How Jarod Greene went from teaching math to running product marketing at Apptio

A gig in a call center might not strike one as a likely launch pad for a successful tech career, but Jarod Greene saw potential.

After graduating college with a sociology degree and working for two years teaching middle school math, Greene took a job answering help calls at Gartner, an international research and advisory business that helps executives better run their companies. He didn’t have expertise in the area, but did have access to all of Gartner’s research. Greene worked an 11 a.m. – 8 p.m. shift at the Connecticut-based company, and when the phones quieted around 5, he’d delve into the documents to read up and better understand the company.

Greene got to know many of the other people working at Gartner. He studied the corporation’s hierarchies and office dynamics, building his own brand and seeing where he might add value. He suggested where there were inefficiencies and how they could be addressed.

“I started by asking the right questions, figuring out where the gaps were,” Greene said.

And he started to climb.

Over a decade at Gartner, he moved up step-by-step, ultimately reaching the position of research director. From there he went to Cherwell Software in Colorado. Almost two years ago Greene landed in his current role as vice president of product marketing at Apptio, a fast growing Bellevue, Wash.-based company that makes cost analysis software for IT teams.

“My job is helping buyers, sellers and influencers understand what Apptio does, how it’s different from their current approaches, and how that creates value for our customers,” Greene said. “I lead an amazing team of professionals committed to this mission.”

Greene is the emcee for the 2019 Technology Business Management Conference being held Nov. 4-7 in Las Vegas. The Apptio-hosted event targets chief information and financial officers and others in IT and finance leadership roles.

Going back some 15 years to his days as a middle school educator, Greene said that he has always liked breaking down technical concepts and making them understandable to diverse audiences.

If you’re going to teach seventh grade math, he said, “you have to be good at analogies and metaphors.”

He’s moved on to bigger concepts at Apptio, helping companies understand how to harness the cloud and machine learning-powered technologies to improve their bottom lines. And his job at Apptio brought him to the Pacific Northwest, a place he’d heard was plagued with rain and the unneighborly “Seattle Freeze.” He was worried that “it’s going to be gloomy all the time and the people are mean.”

Instead, Greene and his family have settled in happily, enjoying the sunny, mild summers, friendly people, and he has found community in Jamal Crawford’s Seattle summer basketball league, The Crawsover.

“You’ve got a well-kept secret,” Greene said.

We caught up with Greene for this Working Geek, a regular GeekWire feature. Continue reading for his answers to our questionnaire.

Current location: Bellevue

Computer types: Dell Latitude

Mobile devices: iPhone

Favorite apps, cloud services and software tools: Slack, Smartsheet, DropBox, PowerPoint, SurveyMonkey’s TechValidate

Describe your workspace. Why does it work for you? My office is designed for collaboration. I have three leather chairs, a coffee table and a 43-inch TV for screen sharing. I keep markers at the ready for whiteboard riffs and use a minimum amount of space for my PC and monitors. I try to be in my office alone as little as possible.

Your best advice for managing everyday work and life? Say no to the things you don’t really want to do. Too often you get caught up in delivering commitments that stretch you and put you in a position where you’re not giving something the full energy and attention it deserves. Value your time and your impact.

Your preferred social network? How do you use it for business/work? Instagram, but I don’t use it for work much.

Current number of unanswered emails in your inbox? 100 even, which is my uh-oh point.

Number of appointments/meetings on your calendar this week? 12-to-15, ranging from 15-minute syncs to two-hour-long business reviews.

How do you run meetings? That depends on the objective, but most often I run an “inform” meeting where I tell my team what’s important and my expectations on how we address what is in front of us. I have my leaders inform me accordingly, and if needed we can reset priorities. My favorite meetings are brainstorms, where I’ll ask an open question and challenge everyone in the room to think through the ways we address.

Everyday work uniform? Patterned oxford with rolled-up sleeves, slim fit jeans and Nikes. If I dress that up it’s with a blue blazer and my Cole Haan wingtips. #Fire

How do you make time for family? By walking away from the technology. Since my personal phone and work phone are the same, I turn alerts off after 6 p.m. and try not to pick work back up again until the kids are sleeping. My wife and I have a weekly date night at one of the many local restaurants in the neighborhood and we go to church every single Sunday.

Best stress reliever? How do you unplug? My PlayStation. I game just enough to have fun with video games on a moderately hard setting, and occasionally go online when I think the system learns my tendencies too well. I just renewed my PlayStation Plus membership and have Madden NFL 20 and NBA 2K on deck in case any of my friends back home want the smoke.

What are you listening to? Rap artists Rapsody, Little Brother, J. Cole, Rick Ross and DaBaby. When the kids are in the car we rock out to Postmodern Jukebox.

Daily reads? Favorite sites and newsletters? I read 2-to-3 Gartner research notes a day on a variety of topics. I also follow a handful of news outlets and seek guidance from other product marketing and product management leaders.

Book on your nightstand (or e-reader)? “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck” by Mark Manson

Night owl or early riser? I’m up around 6 a.m. for a kickboxing workout before work, and I usually don’t go to bed until midnight.

Where do you get your best ideas? During transit — moving from one space to another. I’ve formed my best thoughts and approaches on airplanes with a pen and paper.

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