Meet Keysight Technologies' Liz Ruetsch, a 2019 North Bay Women in Business winner
North Bay Business Journal asked 2019 Women in Business Awards winner Liz Ruetsch to fill us in on her background, responsibilities and community involvement, and insights into what makes her a notable professional in the region.
Education: BSEE from Rutgers University (1994; MBA from Boston University (2006)
Tell us about yourself and your company: My name is Liz Ruetsch, and I have worked for HP/Agilent/Keysight for 25 years. I started my career in our sales organization in the Boston area focused on major accounts. Over the past 15 years, I have held a number of positions in our business units including the opportunity to work in California, China, and Colorado. I have been managing for 20 years, and working internationally for 15 years.
Keysight Technologies is a leading technology company that helps its engineering, enterprise and service provider customers accelerate innovation to connect and secure the world. Keysight's solutions optimize networks and bring electronic products to market faster and at a lower cost with offerings from design simulation, to prototype validation, to manufacturing test, to optimization in networks and cloud environments. Customers span the worldwide communications ecosystem, aerospace and defense, automotive, energy, semiconductor and general electronics end markets.
Is there a major accomplishment in the past year or so that you would like to share?
Three and a half years ago, I joined one of our software divisions of the company. At that time, we were just starting to introduce a new business model to our customers.
This past year, we crossed over a major milestone in converting over 100 accounts worldwide to this new model. We have successfully deployed it in all regions world-wide, and have scaled it from our major accounts down to our mid-range, and start up customers. This has resulted in significant value to our customers, and significant sales growth for Keysight.
What is the achievement you are most proud of?
Over my 25-year career, there have been many accomplishments to celebrate with my teams. The top of the list for me was the opportunity to live and work in China, leading a cross divisional marketing team, servicing both local customers as well as global customers.
During the 2013-2015 time frame, we were able to support the 4G Infrastructure roll out in China, and took significant market share in the process. The most rewarding part of that process was leading (and learning from) the local team on how to do business in China, and establishing a management team that took over as I returned to the U.S.
What is your biggest challenge today?
Keysight is on a journey of a major transformation from being a hardware centric company, to a software centric solutions company. There is a tremendous amount of change management in all functions, and at all levels as we make this shift. It has been a great ride so far – and the best is yet to come.
Words that best describe you: I actually did a “crowd sourcing” exercise with my friends to come up with an answer to this question. Here were some of the words that were most common: Loyal, Caring, Thoughtful, Curious, Reflective, Positive, Life-long learner, Leader, Mentor, Global, Organized, Strong, Fun and True Friend.
As a successful female professional, what were the biggest obstacles you faced and how did you overcome them?
I often get asked this question, and struggle with an answer.
One of the biggest challenges I faced career wise was when I wanted to move from the sales organization (field) to the factory (division) structure within my company. This meant a move across organizational boundaries, cultural boundaries, and geographical boundaries (East Coast to West Coast). During this time, I learned the value of having a “sponsor” versus just having a mentor, and it was the sponsor that helped make that move possible.
How do you think your profession will change in the next five years?
For me, operating in a software business, it is clearly the evolution of the Cloud. This has huge implications in terms of business model and revenue models for Software as a Service (SaaS). As a company that plays in design and test, there are exciting solutions and business models ahead that will incorporate Big Data, and Artificial Intelligence (AI) in terms of processing the large amounts of data to develop next generation communication systems as well as things such as autonomous vehicles.
Who was your most important mentor?
Julie Ring (recently retired from Keysight Technologies) started in 1995 as my hiring manager, developed into an on-going mentor, and now life long friend. There is not a week that goes by that I am not drawing on something that she has taught me over the past 25 years. I admired her as a leader, a coach, and an advocate for our customers.