Name: Cher Fox
Title: President and Founder
Organisation: Fox Consulting
I'm a true data geek that's been solving the data puzzle for over 3 decades. My computing curiosity began when I was only 12 with the family Commodore 64 computer, entering line after line of code from the manual, commanding the floppy disk to churn out the expected results. Then began my tech career at age 15 programming J-Tec restaurant paging devices (the light up coasters).
I now advise organizations to define & optimize processes, quality & intelligence, to solve their most painful data insight issues. My 3+ decades of deep practitioner experience, in data, analytics, & business intelligence, designs & implements strategic analytics roadmaps for global companies' most complex financial data solutions.
I've served as interim CEO for a national marketing agency, Senior VP for a regional construction firm, interim IT Manager for a national risk management company & Customer Services Manager for an international software development group. I also serve on the Board of Directors for the DAMA - Rocky Mountain Chapter & have previously been on the Board for TDWI - Colorado Chapter.
I'm a conference speaker on Test Automation & Agile Data & Business Intelligence Teams' best practices, providing practical insights on how companies & teams can eliminate the tool roadblock. I also show senior data leaders how to be confident in leveraging the existing software they already own to save time & money solving their business intelligence challenges.
Thank you to the 2,000 leaders who’ve generously done the 7 Questions on Leadership!
I hope Cher's answers will encourage you in your leadership journey. Enjoy!
1. What have you found most challenging as a leader?
Working on, and not yet overcoming, my fear of public speaking and presentation. Whether addressing a room with a presentation, providing technical training to users, speaking at a networking event or conference, discussing or selling a brand, professionally dancing on stage, or competing in fitness, I have, and continue to, struggle with being in front of an audience. I find comfort in being prepared with repetition, having a co-speaker or even being surrounded by others in the spotlight with the same challenge.
2. How did you become a leader? Can you please briefly tell the story?
I started my IT career very young, at the age of 15, while I was still attending high school. By the age of 20, while also attending community college part-time, I had settled into a development team that was dismantled during an international merger and acquisition. I was retained by the new parent company to lead the training and updates for the software the former team developed. After that, 2 gentlemen, I fondly credit as mentors, rewarded my hard work with annual promotions, responsibility increases, and leadership opportunities. Within 4 years I was leading Customer Services for North and South America managing Americas Acquisitions/Mergers, Hardware/Software/Support Sales and 24/7 Support (HW/SW Agreements, on call, QA, end user training and technical writing). When our division was shut down, I started my own IT consulting company at the age of 25 and haven’t looked back!
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
I have pretty long days as I have been a remote worker for over 10 years now. Leading a fit lifestyle is very important to my overall well-being and health, I like to start off the day with some fasted cardio (I have a commercial gym in my basement). I then grab breakfast and put in some time networking and providing educational content on Linked In. I will then spend several hours interacting with my team and clients (coaching, coordinating, development, preparing estimates, etc.) I break for a late lunch, then head back down to my home gym for a session of weight lifting. After weights, I return to team and client work for a few hours. I end my day with marketing and blogging for Fox Consulting as well as marketing for the DAMA Rocky Mountain Chapter, where I serve on the Board of Directors as the VP of Marketing.
4. What's a recent leadership lesson you've learned for the first time or been reminded of?
I am frequently reminded that my no-nonsense leadership style is not a fit for everyone. I have no tolerance for sugar coating or making excuses, and this can challenge my respect and authority as a leader for those who operate under that kind of support. I do however have retrospectives on my interactions with others that may not have been well received. My gut usually tells me I’ve mis-stepped and while I don’[t enjoy confrontation, I will ask that individual, or those who witnessed this interaction, how I could have handled the situation better and made them feel more supported. I think a lesson all leaders can learn is we can always keep improving our leadership skills.
5. What's one book that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?
The One Thing by Gary Keller with Jay Papasan.
Leaders are pummeled with decisions, tasks, and various other needs constantly, from all directions. The One Thing helps me focus on the one thing in the moment that will move the needle forward, and quiet all the peripheral noise. As a leader, as well as an entrepreneur, I wear many hats and cannot possibly be all things to everyone each day. Narrowing the scope of my focus allows me to achieve extraordinary results each day.
6. If you could only give one piece of advice to a young leader, what would you say to them?
Look out for yourself, you are number one, all day, every day. Jobs, clients and responsibilities will come and go, having family, friends and good health will always be the most important in the long run.
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a leader, so far?
I am always humbled when people reach out telling me that I inspire them. I haven’t had a cookie cutter career path and I’ve overcome a great many challenges in my 35+ year career. I am grateful anytime anyone sees that and appreciates my journey. It’s been a lot of hard work, I’ve had fun along the way, met so many amazing people, and developed some life long relationships.