Former Xerox Exec Gina Testa Reflects on 32-Year Career, What's Next for Industry and for Her
Whether you're a printer, a co-worker at Xerox or even a direct competitor, everyone in the graphic communications industry likes and admires Gina Testa. And with good reason. With 32 years of executive experience in a host of marketing, operational, product and business development, and financial assignments at Xerox, Gina came into contact with, trained and provided expert advice to people from all walks of life throughout the printing industry — and was always quick to get involved in good causes that furthered the printing industry as a whole.
Gina Testa recently retired from Xerox, with her most recent position being marketing leader, customer engagement and business development, at Xerox. I caught up with Gina recently to get her perspective on the state of our industry, what printers/marketing services providers need to do to remain successful, the business accomplishments that she was most proud of, and what Gina intends to do as she embarks on this next chapter in her life.
MICHELSON: How have you seen the printing industry evolve during the course of your career?
TESTA: I started at Xerox in 1985 and, in the past 32 years, have seen tremendous change in both technology as well as the industry overall. It seems like yesterday that I worked on the Xerox 5775. It was my first stint in the industry and as a product marketing manager.
My work in color is what truly launched my career at Xerox because there was no roadmap and no one else was familiar with the technology in either marketing or sales. Our heritage had been in black-and-white in the office arena. My lack of Xerox experience became an asset, since I was not locked into the way it was always done in the past.
Let’s put this into perspective – there were no PCs in the mid-‘90s, no digital originals, no creative software readily available, and the speed at 7.5 prints per minute in color was 50% faster than the competition. I remember demonstrating the machine at my first trade show and people lined up six deep since, to them, it was magic. We were mainly either making copies of photos or using a special blue highlighter to circle text and change it to full color.
In order to sell this new technology we launched a marketing program called the "Business Case for Color." In this program I showcased applications from various vertical markets to give our clients and their customers ideas on how to use the machine. This marketing program, which focused on actual customer applications to promote page volumes, won numerous awards and is still used today.
MICHELSON: What do you believe to be the keys to success for printers/marketing services providers (MSPs) in the future?
TESTA: Printers today are successful when they keep a close pulse on the needs of their customers and respond accordingly. It is critical to understand that this is about servicing your customers and making them successful. As a result, the revenue and profits will follow.
Printers also need to have an overall strategy and plan for their businesses. There aren’t enough hours in the day to be all things to all people. Know where you want to take the business, determine how you are going to get there and find the talented team of people that can help you get there.
In addition, successful printers have found ways to partner with both vendors and other service companies to acquire knowledge and resources, as well as to meet the needs of their client base. And they’ve also become masters at cash flow management.
MICHELSON: You spent your career in what is still a male-dominated industry. What industry opportunities do you think exist for women today?
TESTA: Interestingly enough, just as the world’s demographics are changing so are this industry’s. During the past 30 years, I have seen a significant increase in female participation in graphic communications — from ownership to sales and marketing. We will continue to see increases as more women embrace entrepreneurship and the freedom of owning their own business as a goal.
Technology changes have made this a very high-tech and services-oriented industry, both of which play well with women. A few years ago I did a presentation at Cal Poly and they were extremely proud to note that more than half of the students in their Graphic Communication program were female.
MICHELSON: What do you think have been your greatest contributions to our industry (or what are you most proud of)?
TESTA: As part of my career at Xerox my most rewarding industry accomplishments have revolved around sharing my business and marketing expertise to help customers be more successful in their businesses. Early on it was creating marketing tools and programs to help early color technology adopters sell their services.
Later on, the program I’m most proud of is Xerox ProfitAccelerator, which provides business development tools and services within the industry. I developed the strategy and launched the program in 2000 in order to enhance the success of our early iGen customers. The program has grown annually and evolved substantially over the years but, 17 years later, it is still a benchmark in the industry.
MICHELSON: Do you plan to stay active in the industry in any capacity?
TESTA: Although I’ve retired from Xerox, I plan to stay active in the graphic communications industry for many years to come doing what I love the most — using my business and marketing expertise to help other businesses and associations succeed. I’m launching a consulting practice called RT Consulting.
I look forward to working with my many contacts and friends within the industry on a variety of projects. I hope to reconnect and stay active beginning with PRINT 17 in Chicago this year.
(Printing Impressions also created a short and entertaining "Names You Should Know" animated video that highlights some of Gina Testa's career accomplishments and personal interests. Click here to view it.)