Letting Passion Rise: Tracy Gubrud

November 15, 2022 Scott Evangelist

Written by Mary Thomas

What do building strong relationships and creating a legacy have in common?

For Tracy Gubrud, her two passions rely on her ability to be present in the moment, whether as an account coordinator for Atomic Data, or thinking about the impact she would like to have during her life.

An unexpected career pivot to information technology led Tracy to recognize that her passion for building relationships could not only be an asset in a new environment, but that a new role could allow her to foreground those skills. Through her experience, Tracy shares the importance of taking the leap into the unknown, especially if you’re a little scared. 

Tell us more about your role as an account coordinator and what attracted you to it.

I was previously a business process analyst, but the company I was working for did lay-offs. I was let go and I needed to look for a different career path. I was initially looking for roles in project management and process management, but then I interviewed at Atomic Data for what I thought was a project management position. They didn’t have any openings on that team, but they shared new and exciting opportunities in account coordination. I took this role and I love it! 

What do you enjoy about working in account coordination and management? 

I value relationships. Relationships are a key component of who I am and what I care about: making authentic connections, and working with other people to find solutions.

I feel like I’ve found my jam, because I like to be with people solving problems. IT was a new industry for me, so there was a significant opportunity to make connections, work on teams, and learn new skills. In my job as an account coordinator, I meet with clients to discuss their IT needs and how Atomic Data can offer solutions to support their IT and business strategies. Like most companies, we’ve experienced change during Covid-19 and we’ve seen our clients experience that too, especially those who used to be 100% office-based. I’ve enjoyed the challenge of helping our clients find IT solutions to function in this new world. 

How is relationship-building an asset in your current role? 

Things are better when you work as a team. I had always found success with this mindset at my old job, but I’ve come to realize how much I enjoy building relationships as part of that. While I am passionate about the process – and there is opportunity for that in IT, I truly enjoy working with people. It’s a shared journey, versus a “I’m going to tell you what to do, here’s what we recommend, and you should do it” dynamic. I like the journey of discovering what we should do together.

 Project managers and account managers both use relationships and influence to get things done. But you also have a finite set of deliverables and you’re moving along a set path. Something I appreciate about account management is that there is no finite set of deliverables. You may start out on one path and then in the process of identifying a solution, find you need to forge a new trail.

How has your professional life changed because of the pandemic? 

I’ve been working at Atomic Data for three and a half years. I started just before the pandemic. I had just learned where all the meeting rooms were, and boom–we’re working from home! We hadn’t had much remote work prior to that, so it was a big adjustment. 

Covid has, in some ways, provided opportunities for my job in terms of relationship development. Since we switched to Zoom, you get to see people in their natural habitats, and you can get an additional sense of who they are. It’s different from going to their office: you have kids, dogs, interesting pictures, and comics. I’ve found that switching to a virtual meeting format has in some ways enhanced the relationship-building piece that I do as part of my job. 

If someone has a quilt in the background on Zoom, you learn something about the person, and it offers context about how they function in life. You can use that to figure out what solutions fit with their approach to problem-solving. Account management can be like detective work. You’re trying to lean in and figure out “OK, what do they need? What should we do? What are they really saying?” Account management is a fact-finding mission to make sure you’re seeing the whole picture. It’s important to focus equally on the problem at hand, the organization’s culture, how the users work, and the IT investments they’ve made in the past.

What do you most enjoy about working at Atomic Data? 

Atomic is known for having strong relationships with our clients, and I think it’s important to understand not only the task at hand but how the organization functions.

As you were pivoting into account management, did you experience any learning curves along the way? 

I started my role at Atomic Data without IT experience, so there was a lot to learn about the IT industry. It was a little daunting initially, but thankfully the culture at Atomic Data is that everyone is willing to help you learn. If you’re not afraid to sit in front of a client and build a relationship, the IT piece will come. It’s a lot like osmosis: the longer I’m around, the more I absorb. I hear myself saying things, and I realize that I know what that means, and I’m saying it in the right way. 

It’s a reason why I think people should be comfortable with shifting industries: assuming you’re in the right environment, you can pick up on what’s going on in that industry, especially if you’re in the right role. Being an engineer wouldn’t have been the right fit for me, but customer-facing problems, coming together to talk about what the right solution is, and learning along the way has been great. Initially my brain exploded, and sometimes it still does, because IT is ever-changing but I’m learning every day.

What does passion mean to you, and how do you pursue your passions beyond your professional life?

In my personal life, I’m passionate about my legacy: what do I want my imprint on this world to be? Sometimes, life can get stressful and I’ve just been zooming out a little bit and asking myself “What does my legacy look like? What do I want to accomplish? What is important to me? What are my values?” Family time is super important to me. I also want to have a successful professional life. How do I balance that? How do I ensure that everything gets prioritized in the way it needs to be, and that I don’t look back and wish I had done something differently? 

I’ve been leaning into the Passion Collective events to get some structure around that, and I have welcomed the opinions and sessions with the other women. It helps me to develop my vision for going forward so that I can shape my legacy. I don’t want it to pass me by and look back in 20 years and wish I had done something else. I’m getting in the drivers’ seat and I’m driving towards what I want my legacy to be. 

What do you do each day that helps you build your legacy? 

I have been working on being present in the moment. It applies to all areas of my life. I’ve used a meditation app, and I like yoga as well. That’s my biggest legacy effort right now: being present, clearing my mind. Maybe the things that matter aren’t what I think they are. But taking a moment makes it so that the things that matter have room to come to the surface. 

I’ll be honest: I tend to look for short meditations—10 minutes or less. While I’m working on my busy mind, I can’t have it be for too long. I also use an app that sends me motivational quotes throughout the day, and it always seems to speak to what I’m feeling at the moment. I think it’s good to use your technology resources to help you level-set and create reminders that can help support you throughout the day, especially since it’s so easy to get very busy. 

Is there any advice or tips you might share with other passionados in terms of thinking about their path, or thinking about their own legacies? 

Even if something is scary, you should still go for it! It’s ok to feel fear. You don’t want to live your life scared, but if you can’t get comfortable with that emotion, you’ll miss out on opportunities. Pick one thing you’re intimidated by and do it anyway, every day. It becomes your own process: try a little something that you’re nervous about. It’s ok if it didn’t work out, keep trying. If you don’t push yourself, you’ll become stagnant. Growth happens when you move outside your comfort zone.

Republished with permission from Passion Collective: https://www.passioncollective.co/passion-stories/tracy-gubrud

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