Name: Joe Cruz
Military Branch/Rank: United States Army, LTC (ret.)
Job Title: Client Executive
Office Location: Arlington, VA
Describe your job in 25 words or less: I lead the Gartner team that helps the leadership and key staff of the Defense Health Agency, Army Medical Command and Navy Medicine optimize their ability to effectively and efficiently deliver care, anytime, anywhere.
How has your military background helped you excel in your current career? Aside from the obvious (knowing the ranks, understanding the chain of command), having risen through the ranks from private first class to lieutenant colonel, I was exposed to great leaders along the way — male and female, from all corners of the United States. I learned to appreciate that through diversity you can derive strength. As a poor Puerto Rican only child from the Bronx, NY, it was in the military that I first saw tenacity and collaboration in action. A mission that might be out of reach for any individual was achieved when all worked as part of a team. And, perhaps most importantly, I saw that the best leaders lead not by intimidation or by pulling rank, but rather by listening to, respecting, mentoring and acknowledging their soldiers — whether subordinates, civilians, peers or commanders.
What originally attracted you to Gartner? I was first encouraged to attend Gartner Symposium by one of my military clients, who at the time was the Chief Medical Information Officer of Navy Medicine. At my first Symposium as a vendor attendee (I worked at SAIC at the time), I was blown away by the content and the quality of the event as well as the variety of clients there. I never imagined working here then, but it was an incredibly appealing workplace to me.
Who has been a mentor for you here at Gartner? How have they helped you? It’s difficult for me to point to just one individual. Several analysts come to mind, because they have been, and continue to be, so gracious in going above and beyond in servicing our clients. Vi Shaffer, Tom Handler, Tina Nunno, Cathleen Blanton, Richard Gibson, Laura Craft and others like them have been superb to work with. While none of them has served in the military, they go out of their way to be as responsive as they can whenever my clients reach out to them. Our entire Gartner village, if you will, is what makes working here great. From an amazing Proposal team (Stella, Whitney, Jen, Lauren and others) to great EPs, ECMs, CPs, etc… It does take a village!
What is your favorite part about working for Gartner? We eat our own dog food. We are a learning organization. I am an insatiable reader and I love the fact that staying current is now something I don’t have to do exclusively on my own time (although I still do) but rather, it’s an essential part of “sharpening the saw” in my role as Client Executive.
How has Gartner helped you in your career development? My management team (Wes, Mark, Joe) have been great. They have always been supportive and encouraged me even when my ideas may have been a tad unorthodox. We are able to have critical conversations where we may not agree but where we can both objectively present our perspectives and then mutually agree on the best way forward. That sense of trust and mutual respect is one that is increasingly rare in sales organizations.
What advice do you have for prospective Gartner candidates? Be prepared to work hard, read a lot, learn constantly and have fun. And I mean that. If you are intellectually curious, if you put your customer above yourself, and if you are passionate and can let your passion guide your decisions, you will be successful at Gartner. Everyone here is willing to help, so you have many resources happy to help you succeed.
What are 3 words that best describe Gartner? Collaborative, challenging, exceptional.
What has been your proudest moment at Gartner? Making Eagle — the second time.
What aspect of your role do you enjoy the most? I love the interaction with clients. Listening in on client analyst inquiries, or on occasion, having them say they want to hear what I think. That’s TBVA!
What are 3 career lessons you’ve learned while at Gartner? You can comfortably (but professionally) challenge management. You should never hesitate to admit “I don’t know.” You should never stop learning (or you will stop growing).
What advice would you give to recent new hires? Be a sponge, and don’t hesitate to ask questions. As you learn a process, start a cheat sheet and write it down. When you see or hear of a best practice, if it makes sense, adopt it. There are lots of smart folks doing great work — learn from them and streamline your learning curve. After all, lifelong learners are always learning, so why not make it easier on yourself (when you can)?
If you could interview one person (dead or alive) who would it be and why? I would enjoy having an extended conversation with Dwight Eisenhower. An Army officer who appeared to have leveled off as a major ended up being one of the consummate military leaders of modern time. A conservative (and pragmatic) Republican who seamlessly transitioned from general to president and went on to warn us of the perils of “the military industrial complex.” He was truly a fascinating man, and a leader who both inspired and commanded respect.
If you were to write a book about yourself, what would you name it? The Unpredictable Life of the Curious, Empathic Soldier
What are 3 words that best describe you? Curious, gallivanter. foodie.
What is one thing unique about you that people would be surprised if they knew? I ran with the bulls at Pamplona (I was much younger and single — my wife would kill me now).
If you could switch your job with anyone else within Gartner whose job would you want and why? I would run Events. The combination of world travel and staging events with the quality of the content Gartner offers seems like a dream job! Although I know (having served as a Public Affairs Officer for much of my military service) it’s a ton of very nonglamorous work!
Favorite Quote or Personal Mantra: It’s not what happens to you — it’s how you respond to it that’s important and ultimately defines you.