FOUR CEOs ON HOW THEIR SIDE JOBS MADE THEM BETTER LEADERS
CEO Skill: Managing a lot of moving parts
You could say Tiannia Barnes did what some people only dream about doing. The IT program manager followed her passion for footwear to become the founder and CEO of the eponymous high-end shoe company that launched in January of 2014.
Barnes’ background—degrees in math and industrial engineering combined with an MBA—as well as her status as single mom of a 10-year old understandably make her a little risk-averse. In addition to learning the fundamentals of footwear such as pattern development and design at a shoemaker school, Barnes continues to work in IT. In this way, she balances her love of fashion with her experience in math and science along with the company’s checkbook as it gets off the ground. As she says in the company's tagline: Amazing Never Waits.
My work as a corporate IT Project/Program Manager has taught me how to be a puzzle master who knows where to put all of the right pieces for success. One of the biggest things I've learned is how to build a strong team with the right skill set and cost model by hiring consultants to fill in some knowledge gaps. As the CEO of a luxury women’s footwear brand, it’s all about knowing your product and understanding your target audience.
As a startup, it’s critical to streamline your business and know where to spend dollars and where to be lean. Since January 2014, I’ve brought in team members to help mitigate any issues that might occur during my shoe-making process and to prepare me for the Fall/Winter '15 launch. I applied the same principles I use day to day as a program manager to building my business, and this has helped me tremendously with getting my business established.