Success on her own terms
As president and CEO of a technology consulting firm, Tamera Hill knows the value of a dollar—and of staying true to herself.
Before studying marketing at MSU’s Eli Broad College of Business, Hill got her feet wet—and hands dirty—pumping gas at her parents’ full-service gas station.
“I always said I would make my own money learning what I learned from my mom and dad and never have to depend on anyone else for that,” says Hill.
And she did just that. Hill went on to start two technology companies and says she owes her success to the work ethic and determination her parents instilled in her.
In addition to her parents, she credits her experience at MSU with preparing her for the real world—one in which she has learned the importance of balancing career success with personal integrity and priorities.
“I have to be happy and true to myself,” Hill says. “Every company I’ve been with, that has been extremely important.”
I own a technology-consulting firm. This is my second one, and I bought 25 developers. And what we do is a lot of integration work, some web development, but mostly like interface and integration work.
I always thought growing up I would be married at 25, kids at 28. Right? You just kind of think that. And once I started college, it was like, wow, it is a big bad world out here. I have lived a very sheltered life.
So when I went to State, I roomed blind. I didn’t know anyone, and I was like, oh, my gosh. But it was the best decision I ever made. It totally prepared me for the real world, I feel. You know, you just went and you just dealt with it: classes halfway across campus, and rain, and not a car and all of the niceties that you have growing up—freshman year you don’t have.
I would suggest it to anyone; I tell people that all the time. If I talk to students, if they are looking at a small school versus a big school, go to a big school. It was a place where I learned so much and I think established my base as a person and moving forward in the world. The professors—fantastic. I went to grad school, which is great, but there is nothing that will compare to it.
I worked at my dad’s gas station, so—this was back in the full-serve days—so we were never brought up just being given something. Right? Like money or whatever. We had to work for our money—chores or whatever. Then I work at the gas station and go pump gas, check oil, do windows. And I think it really taught us the value of a dollar. And I always said I will make my own money learning what I learned from my mom and dad and never have to depend on anyone else for that.
So a lot of it was when I [undecipherable] and also it was I have to be happy, to be true to myself. So there have been opportunities where it would be a really lot of money, but that is not something that I am interested in. So I turned that down because I know I won’t excel at that. Every company I have been with, that has been extremely important. I think that if you don’t have a balance, you are not going to excel. Money is important, but it certainly is not the most important.
I feel like I have been lucky to be in the right place at the right time. But I think the preparation and the stuff that I have done—not based on just me doing it but learning from people and paying attention—it put me in those opportunities where, perhaps, I wouldn’t have been otherwise.
It is very—at least in my world in technology—it is still a very male-dominated industry. You have more and more—you probably know this—women going to grad school, I think, outnumber men, but still getting the executive positions it is still behind.
To me, I just kind of go and do things. I have never been one to—I am a woman, I need to get special treatment. Right? I am very against that.
I say just go for it. In some ways, it can be an asset. Right? And how we communicate. And I think that’s why you see more and more women going higher.
I just love it. I mean, that’s why I say you have got to love what you do. I love the business. I just do. I have had support and help along the way when I needed it. But I just love what I do. And there is a certain high I guess that I get. When I close a big deal, man. There’s sometimes I will be in the elevator, and I will be, yeah, and there’s no one even around.