Tina Chang

My Toughest Challenge

Lila Aryan Photography

Position: Owner and chief executive officer
Company: SysLogic Inc.
What it does: SysLogic is a Brookfield-based information systems consulting and services firm dedicated to helping companies improve efficiency and reduce costs by optimizing processes and technology solutions.
Career: Chang is the chairman and chief executive officer of SysLogic. She previously worked as a business analyst and consultant at Andersen Consulting, where she assisted Fortune 1000 companies. Chang and Joe Schultz left Andersen to found SysLogic in 1995. She bought him out in 2003.

Lila Aryan Photography

The challenge

“As a startup, the first time we went to the table and actually bid on a half-million-dollar project, as owners in their 20-somethings, and were completely shut down without a fair trial.”

Chang co-founded SysLogic when she was 24 and then-partner Joe Schultz was 27; their youth worked against them for several years.

“It was a large corporation here in town, a Fortune 1000 corporation, that had a very specific software development need. Half a million dollars for us was huge at the time.”

SysLogic’s owners approached the firm to ask why they didn’t make it past the first round, and the company said it was because they were young and inexperienced.

The resolution

In actuality, Chang was surrounded by more experienced employees and should have demonstrated that to the client.

“Shame on me for not presenting a different, diverse mix of what we look like. Instead of building the team for what strengths we thought we could bring to the table in how to present, it was absolutely turning the lens differently to say perception matters at this stage of the game for us.”

Presentation and tenacity are important out of the gate when presenting to large companies.

The takeaway

At its next presentation, SysLogic made sure it didn’t face a credibility issue. Its owners networked in the industry and with potential customers, and provided customer testimonials to prospective clients.

Since she couldn’t change her age, Chang embraced it as a strength, demonstrating that she was up-to-date on the latest, leading edge technology.

And SysLogic did get that company’s business, nine years later. Chang credits it to persistence and staying ahead of the game.

“I kept in touch with the people we had met. I made sure that through the years I brought mutual value touchpoints. I made sure that I continued to read about the domain of their business so I understood it as best I could.”

“It’s really about how do you get smarter and fine-tune your pitch, but then also, how do you recognize and play up your strengths and/or your team realities. I also said to myself several times, ‘I cannot wait to be 40.’ From a business perspective, I get more excited with every year of experience, maturity that I get to put on my resume.”

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