Archive for March, 2016

Agility: The Key to a Successful Career!

March 11, 2016

FountainBlue’s March 11 When She Speaks, Women in Leadership Series event was on the topic of Agility: The Key to a Successful Career!


We were fortunate to have panelists representing different backgrounds, upbringings and perspectives who so graciously shared their wisdom and experience on the topic of career agility. They had many things in common:

  • Their self-awareness helped them to contemplate what they are doing professionally and their proactiveness helped them to forge a new path when it was time to do so.
  • Their courage, curiosity and burning desire to grow and evolve drove them to become increasingly better at what they do, and to diversify into new areas of need to companies and their customers.
  • They made false steps on occasion, and always learned from their experiences, without regrets.
  • They brought their learnings and perspectives into a new and richer role which was more right for them.
  • They ever focused on developing relationships with the broad spectrum of stakeholders around each role.
  • They worked and grew their brand as competent tech leaders who knew how to solve important problems in collaboration with others.

Below is their advice on how to make career-agile choices.

  • Know what you’re good at and what you want to do, as well as what you want to be known for.
  • Navigate the discrepancy between who you want to be and how you are perceived.
  • Develop relationships with all stakeholders and be in constant communication with those around you.
  • Incremental projects for the right team and leader may need to a larger, longer-term commitment.
  • Choose COOL work, COOL people, COOL company – as you see it. (It may not be just right for others for example.)
  • Choose to be with positive and supportive people who bring out the best in you.
  • With that said, also surround yourself with people who are not like you, but could complement you.
  • When starting something new, be curious, build relationships and understand expectations and stakeholders.
  • Accept your circumstances, change them, or leave. Don’t take the grouse path.
  • Choose to be learning-agile, hungry for knowledge and proactively plan your personal and professional development path.
  • Consider the opportunities which present themselves to you even if you don’t feel quite prepared for them, for you will learn as you go.

The bottom line is GO FOR IT, Don’t Settle. Contemplate what may be blocking you for being more than you are now, more even than you thought you could be. Embrace the learning opportunities which may appear as a result.



Please join us in thanking our gracious hosts at eBay and our panelists:

  • Facilitator Linda Holroyd, CEO, FountainBlue – Executive Coach, Tech Adviser and Leadership Consultant 
  • Panelist Serpil Bayraktar, Principal Engineer, Cisco Systems 
  • Panelist Sondra Bollar, Senior Director of Software Development and Release Management in the Oracle Public Cloud, Oracle

  • Panelist Sarah Brubacher McDonald, Senior Director B2C Engagement, eBay 
  • Panelist Laura DeBacker, Senior Director, Leadership and Talent Development, Synaptics
  • Panelist SK Lau, Product Line Engineering Operations, Texas Instruments 

Strategies for Serving a More Demanding, More Diversified Customer Base

March 4, 2016

The Customer Service Target Market Support Assistance ConceptFountainBlue’s March 4 VIP roundtable on the topic of Strategies for Serving a More Demanding, More Diversified Customer Base! Below are notes from the conversation.

  • Leaders from across industries, roles and sectors are impacted by a more empowered and informed customer base, and responding in many different ways. 
  • The pace of change has escalated, and the demands of the customers are elevated, which impacts the products and services offered and the processes and communications necessary to ensure smooth delivery and scale of growth and response.
  • Hardware will continue to get commoditized, and the value will be on the software and services side of the equation. 
  • Customers are becoming progressively more empowered because of their access to information, the immediacy of access to information, the wide and broad availability of mobile devices, the social online networks, etc., Hence we are evolving from an age of information to an age of the customer, and leaders and companies who acknowledge and work with this trend will be more likely to benefit from it.
  • Digitizing front end functions has gotten more standardized, but there’s still a great need to digitize the middle and back end processes, especially for non-tech industries. We need to support customers in being more agile, more flexible, and more scalable. See CBInsights March 3, 2016 report on digitization opportunities for start-ups.  DigitizationOpportunity.pngCBI Digitization Opportunities, March 3, 2016

Below is advice on how to better serve a demanding customer base.

  • Look at the data and focus on not just what the loudest customers are saying, but what the suffering majority are saying or not saying.
  • In this Age of the Customer, know what is nice-to-have, and what they need-to-have. It’s easier to sell one than the other.
  • When customers are deciding whether to engage, they are considering is it easier and cheaper to solve the problem or live with the problem, so plan your offerings and pricing accordingly.
  • The consumer is demanding quality products and services which area tailored to their needs. These customers are also in general more mindful of the earth and humanity, so organic and sustainable products and processes will be favored progressively more.
  • Technologists need to work hand-in-hand with experts in non-technical fields in collaboration to meet the personalized needs of the consumer.
  • Whereas before, business units and teams might have been isolated and siloed in working with customers, a more collaborative, coordinated communication and strategy is now necessary to better understand the current and future needs of the customer.
  • There’s a trend toward selling to business unit managers and users more, even if the product is for an extremely technical audience. In other words, the user may not be the decision-maker, and the sales person needs to talk to both the decision-maker and the user to complete a sale.
  • Data will remain important, of course. Be the type of leader who can translate what the data is saying to create a strategy and plan on how to better serve customers, better expand offerings.
  • We will continue to progress toward pay-as-you-go functionality for a wide range of functions. Communicating clearly to customers and walking them through the adoption curve will help them help themselves in maintaining, supporting and tailoring their own solutions. 

Below are some predictions for opportunities ahead.

  • There’s a push pull between the need for security, access and privacy, and there’s an opportunity for organizations to provide innovative solutions for a broad and wide audience in this space.
  • There will be a continued trend toward ‘freemium’ services as the new normal.
  • Interactive solutions which allow customers to learn by doing through simulations provides a huge opportunity to train and educate workers.
  • There will be a trend toward more collaborative, consultative selling by experienced enterprise professionals working with engaged customers to build and iterate use cases.
  • There will be a trend toward paying customers for their aggregated usage data.

Recommended Resources:

  • Pretotype Labs is a PDF ebook which helps entrepreneurs and execs really understand and focus on what the customers want
  • AYTM (Ask Your Target Market allows entrepreneurs and execs to send tailored surveys to specific target audiences for small amounts of money.

Please join us in thanking our execs for their participation in our roundtable discussion and to our gracious hosts at Verifone. If you are a tech VP and interested in joining future VIP roundtables, e-mail us at

Thoughts on the Future of Work

March 1, 2016

FutureOfWorkThere’s  been so much change in the way companies, leaders and businesses work with each other and together, so it’s difficult to plan your future, whether you’re new to the workforce, returning to the workforce or planning how to remain gainfully employed in later years. Here are my thoughts on the type of work that’s available and how to embrace these opportunities and and prepare for the challenges to come.

  1. The tech-philic worker will be favored, and those who reject or deny this fact will be much less employable. Technology will help workers to gather and interpret data and information so that they can be more productive and better serve the customer, both of which are critical to the performance of any company.
  2. The learning-agile worker will be favored. Those who are resistant to learning new ways of doing things will be left behind, especially as automation will replace the need of workers-who-perform-repetitive-tasks.
  3. The communicative worker will more likely succeed as it would be easier for them to work with all the internal and external stakeholders involved in any job – from colleague to teammate, from partner to customer.
  4. The patient, helpful, service-oriented worker will be better positioned to serve demanding customers. There will always be jobs for people who know how to make even the pickiest of customers happy.
  5. Collaboration between people and companies will more likely succeed. Leaders will be those who can envision the benefits of collaborating across roles, companies and industries, and create and facilitate those successful partnerships.
  6. If you combine the 5 traits above, you will find a worker who may be able to tailor products and services to the needs of the customer. There will always be a role for people who can succeed in doing this well.
  7. Company leaders will be more focused on data and analytics, and there will be more meritocracy-based cultures and less politics.
  8. Along those same lines, productivity of people and product/service lines will be based more on data and information, and less on politics and agendas.
  9. Company leaders will help make it easy for a diverse population of workers to succeed – whether it’s making remote work possible or providing tech tools to support an aging or disabled or other non-standard worker.
  10. The bottom line is that companies and leaders will acknowledge that they are only as good as their people, and think, speak and act accordingly.

Those are my thoughts on the Future of Work. How will these things impact YOU? What can we do to support you in planfully remaining well employed? How can we support your company in attracting, developing and retaining the best and brightest?  Your comments are welcome.