Women in Business Series Part 2: Interview with a Managing Director
Photos used with permission of Meredith Schultenover.
Women in Business: Meredith Schultenover
This week as part of our Women in Business series, we interviewed Meredith Schultenover, the Managing Director of Kraft Enterprise Systems LLC. Kraft is the trusted business partner for fast growing and mid-size businesses looking to deploy business management software solutions. The Kraft team specializes in NetSuite, Adaptive Insights, and Microsoft Dynamics GP.
Schultenover started working at Kraft Enterprise Systems in 2001 following a position in consulting at PwC.
Schultenover’s interest in business began when she was in college. While originally planning to become a physical therapist, she began taking a wider variety of classes and enjoyed the material she was learning in her business and tech-centered coursework.
“I took programming and database work, and it was my favorite course of the semester,” Schultenover said. “I liked the feeling that I was building something and creating something, and tech seemed like the way of the future.”
Schultenover’s original role at Kraft Enterprise Systems was in consulting – which involved systems implementation, training, technical development, and support on the applications that her company sells and implements. Schultenover explains that her role as Managing Director came as a bit of a surprise.
“About 10 years ago, there was a change in ownership, which offered several of us the opportunity to become part owners of the company,” Schultenover said. “Then four years ago, we experienced some leadership turnover, and my partners asked me to step into the role as Managing Director.”
While Schultenover was hesitant at first to take on the new role, she now greatly enjoys her job as Managing Director.
“The last four years have been an exciting time, as we have experienced company growth along with shifts in market to more cloud based solutions.” Schultenover said. “We’ve made some key investments in training our team on newer products, while continuing to be leaders in the market with our more mature solutions.”
Schultenover explains that one of the most difficult aspects of her new position was adapting her personality and learning new skills to fit the role.
“As an introvert, I get energy from deep work and quiet space,” Schultenover said. “I always thought that my career would stay that course – working with small teams both internally and with clients while focusing on problem solving, analysis and development. I found out – it’s never too late to adapt; I was able to go from being a doer in my quiet introvert way to running and managing a company. There’s always that ability to grow and learn more.”
Luckily, Schultenover doesn’t feel as if she has to take on the mantle alone.
“Having a great team is one of the keys to being successful,” Schultenover said. “A big part of my leadership style is admitting to my team when I don’t know the right answer. I’ll say ‘hey guys here’s the issue, what do y’all think?’ I think it’s important to delegate responsibilities and involve others in the decision-making process. I’m not personally best-suited to handle all of the opportunities and challenges that arise. Having a trusted, strong leadership team with a diverse skillset and commitment to the company is the best way to succeed.”
As an Entrepreneur
In addition to her role as Managing Director, Schultenover has started several side-projects throughout her career, including opening a wine store and creating a website company.
“My husband and I are serial entrepreneurs, and as a couple we’ve tried different things,” Schultenover said. “We’ve invested in a variety ventures over the years, and I learned that you’re probably going to fail the first few times. The wine store was not a huge financial success, and we ended up selling a few years later. However, we did create great friendships from that venture that we still cherish today. That venture also gave me hands on experience running a small business in the retail industry, which has given me better insight into that industry as we help our clients at KES.”
On Using Align
Kraft Enterprise Systems has been using Align to set goals during their quarterly planning sessions and communicate remotely via the Daily Huddle.
“Align is a great accountability and communications tool,” Schultenover said. “If you are behind schedule, you are in the red and not only do you know it, the whole team knows it. In the past, we had quarterly goals, but didn’t always know where our team members were on the goals until the end of the quarter. Align gives us constant visibility which allows for discussions of progress on goals throughout the quarter. If a team member is falling behind, others can step in and help. The tool has helped us stay focused on what we said we are going to do.”
Schultenover explains that it can be easy to get busy doing client work and let internal projects slow down or fall by the wayside, but Align holds her team accountable.
“A tool like this helps us back into what each employee will do each day,” Schultenover said. “This way we’re able to be productive on commitments to customers and also stay focused on internal goals. We’re able to be purposeful on how we grow our business.”
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