A new leader will write the next chapters in the history of Bronto.

While co-founders Joe Colopy and Chaz Felix have left Bronto, the Durham-based division of NetSuite still has a familiar face at the helm. Carolyn Sparano is the new general manager, being promoted after a decade with the company.

In an exclusive Q&A, Sparano talks about the opportunities as well as the challenges she faces as a female executive in running Bronto, which Colopy and Felix sold a year ago for $200 million. She also discusses lessons learned from co-founders Joe Colopy and Chaz Felix.

Colopy, a software veteran with more than 30 years of experience, was Vice President of Client Services at Bronto. Earlier in her career she spent four years at Red Hat, her last post being Vice President of Worldwide Product Support. She’s a graduate of Syracuse University,

(Exit interviews: You can read what Colopy has to say and a Q&A with Felix in stories linked with this post.)

  • What excites you most about your new position?

The most exciting aspect about becoming Bronto’s General Manager is to lead the next chapter in the Bronto story as a NetSuite company and to carry on the strong culture and values that are Bronto’s trademark – transparency, approachability and a passion for marketing.

  • Female executives still face many challenges in tech. How can you help other women aspire to break through the glass ceiling?

I’ve had personal experience over the years with the glass ceiling and have definitely felt the gender difference in the professional world. I’ve been a woman in business for many years.  It’s hard to speak up and learn to maneuver through what can feel like a boys club.  I’ve also had to find my voice, have a presence and be heard, even though I’m small in stature and a woman. 

It’s exciting to see more women in top management in the RTP area and happy to be a part of this group. I seek to help other woman in two ways, first by being an example and inspiration of what women can accomplish. Since the announcement of my new role at Bronto, so many women have approached me to share how meaningful it is to them to see a woman in the role of General Manger. This is a reflection that they are seeking role models of woman in power.

The second way I help other women is by being a mentor.

At NetSuite, we have started a Women in NetSuite group in the Durham office (more on the program in this Blog post). Mentorship is crucial. Woman need to feel that they can speak freely and get advice from someone who has been there.

  • What were the three most important things you learned from working with Joe?

1.   Customers drive our business – our success is guaranteed if we stay focused on serving the needs of our customers
2.  Making something easy is hard – developing intuitive products and services is hard and requires endless iterations and attention to detail
3.  The best path to happy customers is through happy Brontos – culture is key and we strive to provide a challenging, rewarding and fun workplace.

  • What were the three most important things you learned from Chaz?

1.   Hits not home runs – consistent execution day in and day out makes for a great company.  Seeking the big score, while appealing in the short term, ultimately does help Bronto in the long term.
2.  If you can’t measure it, don’t do it – projects are rarely perfect out of the gate and can always be improved.  Measuring provides the framework for that improvement, provides discipline to pursue only well defined projects.
3.  Indigestion is more dangerous than starvation – there are no shortage of opportunities to pursue.  The challenge is to find opportunities that tighten Bronto’s focus rather than broaden it.

  • You were a part-owner in Bronto, based on Bronto’s shared employee ownership. Were you tempting to cash out yourself?

No, not at all. This next chapter of the Bronto story, to become part of NetSuite’s commerce strategy and play on a bigger stage, is very exciting to me.

I believe that the Bronto leadership team will play a key role in the defining the future of Bronto as part of NetSuite, both from a sales and technology perspective. In addition, mentoring and helping Bronto employees become key contributors at NetSuite is very meaningful for me.

  • What are your top priorities as you take over?

Bronto will continue to grow and prosper and become an increasing strong component of NetSuite’s overall commerce strategy. We are committed to carrying forward with the same values and nurturing an awesome culture that has been a key contributor to our success.