Nancy Peckham, Valicom

IB’s Professional of the Week is the premier way to meet Dane County’s professionals. This week features Nancy Peckham, CEO and founder, Valicom.
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What are the most challenging and rewarding aspects of your job and why?

Some of the most challenging things are ultimately the most rewarding.

For example, it is challenging to find and retain the right people. We look for people who are aligned with our values, are a behavioral match for their position, and who have the minimum skills required for the job, in that order. We do this through interview questions, references, a tool called “Culture Index,” and looking at past job experience. This formula, developed over many years, has attracted and retained exceptional talent, building the best team on the field.

On the flip side, it is one of the most rewarding aspects of my job to bring on great people and watch them learn, grow, and become top performers. We have a “promote from within” policy, so people are constantly challenged with new responsibilities and learning opportunities. We offer a bonus program where team members are rewarded for high quarterly client satisfaction scores. Over the past 10 years, our teams have had an average client satisfaction score of 3.89 on a four-star scale!

Who do you look up to or admire in business and why?

My mother was a huge inspiration of mine growing up. She began the Mary Linsmeier day cares and preschools during the late 1960s, when it was almost unheard of for women to be in the workforce, let alone owning a business.

Watching my mother manage several child care businesses, in addition to raising eight children, taught me what a strong woman looked like. She was an excellent role model for me during my early years and when I later entered the male-dominated industry of telecommunications as a business owner in the early 1990s.

What has been the high point of your career so far?

There have been several high points in my career over the past 30 years:

  • Bringing on several very large landmark clients who have helped us grow and have provided opportunities to expand our solution set to address the needs of the marketplace.
  • Developing an exceptional team of loyal, dedicated employees who consistently generate record high client satisfaction scores.
  • Our longest standing employee celebrated his 20-year anniversary with Valicom last year!
  • Celebrating our company milestone anniversaries, 10, 20, 25, and now 30 years!
  • Developing leading-edge technologies, the latest being our SaaS telecom expense management platform called Clearview.

Thinking back on your career, what advice would you give your 21-year-old self?

Be confident and assertive. You will gain respect by being knowledgeable and by communicating effectively. Listening to the needs of your clients and unwaveringly championing your cause, purpose, or “why” is really important to providing a solid foundation for growth.

Establish solid corporate values and use them as guidelines to follow on a daily basis.

What would you say are the best things about living and working in Dane County?

Dane County is one of the best communities to live and work in.  These are some of the best things from my experience living in Dane County over the past 40 years:

  • Quality of life — general well-being, health, and happiness of the community;
  • Recreation and exercise — the lakes, biking and walking trails, music and fun social events, and health clubs;
  • Focus on health and wellness, with many alternatives;
  • Vibrant business community – network of fellow business professionals who are supportive, knowledgeable, and really care; wide variety of groups in support of women entrepreneurs; and
  • An active social community.

Do you have any secret talents or abilities that people would be surprised to discover?

I love to be physically active and my health club, Pinnacle Health and Fitness in Fitchburg, is my second home. I enjoy the community of amazing people I have met at the club, both instructors and members. Over the past several years, I have participated in a few triathlons and bike events such as the Trek 100, MS150, Loop the Lake, and Race Across Wisconsin. My true love is biking, putting many miles on my bike around the beautiful roads and trails in the Madison area over the warm weather months and cycling at the club during the winter.

Since we moved to Lake Waubesa four years ago, I have joined the boards of the Yahara Lakes Association (YLA) and Lake Waubesa Conservation Association (LWCA) in an effort to improve the lake living and user experience on the Yahara chain of lakes including Lake Mendota, Monona, Waubesa, and Kegonsa. I have acted as the YLA chair of the Marketing and Membership Committee, increasing membership by 50% over the past year.

What are your guilty pleasures?

I love to listen to music and when I get in the car, I love to sing loudly to some of my favorite tunes. I can’t help but sing songs like “September” by Earth Wind and Fire, “Dancing Queen” by Abba, or “I Will Survive” by Gloria Gaynor and many others. It’s even more fun when it’s warm out and I can take the top down on my Audi and let it all out. It’s a good thing that people can’t hear me sing off tune but it sure is a lot of fun!

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