Leadership / 05.21.19
Jane Kleinberger: A Powerful Woman Ceding Power to New Female Leadership
It was two years ago this month that something quite out of the ordinary happened in the ticketing technology industry. A major firm that had been co-founded and headed by a woman for many years gave way to a new president and CEO — who was also a woman. The company is Paciolan. Based in California, it was co-founded by Jane Kleinberger in 1980, and she would go on to serve as its president — the first-ever female president of a major ticketing technology company.
Kleinberger has stayed with the company since first handing over the reins to CEO Dave Butler in 2005 and then again to Kim Damron in 2017. But today she continues to inch further toward a well-deserved semi-retirement serving as an adviser to the company. During a recent interview with INTIX, Jane looked back on her career and legacy and looked forward to what the industry has in store for women and for all people willing to work hard and put in the time and effort.
“I think there were some women who, in the early days, were instrumental in co-founding ticketing companies,” she says. “But as far as actually leading a company, I was the only one for many years. Today, I am really proud to say there are multiple wonderful, amazing women who are leading ticketing technology companies, including Paciolan’s own President and CEO Damron, who has been with the company since 2005.”
Kleinberger has nothing but high praise for her successor: “She gradually managed so many areas of the business that her ascent to the CEO chair was not only a logical thing, it was the best choice by far.”
The two have had several moments where they’ve stopped to reflect on how special this female leadership transition has been. “Kim and I have so much personal and professional respect for one another as individuals,” Kleinberger says. “But you also can’t help but realize, ‘Oh my gosh! It turned out that the best person to carry on the leadership of Paciolan is another woman!’ And she didn’t get the job because she’s a woman. She got the job because she was the best qualified. But it is an honor to me that she is now in this position, and I know it’s an honor to her that the company she leads was co-founded and led by a woman for so many years. At Paciolan, we pride ourselves that being an equal opportunity employer is truly shown in our ranks.”
Kleinberger believes that women bring a number of special qualities to the C-suite and the workplace in general. She expresses delight that she has stayed in the game long enough to be there are at the precipice where gender, sexual preference, religion, etc. are increasingly becoming a nonissue with regards to career advancement and accomplishment. “I think we’re going to continue to see great strides,” she says. “And while gender should not be a determining factor, there are certain differences that women do bring to the workplace. While I don’t know whether those are part of nature and/or nurture, I will say that women have traditionally, as the heads of households, been responsible for so much multi-tasking and in such a varied way. When we began massively transitioning into the workplace, I think women were the first true multi-taskers.”
She adds, “I also think that from a nature perspective, men have tended to be more confident overall. That’s not to say specific women aren’t. However, women, because of our nature and also not wanting to be labeled the ‘B’ word, tend to sit back a bit. But that has also given us the opportunity to bring a nurturing side to the workplace. Whether it be a man or a woman, I believe nurturing will be at the epicenter of leadership and growth moving forward.”
She believes that female leadership has helped foster a better work-life balance throughout Paciolan. In fact, it’s been the subject of various forums within the company. And those with children have been especially appreciative.
“We realize that not everybody is going to be a mother or a parent,” Kleinberger says. “But certainly for all employees who are parents, there is never a problem at Paciolan if you need the day off to take the kid to the doctor, or make the baseball game, and so forth. As a matter of fact, Kim Damron herself is a mother of four. So, she has certainly known that while she can step forward and step up, she can also have that balance. Coming into the company, it was something that she admired that I had been able to do over the years. And for the many employees that are not parents, we are acutely aware that they also have an equal need for life balance.”
While women have come a long way, she sees room for improvement and pointed to several fields where the ratio of men to women is still naturally lopsided. “I think the most growth for women in our ticketing sector will be in the areas of technology, programming and architectural development,” she says. “There are some amazing women that are excelling, but these engineering-related fields are still predominantly male. If we can do the right job through education and employment, I think it’s an area of great opportunity for female and industry growth.”
For those women who may still feel slighted, marginalized and not respected, Kleinberger offers her sympathy and support. While she clearly understands the desire to fight and right wrongs and injustices, she also urges women to take steps that will keep them moving forward. “The sooner you feel that you are treated as an equal, the better,” she says. “The sooner you believe it, the sooner it will begin happening. However, regardless of gender, there are times all of us feel insecure, underappreciated or not understood, and the important thing is to dig deep and say, ‘What can I do to improve my situation? What can I do to be better understood and better appreciated?’”
She continues: “At times when insecurity or under-appreciation may be bubbling up and you feel it is because you are a woman, you need to look for your mentorship and your resources to talk it out. If you truly feel that is the situation, look to get yourself removed sooner rather than later. There is a growing majority of organizations and individuals who will honor and respect your contribution equally regardless of gender. Seek out those employers and be associated with those who will lift you up. It’s not always easy, but I do believe it’s almost always achievable.”
Kleinberger is living proof of all that is achievable in such an intensely competitive, but wonderfully fun industry. Looking back at her nearly four decades in the business, she was somewhat philosophical, somewhat wistful, but very appreciative.
“As a successful woman, I probably had my own fair share of insecurity as well as confidence,” she says. “And that sometimes meant ‘fake it ‘til you make it.’ I look back at my career and think of all the times I really felt insecure, but probably projected an ‘I got this covered!’ attitude. The irony is now that I’ve gotten to this point, I’m so humbled by the fact that I didn’t do any of this alone. First of all, I had two amazing co-founders — Thomas McQuade and Cary Thomas — that, if it weren’t for them, this would never have happened. Secondly, I had leaders like Dave Butler and Kim Damron who helped lead Paciolan over this past decade. I’ve been surrounded by the most amazing staff, colleagues and clients that anyone could ever hope for. This industry has surrounded me with countless associates, friends and mentors, including INTIX CEO Maureen Andersen. The older I get in this industry, the smaller I feel among so many giants — and yet the prouder I am just to be counted along with those who have cared so much for this industry.”
You May Also Like
Want news like this delivered to your inbox weekly? Subscribe to the Access Weekly newsletter, your ticket to industry excellence.
Tags: Leadership , Workplace