Work with the best people you can. I’ve always evaluated the roles and team atmospheres at companies before joining them to ensure I’m making the right choice for myself, and for those I’m hoping to lead. The key questions I always ask are “can I learn from these people?”, “can we trust one another?” and “can we have fun together?”

As a part of my series about strong female leaders, I had the pleasure of interviewing, Nina McIntyre, the CMO at ETQ, the most trusted provider of quality management solutions. Nina is responsible for all aspects of marketing strategy, planning and execution at the company. She brings more than 25 years of operational and executive leadership experience in a number of high-growth tech businesses, ranging from start-ups to public companies. Previously, she was the CMO of ATG (acquired by Oracle), Carbonite and Newforma, and held roles at local start-ups such as Centive (acquired by Xactly) and Kubi Software. Nina also served nine years in product development leadership roles at Lotus (now IBM). She holds a B.A. from Brown University and an MBA from MIT Sloan.

Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

Early on, I had no interest in computers or information technology and had a passion for creative studies and science. In high school, I passed up the opportunity to learn coding to focus on my studio art classes instead. After starting my college career at Brown, I created an independent major focused on uniting the built and natural environment, which lead me to believe I wanted a career in architecture. The creative process and collaboration in architecture felt effortless to me. However, after working on a project rebuilding the Art Deco Historic District in Miami Beach that required an extensive business plan and fascinating research, I fell in love with the business process and ultimately decided to go to business school. Attending MIT Sloan sparked my interest in the power of technology and inspired me to learn more about how different technologies could change the world. After receiving my MBA and pursuing my new found love for the industry, I began working as a product manager at technology firms like Atex and Lotus. There, I was drawn to the speed and innovation of product development and, with coaching and mentorship, found that my strongest skill set was bringing people together. That people-oriented process married my love for creativity and technology, which has turned into my career path — and I’ve never looked back.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?

I only recently joined the ETQ team in November 2018, therefore the story for me is really in why the company interested me. Delivering quality has always been deeply-rooted in my career, without even realizing it. Being a product manager for 15 years meant that I had to consider what quality meant for our customers every day. Bringing customer feedback into the manufacturing stage of product development was critical for success. Vetting and implementing that customer feedback ultimately led me to my passion for marketing and ensuring customer needs are met. Working at ETQ merged those two roles together, bringing the importance of quality to my role as a marketer, and enabling brands’ product developers to receive automated quality information to deliver the best possible products.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

In high school, I focused on studying arts, not technology. Later in life, as I began learning how to type at work rather than in a classroom, this came back to haunt me. When I first entered the business world, I was a slow typer and would look at my keyboard to make sure I was spelling every word correctly. I knew this was inefficient, so I forced myself to look at my screen as I typed, which sometimes meant my hands would be slightly askew from the position they should be in. This resulted in my email signature — which was supposed to read “Nina” — reading “Buba,” just a few letters off from the correct spelling. Without proofing my emails, I would hit send. When one of my colleagues started calling me Buba out loud, I learned to double and triple proof my emails, especially the signature!

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

Joining ETQ was an easy decision, not only because of my interest in quality, but because of their market differentiators. With a 25-year history of ensuring brands like Chobani, GM, Johnson & Johnson, Subway and United Airlines are equipped to provide high quality products and services, I instantly understood why the company stood out from competitors. ETQ helps more than 500 global companies across nearly 15 industries — such as consumer, manufacturing, food and beverage and medical devices — deliver higher levels of customer loyalty, improve complex supply chains and enhance profitability. Originally built on Lotus Notes in 1992, now known as IBM Notes, ETQ’s technology instantly aligned itself with a critical industry standard, which helped bring the product to market quickly while creating a reputable customer base across multiple industries. Our technology and history in ensuring quality for some of the world’s most trust brands inherently differentiates us.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

Recently joining the ETQ team — alongside the appointments of Rob Gremley, our CEO and Richard Russo, our CFO — means every project is new. The most exciting goal we’re working toward is spreading the awareness the role of quality in everyday life. From your car door shutting gently to trusting an airplane you’re about to board and tasting quality in your breakfast, we each experience and strive for quality products and services constantly. We have some exciting projects in the pipeline that will work to spread that message and ensure consumers understand which companies are truly making quality a differentiator and what actually goes into delivering quality products.

What advice would you give to other female leaders to help their team to thrive?

Women are incredible leaders for many reasons but are often recognized for their ability to collaborate and listen, as well as being detail-oriented. Female leaders are also often acknowledged as being more situationally aware, while male leaders are renowned for their focus and ability to get straight to the point. But the best and most successful leaders are able to tap skills that are inherent to both females and males. Regardless of gender, leaders who listen to their employees across all levels are able to set realistic goals, measure progress and bring out the maximum potential in others, ultimately leading to a team that thrives.

What advice would you give to other female leaders about the best way to manage a large team?

In my career, I’ve guided marketing teams of all sizes, and each managerial role has shaped my perspective on the responsibility placed on female leaders: build trust, embrace diversity and encourage creativity. Your team should always feel confident in your decisions, and believe that you will reward good work, evaluate consistently, avoid favoritism, follow through on promises and take responsibility. When managing a large team, it’s important to encourage collaboration and creativity to achieve common goals while valuing diversity in people, opinions and skill sets. When people recognize their differences as resources and feel safe bringing up “crazy” opinions, powerful ideas can take shape. Sometimes, the team’s most creative ideas will come from analytical contributors, and likewise, some thoughtful insights on data will come from the creative team.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

One of the most influential mentors in my career was Frank Ingari, the VP of Marketing at my first technology company, Atex. He assigned me to work on an important new product at Atex and was a guiding force behind my success at the company. While I was at Atex I had my first child, during which point Frank ended up leaving the company to pursue a new role. When I returned from maternity leave, my schedule was packed with my newborn and my fulltime position, so I asked my new manager for flexibility for a few months as I began to adjust to life as a working mother. She unfortunately did not support part-time positions and declined my request. Just days later, Frank Ingari, who was now VP of Product at Lotus, offered me a much more flexible and interesting job at his company. One year later, I was thrilled to step into my first fulltime management role at Lotus, successfully handling a career as a mother. I worked at Lotus for nine years, managing very large teams of more than 75 people. Later on in my career, I had an opportunity to work with other wonderful leaders, many of the them women, such as June Rokoff, Deb Besemer and Liz Cobb, who still inspire me to this day.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

In 2003, I joined The Nature Conservancy Board of Trustees in Massachusetts to embrace my commitment to the environment and conservation. In February of 2018, I also joined the Cornucopia Project as a member of the Board to help build a resilient community around access to healthy food and an understanding of the role of food and agriculture play in human health and environmental sustainability. I’ve also traveled to Rwanda with my husband, volunteering with Gardens for Health, working hand-in-hand with local communities to end chronic malnutrition.

What are your “5 Leadership Lessons I Learned From My Experience” and why? (Please share a story or example for each.)

Work with the best people you can. I’ve always evaluated the roles and team atmospheres at companies before joining them to ensure I’m making the right choice for myself, and for those I’m hoping to lead. The key questions I always ask are “can I learn from these people?”, “can we trust one another?” and “can we have fun together?”

Believe in what you do and help others find that connection. If you find your work inspiring and feel a meaningful connection, you will inspire your team and your audiences, whether they be customers or other stakeholders.

Appreciate the value of your role. None of us work in isolation. Your impact and job satisfaction will be multiplied if you guide your work toward the areas where you can provide the greatest leverage for the team as a whole.

Understand what your customers derive. As a leader, you should have a clear understanding of the product or technology that your company is offering, and ensure your customers are extracting genuine value from its mission.

Ensure your goals are aligned with your team’s. You know a great company when you see that everyone’s goals are well aligned. Everyone is rowing the boat in the same direction.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

My passion beyond the workplace is spreading awareness of climate change action. Between my work with The Nature Conservancy Board, the Cornucopia Project and Gardens for Health, I’m dedicating myself to efforts that are saving the environment we live in, but I would love to create a movement of the masses to bring awareness and action to climate change.

Can you please give us your favorite ”Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

Whenever I’m looking for inspiration, I think back to the quote: “Moderation in all” which at times can feel like my mother admonishing me to “stop burning the candle at both ends.” But the valuable moderation lesson, originally attributed to the Greek poet Hesiod (c.700 bc), is a reminder to be careful to balance all of the elements of your life, your work and your outside passions, while saving some time for yourself. You aren’t much help to others if you aren’t centered.

Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them.

I’d love to meet with Jeremy Grantham, the British investor and chief investment strategist who co-founded Grantham, Mayo, & Van Otterloo, a Boston-based asset management firm. He truly understands the importance of building a more sustainable economy to address climate change and mitigate its impact on our planet. I believe we, as the general public, should be looking to business leaders like Grantham for inspiration at this critical time.