
can fight with the best of them," she declares.
She majored in business and played basketball at two
different colleges, but left after three years to help
at home when her father got sick. After his death, she
was "looking for something a little different.
"It was not my plan to go into the Army,"
she remembers. But she had taken the armed services
entrance tests in college and scored high. Recruiters
continued to call, and she decided to sign up.
Working for DISA
Because of her business courses the Army started her
as a systems analyst, then moved her into computer systems.
Her ability fueled her interest, and she was soon working
for the Joint Forces Command Defense Information Systems
She started at the Western Hemisphere information processing
center at Letterkenny Army Depot (Fort Ritchie, MD),
working in systems engineering in an MVS environment.
Then she went on to DISA's Site R, an underground communications
center near Waynesboro, PA.
She worked with a StorageTek 4400 automated cartridge
system and robotic data silos. "That was really
fascinating, a lot more hardware work than I had done
before," she says.
During the U.S. Base Realignment Commission's re-examination
of Defense Department facilities in the 1990s, Head
was part of the team managing Site R's direct access
storage device (DASD) farms. "We were migrating
a lot of the smaller DISA sites and some of the smaller
processing centers for the armed forces over to ours,"
She helped migrate from the StorageTek system to the
newer Iceberg technology. She also created the first
helpdesk for the eight-site Defense Megacenter.
The Army gave her experience with cultural and racial
diversity that she had missed growing up in Texas. "It
was so many cultures and people," she says. A woman
civilian became a role model and mentor: "I learned
so much of my leadership abilities as a woman from her."
Head had signed on for seven years, but the Army was
downsizing and offered her a discharge after three.
She could have stayed on as a civilian, but opted to
return to Texas and the private sector.
Learning the financial industry
At First Educators Credit Union (Houston, TX), Head
was brought in as a systems admin to move the small
bank's systems from a VAX to an NT platform.
When the migration was finished she took on multi-duties,
running all the processing of personal banking accounts,
doing quarterly dividend and Federal Reserve reporting
and running the clearinghouse at night.
"It was a really good experience to learn how
the financial industry worked," she says. "It
taught me to be very meticulous because one mistake
could really mess things up."
On to a larger bank
"There weren't many places to grow at the credit
union," she notes. So in 1996 she took a job as
call center service manager at a larger bank. For two
years she supervised financial apps ops at Bank United
(Houston, TX, now Washington Mutual, Seattle, WA). The
center received over 700 service requests a day, and
Head found that she liked the customer service aspects
of the job.
She became an Oracle admin at the bank, liked it, and
moved to Novistar (Houston, TX), which had a huge Oracle
shop. Unfortunately, they put her to work on fairly
routine Y2K stuff.
Over to Keynote
Head had decided to move away from development, so when
a Keynote recruiter mentioned a customer service position
it appealed to her. "I had no idea that Internet
technology was where I wanted to go," she says.
At Keynote, she soon became manager and then director
of tech services. "I laugh with the guy who hired
me," she says. "I went in insisting that I
didn't want any management responsibilities yet. But
it's worked out wonderfully well and I'm really happy
with what I'm doing."
Keynote recently enrolled Head in the Menttium 2000
program, which provides a year of cross-company mentoring
for top women performers. She was paired with a VP from
Oracle. Her mentor's advice has helped Head cope with
the morale problems of downsizing, and learn to manage
in a performance-based company.
Another plus of her Keynote job is the company's location
in the California Bay Area. Head loves to play softball
and take her Australian shepherd dog on hikes along
the California coast.
She's also on a Keynote team that helps out at Samaritan
House, a homeless shelter. And she's participated in
weekend workshops for high school girls in San Francisco's
One day she thinks she'd like to be a Menttium mentor
herself. "There are different questions you can
ask a woman," she says.
Kate Colborn & Christine