Men Who Open Doors

May 14, 2018 by
MenWhoOpenDoors

Left to right: Janice Le, Michael Dickman, Ganesh Srinivasan, Ash Chowdappa, Linda Holroyd, Gopal Kumarappan, and Jatinder Narang

FountainBlue’s May 11 When She Speaks event was on the topic of Men Who Open Doors. Below are notes from the conversation. Our panelists represented a wide range of educational and professional backgrounds, and a wide range of roles and organizations. But they had much in common.

  • They had strong women in their lives who helped them understand the value of having women on teams and in their lives.
  • They fully understand the business case for diversity and inclusion in the workplace and are passionate and frequent advocates.
  • But beyond the data, they each make the choice to do the right thing because it’s the right thing to do.

Our panelists each consistently focused on sponsoring and supporting women in the workplace and pointed to the business case for doing so. The benefits mentioned included:

  • the increased diversity of thought from heterogenous teams, which can lead to innovation
  • the improved decision-making abilities of diverse teams
  • the increased creativity and increased amount of different ideas presented when brainstorming and problem-solving
  • the improved productivity and morale
  • the greater likelihood of reflecting the customer base you serve and the local community

Their collective advice to those who seek sponsors for their careers is highlighted below:

  • Be prepared to take advantage of opportunities which may arise.
  • Be consistently confident, competent and courageous, regardless of whether you’re seeking a sponsor.
  • Own what YOU can control – your experience, your results, your brand – while you’re waiting for the opportunity to be recognized by others.
  • Be your authentic self. Don’t think that you have to change who you are to succeed. Find a way to succeed by being uniquely you.
  • Make an informed and specific ask when the timing is right. Know who to ask for help, and why he/she is the best person to ask.
  • Work together and help each other be successful – in work and in life.
  • When you’re given an opportunity, be diligent, hard-working, open and eager person, passionate about generating measurable results.
  • Communicate openly and transparently and be worthy of the trust of others.
  • Select the right mentor and sponsor for you, based on what you need at the time.

Their collective advice for building more sponsors and mentors and leaders in their organization is highlighted below.

  • Work on changing the mindset of the executives in charge. 
  • Understand your own unconscious biases and those of other executives in the organization. You may have to overcome these biases to bring more sponsors and leaders to the team.
  • Pay it forward, in honor of those who did the little and big things to help YOU get to where you are.
  • Lead by example and model the way. As Mahatma Gandhi would say ‘Be the Change you want to see.’

Our parting thought is that we all have the power to impact others around us and support their growth. Take the mindset that working with and for others benefits everyone.

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Please join me in thanking our gracious hosts at Aruba and our panelists for our May 11 When She Speaks event, on the topic of Men Who Open Doors!

  • Facilitator Linda Holroyd, CEO, FountainBlue
  • Panelist Ash Chowdappa, VP & GM, Aruba Wireless LAN at Aruba, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company
  • Panelist Michael Dickman, VP, Product Line Management, Aruba HPE
  • Panelist Gopal Kumarappan, VP Software Engineering, AppDynamics
  • Panelist Jatinder Narang, Senior Director – Finance, Western Digital
  • Panelist Ganesh Srinivasan, General Manager, Power Management, Texas Instruments
  • with an introduction by Janice Le, Chief Marketing Officer, Aruba HPE

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Energy and Utilities Trends and Opportunities

May 7, 2018 by

EnergyUtility

FountainBlue’s May 4 VIP roundtable was on the topic of ‘Energy and Utilities Trends and Predictions’, hosted by EPRI.

The focus on generating and distributing a reliable, cost-effective energy source remains the goals of our consumers, companies, utilities, cities and countries. But the needs of the “customer” are making that progressively more difficult. Couple that with the tech-savvy, real-time update needs of empowered customers around the world and the problem seems almost impossible to solve. 

Our executives in attendance all remarked on the mega trends around the energy sector and how they are impacting everyone across industries, across geographies, across technologies. Keys to managing and staying on top of these trends include:

  • The need to collaborate across sectors, technologies, companies, and nations to provide solutions which optimize energy generation, leverage sustainable practices, and manage storage and distribution for maximum benefit for all stakeholders.
  • Enterprise Customers need to actively become involved in defining the problems faces, adopting technologies which optimize benefits for all.
  • Policy-makers need to be more flexible and open to change, for changes need to be made to support the massive energy demands of customers.
  • Local utilities serve both the commercial and consumer markets. Providing proven, scalable and sustainable solutions will remain challenging. Partnering with other utilities and other organizations will help develop communities, share learnings and resources, and better anticipate and address energy-related needs and concerns of customers.
  • As customers get more involved with generation through solar, wind and other renewables, it helps in some ways by increasing the amount of available energy, but also complicates matters and puts a strain on the grid as well, for generation happens only at certain times of day.

Below are some of the opportunity areas mentioned in the discussion:

  • The nexus between energy and water  
  • Microgrids to provide energy to smaller villages
  • Using data-rich, crowd-sourced reports to inform stakeholders, customers, policy-makers, etc.,
  • Apps and business models which use energy as part of the shared economy
  • Cybersecurity: Nuclear, Power Delivery, Generation, Storage
  • Lithium and Cobalt batteries and how they can be better mined and recycled
  • Recycling of batteries in general
  • AI and big data solutions around energy at work and at home
  • Smart mobility which help communicate energy needs
  • Smart city solutions which help generate, distribute, manage energy
  • Robotics solutions around energy generation and distribution
  • Utility-owned batteries
  • Hydrogen fuel cells

We repeatedly remarked on how empowered customers, volume of data generated, huge international markets, sustainability demands, the power of the millennial generation and other factors will all significantly impact our growing need for energy.

The challenge is how we can also consider all these factors in creating long-term and short term goals, while serving local, regional and international markets. Success factors might include:

  • Creating and supporting collaborative networks focused on creating innovation around energy
  • Supporting win-win solutions for this vibrant ecosystem of stakeholders 
  • Accepting and working with slow-moving, fragmented utilities, outdated infrastructure to make this happen
  • Designing the types of dynamic AI, HW and SW (vs static), data-based, flexible and scalable solutions which will serve the customer base
  • Designing for a long-term view, while supporting the short term revenue needs for key stakeholders

The onus will always be on each of us, as leaders in technology and business, across roles, companies, sectors and nations, to collaboratively deliver solutions which work for all.

Tiger Team Best Practices

April 24, 2018 by
TigerTeamCollage

Panelists from left to right: Hanna Sicker, Jennifer Dormoy and Laura Bermudez

FountainBlue’s April 20 When She Speaks event was on the topic of Tiger Team Best Practices. Below are notes from the conversation.

Our panelists have deep and broad experience with leading teams, particularly tiger teams solving technical problems. Our panelists agreed that Tiger Teams are generally small and focused on important, mission-critical projects which are often high profile. It may be a project that’s blocked or failing or broken in some way, or it may be a high-potential project just getting started. 

Tiger Teams sometimes have several specialists involved, people who are experts at certain aspects of the project or certain layers of the stack. And sometimes it’s comprised of generalists with broad technical and business skills.

What’s critical is that each team member is passionate and driven about creating an efficient and effective solution for that important project, and persistent and competent enough to consistently deliver to stellar measurable results, overcoming huge obstacles.

Tiger teams are not meant for everyone or for every project. Many tiger teams require extra workloads and additional hours. Many tiger teams require working on cutting edge technologies solving technical and process issues which are mission critical. If you’re considering joining a tiger team, make sure that you have the bandwidth to contribute fully to the cause, and the interest and passion to do a deep dive into intricate technologies and sticky problems.

Below is a compilation of advice from our sage panelists.

  • If you’re lobbying for the resources, members and funds to initiatives, speak in the strategic business terms executives would understand – make the business case and show the value of the project, using data to make your point.
  • Treat your people well. Give them the resources and support they need so that they can succeed. Give them the types of tasks which draws upon their strengths. Be positive and supportive and fun, and make it worth their while to join the team.
  • Tiger Teams often have to solve problems across teams, across technologies, across divisions. Building networks of relationships and communicating across different groups are essential strategies for success.
  • Build on your successes and solve bigger problems following each success.
  • Tiger Teams work in waves. Along time for the planning, the build-up and ramp-up, the intense execution, and the learning and maintenance.
  • Invite people with diverse experiences and perspectives to the team. 
  • Consider the learning styles of the different members of the team, and use this information to help ensure that everyone’s learning, and that all can contribute in ways which work for them. (See resource section.)
  • Create a tiger teams that is as competitive as they are collaborative, as communicative as they are inclusive. 

The bottom line is that Tiger Teams are important not just for solving mission-critical problems, but also for forging new innovation, new ideas, new solutions.

Resource: 

The Seven Learning Styles https://www.learning-styles-online.com/overview/

Learning Styles.jpg

  • Visual (spatial):You prefer using pictures, images, and spatial understanding.
  • Aural (auditory-musical): You prefer using sound and music.
  • Verbal (linguistic): You prefer using words, both in speech and writing.
  • Physical (kinesthetic): You prefer using your body, hands and sense of touch.
  • Logical (mathematical): You prefer using logic, reasoning and systems.
  • Social (interpersonal): You prefer to learn in groups or with other people.
  • Solitary (intrapersonal): You prefer to work alone and use self-study.

Please join me in thanking our panelists for FountainBlue’s April 20 When She Speaks was event on the topic of Tiger Team Best Practices and our gracious hosts at eBay.

  • Facilitator Linda Holroyd, CEO, FountainBlue
  • Panelist Laura Bermudez, Director of Software Development, eBay and NPD & Board Member, Meritus College Fund
  • Panelist Jennifer Dormoy, VP of Engineering, Swift Navigation
  • Panelist Hanna Sicker, Head of Global Security and Site Reliability Engineering, StubHub

We Are All ONE

April 20, 2018 by

WeAreOne

I am most inspired and energized when I think, speak and feel as if We Were All ONE. But it’s never easy to maintain that mode, in this world which rewards the driven, the talented, the accomplished, the beautiful. Yet it is fundamentally inspiring and invigorating when we embrace that Mindset of ONE.

When 22-year-old Warriors guard Patrick McCaw was carried off on a stretcher in the middle of a game in Sacramento following a scary fall, he couldn’t feel his legs. . In that moment of shock and disbelief, when everyone feared the worst, wondering if Patrick would ever be able to walk again, players, fans, coaches, physically and metaphysically came together in silent prayer and commiseration.

This is the Mindset of ONE – when we think, speak and act as one, for the benefit of ALL. In this post, I will suggest strategies for maintaining that Mindset of ONE, even in the most challenging situations. It is my hope that these strategies will help bring perspective, humor and courage when it matters the most.

  1. When you next connect with someone you find far superior to you in some way, be open and supportive and curious. Invite opportunities to have your paths cross.
  2. When you next connect with someone you find far inferior to you in some way, be open and supportive and curious. Invite opportunities to have your paths cross.
  3. Choose to walk and be with people who lift you up, but be inclusive of others who also seek support and comfort.
  4. When someone is different than you in a way that makes you feel uncomfortable, be curious about what they think about inconsequential things and how they came to that perspective.
  5. When someone is competing with you in a sport, keep reaching for stars, and be gracious whether you win or lose.
  6. When you are passed over for a promotion or a project or an opportunity, invite feedback, information and learnings. Then get up and try something else.
  7. When the same door remains closed to you, either seek another door, or ask how the mindset of ONE may help you enter this new room and opportunity.
  8. Be kind, open, transparent, direct in your communications – in your thoughts, in your words, in your actions. All the time. Every time.
  9. When the same life lesson comes back once again, ask yourself how the mindset of ONE may help you embrace the lesson, and move on.
  10. When elected leaders divide us, find ways to remain connected, despite them.

We can all choose to make the world a better place – one conversation, one leader, one organization at a time. With the Mindset of ONE.

* Thankfully, it appears that sustained a lumbar-spinal contusion and although in great pain, is able to slowly walk, as of the writing of this blog.

Conflict Resolution

April 16, 2018 by

ConflictPanel

FountainBlue’s April 13 When She Speaks event was on the topic of Resolving Conflict When the Stakes are High. 

Photo from left to right, Ruchika Jhalani, Director of Engineering, eBay; Sangeeta Relan, Senior Director, Quality Engineering, Nutanix; Wei Li, VP of Engineering Operations, ASML Brion; Linda Holroyd, CEO, FountainBlue; Sondra Bollar, Senior Director of Engineering, Oracle

Our panelists represented a wide range of backgrounds and perspectives, but they shared much in common.

  • They managed conflict as part of their day-to-day work, as part of their day-to-day life.
  • They build deep, trust-based relationships with a broad range of people.
  • They focus on common goals and perspectives.
  • They leverage data and information to keep the conversations constructive and positive.
  • They learn from their interactions, from their successes and their challenges.

Their collective advice is highlighted below.

Accept conflict as a part of life, as a part of work. 

  • Have an open and curious attitude about people who don’t share your perspective and opinion.
  • Pick your battles. Win the war, and battle from the same side.
  • It’s not always easy. But challenge yourself to make things work.
  • You can’t always be right. Agree to disagree, but then commit to the chosen direction.

Earn the respect of others by generating results for the greater good.

  • Go toe-to-toe with someone on their terms if the situation warrants this. But make it about the data and information, not about the emotions and politics.
  • Help make all parties look good when a conflict is resolved. It doesn’t help anyone’s cause to say ‘I told you so’.
  • Respect others for their varying perspectives and backgrounds. 
  • Align thinking, speech and words.
  • Be passionate and energized about what you do. But don’t be overly emotional if it makes the other party feel uncomfortable.
  • Seek to understand before trying to be understood.
  • Be the mediator and facilitator. Identify prioritized needs and assign resources and dollars accordingly.
  • Try to make the other party look good, even if you’re right about a conflict you’ve had.

Build a Network

  • Connect with a wide range of other people from varying backgrounds.
  • Invite face-to-face meetings, especially when building a relationship.
  • Meeting face-to-face also helps when you’re meeting people from another culture.
  • Be curious about others’ perspectives, and open to other interpretations.

Keep learning, sharing and growing. Never settle.

  • Take the ‘We are all one’ and ‘We are not alone’ mindset.
  • Adopt a Quality-First culture and make a business case for it.
  • Be open to people who don’t think, speak or act like you. 
  • Communicate in a language the other party would understand.
  • Be quick to listen, slow to judge, especially when others aren’t in agreement with you.
  • Stand up for yourself. Don’t be talked over or belittled.
  • Stand up for others who were dismissed or unheard.

The bottom line is that although conflict is inevitable, it can be a positive and constructive thing, if managed well.


Please join me in thanking our gracious hosts at ASML and our panelists for FountainBlue’s April 13 When She Speaks event, on the topic of Resolving Conflict When the Stakes are High!

  • Facilitator Linda Holroyd, CEO, FountainBlue
  • Panelist Sondra Bollar, Senior Director of Engineering, Oracle
  • Panelist Ruchika Jhalani, Director of Engineering, eBay
  • Panelist Wei Li, VP of Engineering Operations, ASML Brion
  • Panelist Sangeeta Relan, Senior Director, Quality Engineering, Nutanix

 

Automotive and Transportation Trends and Predictions

April 9, 2018 by

transportation

FountainBlue’s April 6 VIP roundtable was on the topic of ‘Automotive and Transportation Trends and Predictions’, hosted by Intel.

Our executives in attendance represented a broad spectrum of entrepreneurs and executives with broad and deep experience around transportation. The conversation ran the gamut between autonomous vehicles to plugging stations to chips and security and AI. Despite the range of topics, our executives agreed on the following:

  • Although we have made a lot of impressive advances in the past few years/decade, autonomous vehicles are not quite ready for prime time. The technology, the policies and the public sentiment have significant challenges currently, which need to be overcome before mass adoption takes place, and autonomous driving becomes commonplace.
  • Infrastructure challenges such as roads will be barriers to successful transportation and automotive solutions. Mundane things such as sensors on the roads may impact sophisticated solutions such as self-driving cars. Becoming aware of these problems will help facilitate the collaborations and work needed to address the policy, technical, and tactical issues posing barriers to successful and consistent implementation of integrated transportation solutions and systems.
  • Perhaps having separate standards for autonomous lanes and human-driver lanes might make sense in the interim, as having a mix of both may more likely create problems.
  • AI, ML and other big data software solutions will continue to be integrated with hardware such as chips, sensors, drones, IoT solutions as we work collaboratively to develop future transportation and automotive solutions.
  • Balancing privacy, security, and access will become increasingly more complicated and more necessary as automotive and transportation solutions become more sophisticated, and more integrated into our day-to-day lives.

It takes an ecosystem of providers and partners to transform the transportation and automotive industry.

  • Entrepreneurs, Corporate Executives, Government Officials, Technologists, Utilities etc., must collaboratively shape, fund and develop transportation and automotive options for the future.
  • The interdependencies between technologies and solutions makes it difficult to innovate in a silo, no matter how brilliant the foundational technology.
  • The volume of available data (historical and current data from a wide range of sources) coupled with the rapid, real-time changes of that data and the complexity and sophistication of the technologies used (big data, mobile, IoT, sensors) makes it impossible for any one company or organization or government to address all elements of an integrated transportation solution. 

We conclude by agreeing that partnerships across leaders, across companies, across sectors, across technologies will be necessary imperatives. Progress may be slow toward that end, but it is both necessary and inevitable. 

The Inner Journey

March 27, 2018 by

Life coaching, motivation and self realization concept

The wise say that life is a journey, not a destination. And in that journey, your greatest obstacles come from within.

It’s a given that we will faces challenges great and small. But the inner conflicts are the ones that limit our ability to rise, to shine, to excel, and to become a bigger, better version of ourselves.

Sometimes these barriers are a reflection of our current mindset and circumstances. We just aren’t ready to think and do things differently.

1.We might have a mind-set that we’re not good enough, and may never be good enough to reach for that next level.

It might be related to a misperception of what’s involved, or a disconnect between your perception of your own abilities and the needs for that next project, role or level. You may be happy and satisfied with this mind-set. But if you’re not, start by asking questions about the opportunities, your assumptions and your abilities.

Asking the right people and getting candid answers will help you better understand circumstances beyond your own perceptions and reality. This is generally a good thing!

2. We may be responding or reacting to past mistakes, or even still suffering brand and financial consequences from same.

  • Embrace the courage, fortitude and resilience to make the most of failures.

Make failure the fodder for future success.

3. We might be challenged by life circumstances that make it difficult to embrace something new and challenging.

  • The important people in your life are the most important things in your life. If you need to be there for someone important in your life, make that choice to do so, and postpone those other opportunities.

Don’t second-guess yourself for putting the people you love first. Don’t judge others if they made that choice for their loved ones.


Sometimes these barriers are a result of negatively comparing ourselves to other people or other ideals.

1. We live in a competitive business environment where there are so many talented, accomplished intelligent and accomplished people.

  • It’s hard to compare yourself positively with those amazing people around you.  And you should choose to work with amazing people as it increases the likelihood of success!

You are likely too biased to fairly assess the needs and the intersect with your abilities, but if you gather multiple inputs from wise and trusted others, you will find a truth larger than one you can own yourself personally.

2. Sometimes we limit ourselves by assumed ‘Must Have’ requirements that don’t fit your own profile.

  • You can’t change your gender, IQ, SAT score, alma mater, track record, year of birth, etc., and if you assume that your characteristic precludes you from specific role(s), opportunities, etc, you’re very much limiting what you can target.

What opportunities would open up for us if we start questioning our ‘Must-Have’ assumptions?


Sometimes our own self-centered view of the world prevents us from seeing a broader, bigger set of opportunities.

1.The defeatist ‘It-Will-Never-Work’ perspective may be true some of the time, but generally it zaps energy from an idea that may have been promising.

  • Be open to what’s new and what’s different, even if it makes you feel uncomfortable.

Give someone or something a chance unless all the data says it’s not practical or logical to do so.

2. The ‘It’s Too Late’ mindset assumes that an idea or opportunity is too late to market or does not add enough differentiating value compared to competitive offerings.

  • It’s hard to get with the program if that’s what you’re thinking, and it’s hard for a project to succeed if many people had that mindset. If you feel that way, make the case for changing the offering, disagree and commit or find another opportunity.

Having the too-late mindset will not help the company or product succeed and you will be unhappy while going through the motions.

3. The ‘Been-There, Done-That’ mindset means that you don’t want to try doing again what you’ve already seen or done in the past.

  • This might be because you didn’t like it last time, or it didn’t go as well as you expected last time, or you don’t think it will be an enriching experience to do it again.

Sometimes that ‘Been-There, Done-That’ perspective is useful, and sometimes, not so much.

4. The ‘Not-Invented-Here’ mindset makes it hard to follow someone else’s idea.

  • This is especially true if it’s counter to what you’re used to, or what you think should be done instead.
  • Sometimes it’s a bitter pill to swallow, to have to follow that particular someone’s idea…

Sometimes following someone else’s idea or energy can open up new opportunities, thoughts, relationships and energy.

5. The ‘It’s-Not-My-Fault’ mindset is often built on fear of failure, and a history of lackluster results.

  • If you’re going to commit, commit fully and be prepared for the results, good or bad.

Own up to the results, whatever they are. This is the best way to learn from each attempt.

Best wishes on your inner journey. You are the only one who can manage it and direct it, so make the most of it and STRETCH your own perception of yourself.

 

Mentors and Champions and Sponsors, Oh My!

March 16, 2018 by

FountainBlue’s March 16 When She Speaks in SF event was on the topic of Mentors and Champions and Sponsors, Oh My!

We were fortunate to have an experienced and passionate set of panelists, representing a wide range of companies, roles, backgrounds and perspectives. They shared much in common:

  • A seasoned leader noticed each of them early in their career, and helped them see themselves as bigger and better than they thought they could be, to reach higher than they thought possible, and to act despite the fear.
  • Each panelist took that chance and explored various dimensions of jobs and roles, learning with each opportunity.
  • Each panelist is invested in giving back to the next generation of leaders, so that others who follow can benefit from their experience and wisdom, just like they benefited from the person who mentored them early on.

The panelists talked at length on the benefits of champions and advocates, who root for you and recommend you, especially when there are specific opportunities ahead. They spoke also of mentors who are grooming the next generation, and the business value of supporting mentees. They spoke of the value of coaches, generally experienced, external supporters who help people understand how they and their projects and actions might fit into the larger picture for the team and organization. They spoke of sponsors, who are best known for having the influence to open doors, to create opportunities and nominate people to these roles.

When the question of gender was brought up, the panelists acknowledged that gender does matter. Men and women are biologically different especially under extreme circumstances including pregnancy. But they centered back to the core focus around leadership and innovation and urged us to see the greater picture beyond gender, so that together we could build a meritocracy.

They each told stories about the role all these supporters played in their own professional careers, and how they each planned to do the same for others around them.

The panelists had the following collective advice for mentees.

On preparing yourself for having a mentor:

  • Be open and prepared to embrace new ideas, new concepts, different roles, different companies, no matter how uncomfortable you feel. 
  • Be curious about your blind spots. You don’t know what you don’t know about yourself, unless you ask others what you need to know in order to learn and grow.
  • Be a sponge – a curious and active listener.

On selecting a mentor:

  • Work with someone you can trust.
  • Be clear on what you’re looking for in a mentor. Work backwards – decide how you’d specifically like to grow, and identify who could help you do what in order to grow.
  • Consider looking for people who are not like you.
  • Look for someone inspirational who may be willing to groom you, support you.

On ensuring a successful mentorship experience:

  • Be willing to work hard, in order to honor the energy and time the mentor has invested in you.
  • Have a specific goal in mind. Measure and report on progress towards that goal.
  • Create that network of people who can support you as you grow and change.
  • Make the best of every opportunity, and learn at every juncture.
  • Ask for direct, clear and transparent feedback and learn and grow from the input.
  • Ensure that each conversation is valuable to all involved.

The panelists had the following collective thoughts about becoming a mentor.

  • It’s a rewarding way to give back.
  • It’s a great business value for the team, project and organization.
  • If the technology is working, and the marketing/sales is humming, then it’s all about the people. Invest in those people. Mentor, coach, advise and support them throughout the cycle – from recruitment to development to retention to development.
  • Team is everything. Sometimes one and one makes 11, and sometimes one * one is still one. 
  • With mentoring, you can help make sure that ‘the right people are on the bus, in the right seat’.
  • Ensure that each conversation is valuable to all involved.

Our bottom line is that the best leaders had an army of supporters – mentors, coaches, advocates, sponsors, champions – and that leadership and innovation will perpetuate around a virtuous loop of positive and supportive experiences.


Please join us in thanking our panelists for FountainBlue’s March 16 When She Speaks in SF event, entitled Mentors and Champions and Sponsors, Oh My! and our hosts at Mapbox.

  • Facilitator Linda Holroyd, CEO, FountainBlue
  • Panelist Sylvie De Wever, GM Latin America & Head of Marketing Emerging Markets, eBay
  • Panelist Maranda Ann (VandenBroek) Dziekonski, COO, rentL
  • Panelist Nancy Gilbert, Director, Program Management, Lam Research Corporation 
  • Panelist Gopal Kumarappan, VP Software Engineering, AppDynamics
  • Panelist Zaina Orbai, Vice President, Global Head of People, Mapbox 

Transitioning from Technologist to Manager

March 12, 2018 by

Maker:S,Date:2017-10-11,Ver:6,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar02,E-Y

FountainBlue’s March 9 When She Speaks event was on the topic of Transitioning from Technologist to Manager!  We were fortunate to have an experienced and passionate set of panelists speak to their technical and management experience. 

We were in agreement that the technologist-vs-manager choice is highly dependent on the circumstances – the type of project, team, role and company for example – as well as personal preference.

Our panelists advised us to know ourselves first – our strengths, our aspirations, our goals. From there, we can decide what you want to do and do it well, whether as a technologist or as a manager. 

It’s all about being credible, and having a solid reputation for delivering on projects, for being kind and helpful to others, and for being bold and hard-working. 

Once you have a track record and built your credibility, be open to the opportunities ahead, and invite the support of influential others. You can plan-fully do that, or it may just serendipitously happen for you, provided you have that solid track record for delivering on challenging projects. 

The caveat is that when you deliver on key projects, it’s important that the right people know that 1) YOU are achieving great results (so someone else doesn’t take credit for your work) and that 2) they know that you’re OPEN to more challenging and different opportunities, whether that be as a technologist or as a manager. (They may otherwise assume that you’re happy doing what you’re doing.) If you don’t make that clear to people around you, you might feel stuck and frustrated with the same types of projects and little growth opportunity. 

The question came up about whether to stay in technology or go into management. The response was that some people like getting into the details with the technology, and might want to grow and learn about doing other types of functions or technologies. Management is an extension of technology, and asks for a larger, more strategic vision beyond single technologies. In tech companies, management might still be tightly tied to the technology, even requiring management at times to get into the code or the architecture. But ultimately, it’s about people and market and product challenges beyond the technology.

If the opportunity arises to do something beyond your comfort zone, err toward taking that chance, with the knowledge that you can switch back to another role or opportunity if it doesn’t work out. That opportunity arose because somebody believes in you. Find out why they do, and honor them by trying to make it work. 

Whether you choose to continue to be a technologist or to go into management, surround yourself with the positive and supportive people who can help you succeed. Know where you need support and who can provide that type of support for you. Be humble and open enough to accept that help.

Along those similar lines, be a positive and supportive person to others in your network. Have the mindset that the more people who succeed in different ways, the better it is for everyone in the ecosystem.

We concluded our conversation with a work-life question from a man in the audience. The responses are below.

Kudos to the powerful, centered man in the audience for asking the question. His wife is fortunate to have a spouse with that mindset!

It depends on the circumstances – the role, management, opportunity, etc., will vary. Proactively do what’s right for YOU.

With that said, your life circumstances will certainly impact the choices you make around change. 

Don’t make the assumption that management needs 1) an MBA, 2) more time, 3) less or more money, 4) more or less opportunity, etc. 

Know your priorities first, and interface your options ranked by your priorities. Family and friends are generally high priorities for each of us, so factor in their needs as you make the technologist vs manager choice.

Our parting thought – Embrace that Growth Mindset: Err on the side of embracing opportunity, and learn about yourself and your interests and gifts.  


Please join us in thanking Western Digital, our gracious hosts for FountainBlue’s March 9 When She Speaks event, on the topic of Transitioning from Technologist to Manager, and our panelists:

  • Facilitator Linda Holroyd, CEO, FountainBlue
  • Panelist Cynthia Dote, Director of Engineering, Pure Storage
  • Panelist Lakshimi Duraivenkatesh, Sr. Director of Shopping Experience, eBay
  • Panelist Maitreyee Mahajani, VP of Production Planning, Memory Technology, Western Digital
  • Panelist Preethy Padmanabhan, Director Of Business Strategy & Operations, Global Accounts, Nutanix
  • Panelist Bhavya Vaidya, Director Supply Chain at Lam Research, Lam Research

Healthcare Trends and Opportunities

March 5, 2018 by
Healthcare
FountainBlue’s March 2 VIP roundtable was on the topic of ‘Healthcare Trends and Predictions’, sponsored by our gracious hosts at Samsung.  
Our executives in attendance represented a broad spectrum of entrepreneurs and executives with broad and deep experience around healthcare. Each is focused on moving the needle forward, coordinating with a broad spectrum of stakeholders.
It’s clear from our interactive conversations that hardware and software work together to serve the needs of the customer, but ongoing customized services, personalized to the needs of each customer make a huge difference. But how to make that happen strategically and tactically is no easy feat.
Part of the challenge is the fragmentations in the marketplace. Various stakeholders might have access to different sets of data, for example, without the ability to interpret that data, while other stakeholders don’t have enough information to make recommendations and assessments or plan product feature sets.
It’s the old chicken and the egg question – if the markets and data is fragmented, how do we create a solution which suits most, and if we want it customized, how will we fund and deliver individualized solutions?
But these problems need to be solved. The market opportunity is HUGE and the biggest tech giants are jumping into the market, solving slices of the healthcare problem. Below are some predictions on trends:
  • Early detection, pre-screening and even prevention will be hot areas of opportunity.
  • Adopting a holistic approach to healthcare, a view of the full person rather than a set of metrics.
  • There will be some standardization and definition-setting around digital health and what it means and what it covers. Collaboration and coordination will be easier once we have that base understanding.
  • Cyber security around healthcare will be ripe with opportunities. But what’s a real use case that’s relevant, fundable now? A problem we can solve today with today’s customers and today’s technologies?
  • Telehealth will go prime time. 
  • People are recognizing the importance of apps, the effectiveness of coaching. They are taking responsibility for their own health.
  • Apps and programs around Artificial intelligence will be key to customizing solutions and providing input and feedback real-time, affecting real people and their real-time needs.
  • Solving the unstructured data problem and connecting that with structured data from multiple sources is a real problem. Once solved, there will be huge opportunities for many different types of solutions.
  • Different countries have different types of needs around health, and are embracing and adopting technologies at a different pace. Successful entrepreneurs will factor in the needs of each country, the technology adoption rate of customers in that country, and the policies and protocols of local and federal governments, etc., in making product and marketing decisions.
  • There is a huge market for serving health-minded communities with similar needs and backgrounds. Not only could you connect the members to specific services and support, thereby hopefully positively impacting their health, you may also connect them to each other and make it easier for them to purchase ancillary products and services.
  • If having a division at the FDA is an indicator, Femtech will one day soon be hot.
  • Solutions for customers to self-manage chronic diseases through a software and hardware combination will continue to be well received.
  • The changing rules of insurance companies is already putting more onus on the hospitals, which makes them more receptive to solutions which would improve the level of care at the hospital, and also as patients leave. What’s the opportunity around this?
  • There’s a high consumer demand for customized solutions, integrating hardware and software and providing real-time information and personalized support.
Key to the success of healthcare related ventures is the need to innovate leveraging technology, to collaborate with a broad spectrum of stakeholders, to facilitate success with policies and protocols at the government, enterprise and personal levels, and to coordinate with leaders and innovators to bring products and services to customers/patients in need.