CubeSmart, based in Malvern, is one of the nation’s largest publicly traded self-storage companies, and continues to grow and innovate by focusing on providing customer-friendly digital tools like its CubeSmart Mobile App, SmartRental online rental experience and SmartView Management Reporting App.
Prior to joining CubeSmart in October 2018, Cross worked for customer service-oriented companies, and as CubeSmart’s IT leader, she oversees the company’s technology, including infrastructure, security, systems and customer-facing and innovative solutions. Those functions combined make up Cubesmart’s Information Technology department which is the largest corporate team and is continuing to grow.
With her seat at the table among company leaders, Cross has the opportunity to demonstrate tech’s capability as an integral part to drive value to the business.
“It’s critical for an IT leader to have that business-minded focus because it helps you connect the dots.” Cross said. “I don’t want to throw technology at the business just for the sake of doing it, but rather one that aligns it with business value.”
When not participating in strategic conversations, Cross is dedicated to providing mentorship opportunities to developing tech professionals in the company, especially women. Cross is one of the executive leaders supporting Women@Cubesmart, an employee resource group focused on developing female talent.
“CubeSmart significantly invests in our team,” Cross said. “As a leader, we have an obligation to focus on driving our culture. And that means teammate development, recognition, and coaching. It is our job to make this the best place to be because we know teammates have other choices and we want them to choose CubeSmart every day.”
Technical.ly sat down with Cross to learn more about her leadership style and the changes she’s witnessed at CubeSmart.
What has changed since you joined CubeSmart?
Due to COVID, we were faced with a situation three years ago where we had to pivot and accelerate our digital strategy. Customers at any business expect to be greeted on a personalized level, and they want to feel like you’re connecting with them.
We always do that well with our storage customers in-person, so we asked, “Why not connect with them personally in a digital way, too?” That led us to pivot in such a way that our customers were able to engage with us fully online and create a more contactless experience.
That’s been fun to leverage adjacent industries in a way that we’re able to digitize the experience and make it meaningful to them.
And if you think about it, if you purchase a coffee in the morning and you have a great, connected experience, and then you’re stopping at CubeSmart, why are we not delivering that same digitally connected customer experience?
So our digital engagement has transformed, and it’s driving our company to move forward in such a way that we can make impactful contributions to the company through revenue and margin.
When not managing tech operations, you’re managing your employees. What is your leadership style?
I see myself as a results-oriented leader. I tend to look at the finish line and then picture how we get there, especially when it comes to big IT projects. I try to manage those goals while developing my team members. When I look back at my time here, it’s been very rewarding to see the number of promotions that we’ve been able to provide to the IT teammates, and especially for some of my direct reports to see them get to more senior levels.
What types of candidates are you interested in hiring?
We are focused on being able to attract candidates that have diverse thoughts and experiences. In terms of coming in and offering alternatives, I think it sets us up to achieve our goals and drive more and successful outcomes.
We consider many factors when hiring teammates, and while programming languages are important, we do pay close attention to the cultural fit, with a focus on collaboration.
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