Jennifer Tejada, PagerDuty

Jennifer Tejada

Champion the Customer

Editors’ Note

Jennifer Tejada is the Chairperson and CEO of PagerDuty. She brings to the role 25 years of diverse experience spanning mass consumer products to disruptive cloud and software solutions. She has a successful track record in product innovation, optimizing operations, and scaling public and private enterprise technology companies. She is also an active tech investor as an LP in multiple firms, including Operator Collective, Harlem Capital, and Penny Jar. Prior to her role at PagerDuty, Tejada was CEO of Keynote Systems, where she led the company to strong, profitable growth before its acquisition by Dynatrace. Before Keynote, she was Executive Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer at Mincom, leading its global strategy up to its acquisition by ABB. She has also held senior positions at Procter & Gamble and i2 Technologies. Tejada currently serves as a board member of The Estée Lauder Companies Inc. Tejada earned a bachelor’s degree in organizational behavior and business management from the University of Michigan, where she was a member of the Michigan’s Women’s Golf Team.

Company Brief

PagerDuty, Inc. (pagerduty.com) is a global leader in digital operations management. The PagerDuty Operations Cloud revolutionizes how critical work gets done, and powers the agility that drives digital transformation. Customers rely on the PagerDuty Operations Cloud to compress costs, accelerate productivity, win revenue, sustain seamless digital experiences, and earn customer trust. More than half of the Fortune 500 and more than two thirds of the Fortune 100 trust PagerDuty including Cisco, Cox Automotive, DoorDash, Electronic Arts, Genentech, Shopify, Zoom and more.

What excited you about the opportunity to lead PagerDuty and made you feel it was the right fit?

First, perspective. I combed the market and looked at nearly 50 CEO opportunities over several months in growth SaaS. This gave me a great perspective on the quality of the company, the culture, the market opportunity, and the fit for me relative to all the other opportunities available. PagerDuty presented a unique leadership opportunity in that it was community focused, purpose and mission driven, disruptive, and had high potential. It also wasn’t perfect so there was room, and in fact a need, for someone like me to both address challenges but also build on an incredibly strong foundation of customer trust.

Second, people. Alex Solomon, the CEO and co-founder, was selfless in putting the company’s needs first. He was maniacally focused on finding a great leader for the business – his baby – even if it meant handing over the reins. His demonstration of leadership formed the foundation of a partnership I still enjoy and cherish today. He walked the walk after I joined and gave me both the room and autonomy to lead the business and has been a supportive colleague and board member along the way. It’s not lost on me how rare this is and how fortunate I am.

Third, customer love. While investigating the role, I talked to at least 20 enterprise customers and at least twice as many developers to understand through their lens how they viewed, valued, and appreciated PagerDuty and its products. In a 30-year career, I have not seen the consistent and constant trust, grace, and appreciation for a software solution. Even early on, we had earned the right to build more solutions to solve more problems for our customers, and that forged our path to multi-product platform growth. Champion The Customer is our #1 value and trust remains our north star.

How do you describe PagerDuty’s mission and purpose?

PagerDuty’s mission is to revolutionize operations and build customer trust by anticipating the unexpected in an unpredictable world. Our purpose is to empower teams with the time and efficiency to build the future. Right now, every company is going through some sort of digital transformation. This is great, but means that entire technology ecosystems, operational frameworks, and teams are not able to keep pace with the demands of their customers. Most enterprises are encumbered with legacy systems, technology debt, and operations debt. This is a chasm that is wider than most people estimate, but the PagerDuty Operations Cloud can help companies navigate it.

Will you provide an overview of PagerDuty’s services and solutions?

The PagerDuty Operations Cloud is the platform for high-impact, mission-critical, time-sensitive operations work in the modern enterprise. Through the power of AI and automation, it detects and diagnoses disruptive events, mobilizes the right team members to respond, then streamlines infrastructure and automates workflows across your digital operations. The Operations Cloud is essential infrastructure for revolutionizing digital operations to compete and win as a modern digital business. We service more than two thirds of the Fortune 100 and more than half of the Fortune 500 across all industries including financial services, tech, retail/ecommerce, travel and hospitality, and media and entertainment. We recently received FedRamp “In Process” designation, part of the certification process which enables us to serve Federal customers as well.

What have been the keys to PagerDuty’s industry leadership and how do you define the PagerDuty advantage?

Trust. We’ve built a cloud-native digital operations platform that helps our users manage high-stakes technology issues in the worst of business moments. It has engendered incredible trust and equity with our user, unlike anything else I have experienced in the tech industry. The first time I met Paul Cheesbrough of Fox, he shared an ambitious vision for an IP-based, highly automated broadcast network that would deliver best in class streaming and TV experiences. PagerDuty was the spine of his team’s operations vision, which physically manifested at their global operations command center in Phoenix. In the early days of the state-of-the-art center, PagerDuty detected a water leak and automated the response process saving Fox millions of dollars in damage in a few seconds. While designed for digital operations, PagerDuty limited the impact of this major incident and now serves Fox for World Cups and Super Bowls.

How do you balance the short-term, quarter-to-quarter pressures for results with the need to make long-term investments in the business?

I am focused on our long-term success which will only come through our customers’ long-term success. This means I spend much of my time focused on how we are thinking about the next three years, and what we need to be executing on in the near term to achieve our multi-year goals. I am fortunate to have a phenomenal leadership team that drives our near-term execution.

I actually appreciate the accountability, relevance, and transparency that comes with being a public company, as each quarter it’s a forcing function to inspect your strategy and execution, to refine your articulation of your value proposition, and to bring your investors, customers, employees, and community along on the journey. As with any important pursuit, you do not win every inning or hit every note perfectly, but with each day, each quarter, each year, you learn, adapt, and get better. That is the fun of building.

Will you discuss PagerDuty’s focus on building a diverse and inclusive workforce?

The best ideas and innovations come from teams with diverse backgrounds and experiences. These teams challenge each other’s thinking and approach. According to McKinsey, businesses in the top 25 percent of racial/ethnic diversity in management were 35 percent more likely to have financial returns above their industry mean, and those in the top quartile for gender diversity were 15 percent more likely to have returns above the industry mean. This kind of thinking is reflected in Adam Grant’s latest book, Think Again. I had him speak to my leadership team over the years – when diverse teams challenge each other and previously accepted conventions, the customers, shareholders, and employees win.

Diversity and inclusive leadership is a business imperative, not just an ethical imperative. For example, if investors are diverse, investments will flow to a broader swath of entrepreneurs. If boards and leadership have broad and diverse representation, the company has access to more networks and a wider variety of experience and expertise which leads to deeper and diversified talent, high-quality ideas and solutions, and ultimately better business outcomes. In fact, many reports have found companies with more diverse boards outperformed their rivals through the COVID-19 crisis. At PagerDuty, our funded, programmatic focus on inclusion, diversity, and equity has helped to facilitate not only strong financial performance, but high employee engagement and customer trust.

What do you see as PagerDuty’s responsibility to be engaged in the communities it serves and to be a force for good in society?

I am super passionate about service. I have been a volunteer, a fundraiser, a coach, and a board member for all types of non-for profits. I find service both an urgent necessity in our society and immensely fulfilling. It is a great way to spend time with people and learn about things you have little exposure to. I am proud of the social impact journey we are on at PagerDuty. When I first joined the company, I had a suspicion our teams would embrace social impact efforts and that it could even deepen our employees’ connection to our mission and purpose – no brainer to introduce this idea of giving back. Our board supported our 1 percent pledge back in September 2017 – a pledge where we put 1 percent of company equity, employee working time, and product to work to accelerate change in our local and global communities – and in the past year, we served 306 impact customers through our impact pricing, provided $1.2 million in product discounts and product donations, and 95 percent of global PagerDuty employees volunteered or donated to a cause. This year we celebrated five years of PagerDuty.org. Long-lasting change doesn’t happen overnight without taking long-term concrete actions.

Do you feel that there are strong career opportunities for women in the industry?

Definitely. Whether at PagerDuty, in my professional network, or in the eyes of my daughter and her peers, I want young women in the workplace to see great leaders that look like they do and love what they do. I want them to see living proof that diverse teams deliver great performance, and that they invest sustainably and systematically in programs that deliver equitable opportunity and representation of gender, race, age, or background in all levels.

My advice to all women is to make it a priority to build connections and a strong support system around you as early as possible into your career. Attending an after-work thing or conference can easily fall to the wayside, but trust me, you don’t get less busy over time. So do it while you can and identify both sponsors and mentors who can help you navigate your career and your life together. These efforts will build up to become a valuable community for you as you grow in your career.

How do you describe your leadership style?

My leadership style centers on building trust. I care deeply about the mission of PagerDuty, our team, culture, and the milestones we are aiming for. I love the art and science of composing and developing a strong team. I want my team to go beyond delivering great results, to challenge each member of my team, and help each other improve their teams’ effectiveness. I am data driven and we use measurement tools and experts to help us measure our impact. I attempt to personally connect with every member of my team and to understand what motivates them and how they like to work. It’s also important to me that we get aligned around a mission and dig in together to do great work. Developing others is an immense privilege and, much like serving customers, is something I take very seriously. Leadership is a dynamic, unpredictable, infinite journey, and with every milestone met, you raise the bar for the next one.

PagerDuty has achieved strong results under your leadership. Are you able to enjoy the process and take moments to celebrate the wins?

I credit my career and life success to surrounding myself with brilliant teams where the sum outcome is greater than the parts. As a leader, you succeed only through others, and as such, I love to celebrate with both our teams and the people important in their lives. I frequently host dinners in my home or events with our team and their partners. Breaking bread together and seeing the whole person you work with drives authenticity and kinship in my experience. It’s less about knowing the names of your team members’ partners and children, and more about knowing your team members through the lens of the people most important to them. I am always conscious that the time I have with my team is borrowed from their loved ones, so as self-critical as we can be, as demanding as I can be, I also try to make it fun, to celebrate the wins, and to tell them I appreciate them. Sometimes I do that better than others.

Jennifer Tejada doing an interview on CNBC
in a photo taken by her daughter

Likewise, I keep my family engaged in my work. They know when it’s been a tough week and they also are awesome about celebrating the milestones and special moments. I have never been one to successfully separate who I am at work from who I am at home, so I gave up and integrated it all. It’s cool when your daughter texts you from college to find out what time you will be on CNBC because she has seen and been involved in the behind-the-scenes over many years.

What advice do you offer to young people beginning their careers?

Ask questions – there are no dumb questions. Curiosity leads to learning, not only for yourself, but also others around you. When I was a younger executive, I carried around this burden where I thought I had to know all the answers all the time. Now, I ask so many more questions – it drives my team nuts! We are all better off when we approach work with a learn-it-all mentality versus being a know-it-all. Embrace a growth mindset.

Put away the ladder and leap – our world is so heavily curated, whether it is our social feed or our schedules or the people we spend time with. It’s easy to believe the only path to success is up, but when you only focus on the path up, you are likely in an elevator shaft, a silo without a view of the world and what’s possible. Don’t be afraid to wander off the path or step out onto a new “floor” to explore things less familiar. You may just find a new passion, an incredible person, or even your calling.