Jamie Haenggi: A Pioneer for Female Leaders
By: ADT Staff
With more than 30 years of experience in the security industry and more than half of that time in leadership positions, Jamie Haenggi understands the inner workings of the trade and serves as an integral pillar in the community.
In her office there’s a plaque with the quote from Maya Angelou, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did – but people will never forget how you made them feel” – and that’s Jamie to a T. Jamie is one of those special people who has the kind of energy that can motivate her team to run through a brick wall.
Jamie’s drive comes from her passion for the customer, which she channels to deliver an award-winning experience in her remit as ADT’s Executive Vice President and Chief Customer Officer. But as a servant leader, Jamie understands that if her people are happy, it will cascade to the customers.
Through her time at ADT, Jamie has built a strong community within the organization. She helps to coach, grow, and develop her people – and is even known for bringing people from the call centers to start careers in various areas of corporate. Jamie is also a founder and executive sponsor of ADT’s Inclusive Diversity and Belonging Council.
Throughout the past year, Jamie has talked with us about her journey to the C-suite, obstacles along the way, and her thoughts on breaking barriers. And now, we are honored to share her story with you.
Tell us about your professional journey and the events that led you to where you are today.
I like to say, that my career kind of found me vs. some intentional, designed plan. My journey to where I am has been driven through great executive sponsorship. I know I would achieve great things through my drive, but their willingness to see my strengths and hard work and provide opportunities has been key to my success. Immediately after high school, I didn’t have money for college or the ability to take out a loan, so I started as a secretary for a manufacturing company in Minnesota where I wore my hair up and dressed in suits to ensure I was taken seriously due to my young age. On day three, the general manager learned how old I was and called me into his office and asked why I wasn’t in college. When he learned it was due to money, he took out $2000 cash and told me to leave early to register for evening classes at the community college. I did. After a few years, I had saved enough money so I could continue to education at a university in Japan.
Upon return, I found myself working at a security company. Again, I was an administrator, but I always looked for ways to improve the business and spent time learning different areas. I developed a plan that saved considerable money and was recognized by the CEO. Shortly after that recognition, I completed my college education in International Relations & Japanese, with a double minor in Political Science and East Asian Studies. It was then that I was asked if I would lead a new International Division for the company. This was an incredible OTJ training experience as I traveled the world negotiating distribution agreements, setting up sales and technical teams, and personally pitching this new platform to prospects as the entire Malaysian Fire Brigade (Chiefs of FD) at the age of 25.
From there, my career was tied to executive leaders that mentored and sponsored me and then took me where they went. National Guardian was sold, and the CEO asked me to join them at another firm, Holmes Protection where I ran sales and marketing, while also integrating the 30+ acquisitions that we made. We sold Holmes Protection and the CEO of ADT asked me to join them where I served in several roles in marketing, sales, operations, and later international marketing. The CEO of ADT went to Vonage and asked me to join there as the VP of Customer Experience. After his departure, the chairman of Vonage asked me to stay on as their first CMO to lead marketing and sales operations. While at Vonage, a close colleague from my ADT days asked if I would join him as an equity partner to take Protection 1 private. We sold Protection 1 five years later to another PE firm, Apollo, and since purchased ADT – a home I returned to after leaving 10 years prior. Now back at ADT, I have had the opportunity to serve in several capacities across sales, marketing, and operations with today a deep focus on the customer experience.
Throughout your tenure at ADT, you’ve worn many hats and held different roles. What’s the most noteworthy experience you’ve had here?
There are two that stand out in my mind and are both fairly recent. The first happened in March last year and how we mobilized over 5000 people in record time (like 9 days!) to transform from a center-based operation to a work-from-home operation due to Covid. It was inspiring to see the level of collaboration, focus and commitment that everyone had to achieve the impossible!
The second was our Project Dallas crisis that hit in April and impacted several hundred customers. The way that again teams rallied with the level of urgency, compassion and commitment to our customers was overwhelming. I still get emotional talking about this time and can’t say enough how impressed and thankful I was for that “team of 20” that delivered at one of the highest levels I have seen a team perform at.
Women in leadership positions experience a range of challenges that many of their male counterparts don’t have an understanding of. In your opinion, what are the most unique challenges faced by women executives?
There are several challenges that women executives face that are unique to them, but I will focus on two:
The first one is being true to who you are. This can be a challenge for any minority that steps into a room — sometimes you just want to blend in. My upbeat approach, my focus on the “hearts and minds” of people was not always seen as “real business” and so I would at times adjust my style to “be like them”. Later, I decided it’s easier to just be me and trust in the talents and skills I bring to the table. If people don’t see them, then it’s probably not a place I would want to be if I can’t be myself. We all bring different talents and skills and we have to embrace their differences when mixed together to make something great.
The second is balance. Women are told we can have it all — no one can. It’s not a woman thing, it’s a reality thing. We all get the same 24 hours, and we have to make choices on where and how we spend them. I have learned that I make the choice of how I spend it and then I work to be fully present in that moment. The real struggle for women on this topic is for those that have children, and are often the primary caregiver which can mean, they’re the ones that have to leave at 5:30 to pick up the kids while their counterparts are seen “in the office” until later – even though most of them are also jumping back online in the evenings.
As EVP and Chief Customer Officer at ADT, you lead and motivate your team on daily basis. What words of wisdom would you share with other women leaders to help inspire their teams to succeed?
Be you, authentically. We all have unique skills and talents, and you should embrace those, both in yourself and in others. You don’t have to look like or act like ‘everyone else’. Know your weaknesses better than your strengths. You don’t have to hide your weaknesses — none of us are good at everything and that’s okay. But you do need to surround yourself with great talent that can offset your weaknesses. Ask your team for help. It shows vulnerability, humility and builds trust — three ingredients that help teams thrive together while also creating a great culture.
In your opinion, why is encouragement and engagement in the workforce so important for a woman’s career development?
I urge women to raise their hands for things that may seem bigger than what they are qualified for and to stay sharp on business trends and out-of-the-box thinking. We need female leaders that are helping to innovate in our industry.
I believe that simple encouragement is just what someone needs to unleash their true potential—so I always try to be ready with words and actions to support. Last year I sent out over 100 copies of the book Playing Big: Practical Wisdom for Women Who Want to Speak Up, Create, and Lead, along with a personal note of encouragement, to women across ADT and in my greater network. (And if you want a copy, reach out to me!)
Having distinguished yourself as a dedicated leader and advocate throughout your career, what have you done to make the world a better place?
I have tried to use my experiences and financial success to make individual lives better in the hopes of making the world a better place. Our family has actively participated in annual mission trips and supporting organizations such as Villa Esperonza in Nicaragua, a home for young girls that were prostituted by their families, or The Shift Community center in Macedonia with our time, love, and money. In fact, I am headed to Macedonia in October to help with counseling training for abuse victims and help with a refugee camp that is being established in Tetevo for Afghanistan people that are fleeing.
I also support local community efforts in Wichita, Kansas, with a special focus on The Center at Iasis, an inner-city community center, the Carpenter Place Children’s Home, an all-girls home serving young ladies in crisis, and the Kansas Food Bank. I recently joined the board at Enphase Energy. The idea of what solar and battery storage can do for people here in the US and around the world is inspiring to me. Consider how solar energy could bring life to a remote village — propelling water pumps and electricity. The sun has been powering life for millions of years — it’s about time we figure out how to harness it in a way that does good for humankind today and for the years to come.
This past summer my husband and I created an internship program on our farm for a group of eight college students whose internship was canceled due to COVID-19. In addition to project research, planning, leadership, and a lot of hard work, we also created seminars for them on leadership, networking, finances, and set up informational interviews in their area of study. Professionally, I am the executive sponsor for the ADT Women BERG and have the privilege of being a part of an incredible group of women and men working to not only make ADT a better place to work but support community programs focused on women issues.
How would you describe your leadership style? How do you feel about mentorship?
My leadership style has been shaped by hard work, perseverance, seeking wise counsel and remaining true to who I am. In the security industry, there are not a lot of women in senior roles, and I enjoy spotting great and eager talent and helping them on their career journey.
While I have had several formal mentoring relationships, my mentoring is often informal with my guidance and intentional with my engagement. I help to coach and develop, ask challenging, thoughtful questions, and try to be accessible and approachable. It’s important to me that I teach women how to appreciate and leverage the unique differences they have to offer.
If you could choose any person in the world to have a meal with, who would it be and why?
Dinner with Warren Buffett. First, dinner is a longer meal, and I would want as much time as possible, plus I am presuming it would be served with really good wine! It would be fascinating to simply hear him tell stories about his life — his experiences, his guiding principles, the people he has met, the books he has read, the places he has visited, the decisions and choices he had made both personally and professionally — and his best stock pick.