Coleen Finnegan: Transforming Businesses by Leveraging Technology and Collaborative Leadership

Women in Technology

Daugherty Business Solutions is an advisory services and technology consulting firm helping corporations leverage leading technology to improve business results. Founded in 1985, the company operates in nine business units with over 1200 consultants across the nation. With software engineering and analytics, Daugherty Business Solutions delivers high-quality software quickly and effectively at both its development centers and client sites. Daugherty’s innovation hub uses the latest technology in a highly collaborative environment to drive innovation for clients while its delivery leadership and management consulting professionals use proprietary methods, techniques, and tools to achieve better customer outcomes. The Daugherty University program is creating new capability and developing talent in a marketplace where demand often exceeds supply.  

For over 35 years, Daugherty has been committed to driving innovation, growth, and customer satisfaction across the nation. 


A Thriving Leader  

Coleen Finnegan, Managing Director at Daugherty Business Solutions, has over 20 years of experience assisting Fortune 500 clients in managing their enterprise by integrating the people, processes, and technologies necessary to deliver business solutions. She leads Daugherty’s Dallas, Chicago, and New York area business units, coordinates strategy across the enterprise, and is an integral force driving Daugherty’s US$225 Million projected revenue for 2020. 

Coleen joined Daugherty in 2012 and quickly emerged as an impactful leader, becoming Managing Director in Chicago. In 2016, she took on the additional responsibility of Managing Director for Dallas and within a year, doubled the size of the business unit. During the pandemic, Coleen took on even more responsibility – becoming the Managing Director for the New York area business unit and leading the team to be named one of the top three Best Places to Work in New Jersey.  

She has been helping Daugherty customers to leverage leading technologies to improve business results, delivering several highly visible and mission-critical initiatives for Fortune 500 clients. At a leading airline, Coleen led the team which helped build the technology used to enable their first international flights.  

With machine learning and artificial intelligence, her team helped one of the largest property and casualty insurance providers process claims quicker.  At a global quick serve restaurant, her team led a digital transformation – improving the mobile, delivery, and drive-thru experience. 


Learning Through Experiences 

Coleen is from a family of very successful women both in and out of technology. She learned from her mother, the first female national leader of all US tennis officials and the US Open tournament, about how to lead and become a pioneer in the male-dominated industry.  

Her sister also founded her own change management company 20 years ago – inspiring Coleen that anything is possible for women in the technology field.   

Before Daugherty, when Coleen started her career in IT professional services, she was the only female in the entire organization but quickly rose through the ranks – running teams for the firm’s most strategic clients. Coleen contributes her early success to learning the technical detail while focusing on the strategic business objectives. She states that this blended approach helped her tie both sides together by gaining the trust of the engineers while aligning to leadership’s initiatives.   

Getting hands-on is a lesson Coleen has actively used to positively impact others. She partnered with Girls Who Code to design and establish a Women in Technology program for the second-largest pharmacy chain in the US. Coleen has also co-sponsored an event at another Fortune 500 client for girls interested in STEM – helping other women in technology pursue their dreams.   


Leveraging Technology for Client Engagement 

Coleen believes in the power of collaborative iterations. She shares that the company’s customers and consultants work hand in hand to prioritize and align game-changing ideas, while the technologists lead proofs of concepts and rollouts. Coleen informs that Daugherty Business Solutions’ Innovation Hub allows customers to quickly leverage industry and technology expertise as well as support and mentor for client engagements nationwide. Daugherty also provides the infrastructure and access to leading technology in a cost-effective way to help clients spin up initiatives rapidly.  


Leading with “Actions, not Words” 

Before working at Daugherty Business Solutions, Coleen recounts that one of the challenges she faced early in her career was changing the perception of what a technology leader looked like. She found that often people gravitated toward what they were used to seeing and considered a woman in technology, and especially a woman in technology leadership, to be “high-risk.” Coleen says that she had to constantly work against this bias by continually delivering quality outcomes – formulating her results-driven mentality. 

While she experienced being talked over, interrupted, or a male taking credit for her good work at the beginning of her career, she never let it stop her. She found that staying true to her ideas and thoughts, as well as being a collaborative leader that brings teammates together is what matters in the end. Coleen’s motto is “actions, not words”, and her actions continue to pave the way for women in technology.    


Driving Innovation Through Interconnected Technology 

Coleen believes disruptive technologies are speeding up innovation today. She sees that technologies are more interconnected than ever before and piggybacking off of each other more and more. She also recognizes that every business is more reliant and more impacted by technology, stating that “as leaders, it is our role to figure out how we best upskill and cross skill our team to stay ahead of the movement. 


Embracing New Technology for Business Objectives 

Coleen feels every transformational leader should be flexible, creative, and entrepreneurial. She states that it’s important to be able to be brave and willing to fail forward fast and adjust, advising, ”Do not be afraid of innovation and change. Just because something worked in the past doesn’t mean that’s the only way to do it moving forward.” 

She embraces new technologies and different ways of working to better achieve business objectives. Coleen believes in making informed decisions, but says not to get bogged down with over-engineering solutions. She states that even a little progress is still progress. 

She believes in the art of the possible.  


The Future Ahead 

Coleen shares that Daugherty’s mission since its founding in 1985 has been to help the company’s clients achieve their business objectives through the effective use of leading information technology. She adds, ”I see Daugherty continuing to be at the forefront of technology and an active contributor for the next 36 years as the industry becomes even more ubiquitous in the way we work, live and play.” 


Advice to Young Leaders 

Coleen advises to always come from a place of yes and take opportunities. She says that she hadn’t done the things she is doing now in the past – so if that stopped her from taking on new roles – she would have never had a new opportunity. Coleen suggests being open to trying new things, and recalls “I can’t think of a time in the past several years where an opportunity presented itself and I hedgedTake a minute to reflect on what you have achieved and know that it is just the beginning to your next step!” 

Coleen believes that leadership gets better with more experience, as well as having the benefit of expanding the network – which is critical. She knows that “the better the team, the better the outcome”. Culturally, she thrives in collaborative environment that believes ‘a rising tide lifts all boats.’

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