Lead(H)er: Barbara Scarcella, Senior Advisor to CEO & SVP at NetBrain Technologies
Barbara Scarcella was often asked the same question throughout her career in tech: Do you by any chance have brothers?
Yes, she’d respond. Four older ones who, through sports and the daily adventure of growing up together, ended up teaching her how to be competitive and relate to the male-dominated working world Scarcella entered after graduating from college.
“I had a keen sense of how to challenge somebody and do it diplomatically,” she said.
Scarcella, who has a bachelor’s degree in economics and business certificate from Columbia University, hoped to find herself in a vice presidential position at a bank as quickly as possible. Instead, she took a trainee role at a technology company called Securities Industry Automation Corp, which functioned as a clearinghouse for all domestic stock exchanges. There, Scarcella earned a spot on the company’s fast track to promotion and became a supervisor and coordinator within less than a year.
Her hard work and skillset were soon recognized outside of the company, and she was recruited to a then-startup called Shark at Walsh, Greenwood Brokerage Firm, for which Scarcella rolled up her sleeves to build and manage 10 data centers from scratch all over the world.
“That company got sold a couple of times, and every time we sold the company, I got more responsibility,” Scarcella said. “I had a good work ethic and ability to adapt to change and be very positive and succeed.”
By the time Thomson Reuters came in to evaluate the company, Scarcella had an executive role. Of all the resources and experience Walsh, Greenwood and its employees had to offer, Thomson was most impressed with Scarcella and her work.
“It was a really nice way to be recruited into Thomson,” she said. “I had a good reputation, and past experiences had prepared me for this significant endeavor where again I proved myself and was successful.”
The company grew through acquisition, and over the next 17 years of her career, Scarcella integrated diverse companies and data systems into the overall Thomson organization, boosted profits, selected and negotiated technology agreements, and more. Eventually, she became the only woman to sit on Thomson’s executive committee at the time and lead technology initiatives across the corporation, managing people worldwide.
Scarcella used her sharp negotiation skills to leverage deals and partnerships that saved the company tens of millions of dollars, much of which went directly to the bottom line. This increased bonuses across the division, making her a hero amongst her colleagues.
“I’ve always been able to work with a smile on my face, no matter how challenging things were, and most often found a resolution,” Scarcella said. “To this day I’ve maintained good business relationships with many CEOs and C-level executives. I attribute this to being open, honest, and sincere with them from day one. CEOs are human beings like all of us that have a job to do, and they appreciate an honest partner relationship.”
When it was time to move on from Thomson, Scarcella knew exactly what she wanted to do with her career: start it over.
“I wanted to do it all again, and I did,” she said. “And it’s been a lot of fun.”
After a year as a consultant for Lehman Brothers, Scarcella became the Senior Advisor to the CEO of NetBrain, providing critical advice based on her long and varied career to help with business development, driving sales, and strategic relations. During her tenure, Scarcella did all that and more. In her first year as Senior Vice President of Global sales, she boosted worldwide sales by 40% to 50%. Scarcella also focuses on driving C-level relationships for NetBrain’s signature clients.
“I still get excited talking about what we do here,” Scarcella said. “It’s not just software -- it is just in time automation. NetBrain provides end to end visibility and automation in real time for any IT workflow; always accurate, up to date, and on demand network diagrams.”
By helping customers move manual, time-intensive tasks to more automation, NetBrain has become the go-to resource for major players in the industry. One out of every three Fortune 100 companies, including telecompanies, large banks, healthcare companies, and tech companies, uses NetBrain’s innovative solutions.
Looking forward, Scarcella intends to continue seeking out opportunities to grow both her career and the companies in which she finds herself working, with a particular focus on helping other women climb up the ladder she so deftly navigated herself.
“In the past 20 years, I’ve been mindful of women and business in the technology industry and have made a point to include women at every level who showed ambition and talent,” she said. “I’m proud of the men and women I’ve mentored, and I strongly believe that you need to bring people up with you and encourage talent to grow in a nurturing environment.”
Quick Q(uestions) and A(dvice)
What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
Renewal is key for everyone, and sometimes I need to practice what I preach more often. On my weekends on Long Island, where my home is, I like to have small dinner parties and enjoy good music, good friends and family, eating fine food, and having stimulating conversations. I also enjoy playing golf once in a while, and my vegetable garden gives me great pleasure to see things grow and enjoy the fruits (or veggies) of my labor. I can also make a similar comparison to my position at NetBrain and getting the same satisfaction with my teams. Mentoring our people at NetBrain is very satisfying -- you see them growing and reaching their full potential.
How do you typically manage stress?
Stress reduction techniques are a work in progress for me, always. I have learned from past experiences that mindfulness and goal-oriented tasks help me to disregard the extraneous disturbances that go on daily and can increase tension and stress.
If you're a coffee drinker, how many cups do you have in a day?
I actually don’t need a boost of caffeine. Colleagues often remark about my energy level being extremely high. I do drink a hot beverage at times, especially Herbal Tea or Decaf coffee during the day.
How does where you are now compare to where you saw yourself 10 years ago?
I was a senior executive of a large corporation, Thomson Reuters, a little more than 10 years ago, traveling all over the world and living on and off of planes. At around that time I was introduced to NetBrain, and I knew instantly I would be a good match with my skill set to work with our CEO, Lingping Gao. It has been an exhilarating ride introducing our “Just in Time Automation” to the industry. In retrospect, if I wasn’t introduced to NetBrain, I would have saved Thomson tens of millions of dollars by negotiating favorable contracts and driving optimization initiatives, which I am very good at. Being at NetBrain is so much more exciting and challenging. I got another chance to wear more hats and use my experience and capabilities to help even another company drive to success. It’s very satisfying.
What's one of your favorite places in the NYC and Boston areas, as you have offices in each?
In NYC my favorite places would be Broadway and the theater. My home in Floral Park, Long Island is a welcomed treat since I spend a lot of time commuting between New York and Massachusetts. We always enjoy our 2nd home in Provincetown, Cape Cod, on the bay. I must say that restaurants are the best in both places! Having an Italian background makes good food a necessity for a good life!
What do you consider one of your proudest accomplishments so far?
My proudest accomplishment is having a successful relationship with my spouse for over 3 decades. In my career, I am extremely grateful to have attained my full potential working with very smart C-level executives. My most impressive accomplishment has been the success I have had in each new endeavor and ability to each challenging position asked of me. I’ve embraced each new opportunity with passion, excitement and a focus on success and have loved it all, along with the people I’ve worked with!
What's your advice for recent college graduates?
Love what you do, no matter what the position. Embrace it and give it your full energy and focus. Build on each level of success and grow, and you will almost never have to ask for a raise or promotion. You will be noticed and it will come naturally. Persevere!