No matter the industry or zip code, Tricia Johnson, director of marketing at QDiscovery, has found value in being part of a community. She has found a community in many facets of her life—through work, Women in e-Discovery, and her local dance studio.
For Stellar Women in e-Discovery, I chatted with Tricia, fellow Chicagoan and marketer, about finding a community within e-discovery, moving from one industry to the next, and why we should all go the extra mile to celebrate our team members, friends, and industry colleagues.
Mary Rechtoris: Hello Stellar Women in e-Discovery fans. I’m Mary Rechtoris, part of Relativity’s brand programs team. Stellar Women in e-Discovery recognizes and celebrates female leaders making their mark in e-discovery. Throughout last year, we interviewed candidates and turned this campaign into an Innovation Awards category. This year, we’re starting nominations early. Every nominee this year will be up for consideration for the Innovation Awards in the Stellar Women in e-Discovery category at Relativity Fest this October. So, if you know any women who are stellar in the field and are breaking barriers, championing innovation, or paying it forward, please nominate them for our campaign. Today, I’m really excited to welcome Tricia Johnson, director of marketing at QDiscovery. Tricia, thanks for joining me today.
Tricia Johnson: Thank you for having me. I am so excited for this.
MR: This is our first guest that is from Chicago. You’re actually just down the street, right?
TJ: Yup. Right down the street, but here in person today.
MR: Tell me a little bit about where you’re from.
TJ: Now, I say I’m from Chicago but I’m not originally from here. I grew up in the north central part of Iowa, or as I like to say, in the middle of nowhere, probably about two hours from where most people know. [I am from] a little town named Greene.
MR: Gotcha. I went to the University of Iowa in Iowa City. Is that close?
TJ: About two hours. It’s a small little town of about 1,200 people. I lived on a farm seven miles that was outside the town.
MR: Did you have horses or animals?
TJ: We had cows.
MR: I love cows.
TJ: And pigs sometimes, too.
MR: What’s something that most people don’t know about Greene?
TJ: Where it is or how small it is. I think one of the things that has probably influenced me a lot growing up is that sense of community that you get in a small town. You know everybody, and everybody knows you so there is this strong sense of community, taking care of each other, and doing a lot of things together.
MR: Moving to Chicago, how have you tried to find that sense of community here?
TJ: It’s more on an effort to find it. I went to DePaul, so I found it there. At the time, it was a smaller campus population. Now, I try to find that sense of community in different places, whether through the dance studio where I take dance lessons, or at QDiscovery. That’s always been something that’s really important—being able to find that place where I fit in as part of a community, not simply showing up [to work] for a few hours and leaving. [It’s about] really relating to people and having that connection.
MR: Before QDiscovery, you were in a different industry, right? You were in healthcare.
TJ: I was in worksite wellness so the healthcare part of it and also the benefits part of it.
MR: Now you’re in e-discovery and it’s so ingrained; you know what it is. But, how do you explain the field to your family and friends?
TJ: That’s an interesting one because it is so niche. What I say when I am talking to people is that we help lawyers deal with data, whether it’s looking at an investigation or for litigation. There’s so much data out there and we help the attorneys, whether they’re on the client, corporate, or law firm side, figure out what data they have, what’s related to the case, and how the heck they can go through it and deal with what’s relevant.
MR: What’s something you wish you would have known when you first got into the field?
TJ: Going back to that community thing, I wish I would have realized just how much of a community that e-discovery is. It’s a pretty open, welcoming community.
MR: I also was in healthcare, so I realize it’s a big learning curve coming to e-discovery. What was it like for you moving from healthcare to this field?
TJ: Definitely, it’s a big learning curve. I took the opportunity to talk to people within the company. Our general counsel, Helen, does a lot of presentations and did a CLA one on the basics of e-discovery. It took us over a day to get through her 90-minute presentation because I had so many questions and really wanted to understand it. At the same time, it’s about recognizing how similar different industries are. I’ve been in a few different industries and there’s always been this idea that technology is going to take over the industry. How is that going to happen? I’ve seen that in a few different places where technology is not going to get rid of people; it will never replace people. Technology will replace some of the things that people do and generally, those are things that the people who created it didn’t like doing anyway. I think people that are strong in the field are able to take advantage of the technology and become better through it. The people that are good are going to figure out how to get even better. I’ve seen that in the real estate industry and healthcare where people were freaking out thinking they won’t have anything to do. You’ll still find things to do.
MR: You can work smarter—you can actually focus on the stuff you want to do. Everyone can relax.
TJ: It’s not going to replace people yet.
MR: You’re a fellow marketer as well and you’re a one-person team at QDiscovery, correct?
MR: What’s that like?
TJ: It’s a lot of fun. There are also a lot of challenges. I’m the only one technically in the marketing department, but I tend to recruit people to do marketing with me. So, I would say there are other people that I call part of the marketing team that aren’t technically on the org chart.
MR: Are these people within QDiscovery?
TJ: Within and outside of QDiscovery. There are a couple of people we’ve worked with on design and development. There’s also the whole Relativity team that I call my marketing team as well since you guys are so supportive of your partners. There’s also people in our company who write or speak at events who I’ve pulled into the marketing team.
MR: I’d love to know your secret on recruiting people to join your team.
TJ: I think the first thing was recognizing the talents that people have. When you hear a comment that someone makes about how they like to write, jump on that right away. Find out what that is and take someone to lunch and talk to them about it. Find out what is important to them and figure out how you can build on that. The same with speaking at an event or doing an interview for PR or finding content: it’s finding that little bit of spark that someone is excited about and not putting marketing as a totally separate thing. It’s not: this is what Tricia the marketing department does, but the idea of getting the story out about QDiscovery, what we’re doing, and what makes us unique. It’s about making that everybody’s job.
MR: How do you as a marketer—as QDiscovery is full of people in the weeds with the tech—get a seat at the table strategy-wise?
TJ: Going into it, it was decided that marketing was going to play a part in that strategy. It was about recognizing that we need to learn how to tell our story. This wasn’t happening because our project managers are fantastic at their jobs. But, they are doing just that: their jobs. They don’t necessarily think of the idea of self-promotion and putting things out there. You need to remind them sometimes that what they do is pretty fantastic. It’s also about [getting the story out] internally. We have a couple of internal emails. That was one of the big things that I wanted to do when I came on board was anytime there’s something going on—such as Helen being on a panel or Dave being interviewed for a publication—share it internally and make sure everybody sees that. We have another email that has client wins and shout outs that we internally put out anytime a customer compliments some of our people. Then, everybody in the entire company sees that this client said these great things about this specific person.
MR: It creates FOMO. You get accolades and want your colleagues to [as well]. It raises each other up.
TJ: Absolutely, and reminds people that what they’re doing is important to their clients and also important to us internally at QDiscovery.
MR: What’s the office like at QDiscovery?
TJ: It’s really based on the idea that client service is important for the company. We see that internally, as well. Everything that we do internally is built around that and I think we treat each other the same way that we do our clients. It’s supporting each other and working toward common goals so we feel like we’re part of a team. We have multiple offices throughout the country and as we move into new offices, we have a similar look across the offices. All the offices did the same paint colors to get that QDiscovery feel. It’s also important for us and our culture within the company to support each other and look for innovative ideas. We don’t necessarily have an innovation team, so everyone is responsible for it. We don’t look at the innovation coming from any single part of the company. It can come from the sales group, or the client services group. Our QMobile app was a combination effort between our forensics team, our project management team, and some of our other teams who supported it and brought it to fruition.
MR: Does QDiscovery hire people with an innovative spirit or is that something that is engrained in your culture, so people are inclined to come forward an idea?
TJ: I would say it’s a bit of both. As we bring people on board, we are looking for people that will fit that [spirit of being] service-first and part of an organization that works toward the same goals. Innovation is a part of that too. I think when you have the first two, then the innovation part comes a bit more naturally.
MR: You told me a story about how, on your first day on the job, Helen took you to a Women in eDiscovery event.
TJ: I think it was a couple days in and Helen had come into town for that CLE session that I said took me a day to get through the 90-minute presentation because I had so many questions. One of the things we did while she was in town was we went to the Chicago chapter of the Women in eDiscovery meeting. Truthfully, walking in, it was one on managing pricing in e-discovery. So, it was pretty technical and in the weeds, and drops you right into it. It was really eye opening for me to see it because there were so many different people in different roles in e-discovery at the meeting. There were attorneys, litigation support people, providers, law firms, corporations, and a few other groups of people. For me, it was a good overview of what this industry really looks like and who’s in it.
MR: And you’re very involved right now in Women in eDiscovery.
TJ: I am. For 2019, I’m the membership director for the Chicago chapter of Women in eDiscovery.
MR: Congratulations, again. That’s very exciting. What made you want to get more involved?
TJ: It had such a big impact on me. I was going to every single meeting that I was able to attend. For me, it was a combination of meeting people outside of QDiscovery that are in the industry as well as the education aspect. Some of it was getting into the weeds but they also have things on career development, empowerment, how to present yourself, and different events like that. Or, you can get really detailed into how you deal with the GDPR. I like that variety. But, for me, it was also so much a part of how I got introduced into the industry and going back to that finding the community. It was important to me as the organization was growing and they were looking for new board members this year, I decided to take the plunge and jump in.
MR: What’s your primary responsibility in your role?
TJ: As membership director, it’s in line with what I am doing at QDiscovery with the marketing aspect, which is why I was interested in it. It’s about promoting events we have and finding speakers. A lot of it is growing membership, keeping people interested, and really promoting the events. One of the things that we are starting this year that I really wanted to do is as people are getting published we can share those articles. This podcast, for instance, will be there eventually as well. It is about celebrating our members. When our members are doing something, we are creating a community behind it and promoting it and giving them that extra amplification for what they’ve been doing already in their career.
MR: What’s something you exciting you guys have on the docket?
TJ: We have an upcoming meeting in May—date and speaker to be announced. We are doing our summer social, as well, in July. We do a combination of the education ones where it’s a lunch and learn. Sponsors cover the lunch, so it is completely free for everybody to come in and be a part of it. We also try a couple times throughout the year to do a more social networking event where people aren’t rushing from their last meeting to get to the lunch and then leave right away. We are trying to build in some networking to different aspects of that. That’s one of the things this board is looking at—how do we get people networking and meeting each other a little bit more and have more time for that?
MR: So, it’s a nice balance between increasing your knowledge about the industry and making some connections and friendships.
MR: Tricia, thank you so much for joining me today.
TJ: This was really fun. Thanks for having me.
MR: Of course. Closing here listeners; thanks for tuning in. Please keep nominating people you know in the industry doing great things. And with that, for Stellar Women in e-Discovery, I’m Mary Rechtoris, signing off.
Mary Rechtoris is a member of the marketing team at Relativity, where she specializes in customer advocacy.