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Cultivating a Service Mindset with Jennifer Tejada

Episode 282
What makes for a great leader? Jennifer Tejada, CEO of PagerDuty, shares what it’s like to run a company with a servant leader mindset.

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“People, when you arm them with the right information, the right insights, and the right systems and processes, can make great things happen.” -Jennifer Tejada

What do you think of when you hear the word “boss”? Do you imagine someone like Bill Lumbergh from Office Space? Or maybe your mind does cartwheels and immediately jumps to Bowser and the Koopa squad from Super Mario Bros 3.

However you define “boss,” Jennifer Tejada has a new definition for you: someone who sacrifices, who works tirelessly to build a sense of community, who puts in those early mornings and late nights to make ends meet.

Jennifer is the CEO of PagerDuty, a digital operations management company. Its cloud-based platform manages real-time operations for any type of business to ensure its digital services are always on. Since its founding, PagerDuty has drawn a lot of attention from investors, raising over $173 million over the course of several funding rounds. The company went public earlier this year and at one point was valued at $1.8 billion dollars.

That valuation, and the relative success of PagerDuty in such a short amount of time, is thanks in no small part to Jennifer’s leadership. Her unique brand of management style was inspired by her father, who ran and operated a hospital when she was young. Growing up, she spent a lot of her free time in that hospital – doing everything from selling Girl Scout cookies and serving pancakes to the night shift, to filing papers and making copies. Those experiences left their mark and today, she’s turned those lessons of community and leadership into inspiration for how she runs PagerDuty.

In today’s episode, Jennifer joins Chad to discuss her work with PagerDuty, how she uses her father’s “serving others” mentality on a day-to-day basis, and what she foresees PagerDuty doing in the future.

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Quotes by Jennifer Tejada:

1:35 – [On the values Jennifer learned from her father] “He would remind us frequently that life isn’t fair and that we should just get over it and move on and make the best of things. Which is a message I don’t hear enough of these days.”

5:12 – “Service starts with looking outward instead of looking inward. Often when you’re building your cultural values, you’re thinking really hard about yourselves, the company itself, the people within the company. At PagerDuty we really try to focus outwards. One of our first cultural values is ‘champion the customer.’”

6:16 – [On PagerDuty’s cultural values] “You should be able to bring your own authentic self to work but you also are responsible and accountable for making sure the person next to you or the person on your team can also bring themselves to work.”

10:14 – “Our mission is to elevate work to the outcomes that matter.”

10:20 – “People, when you arm them with the right information, the right insights, and the right systems and processes, can make great things happen. But when they are disrupted by things that are unexpected and unplanned, a lot of innovation leaks out of the system pretty quickly.”

12:24 – “In a culture of innovation like Silicon Valley, there are a lot of technology solutions looking for problems and it really should be the other way around; to really understand the big issues from keeping people successful, feeling fulfilled, and enjoying a purposeful day at work.”

29:21 – “The reason that I’m still leading people is because I love the payoff that you personally get when you see the light go on in someone’s eyes that they’ve achieved something that they didn’t think was possible for themselves.”

43:05 – “We have to teach our children to be lifelong learners and be open to less conventional ways of learning than structured education.”


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