When you ask Dale Sedgwick how she ended up working for Xerox, her response is “happenstance.” She also uses that word to describe the path her career has taken. Sedgwick started working with Xerox in 1985. Twenty-six years later, she’s the managing director of global accounts for a Fortune 500 company that generated $23 billion (with a “b”) in revenue last year, has 119,000 customer-facing employees and does business in 160 countries around the world. She works with one tremendous multi-billion dollar client.
“I wouldn’t say it was a company I was looking for at the time,” Sedgwick told us during a phone call, referring to her job search more than two decades ago. She had married and relocated to Norwalk, CT after six years working with Eastman Kodak. “I follow things I really enjoy doing,” she adds.
Very few people occupy such high positions at such huge companies. But Sedgwick takes it in stride, simply following her passion and, as she says, doing what she really likes doing.
So what is there, exactly, to love about Xerox. The company is synonymous with photocopying. But that’s not all the company does. Today, the company’s products and services include everything from health information management to IT and document outsourcing services to, yes, digital copiers.
However, when Sedgwick talks about her job, it’s not the technology and services that she talks about.
“I get to work with such a large and complex client, and I get to help them figure out how to solve their problems,” Sedgwick says. The problems she has solved for clients over the years run the gamut, from how to launch a new product to the marketplace, to communicating the brand’s message.
“And, by the way,” she adds, “whether it’s a small or a large client, it’s the same thing.”
Along her career path, Sedgwick has worked in different areas of Xerox from financial services to business development to industry marketing, and beyond.
“For Xerox, I try to stay at the forefront of the business,” she says. “I never spent a lot of time on the copier side.” However, Sedgwick did launch the company’s first multi-function product to the marketplace back in the mid-1990s.
A stellar education laid the foundation for Sedgwick’s career. She graduated from Hampton University with a degree in mathematics; got an MBA in general business from the University of Rochester’s William E. Simon Graduate School of Business Administration; and then last year, 25 years into her career, she got a dual certification in global account management from Columbia Business School and the University of St. Galen in St. Galen, Switzerland.
“I’m a proponent of learning as much as you can and applying it,” says Sedgwick, who says her career couldn’t have happened without her studies. “Education provides both formal context and the discipline to not give up.” Her latest certificate, she says, taught her the “nuances of dealing with clients every day. And go back further than that, the MBA helps you understand how businesses function in general.”