NOTE: This is part 2 of a two part blog series. CLICK HERE to read part one of Annette and Victoria Quintana's: Celebrating 25 Years in Business interview.
What has been your experience as women business owners and leaders in a largely male-dominated world of I.T.?
Victoria: I think it helps to build credibility. If you walk into a room (and it’s not only in business, or with customers, or in the community) you bring credibility by being well prepared. Or knowing what the circumstances are and being able to contribute and actively engage in a significant way. I’m not saying it’s easy, but I think that overall there’s an opportunity to be respected by just showing up, doing what you say you’re going to do, and being there and engaging.
Annette: I have an engineering background so I had the opportunity to be working with a lot of men in my degree program. And what I know is that you really need to be knowledgeable, informed. The challenge for women is to be even more so than any of the other guys would be in the room. Having the dedication or the commitment to being almost overly prepared and informed or somehow smarter when you show up in those meetings, helps to build the credibility that you need.
[su_quote cite="Victoria Quintana"]You can do the work anywhere, but it’s the people that have made the difference.[/su_quote]
There’s also other elements that aren’t just about being in an IT environment where a lot of your customers are men. We had challenges at different points in time with getting loans for the business and dealing with people that had very clear biases about whether or not women were acceptable credit risks. And so, sometimes it’s just sorting out who those folks are and just saying I don’t think this is ever really going to work. And then moving on to other people that are more balanced about how they would see working together with you.
What’s your advice to people who are starting or want to start a business?
Annette: I think Colorado has always been one of the best states in the country to start a business. There’s a huge amount of support in the ecosystem for new entrepreneurs to start a business. I think there’s a huge amount of complexity in the technology industry, which creates a lot of opportunity for people with great ideas to come forward and build a good business. And there’s plenty of opportunity out there for everyone.
Victoria: Well, be passionate about why you’re doing it. As Annette pointed out, it’s a long road. Also know your strengths and weaknesses. I’m a football nut, so make sure you’re building a team with people that are covering positions you don’t like to do or you’re not passionate about. Be real about where you can play. I think having a great team with exceptional people that are bright and get things very quickly… I think the sky is the limit.
Annette: And then there’s that little thing that you need, money. You’ve got to get that figured out. We owe a lot of credit to my dad to help pull together the funding. That in addition to liquidating all of our 401k money, all of the savings I had ever saved in my life. And then my dad also helped out with setting up a line of credit that we were able to use.
With that being said, what do you see happening here at Istonish over the next 25 years?
Victoria: Because technology changes so quickly, transformation is the first word I would use. I see Istonish today from where it was 25 years ago. And I think if I were to project 25 years from now it’s really important to stay relevant. And that means what we are offering today is not what our customers are going to need. So, whether its security or not having desktops, staying relevant by offering services that provide value is important.
[su_quote cite="Annette Quintana"]There’s a huge amount of complexity in the technology industry, which creates a lot of opportunity for people with great ideas.[/su_quote]
The other piece is being able to attract the right kinds of people and have a business model that supports both the millennials and the aging workforce. We want to continue to provide an adaptable, intelligent, responsive service because we’re in a service business. How and what that looks like, I trust we’ll have the leaders at that time to be able to turn it into the right form.
Annette: I think the short answer about what we’ll be doing in 25 years from now is I don’t know. I mean, everything is changing in technology probably in 3- to 5-year cycles. It’s hard to see into that crystal ball. But what I would say is that if the company in 25 years stays true to its tradition as a service provider, you’d see some different form of technology consulting, some other kind of IT managed service in whatever way it adapts to the technology at that time.
It’s really important for you to both be involved in the community. Why is that important to you and the company?
Victoria: We’ve always had a value about giving back. When we started, we’d say we’re going to have suppliers that are Native American, Indian or Hispanic and they’re women-owned companies. Why? Because we can choose how to support other companies just like other companies did for us when we started. Also, when you’re involved in community organizations, it’s circulating some of the goodness that’s come to us through our customers. And being able to realize that our success is only as good as the communities we live in and the people that we’re surrounded by. So, whether it’s education, Chamber of Commerce, or other kinds of community philanthropic work, I think it’s just been a basic principle and value of our organization to not just get and do with for us, but to share.
Annette: I would sum it up by saying we’re so grateful to have had done well both in the business and personally. And I think we just have an ethic that it’s important to share and invest, reinvest that with others. Victoria and I have been really fortunate that we’ve been able to pick some of the organizations that are interesting to us. So, that’s one of the flexibilities of running your own business - you can pick and choose the causes your are interested in supporting. We’ve been lucky to be involved in healthcare, and tourism, and as Victoria said the Chamber of Commerce. And I’m now involved in some environmental initiatives and couldn’t be more excited. I think it gives us an opportunity to learn more about what’s happening in our communities.
What 3 words would you use to describe Istonish or the future of Istonish?
"Energetic, optimistic, results."
"Transformational, velocity, and growth."
Anything else you would like to say about celebrating 25 years in business?
Annette: I’m really deeply grateful for the opportunity to have worked with my sister, to work with so many amazing teammates, and to have had incredible customers and phenomenal partners and supporters along the way. Thank you.
Victoria: 25 years at Istonish, holy cow. I want to say thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Because for me, it’s been about the people -the work, you can do the work anywhere, but it’s the people that have made the difference. This is what has made the journey.
A note from the editor: The Quintana sisters' share something special. They share 25 years of heartfelt dedication to employees, to helping build and develop careers, and a commitment to the technology industry and to their community at large. I have held numerous positions throughout my career, and interviewing the Quintana sisters' has taught me the importance of surrounding yourself with people you trust, respect, and believe in. Having family to encourage you when you experience hardships and having someone next to you to celebrate every success is part of what helps this organization celebrate 25 years in business.