Susan Sigl, President & CEO of Washington Technology Industry Association
“Success is based on listening, discerning, choosing and executing.”
Susan Sigl is president and Chief Executive Officer of the Washington Technology Industry Association (WTIA), the region’s major industry organization supporting technology development.
Prior to WTIA, Susan was the co-founder and a General Partner of SeaPoint Ventures, a Seattle based venture capital firm investing in communications companies in the wireless, broadband and network transactional infrastructure sectors.
Q. Tell us about the Washington Technology Industry Association.
A. For nearly three decades, WTIA has served as the independent voice of high tech in Washington State representing its 800 member organizations. We provide connections and access to resources, and we advocate for policies that generate innovation and growth across Washington’s dynamic technology industry.
Q. How does the WTIA specifically encourage innovations in technology?
A. Our events, community groups, education and development programs, and lobbying efforts are key platforms that enable us to make mega-connections across stakeholders in Washington’s technology community.
Q. What strategic partnerships do you have?
A. WTIA has hundreds of members devoted to growing our state’s technology industry. The list includes the state’s research universities and technical colleges, venture capital and angel investment organizations, economic development agencies, K-12 and higher education non-profit organizations, and an executive role in TECNA—the Technology Councils of North America—which represents more than 30,000 technology companies across the continent.
Q. What new opportunities do you see for Washington’s technology companies in Asia?
A. As more U.S. companies cross borders to sell into Asian countries, more is learned on both the selling and the buying companies’ side and this will lead to more equilibrium over time in trading policy and business culture understanding.
Q. Is there any new initiative or project you are engaged in or hope to start that will help further these opportunities?
A. WTIA works closely with Washington State Department of Commerce and has relationships with both public and private groups that promote foreign market expansion for U.S. companies. We also share information on the trade mission experiences of other technology trade associations across North America in order to learn and aggregate data on what constitutes a successful trade mission.
Q. What advice do you have for others about how to be successful in this region or line of business?
A. Do massive amounts of due diligence on the foreign markets of interest and align with the resource organizations that are most valuable in helping understand the target region and making effective connections in country.
Q. Please tell us something about your career path to your job at the WTIA.
A. I’ve had a long career filled with good fortune—opportunity and preparedness have crossed my path simultaneously at key times, which I’m grateful to have experienced.
I received my MBA from the UW and headed for the booming Southwest during the oil & gas heyday. After several years of public accounting I joined an oil & gas start-up in Houston that was successfully sold within five years to large public company. This was the beginning of a 25-year career in entrepreneurial endeavors which included commercial real estate and venture capital. I love businesses with a big vision and find the value creation cycle endlessly exciting.
Q. How has living in Washington benefited your education or career?
A. I’ve lived in Washington 32 years and spent five of those years living and working in Bellevue. Being educated at the UW, both as an undergraduate and a graduate student, was the perfect framework from which to build my career.
Getting to participate in the incredible growth of Puget Sound’s business community and its development into a thriving, world class technology hub, while at the same time enjoying the state’s natural beauty and outdoor recreation (such as skiing, biking, and hiking) has fulfilled my career and lifestyle aspirations.
Q. What is your personal success strategy?
A. Success is based on listening, discerning, choosing and executing. You have to stay open to listen for the input from your customers, the market, your employees and your board of directors. From listening comes assimilation of the best ideas that can be condensed down to the few that can be effectively executed at a time.
Q. Do you have a favorite memory about living here?
A. All my memories about living here add up to the opportunity to develop as a person. It’s much more about favorite people of which there have been many over the 30+ years of living in the Northwest. I have met, known and worked with so many very talented people and find this to be the richest aspect of living here. It’s a remarkable place that offers so much opportunity for growth without the fiercely aggressive competitive attitude that seems more typical of other areas.