Christine Rutherford Brings Strategy, Mentorship, and High Standards  to Rhythm and Beyond

By Katie Schmarr

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dateThu, Jun 20, 2024 @ 02:00 PM

Christine Rutherford Brings Strategy, Mentorship, and High Standards  to Rhythm and Beyond

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Top 50 Women Leaders of North Carolina by Women We Admire

Our very own Head of Growth, Christine Rutherford, was recently named one of the Top 50 Women Leaders of North Carolina by Women We Admire. I had the pleasure of sitting down with her to talk about career path, business, and what it means to be a woman in leadership today. 

What always strikes me about Christine is how she radiates a warm glow that makes you feel seen and valued; at the same time, you can’t miss the feistiness that drives her onwards and upwards. She is bighearted, tenacious, and wise. 

I know you’ll enjoy our conversation as much as I did. 


Who is Christine Rutherford, Head of Growth?

Katie: Christine, tell me about your career journey. I know you previously worked at big firms like Oracle and Price Waterhouse. How did you end up where you are today?


Christine: My dad was Head of Sales for Wang and Systemhouse. If you look up the Wikipedia article about Solution Selling, he is credited as the godfather. And all of my siblings work in tech or have worked in tech. So it runs in the family!

I started my own telemarketing company early in my career, and then Oracle recruited me. I was there for about thirteen years. It was a competitive environment, but I’m very competitive. It’s so hard to survive there that people ask me how I did it for so long. I just say: “Well, I sold a lot of software.” 

I spent years and years living out of Charlotte Douglas International Airport, essentially. I didn’t have much of a life outside of business travel. But then I heard Patrick [Thean] speak, and I took a look at Rhythm Systems. Strategy is one of those strengths that are very high in my DiSC profile. I aligned with Rhythm’s core values, and with this concept of breaking things down to the lowest common denominator to reach a goal. I started talking to Patrick, and I ended up joining the company seven years ago. 


Katie: You’ve certainly had an impressive career. Can you tell me more about what being a woman leader means to you, and how you’ve empowered yourself and other women in business?


Christine: When I was at Oracle and Price Waterhouse, I was frequently the only woman at the table, especially working in the offshore sector. So I drove women in technology hard. I helped put on a conference to give us more networking opportunities. 

Women have been making strides and gaining leadership ground over the years. But then COVID hit. A lot of that progress either stalled or moved backward. The pandemic brought to the forefront these barriers that prevent women from getting the support they need—things like lack of childcare. When I was flying all the time for work, I’d come home and start what they call the “second shift”—taking care of the kids and the house and whatnot. I recall my mother telling me I looked haggard, and I was. I needed self-care, but I was running so hard that there was no time. 

There is still archaic, backward thinking in the business world. But now I’m a mentor to a lot of young people, and I can see that the next generation of businessmen is leaning towards inclusivity. They’re active in their kids’ lives and they support their partners. I have a lot of faith in up-and-coming women leaders, and that this new generation overall is going to have a more balanced footprint. 


Katie: I love that you’re a mentor. Can you tell me more about that? What are some of the key lessons that you pass on to your mentees?


Christine: I call myself Mother Goose because I have a ton of young people in and out of my house all the time, or lighting up my phone! 

I always tell them that you’ve got to have a plan, you’ve got to understand your goals, and then you’ve got to put your milestones in place. I take it from Patrick’s playbook—you’ve got to Red-Yellow-Green your goals and own your performance. Be honest about bad news early.

If you don’t have the right plan, or you’ve executed something miserably, have a good laugh. Pick yourself up and start over again. It’s all about having a high level of accountability and incorporating that into your daily work. Every day, you should be asking yourself: Did I have the best day possible today? What am I going to do differently tomorrow?


Katie: You really exemplify the Rhythm mindset! Can you tell me about the impact you’ve been proud to make here at Rhythm?


Christine: Well, I think I bring the fun! That’s important. And I always bring a perspective of growth, whether it’s with this team, with consultants, or with CEOs. 

All business leaders have to keep their companies afloat, but they also have to think about innovation and growth. I love helping them integrate that into their natural planning cycle. It becomes part of their DNA. I think of it like canoeing through rapids—if you’ve got a strategy and a plan, you’ll be able to navigate the rapids or business challenges, a lot more quickly and with less stress. And that’s really what attracted me to Rhythm—being able to weave through the water without so many bumps and bruises along the way. 


Katie: I love that mindset. And speaking of navigating challenges, how do you think the sales landscape is different today from years previous? What modern problems is your team facing?


Christine: I think that sales professionals are being boxed out by the digital world. Customers now have the ability to become very informed about a product or service, so they think they’re equipped to make the best choice. But what they’re missing out on is a dialogue about what could be possible beyond just what they’re researching online.

If customers don’t want to engage with an actual person, they’re missing out on valuable brainstorming. If a CEO gets on a call with one of my salespeople, they can look at the CEO’s problem up close and bring their expertise from working with past customers. You end up with a creative dialogue that sets the CEO up for a tailor-made solution to their problem. 

Don’t get me wrong—customer support from an AI bot can be really good. But talking to a human who has worked with people who have had the same exact issue is still going to be the better choice. It’s best to have a highly intelligent collaboration between human beings and technology. I believe in high-tech, high-touch. 


Katie:  "Absolutely. Both need to be used appropriately. Christine, what’s next for you and Rhythm?"


Christine:  "I’m excited to help companies embrace AI as an accelerator and an enabler, especially deep within the organization. From the manager level down, I want to see employees play with AI goal-setting. It’s going to help them open up their minds and think more strategically about their jobs. They’ll have a higher level of satisfaction in their roles, and they’ll move the organization forward more effectively. The accelerator is not within leadership—it’s within high-performing employees. The better they get at setting and achieving strategic goals, the better the organization becomes."


To connect with Christine and her team for custom-built business solutions, book your Rhythm demo



Want to learn more about DiSC personality types?

Take a look at these articles.

Katie Schmarr


Photo Credit: iStock by Getty Images