Three Questions with Gina Miller, Reference Program Manager at SailPoint

Gina Miller may be a new SailPoint crew member, but she is right at home. Like many of us, her career path was less of a straight line and more of a winding, scenic road. Let’s break it down real quick – she studied economics and planned to go into finance but instead found herself in the start-up life. That unexpected turn gave her the chance to wear many hats – one of which was marketing. She was sold. “I found it to be a perfect mix of my analytical and creative sides,” she shared.  

Then, she made her way to IBM, where she found her passion for customer advocacy and the customer’s voice. She spent 16 years doing customer reference work followed by the same type of work at Pitney Bowes. Cue: SailPoint. She’s been on our team for four months and has jumped in feet first in her role as reference program manager. We are happy to have Gina on our crew and wanted to get her insights. Here are three questions with Gina Miller  

What was your first career win, and how did that help you get to where you are now?   

My first significant win was the creation of what I called a Customer Reference Consortium. I was in my first corporate role at IBM, and, in retrospect, I think my naivete helped me in the sense that I didn’t know enough to be intimidated by the complexity of a matrix organization.   

Things like organizational silos, bureaucracies, and hierarchical structures hadn’t invaded my psyche yet, and that worked in my favor. I’ve never been shy, so I readily and enthusiastically set out to meet everyone in the entire company who had an interest in references.  Together, as the self-titled “Customer Reference Consortium,” we tackled everything from creating the repository where we documented our reference information; establishing all of the legal protocols and templates we used to develop reference content; building the ecosystem to mobilize our whole team, including partners, to identify and nurture references; creating all of the workflows around arranging reference calls and other activities where the voices of our customers were amplified – and so much more.  It was critical, albeit challenging work, and I loved it.  It became the cornerstone of my entire career, and I still have the same passion today that I did back then.   

What habits or rituals do you have when you feel stuck? 

When I feel stuck, I find it helpful to completely get away from the thing I’m working on.  I’ll shut down the computer and spend time on something entirely different because my best ideas come when I’m not forcing them.  I’m an avid reader; I find that it stimulates my thoughts and helps me connect the dots.  I also enjoy artistic endeavors such as painting.  (I love to create mandala dot paintings on rocks. It’s extremely meditative for me.) When I’m relaxed, the thoughts and ideas flow more freely, so I’ve come to recognize the importance of stepping away and clearing my mind. 

I also know that, when I get stuck, it’s often at the beginning of things when it’s easy to fall victim to procrastination or self-doubt due the enormity or complexity of a task.  In these cases, I often find that the very act of starting will help generate momentum.  One thought, one idea, one sentence – even the lousy ones – will lead to another, and, before I know it, I’ll hit on something good – a creative theme for a blog article, a cool feature to build into a program, a game-changing solution to a difficult problem. And, then, the excitement of that vision will propel me forward. 

In fact, this is the same approach that I encourage my kids to use when solving complex word problems in math.  The tendency upon seeing a lot of information and numbers is to get intimidated and overwhelmed and to sometimes throw in the towel from the get-go, but I encourage them to write something down – a piece of information that they’re given in the problem, a thought that comes to mind when they read that there’s a certain geometric shape involved, a picture that they see in their head, whatever it is.  Just start, and, before you know it, one small breadcrumb will lead to another.  Draw the ladder leaning against the building or the flagpole casting a shadow, and see the angles that are formed.  You don’t necessarily have to see the full picture from the beginning.  Just “go in on the problem,” which is the common phrase I use, and magical things can start happening as a pathway to the answer begins to form. 

What are you most proud of?  

By far, I’m most proud of my family.  I’m married to a kind-hearted man who never hesitates to help those around him.  He’s an IT professional and a great cook, so he keeps my computer running and my tummy full – maybe a little too full during this pandemic.  (I’ve got to get out of this house more!)  I have two fun-loving, ambitious, sweet kids (a 17-year-old daughter and a 14-year-old son), who provide me with endless joy and inspiration.  In our downtime, we love to play spades and volunteer in the community, and I enjoy every minute I get to spend with them.  It’s difficult to believe that the college years will soon be upon us.  How in the world did that happen?    


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