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An interview by Surabhi Gaur '03, February 5, 2001
"Tally Systems, Anne speaking. "Few company co-founders and board members answer their own company phones. Anne Gunn and Tally Systems find themselves in the minority.
Here began my conversation with Anne Gunn, a Dartmouth '78 who now lives and works in Wyoming. Anne is no stranger to the area, having been born in Wyoming but growing up in neighboring Montana. She graduated from Dartmouth in 1978, and while she was devoid of a definite plan, she left with one definite perspective in mind: "I always knew I was going to be a business person/technologist."
And that is exactly what she has done.
Anne has taken some twists and turns to get to where she is, but she cannot say she minds that. After leaving Dartmouth, she made, what she considers to be, a mistake in doing corporate recruiting. Anne worked for GE for a whopping three weeks before she realized it was not what she wanted. "I was pretty shell-shocked," she said in reference to the complete change of plans. Anne returned to the west and went to the state employment agency and actually wanted to be a short order cook, but the agency would not have it. Instead, the agency found her a job as a programmer at the highway department. Anne claims that she "learned an enormous amount." In the meantime she kept pursuing employers and came across a software company called DTSS. Anne says, "I could sell myself that I could hit the ground running," and that was exactly what the start-up needed. Eventually DTSS disbanded but from that grew Tally Systems — a company that specializes in hardware/software inventory — which Anne helped found.
Anne's math major was slightly modified with history and philosophy. Anne had taken some computer programming in high school and had had no intention of stopping then. At the time, Dartmouth did not have a computer science program but Anne took advantage of the one programming course that was offered through the math department. The math faculty made the major attractive to Anne and even though she says "I was not destined to be a mathematician," and claims, " I'm not quite sure why I stuck it out," the Phi Beta Kappa tackled the subject regardless. Anne reflected the classic liberal arts' attitude in that she was "adamant in not making college into professional school."
Anne enjoyed mathematics but it was not a smooth ride. She often realized that she "just wasn't working at the same level as people around [her]," but that did not deter her. Anne also shared with me the painful ordeal of an honor's logic class she took. She was detailing to me how she looked at a take home exam once and could not formulate a single word to write and stated, "It was just the worst moment. I was totally overwhelmed." Her drive to pursue her interests, however, is a reminder of the power of determination for all of us.
After a fulfilling college career and a roundabout career path, Anne finds herself comfortable and successful at what she does. She managed to combine her marketing and technological skills and put them to use for Tally Systems. Her varying set of skills and ability to "stand with one foot in each community" remind us of what we can do when we utilize and diversify our natural talents. Besides her success in the business world, Anne is a successful mother of two, an accomplishment she insists would be grossly inferior and considerably less enjoyable without the cooperation of her husband, Mark.
Anne had light advice to offer to women at Dartmouth now. Anne chuckled as she told me, "I wish I would've gotten into the woodshop while at Dartmouth," and, "I would've tried to exercise more in college." On a more serious note, Anne admits that making the mistake of corporate recruiting was luckily early enough that it made her think. She realized that following the path that is readily etched out is not always the right choice and while that path leads to immediate stability and material gains, life is all about "defining success in your own terms." Not bad advice from a woman who has found success in her life from many angles and in her own words, has almost gotten every job she ever interviewed for — well, except for that short-order cook job. Hey, one more thing to shoot for, I suppose.
Last Updated: 10/19/10