Ann Ruckstuhl
Manhattan Associates Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer Ann Sung Ruckstuhl (BS ’86, MBA ’92)

No limits

How Ann Sung Ruckstuhl’s (BS ‘86, MBA ’92) unstoppable mentality led her to five C-suite roles.

Originally from Taipei, Taiwan, Ann Sung Ruckstuhl (BS ’86, MBA ’92) describes her experience coming to the United States at 15 years old as that of many immigrants – a blessing and a curse. While she had to quickly learn English and adapt to a different culture in her new home of Miami, Florida, Ruckstuhl chose to see her glass as half-full.

“I had no help, but I also had no limits,” she recalled.

Ruckstuhl has continued to carry that limitless mentality as she’s navigated life. With a career spanning multiple roles at six Fortune 1000 companies (four of which were Fortune 500 companies), four successful high tech startups and now in her fifth C-suite position, it’s a mindset that has served her well.

It also helped her as a freshman at the University of Florida as she was making the challenging decision of which major to choose.

“I used to wake up every day my freshman year and ask my roommate, ‘What major are we today?’” she laughed. “I had never even considered engineering, but its core principles and data driven approach ended up serving me well.”

As someone drawn to solving problems, Ruckstuhl found a natural place in thinking about the complex challenges engineers are tasked with addressing.

“I’m a bit of a pragmatist, and I like BHAGs – big, hairy, audacious, goals – and engineering puts me in the middle of the information revolution that’s solving the world’s biggest, hairiest challenges,” she said. 

With her degree, Ruckstuhl was quickly able to move into an engineering role at the technology and computer company HP. Never satisfied with focusing on anything other than the big picture, Ruckstuhl transitioned into the company’s product management department. With topics like business plans, product roadmaps, and pricing the new focuses of her day-to-day work, Ruckstuhl recognized that she needed to expand her business education to succeed. With that, and the fact that her now husband was also pursuing his Ph.D. at the same time, it was an easy choice to come back to the University of Florida for her MBA.

Armed with her business education, Ruckstuhl began to climb the corporate ladder, finding her niche in technology marketing. Today, she serves as SVP and Chief Marketing Officer at Manhattan Associates, where she focuses on building category leadership, generating awareness, and hyperscaling revenue for the company’s supply chain and omnichannel commerce solutions.

If you ask Ruckstuhl, though, her true role is in storytelling.

“What marketing does is translate technology into the art of what is possible,” she said. “Technology is a tool, and we educate the market on that tool. In marketing, we show people how they can use the technology as a tool to make anything from a treehouse to a spaceship.

“At the end of the day, I’m a storyteller.”

Ruckstuhl’s storytelling abilities have brought her great success in many of her roles. At Manhattan, the company has recently announced its third consecutive year of record-breaking revenue, surpassing the S&P 500, and anticipate exceeding the $1 billion mark in annual revenue this year. She helped pioneer peer-to-peer payments at the second startup that she joined, which would eventually be sold to eBay and later acquired PayPal as well. As Chief Marketing Officer at Unisys, she helped drive two consecutive years of growth, while also delivering over $4 billion in new logo pipeline in three years. In 2019, she was named a “Woman of Influence” by Silicon Valley Business Journal.

Ruckstuhl’s success wouldn’t be possible without what she describes as a few “catastrophic” failures, though. While each came with a new lesson to learn from, one of her most defining challenges reminded her of how critical it is to have support networks.

After 12 years with HP, Ruckstuhl decided she was ready to start her entrepreneurial journey. To help fund her first startup, Ruckstuhl dipped into her 401k without telling her husband. The company folded not long after. Suddenly struggling to pay for their home and child expenses, Ruckstuhl came clean to her husband.

“He said, ‘Ann, I’m going to pretend that you went to business school again and it was the most expensive school on the face of the earth,’” she recalled. “That lesson stayed with me. You are going to have good days and bad days, but what you need is a great partner.”

To Ruckstuhl, a great partner isn’t just a spouse, but a posse.

“My family is my love team, my girlfriends are my support network and my business friends are my board of directors,” she said. “That first failure was a gift because all of it made me cognizant of the value of my posse.”

Ruckstuhl has found two other key pieces of advice that have guided her success and limitless mentality. The first, which she always shares with her own team, is to be the CEO of your own career.

“You are the CEO of your career, so behave like one,” she said. “Be relentless and manage your own domain.”

The second piece of advice is to learn as much as you can about your industry and customers every day – don’t get too comfortable.

“Being comfortable [in your work] means that you’re not learning and pushing yourself,” she said. “Don’t get complacent. Strive for excellence in what you do.”

Ruckstuhl challenges herself to consistently learn and do more when she’s out of the office, too. She stays active through activities like swimming, hiking, fly fishing and skiing. Her most treasured time though is in having a daily sit-down dinner with her family and reading The Wall Street Journal on Saturday mornings.

“Every Saturday morning, I spent 2 to 3 hours with the Journal, coffee and the cats,” she said. “I’m a student of the Journal and that is my school. I’m always thinking about what challenges me and what I should learn next.”