'The Age of the Customer' Brings Opportunities

The “Age of the Customer” is challenging established companies everywhere to transform their business models to meet escalating consumer demand. Customers today expect personalized choices anywhere, anytime on any device, from cell phones to wearables.

With more competition and lines blurring between a company’s “business” side and its “technology” side, employees can often face rapid changes and new roles on the job.

Change, however, can spark personal and professional growth, say women who come from both the entrepreneurial and corporate world.

Leverage Soft Skills in Times of Change


Michelle Bazargan

“Changes are coming so fast that businesses can’t keep up, and it is affecting all industries, from sports to medicine,” says Michelle Barzagan, an entrepreneur and strategist for business innovation.

Michelle was among the speakers who shared the value of embracing change at a recent ITWomen program on “The Art of Transformation.” JM Family Enterprises, Inc., hosted the ITWomen professional development program in summer at its world headquarters in Deerfield Beach.

Michelle has presented at the Innovation Officer Summit on “Driving Innovation in a Large Diverse Enterprise.” Her Ted Talk in Boca Raton covered “The Value of Deep Human Connection in a High Tech World.”

In times of rapid change, Michelle advised people to leverage “soft” skills.

Invaluable Soft Skills for Leveraging Disruption

  • curiosity
  • creativity
  • adaptable strategies
  • agile options

“You don’t want to re-invent the wheel. Ford did not invent the auto, but he connected it to the masses.”

She shared predictions that 50 percent of jobs in the future will be freelance. “The era of business innovation has upended everything we thought we knew about business models, from Uber to Air B&B.”

Risk Change for Personal Growth

Sandra Porceng, VP Product Development, JM Family

Sandra Porceng

Some people jumpstart changes. Sandra Porceng was in her comfort zone at the job she had held for 18 years, heading up Human Resource operations at JM Family Enterprises. But she felt a growing need for new personal and professional challenges.

“I was too young to retire and too old to start over,” she laughed. So she risked asking for a transfer to a position she had never held before. A year into her job as JM&A’s Vice President of Product Development, Sandra said she’s found renewed passion for her work. She loves advocating consumer-driven innovations. Her product development functions include research, development, launches of new products and modifications of existing products which automotive dealerships sell to consumers.

“You’ll know you’ve found your niche when you’re both happy and focused,” she said.

The 7 Strategic Phases of Transformation

Director, Technology Architecture for JM Family Enterprises.

Shelly Samuel

The Age of the Customer is causing a lot more disruption than technology did in previous years, says Shelly Samuel, Technology Architecture Director at JM Family Enterprises.

Shelly is responsible for architecture and design for Products and Platforms, Infrastructure and Cloud Services. She has filled leadership roles at both JM Family and Office Depot.

An advocate for innovation, she is passionate about finding ways to drive business results leveraging technology.

Shelly listed seven strategic phases for organizations who want to implement transformational change.

The Seven Strategic Phases for Transformational Change

  1. Leaders at the top buy into the concept of change.
  2. The ‘How” becomes a vision.
  3. Team members for implementation are selected.
  4. Time is spent on communication and culture within the company.
  5. Teams are fully empowered to identify the skills and tools they need to go forward.
  6. Process of experimentation and iteration begins.
  7. Evangelize to bring everyone along.

Work-Life Balance

At the end of the day, we talk about millennials seeking work-life balance and purpose and impact in their jobs, but it’s not just millennials, said Michelle. “We all want the same things: simplicity and feeling like you make a difference.”

“The Art of Transformation: From Strategy to Execution” is one of a series of Professional Development programs presented by ITWomen.

About ITWomen
ITWomen is a non-profit organization founded in 2002 by senior level women across technology industries. Through our partnerships with non-profits, universities, corporate sponsors and professional organizations, we strive to narrow the gender gap in technology and increase the potential for innovation and economic growth through gender equity.

About JM Family Enterprises
JM Family Enterprises, Inc. was founded by Jim Moran in 1968. The $14.5 billion automotive company is among America’s largest private companies. For 18 consecutive years the company has made the FORTUNE® list as one of the 100 Best Companies to Work For®. JM Family is the only Florida company to make Fortune’s 2016 list of best companies to retire from.fortune.com/best-workplaces-for-retirement.

— Christine Zambrano 
ITWomen VP Digital Content