Humans of JNI: Elizabeth Venz (as told by a former colleague)
Updated: Jul 16
I worked with Liz long before she became the CEO of Jack Nadel International. She was the sales manager at a computer company that sold both software and hardware. I joined as a member of her team. It was an environment not unlike the one depicted in The Office except we had three David Brents and one of them was Liz’s line manager.
We sold software that was fast becoming obsolete, a truly terrible product that we all had difficulty off-loading.
All of us save Liz that is. She had a knack for understanding what it was that a client looked for without their having said so. Truly, and this is without exaggeration, she is the best salesperson I’ve ever seen at work. She sold so well because she was committed, but also because she understood exactly what her clients needed.
Liz had little idea about the mechanics behind the software we sold. And it didn’t seem to matter. She’d return from a sales meeting or a call, tell our team of developers that this is what the software needed to do, they’d say ‘No’ and that it wasn’t possible. She’d stare them down, her commitment to the sale replicated in her commitment to give the customer what they’d asked for, and say: ‘Make it possible. The deal depends on it.’
And they always would. Always.
Call that what you want, trusting others to be capable of what they thought they weren’t or an unrelenting ability to follow things through, Liz pushes herself, and others around her. And she can be difficult to work with because of it. Don’t expect clear directives, step-by-step instructions on the minutiae of a task.
She will give you the job and you’ll have to complete it. Its not the sort of environment that works for everyone but, for those it does, it can be an eyeopener.
After the computer company, Liz started her own firm, Active Promotions, and I followed her there. She worked hard, very hard, building a business from the ground up. But, as her success at JNI proves, it was worth the hard work and sacrifice.
Since I left Active Promotions, I’ve got to know Liz as a friend rather than a colleague. I’ve seen her generosity, her dedication and kindness, in the orphanage she works so hard for in Kenya. I’ve seen her competitive side on the ski slopes and enjoyed a couple of long cycles with her.
I still see the committed professional that I first met at Versyss UK but I know her far better as a loyal friend.