It Takes a Team: a Conversation with VMC President Juliana Su

Since becoming VMC President in 2016, Juliana Su has had a powerful impact on both the company’s services and its culture. We asked what brought her to VMC, and where she wants to lead the company in the future. Here’s part one of our Q&A.

What excited you to join VMC?

My career has always been with technology companies, from start-ups to large publicly traded companies. I headed up and grew global Professional Services departments for two start-ups and eventually became Chief Operating Officer for one. I wanted a short break from the demands of the corporate world and started by own consulting company, and that’s when VMC came along. It was an opportunity too attractive to pass up – that is, the chance to work with an established technology services company with a solid reputation in the Games industry. Upon joining VMC, I quickly learned that VMC has a lot of talented people, an impressive customer base, and strong services offerings. The company just needed some leaders with technology and Games experience who could quickly operationally re-focus VMC to function like an agile, technology services company.

Describe the culture at the company and your vision for VMC.

I’ve always found that technology does not age well – that is, something new is always on the heels of a current trend. VMC’s biggest asset is its people – people who can think out of the box, who are agile and collaborative and see opportunities where they are not obvious. I’ve always said that I can’t do this alone – it’s not my vision we’re implementing but one that we all collectively believe in. I’ve been with and advised enough start-ups to know that one person alone can’t single-handedly make a company successful. It takes a team. We are all here to take on a role and do it well. That’s what makes VMC successful.

I also don’t believe in a “walled” executive team – everyone at every level should be approachable, accessible, and just one phone call or email away. VMC started 16 years ago with a few opportunities and some individuals with initiative, courage, and moxie. I want us to get back to those roots – let’s be brave and go after opportunities, knowing that sometimes we win and sometimes we lose. Let’s work smartly and embrace our mission – “to ensure the most innovative companies in the world deliver an excellent product experience to every customer everywhere” – and quickly evolve and adjust along the way.

What is the company doing to support and expand that culture?

VMC is headquartered in Redmond, WA, home to some of the most successful technology companies in the world, several of which are our customers. During one leadership meeting, we were discussing how challenging it can be for companies, even established ones such as VMC, to navigate the push toward overall growth while continuing to drive hard toward operational and financial efficiencies. We discussed how this becomes even more daunting for start-up companies and how VMC is well-positioned to help since we’re going through a transformation ourselves. Fortunately, we have talented employees and an experienced leadership team. We decided we needed two paths – one external and one internal. That’s where the ideas of our EXP Lab incubator and Ideation Forum were born.

We decided to tap personal and business connections in the Games space to get the word out about the VMC incubator, an “if we build it, they will come” mentality. VMC has available lab space in the Redmond office as well as strong team members who understand the Games industry well. Our BD team leveraged VMC’s attendance at Games conferences to identify candidate companies for the incubator. And thanks to the hard work of many, we’ve recently signed on our first start-up and are evaluating another.

HR departments will tell you that employee engagement and satisfaction is about more than just compensation. It’s about liking and resonating with the people you work with, seeing opportunities for career advancement, having a voice and influence in the direction of your company, having a sense of ownership, and having a strong corporate culture.

At my previous company, we had an Ideation Forum where employees could submit ideas and receive recognition and a small award for the one voted most innovative. We decided to take it one step further at VMC. A committee comprised of all VMC departments (and no LT members) would vote and select the most innovative idea at the beginning of FY Q4, just in time for the budget planning for the next FY. The idea owner would be responsible for drafting a business case (with support, of course) and meeting with VMC’s CFO to allocate FY budget for implementation. Throughout the fiscal year, the idea owner is responsible for project managing the idea from inception to implementation. All with the support and collaboration of the VMC Leadership Team.

And last, but definitely not least, are internship positions for “up and coming” Games talent. VMC connected with some of the local Games Technology Institutes earlier this year. The original purpose for these connections was to educate ourselves on what’s new and what’s coming. We thought “what better place to do this than where talent is educated and trained.” After a few meetings with the heads of these schools, we discovered that in addition to getting an inside track on the latest trends, we could help broaden the experience of students through internships at VMC or with our customers, thereby investing in our future. It’s still a work in progress but we’re really excited about the possibilities.

Since you’ve been in the consulting space for over a decade, especially in mobility, how do you set the direction for VMC leveraging its core business?

To start, I would have never said that I was a “gamer” before I joined VMC. I have apps on my tablet and phone that are strategy puzzles, and I’d occasionally play Minecraft with my daughter. Then I started working at VMC and realized the breadth of Games is well beyond the console and video. There is a fast-growing marketplace for gaming on mobile devices and in the Cloud.

The reach of mobility is ubiquitous and vast. According to a recent GSMA report, there are 5B mobile phone users worldwide today and in the US alone, 77% of those are smartphones. The mobility addressable marketplace is huge with respect to anything that touches the consumer. And in terms of the Gaming industry, this includes everything from traditional video gaming to VR/AR gaming to casual gaming to loyalty programs.

What does this mean for VMC? That we continue to invest and grow with our clients so they can better serve their customer base. We have a long and strong history of delivering quality services to Gaming clients. To remain relevant, we need to stay ahead of the growth curve, not only continuing to deliver those quality services but evolving to include thought leadership around how to enhance the user experience in the Games space. It’s no longer just about the number of defects that are found and corrected, but about gathering and, more importantly, interpreting data about how Games are being played, player’s preferences, and predictive trends. Our investment will include Technology and Games-specific data analysts who can interpret data and provide predictive business intelligence on how to enhance the player experience, the trends that will lead to the next “big” game, how to keep a loyal fan base, and more.

In parallel, we continue to chase opportunities in the connected consumer space, including all types of connect devices — ones that are worn, driven, and inhabited. By leveraging our Gaming industry expertise in QA and Compatibility Testing, Certification and Localization, we can pivot to offer these relevant and much sought-after services in the connected marketplace as well. This diversification of our client portfolio will generate the revenue and income that will allow VMC to continue investing and innovating in our core businesses: Games and Customer Care.

Watch for part two of our Q&A with Juliana Su soon.

It Takes a Team: a Conversation with VMC President Juliana Su

The Power of Three

Joe Lyons, VP of Business Development, discusses adding value to meetings by inviting a third party.  

The power of three is a concept I’ve seen in many contexts, and I want to share how I’ve incorporated it into my management and sales process with tangible results.

If you’re unfamiliar with the power of three, it’s an idea built around the fact that people naturally gravitate to groups of three. From the Three Bears to the Three Musketeers, from Aristotle’s three modes of persuasion to Thomas Jefferson’s three inalienable rights, the power of three appears continually in our lives.

I made it a part of my management style when a former director added a third person to our 1-on-1 meetings. Including a third person added value by bringing new perspectives while keeping the group small enough that everyone was engaged. It led to us asking better questions and enabled us to probe into what people were thinking about and working on. Plus, an extra mind keeps people honest about what comes out of the meeting. Everyone is on the same page.

Expanding Your 1-on-1s

The value of 1-on-1 meetings is well documented. But in my experience, adding the third person—let’s call it a 1-on-1-on-1—has noticeably changed the value to my employees. They like the format, and gain more insight and holistic understanding. It’s a big improvement if your 1-on-1s have become too routine or rote. Whether I include someone from a different department, a peer, or another executive, the conversations take on a different dynamic. When there’s a third person involved, it even forces me to think differently about the conversation so I can take advantage of that person’s perspective and expertise.

The Power of Three in Action

When I saw the value of the power of three for my team, I wanted to bring the same results to my meetings with clients, and found that creating interdependencies between three stakeholders can help drive business.

Here’s an example: I was working with a client that had a back-to-school deadline and wanted to launch an initiative in August. Unfortunately, Legal said it would take 12 months for them to sign off on everything. I saw no way to meet the deadline on our own, so I asked the client if there was anyone else we could work with to meet the launch deadline. As it turned out, they had a managed service provider that we had already been working with. Boom, we got the deal done by working a pass-through with the MSP. The addition of the third party—the power of three—allowed the client to close the deal. We all benefited.

Here’s another: I was discussing a deal with a prospect that sells IoT solutions to other companies, providing them a service. Because my service ran on Amazon Web Services, and the device that the customer sells is driven through amazon.com, the power of three popped into my head. Not only did I have a better chance of closing that deal, but everyone was interdependent on each other: The prospective customer is selling its product on Amazon, my service was running on AWS, and Amazon wins on both fronts if they do the deal. Presenting this thinking to Amazon, they bit—hard—saying they’d never seen anyone do a deal this way before. It was this outside-the-box thinking that led to a win – for everyone involved.

A New Approach to Sales?

Businesses—at least the smart ones—understand the importance of interdependencies. You scratch my back, I scratch yours. While you may not be able to group three entities together in all of your deals—in some instances it just won’t make sense—there are likely a few opportunities where a three-company partnership will be beneficial for all parties.

Great salespeople understand the importance of switching things up from time to time and trying new tactics. Roll the dice on the power of three, be patient, and see what happens. Chances are you’ll love the results.

VMC’s expertise ensures ​the most innovative companies ​in the world deliver an excellent ​product experience to ​every customer, everywhere. Learn more at vmc.com

The Power of Three