Company Culture, Servant Leader: Women Leaders in Technology Series

“A company’s culture is the company. It determines every aspect from integrity to process to philanthropy. And to see if you will be successful at a company, you have to know its culture,” said LAN Systems CEO Mary Hester when she talked about corporate culture and how it has steered the growth at LAN Systems during the Corporate Culture Workshop sponsored by the Gwinnett Tech CIS Advisory Board. The workshop series gives students a chance to interface with business leaders and hear first-hand what is important to employers. The CIS Advisory Board offers programs and scholarships that help students prepare for success in this quick-paced digital world.

Mary Hester, well known for her leadership and vision, purchased LAN Systems in 2008. She remarked, “If anyone remembers the downturn they would realize there was no momentum, so it was starting the business all over again.”

Focused on internal culture and client success, this year LAN Systems, a leading full service IT solution provider, has earned the #1 spot on Atlanta Business Chronicle’s 2016 Atlanta’s Best Places to Work list. The #1 spot was earned on the heels of two former years earning the #3 Place to Work in Atlanta. The LAN Systems website states,

“We use the solutions that we recommend so we deeply understand how the latest advancements in technology will help grow your business.” 

Photo Credit: Atlanta Business Chronicle

Mary recalled, “When I held my first position after graduating with an electrical engineering degree, some of the senior engineers would repeat instructions that I knew well. I smiled a lot, sacrificing ego to build strong relationships with my peers.” She summarized,

“I believe in diverse teams, and the importance of diversity of thought.”

“I believe in hiring the right people. Further, to provide value to our clients and build more effective relationships, we employ DISC training, a behavior assessment tool that measures your dominance, influence, steadiness and conscientiousness. We integrate Emotional IQ in all conversations. We translate technology for the customers and provide a map to get better targeted tech to fix gaps.”

When I queried how LAN Systems handles disasters Mary replied, “We are proactive in safeguarding our clients’ data, so there is far less remediation than one might anticipate.”

How do you manage work/life balance?

“That’s the universal question”, Mary responded without hesitation.

In the past CEO Hester was involved in numerous organizations that promote engineering as a career to students including the Society of Women Engineers, National Engineers Week and the Girl Scouts. She organized many Girl Scout events including Girl Scout Engineers! and a CSI Mystery program.

Today, her volunteer activities include community-focused causes. She is a Rotarian and serves on the Gwinnett Coalition for Health and Human Services and the Community Foundation for Northeast Georgia. With a focus on third grade reading levels, the Foundation is working on programs to help students meet milestones important for their future success. And Mary agrees that improved student success is essential for the student, our community and for the nation as a whole.

Each year LAN Systems adopts a non-profit and provides the proceeds from its eRecycling program, a green initiative. This year’s recipient is Kate’s Club that empowers children facing life after death of parent.

What is Mary reading? She has read all of Malcolm Gladwell’s books and is reading “let my people go surfing: the education of a reluctant businessman” by Yvon Chouinard relevant to company culture based on my recommendation.. Kurt Vonnegut is her favorite fiction author.

What advice would you give to others?

“Stay positive. We have all gone through adversity.”

“Be kind and gentler to yourself. You deserve the same consideration you give to others.”

“Keep an open mind. A closed mind misses opportunities.”

If there was one person with whom you could spend one hour alone who would that be?  “My mother. She has been gone for 15 years and I have so much to tell her.

Please like and share this article to inspire girls who code and nurture STEM choices. I welcome your comments to engage others.

Evelyn Asher is an Executive and Leadership Coach who brings big picture perspectives to deep dives with women leaders. She is amazed at the resiliency of her English garden. Evelyn can be reached at evelynasher@charter.net.

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