Jon Beattie, a Senior Engineering Manager at SPS Commerce, participated in the 18th cohort of ACE Leadership back in 2023. Since his graduation, Jon has been active in helping current ACE Leadership participants and participating in MnTech programs and events. We caught up with Jon to learn more about his experience with the professional development program and how it has benefitted his career.

Jon Beattie, Sr. Engineer Manager, SPS Commerce

What is your current role and how would you describe what you do?

I’m a Senior Engineering Manager at SPS Commerce. I lead a team of managers, software engineers, quality engineers & technical business analysts located here in the US. We help to build out, and maintain, what SPS calls our ‘retail network’ – all connections to allow suppliers to connect to, and comply with requirements of, their retail trading partners (for receiving orders, sending shipment information, doing invoicing, etc). As a leader, I do my best to coach and mentor the leaders and individuals on my team, to partner with other key business leaders internally to drive strategic initiatives, to help with setting the vision for, and driving execution on, our team strategy/roadmap, and to oversee the operational excellence of the team.

What aspects of the program did you find most appealing?

I appreciated the wide range of topics covered and the fact that there were always industry experts and tech leaders coming to share their wisdom, perspective and time. Additionally, to be able to learn alongside of leaders from the broader Twin Cities area tech ecosystem was a blessing and a huge benefit of the program. I greatly enjoyed getting to know, and to share ideas and learn from, these other tech leaders.

ACE Leadership covers multiple topics, from stronger communication to understanding the tech landscape in MN. Which session was most valuable to you in your leadership journey?

I found value in each of the sessions and actually still revisit my notes every now and then to refresh on a specific topic. I think the one that has had the biggest impact on my life was the networking session. I’d say that I had built a strong internal network over the years in my current company but had been hesitant to get out there and intentionally network with others outside of SPS. I learned that there’s value in networking externally as well, not just ‘to find a job someday’ but in the act of getting more connected with others in tech, learning from them, providing value to them, and broadening my perspective on being a leader in the tech space.

I started with the others in my cohort and have since gotten more involved in tech events in the cities, I’ve been consistently active on LinkedIn and I’ve made many great connections with others in the area, both virtually and in person. It was what I needed to get out of my head a little bit and to start investing not just in my network for my own sake but also in the hopes of providing some level of value to others as well. Shout-out to Joel Crandall for giving me the positive encouragement/nudge needed when I told him “I’ve had some ideas for how I can get more active on LinkedIn” and he responded “You should absolutely do that!”

How has being a part of ACE Leadership changed how you work with your team and create a positive work environment?

After each of the ACE sessions, I used my team meetings to share my biggest takeaways with the other leaders on my team. We would then discuss the topics and how it could apply to us within our roles at SPS or within our lives beyond the walls of SPS. I wanted (and want) to create a space where we can be growing together and giving each other encouragement to think beyond the daily/weekly task list. I’d also say that more recently I’ve been more conscientious about the way I show up within my team (my brand), not just as a big picture thinker or a strong leader of strategic initiatives but also as someone who is personally invested in the growth and development of each of my team members. Not to say that I didn’t think this way before, but I’ve been more thoughtful about how I am showing this to my team and working to have that be a bigger part of my personal brand.

Thinking about your interactions with other leaders and peers in the program, how have these relationships helped you grow?

I hit on this a little above, but being able to grow alongside of other leaders is invaluable. These are people doing things that are different than what I do (yes, there’s similarities, but there are nuances and sometimes pretty big differences, just by the nature of the work that one company does compared to another). I’ve gained a broader perspective for how to effectively lead in the tech space and have several people that I know I can bounce ideas off of whenever needed. I’ve also had the joy of getting more connected with one of the session leaders, Zach Hughes, and our conversations (and his weekly articles) have helped me to think about things in a new way. I always come away from his articles or from our coffee chats with a handful of nuggets to keep pondering on and to start putting into practice. Thanks Zach!

I’ve also been more heavily involved in MnTech events since my ACE cohort and have recently joined the Tech Careers 1.0 committee. I imagine I wouldn’t have been invited to join this awesome group if it wasn’t for the interactions and relationships formed during and after my time with ACE. Huge thanks to Ismail Ali for inviting me to join the committee!

Lastly, I hope that I continue to nurture the relationships formed with my peers and the other leaders from ACE and I can’t wait to reflect in the future on additional growth that’s come for me, and all of us, as a result of this.

Apply for ACE

There is still time to apply for the 2024 cohort of ACE Leadership. Learn more and apply by visiting the ACE Leadership webpage.