Change Agents: Leaders in business applications
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Editor's Note: In this second part of SearchOracle.com's "Girl in an Oracle World" series, meet Jennifer Barton, vice president of IT at Westmoreland Coal and former employee of both Oracle and JD Edwards. Check out the first part here, about Tracy Kleinschmidt of Zebra Technologies.
A determined and no-nonsense woman, Jennifer Barton has always been focused and goal oriented. Her career was well-planned, and she quickly ascended from business analyst to vice president of IT at Westmoreland Coal Company. The whole time, she has worked closely with Oracle and JD Edwards software.
Barton jumped when given the opportunity to run Westmoreland's IT shop, where she pioneered several consolidations and upgrades. She also developed new standards and a ticket system. She'll gladly admit she had help getting where she is, though.
"I’ve always had mentors," Barton said. Her first mentor was her mother. "She told me I could do anything I wanted and taught me to work hard."
Barton also said she's had many motivational professors and teachers along the way. The mentors didn’t go away once she completed her schooling. During her time working at Oracle Corp., her boss served as a mentor, as did the first senior consultant she worked with. In addition to informal mentoring, Barton has been involved in a formal Pathways program through the CIO Executive Council.
When asked about the most challenging project she's ever taken part in, she recalled the acquisition of Westmoreland's new coal mine. Integrating the network, systems and JD Edwards applications was a challenge because there were so many moving parts.
"How well that transition goes is the first impression of the new internal customers, i.e., Westmoreland employees, to their IT service providers, my team," she said. "We had a lot of people internally and externally involved to help make it successful, and we learned a lot along the way."
Barton's undergraduate degree is in business administration with a concentration in finance. During her senior year of college (circa 1998), she interned in Hewlett-Packard Co.’s finance department. She really liked it, never thinking of it as a tech job, rather as a corporate job. Her greatest challenge there, she said, was learning the various corporate systems.
"Back then, people hardly even used email," she said. "College kids didn’t have cell phones or use computers like they do now."
She recalls it as the first time she used computers for something other than word processing or Excel spreadsheets, and it was her first experience using financial and ERP software. Barton later went back for her master’s degree at NYU in business education with a concentration in corporate communications.
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When Barton met Oracle
Barton’s first experience with Oracle was through JD Edwards & Co.’s technology before it was acquired by PeopleSoft in 2003 and then by Oracle in 2005. She had heard good things about JD Edwards as both a company and a product, and perused employment there. At the time, there was an opening at the company in application consulting. Having long-held interests in management, teaching and corporate processes, she was thrilled to be able to take the position when it was offered. Since then, she’s been an Oracle partner, an Oracle employee and an Oracle end user and has seen Oracle technologies from multiple angles.
When asked whether things were better back in the good old pre-Oracle days, Barton answered unequivocally in Oracle's favor.
"I used to be a JD Edwards employee and went through both the PeopleSoft and Oracle acquisitions," she said. "As a past employee, a past partner and now a customer, one thing Oracle has really done right with JD Edwards is [to bring] it back to life."
Girl in an Oracle World
Name: Jennifer Barton
Job title: Vice president of IT at Westmoreland Coal Company. In this role, Barton is the highest ranking IT person in the company.
Job description: Barton works with all aspects of IT within Westmoreland Coal Company. From networking to ERP to mining system to desktops and telecommunications, she oversees it all.
Barton is heavily involved in the user community, and she has observed Oracle bringing many new customers to the product along with making lots of improvements to it.
"I would keep recommending that customers voice to Oracle JD Edwards product development what is working and what is not," she said. "And I would recommend to Oracle to listen to your customers and pay attention to what is penetrating the market for ERP and to think two steps ahead of what customers are expecting out of their ERP applications -- usability, mobility, reliability, improved integration, flexibility and simplicity."
When asked why she still works with Oracle products years later, she responded, "[Implementing Oracle products] really helps standardize and streamline processes."
Why being a woman is a nonissue
Barton said she's never been discriminated against as a woman.
"I know it happens, but usually [if you don’t get the job], it’s because you’re not the right fit," she said. "More often than being about gender, the question is, 'Is this person passionate, do they have a work ethic, are they willing to get along, communicate with others, be excited about the opportunities put in front of them, and be resourceful?'. [If I don’t get hired] it’s not that I’m a woman, it’s that I was lacking [something they were looking for]. If you’re always thinking you’re being discriminated against as a woman, you’re the one holding yourself back. And if they were discriminatory, you probably didn’t want to work for them anyway."
When asked if being a woman gives her and other women a unique perspective, Barton said it wasn't a gender thing. She encourages other women to move into technology where you're doing something all the time and always learning something new.
"Tech isn't just about wearing pocket protectors and working in basements," she said. "Technology is in every field -- everything from fashion to hobbies to family life. Technology is embedded into it."