It was her godfather, a CPA, who talked her into staffing up after she called him for accounting advice and complained that she wasn’t sleeping because she was stressed about handling the finances and administrative minutiae that CEOs needn’t focus on. “Once they came on board, it was kind of like letting the apron strings go.” With management in place, Brown was able to focus on her strengths. “I was able to get things off of my plate and really concentrate on the stuff that I was good at—client relations, being able to architect the project, scope it out, define it, blueprint what the client needs,” she recalls.
A10 participates in GlaxoSmithKline’s mentoring program in which suppliers are paired with managers and executives within the corporation to improve supplier business processes and gain a better understanding of how to do business with the pharmaceutical giant and across industries. Denise James Gatling, director of global supplier diversity and business development for GlaxoSmithKline, lauds Brown for her success. “Her attitude about being in our mentoring program, I think, was what helped Leah be successful,” says James Gatling. “One of the reasons we developed it was so that we could identify what the gaps are and to help close that gap for these suppliers to be able to compete in these nontraditional areas.”
Brown says that the mentoring has helped the company with its problem solving, using a concept called “Idealize Design.” During A10’s bi-annual staff retreat, the executive team arrives at a solution to a problem. Using this method, the team first envisions a solution in a perfect world where there are no resource or financial barriers and then methodically works backward to figure ways around the real-life barriers that exist. “It’s amazing how we are able to work backward from the perfect ideal and implement a plausible fix to what we thought were daunting problems,” says Brown. “We have implemented amazing ideas that were direct results of our Idealize Design sessions.”