2019’s International Women’s Day campaigns for a gender-balanced world. At Agilyx, we believe that a balanced world is a better world. We do everything we can to run a successful business and have incredible woman in regional leadership roles, which account for half of our Managing Directors. We wanted to take this opportunity to celebrate Shelley Zapp, president of Agilyx North America, and Andrea Williams, Managing Director of Agilyx United Kingdom. We have spoken to them about their career progressions and picked their brains about what can inspire young women getting into business.
Can you briefly describe what your career path looked like before you became a MD for Agilyx?
Shelley: I studied computer science at university and, after graduation, started working as a computer programmer and business analyst, which accounted for the first half of my career. Back in 1999, I became the Manager of Development of Unit4 in North America and I oversaw the localization of the software in both the United States and Canada, as well as the development of two major products: a student information system (EMS) and a travel billing system (CentralCommand). After a few years, I became the President of Unit4 North America and during my tenure was able to grow the company’s size tenfold. I’ve recently joined Agilyx, and I am ready to achieve new goals, growing both personally and professionally
Andrea: Leaving school at 17, I spent my early career years working in finance and accounting within the Commercial, NHS and Charities sectors reaching a career high of Assistant Director of Finance/ Deputy Chief Executive Officer and qualifying as an Accountant (MAAT & CFPA). Studying whilst working was a big challenge especially as playing competitive sport (Rugby, Hockey and Athletics) was a large part of my life for many years taking up all my spare time.
In 1997 a move into the software industry changed the course of my career, however, the finance and business skills enabled an easy transition to implementing Finance and ERP systems. In 2006 I founded Williams Woodward Limited and spoke with Agilyx Group in February 2017, joining the company in October 2017.
What traits do you think a leader should have?
Shelley: A can-do attitude is extremely important - roll up your sleeves and get the work done. Additionally, one of the best qualities is to be a lifelong learner. You can always gain more knowledge that will be useful for your career from reading a book to attending conferences to completing courses… continuous personal development is key.
Andrea: One should encourage and inspire the best out of people. Lead by example, roll up your sleeves, be a team player and always do the best you can; be ambitious, consistent, honest and have fun at work.
Team sports taught me a lot about how the big picture is always something to think about. Winning the games you play is important, but winning the league and losing games on the way teaches you valuable lessons. Always be prepared to step in and ‘do’ what needs doing! Working with and understanding the team is extremely important to the success of the whole team.
What advice would you give to young women just entering the world of business?
Shelley: The world is your oyster. Everything is possible, don’t be afraid and don’t buy into stereotypes. You can do and have anything you want if you set your mind to it.
Andrea: For success, always be inquisitive and curious, question everything, ask ‘why’; turn up every day, keep learning, listening and talking. Be yourself, always.