Archive for the ‘When She Speaks’ Category

Agility – The Key to Building a Successful Career

March 20, 2015

March20Attendee (7)FountainBlue’s March 20 When She Speaks, Women in Leadership Series event, on the topic of Agility – The Key to Building a Successful Career. Below are notes from the conversation.

Our panel represented leaders from many different backgrounds across education, companies, industries and cultural backgrounds. But they have all consciously and proactively managed their careers, choosing and creating different roles and opportunities along the way. They generously shared their advice and kernels of wisdom.

  1. Know yourself – who you are, what you’re good at, what you’d like to do, where you’d like to go, consciously stretching yourself as you go. Consciously build a skillset and a mindset so that you can move quickly and agilely and land on your feet.
  2. Learn from your mistakes, and use those learnings to be wiser and stronger. Learn from mentors, advocates and supporters and also from people who don’t-think-like-you.
  3. Support the growth of others around you, for their success benefits all.
  4. Build relationships at all levels at all times. Lean toward working for someone who understands your core competencies and strengths, and believes in you and supports you in doing something new.
  5. Be open to the opportunities that appear in front of you, and also to opportunities which you could create yourself.
  6. Change will happen – you will change, the management will change, the technology will change. Be nimble and agile enough to manage and even anticipate changes in everything from technology to management.
  7. Be good at what you do, using effective, transparent communication, hard work and persistence to generate measurable results.
  8. Embrace the opportunity to learn from people across regions, across cultures, across roles, across industries . . . As a good listener, we can address the motivations and desires of the wide range of people we serve, no matter what our role or title is.
  9. Integrate the needs of the family, with that of their own professional goals, career opportunities will come and go but family is here to stay. In fact, having a child helps you raise the bar at work – it’s got to be a fulfilling, worthwhile job to be worth the time away from your kids.
  10. Position yourself for doing what’s new, based on what you’ve successfully done before, and purposefully stretch in new areas so that you can continue to grow.

The tech industries is evolving more quickly now, so agility will become much more critical going forward. Knowing what technologies are hot, what industries are worth pursuing, where you fit with the market and customer needs will help you proactively navigate your career.March20Attendee (6)March20Attendee (5)

Please join us in thanking our panelists for our Agility – The Key to Building a Successful Career, and our hosts at Cypress.

Facilitator Nancy McKereghan, Founder and CEO, Tangerine+

Panelist Sara Hepner, IIG Worldwide Sales Operations, Planning, and Development, EMC

Panelist Bien Irace, Senior Vice-President, Strategic Alliances and Partnership, Cypress Semiconductor

Panelist Judy Priest, Distinguished Engineer, Data Center CTO Office, Cisco Systems

Panelist Shilpa Vir, Lead Product Manager, eBay Inc

Panelist Josie Zimmermann, Director, Brand Amplification, Juniper Networks

Expanding Your Circle of Influence, With or Without Direct Authority

February 20, 2015

FebPanelFountainBlue’s February 20 When She Speaks, Women in Leadership Series event was on the topic of Expanding Your Circle of Influence, With or Without Direct Authority. Below are notes from the conversation.

We were fortunate to have a wide range of panelists to cover our influence topic, representing an educational and operational background in engineering, marketing, program management, business development, and alliances. They’ve worked in companies large and small, and with execs at all levels, including the executive suites, and across all industries, geographies and roles. Our panelists generously shared their advice on expanding influence.

Relationships Matter

  • Build deep and meaningful relationships with people who matter. Understand their motivations and communicate clearly and transparently, working toward a common objective.
  • Be authentic in your communication and caring in your outlook.

Communication is Paramount

  • Be passionate in your thinking, communication and actions in order to engage others to do the same.
  • Ask the right questions to make sure that you understand the needs and motivations of your stakeholders.
  • Communication is more about listening than it is about speaking.
  • Ask for the support you need to succeed.
  • Using ‘I’ language is less threatening.

Be Strategic

  • Regardless of where you sit at the table, what your role and title are, what your responsibility is, etc., make a difference with what you think, say and do.
  • Do your research to understand the people, the dynamics, the company, etc., in order to best understand which measurable results would most matter to customers.
  • Pre-meetings before the actual meetings may help you better manage an outcome.

Focus on Delivering Results

  • Communicate clearly in writing and enlist the buy-in, focused on delivering specific results.
  • Put the needs of the team above your own needs in your thoughts, words and actions.

Manage Your Emotions

  • Manage your emotions so maintain the respect of others, especially when stakes are high. Try rolling your tongue at the back of your teeth if you feel tears, or curling your toes and standing taller.
  • Separate yourself from the situation and try to understand the feelings and motivations of others.
  • Remember that what’s more important than being right is the good of the team, and the results delivered by the team.
  • Sometimes when emotions run high, the best move is to let it go and carry on.

Be Other-Centric

  • The needs of the customer are paramount. Deliver to those needs and keep them happy.
  • Speak the language of your partners – in messages and communications they can understand and respect.
  • Wield Your Influence with Care. If you get things done you will get noticed and will likely influence others without your awareness.

A suggested multi-step process for influencing an outcome:

1) assess the situation – what’s the influencing style? analyst, driver, collaborator, etc.

2) remove the barriers – territory, language, biases

3) making the pitch – problem, causes, recommendation/actions, benefits (PCAN – credit Wharton)

4) getting the commitment – in writing, with an accountability element and peer/social pressure

Please join us in thanking our hosts at EMC and our panelists for FountainBlue’s February 20 When She Speaks, Women in Leadership Series event was on the topic of Expanding Your Circle of Influence, With or Without Direct Authority:

  • Facilitator Lucie Newcomb, NewComm Global
  • Panelist Ellen Butler, Director, CxO Thought Leadership & Content, VMware
  • Panelist Minoo Gupta, Senior Director of Engineering, CITRIX
  • Panelist Maria Schaffer, former Cisco
  • Panelist Jennifer Stephenson, Software Product Manager, Altera

How to Throw More Balls Up Higher: Juggling Work-Life Balance in Demanding Times

January 17, 2015

JanPanelFountainBlue’s January 16 When She Speaks, Women in Leadership Series event was on the topic of How to Throw More Balls Up Higher: Juggling Work-Life Balance in Demanding Times. Below are notes from the conversation.

We were fortunate to have a wide range of panelists to cover our work-life integration topic. They had different educational backgrounds, career paths, and family choices. They each lead from a different role, in a different tech company. Yet they also had much in common: 1) they chose to work in tech companies and rose to positions of influence within these companies; 2) they chose to complement their work life with a full calendar of responsibilities and commitments outside work, including family; 3) they made tough choices when they needed to; and 4) they freely and generously shared their stories and words of advice with us.

They told us collectively to:

Make the Right Career Choices

  1. Choose a job and role for which you have a passion and have skills to contribute.
  2. Work with managers and companies which would help you achieve your personal and professional objectives.

Continue to Grow

  1. Seize every opportunity to learn and grow. Be open to experiencing new things and new perspectives. But be realistic about managing the time and responsibilities to ensure that you can succeed if you take on *too* much.
  2. Manage life like a roller coaster – things go in waves, in ebbs and flows. Give a little here, take a little there, and choose to intentionally coast sometimes.
  3. Learn from your mentors, sponsors and others around you.
  4. Lower your standards and broaden your perspective if that would help better integrate work and life.
  5. Learn to ask for help. And be prepared to also help others. Above all, don’t judge yourself or others for needing help.
  6. Make and take the time for yourself, so that you can be more ‘present’ and ‘prepared’ for the other things of importance.
  7. Surround yourself with the network of people who will believe in you, be there for you, and accept you. Beware those who would judge you for the choices you make.

Get the Support You Need

  1. Enlist the help of others around you, especially for delegating the less important things.
  2. Clear and transparent communication between work, home, community, parent, and other parties will help you navigate a path to success, even when circumstances are difficult.
  3. Set clear boundaries and expectations on all sides, and live by those boundaries, while also remaining fluid about them as your priorities will evolve and change.
  4. Leverage technology to facilitate efficiency and communication and results.
  5. Leverage Employee Assistance Programs, and other corporate offerings which may help you navigate a particularly difficult time in your life.

The biggest takeaway is that we are not alone. Nobody has it all, all the time. But investing in yourself and getting support for all that you do will help you manage your work-life integration objectives.

Please join us in thanking our hosts at Dell and our speakers for FountainBlue’s January 16 When She Speaks, Women in Leadership Series event was on the topic of How to Throw More Balls Up Higher: Juggling Work-Life Balance in Demanding Times:

  • Facilitator Jerri Barrett, Vice President of Outreach, SENS Research Foundation
  • Panelist Maryam Alexandrian – VP Global Sales, Channels & Field Ops, Dell Inc
  • Panelist Serpil Bayraktar, Principal Engineer, Chief Architect’s Office – Development, Cisco
  • Panelist Sondra Bollar, Software Development Director, Oracle
  • Panelist Niki Hall, Vice President of Corporate Marketing, Polycom
  • Panelist Vijaya Voleti, Senior Engineering Manager, PayPal

Getting The Most Out of You and Your Team

December 13, 2014

Dec12Panel2FountainBlue’s December 12 When She Speaks, Women in Leadership Series event was on the topic of Getting the Most Out of You and Your Team. Below are notes from the conversation.

We were fortunate to have impassioned, articulate and inspiring speakers on our panel, representing a range of perspectives and approaches to the leadership and management of teams. They represent different backgrounds and career paths, different styles and experiences, yet they had much in common:

  • They did not necessary plan to be managers or leaders, yet they figured out how to successful lead and manage, and discovered that working with a team helps people achieve more than they could as an individual contributor, no matter how brilliant they were in that role.
  • They always put their team first, and took the time to build relationships, understand the needs of the people they work with, and advocate for the support and resources so that each member and the whole team succeeds.
  • They understand their own strengths and weaknesses and that of their team members, and worked with their teams so that they collaboratively deliver results.

Below is advice offered by this wise and experienced panel:

  • Develop your learnings and expertise – there is no substitute. It will help you be confident and persistent and garner the respect and admiration of the right people.
  • Help set the direction and priorities, and let your team members figure out how they can deliver on it. Separating the what and the how helps leaders go from good to great.
  • Trust your team to deliver. And respond appropriate if they do or do not.
  • Raise the bar high and give people stretch goals to keep them motivated, committed and connected.
  • Be positive and transparent and authentic in your communications – it’s all about relationships.
  • Walk the talk and model the way – show others how they can be proactive and productive despite challenging situations.
  • Really care about each team member, in thoughts and words and actions. Be compassionate and flexible, especially with your high-performers.
  • Share the credit for success, accept the responsibility for challenges.
  • Find the support you need so you can focus on the larger picture. Mentors and sponsors can help to do that. Having support at many levels will help you think through the problems you’re facing and the options for resolving those issues.
  • Give people on your team the opportunities to grow and lead and stretch.
  • Establish, communicate, respond to ground rules. The team should know why they are there and what the consequences are for breaking them.
  • It’s not so much about gender or style or knowledge, but about what you do and what results you provide. Focus on the tasks at hand and why you’re doing what with whom, and the other stuff will take care of themselves.

The bottom line is to be open to and prepared for change – for yourself and for members of your team. Change is not personal but happens to a company all the time, especially in industries that are fast-moving like tech! Help your people to respond proactively and positively to changes.

And in order to lead through change managers and leaders must be likable – the kind of authentic, transparent and trustworthy leaders who put others in their thoughts, speak clearly of their intentions and follow through on their projects and programs, delivering tangible results.

Please join us in thanking our gracious hosts at Applied Materials, our partners at UCSC Extension, and our panelists for FountainBlue’s December 12 When She Speaks, Women in Leadership Series event, on the topic of Getting the Most Out of You and Your Team:

Facilitator Christina Trampota, Managing Partner, CGM Squared

Panelist Azlina Ahmad, Sr. Director of Engineering, Violin Memory

Panelist Chunshi Cui, Business Development Director, Dielectric CVD Division, Applied Materials

Panelist Kamini Dandapani, Director of Engineering, LinkedIn

Panelist Lakshimi Duraivenkatesh, Director of Engineering, Retail Promotions Platform, eBay Inc

The Business Case for Diversity

November 14, 2014

November14PanelFountainBlue’s November 14 When She Speaks, Women in Leadership Series event was on the topic of The Business Case for Diversity. Please join us in thanking our speakers for taking the time to share their advice and thoughts and to our gracious hosts at Symantec. Below are notes from the conversation.

We were fortunate to have a wide range of perspectives and experience represented on the panel. Our panelists had different educational and professional backgrounds and experiences, but they shared a wisdom about the importance of diversity for the individual, team and company perspective. They each shared personal stories of how they were different than others around them, and how that actually worked well in supporting their personal and professional goals. Each panelist had somebody who cheered them on and inspired them to embrace what was different about them, and nurture that diversity and strength.

Collectively, they shared the benefits of having diversity within a team: 1) the ability to reach out to a broader range of partners, customers, and other stakeholders, 2) the ability to better keep pace with an increasingly social, increasingly global world, 3) the ability to recruit and retain more diversity within the organization, 4) the ability to add to the bottom line and decrease ROI, and 5) the ability to incorporate different approaches and perspectives in solving problems.

Each are experienced and exceptional managers who provided advice on how to integrate people-who-think-differently into a team, how to communicate in a style that works for the other party, how our unconscious biases are limiting our own performance, how to move executives forward in their own journey around diversity, how to communicate the importance of diversity to people and teams, how to focus on meritocracy and cut through the subtle biases, and most importantly, how to see the value from people who think and act differently than the typical white male we might find in a technology company.

In the end, our panelists encouraged women to support other women and others who embrace diversity. But they warn that it’s not about gender or ethnicity just to be different – it’s about leadership and performance of the individuals themselves, and putting a diverse range of people in the roles where they can best perform and deliver results.

Please join us in thanking our panelists for FountainBlue’s November 14 When She Speaks, Women in Leadership Series event, on the topic of The Business Case for Diversity, as well as our hosts at Symantec:

Facilitator Linda Holroyd, CEO, FountainBlue

Panelist Hillary Barnhart, Senior Director, Business Operations, AGS Equipment, Applied Materials

Panelist Preethy Padmanabhan, Sr. Manager, Solutions Management, Marketing, Dell Wyse

Panelist Sheri Rhodes, VP of IT Global Applications, Symantec

Panelist Olivia Shen Green, Manager, Business Operations. Engineering Talent & Culture | Stanford Management Science & Engineering, Cisco

Women Leading Innovation

October 10, 2014


FountainBlue’s October 10 When She Speaks, Women in Leadership Series event was on the topic of Women Leading Innovation. Below are notes from the conversation.

We were fortunate to have a range of panelists from different companies, roles, educational and functional backgrounds, and perspectives on the table, all with such deep and successful experience around innovation. They shared their perspectives on what innovation is:

  • Innovation is sometimes in-elegant, taking a more circuitous path, rather than taking the planned course.
  • Hence failing quickly and failing forward is an essential component of innovating.
  • Innovation comes from the top down – leadership needs to believe in it and empower it from the bottom up.
  • Innovation comes from the bottom up, from any chair – leadership needs to encourage original, out-of-the-box thinking, no matter who has what role or title.
  • Exposing yourself to new ideas and people may lead to thinking, speaking or acting differently may lead to a innovative business solutions or ideas.
  • Collaboration is a key ingredient of innovation, whether it’s internal with your team and organization or with the ecosystem of partners, providers and customers.
  • Innovation is a moving target – what’s innovative today will soon get outdated. Continue to focus on technology advancements and the needs of the customer to help ensure that innovations remain relevant.

They generously shared their wisdom and advice about innovation.

  • Communicate the larger purpose and story, in order to receive the resources, people and funding for innovative projects.
  • Innovative leaders welcome a range of perspectives on to their teams and extended teams, so have an open mind-set and culture, team and organization attracts and retains the best innovators. With that said, it’s difficult to facilitate this out-of-the-box, rule-breaking mind set within a corporation, so walk that fine line so that you stay within the culture while lightly pushing the boundaries.
  • Take a customer-driven perspective and understand the needs, pains and problems of the customer, so that you can improve their user experience and support their objectives. (Women may have an edge here, as they are naturally more empathic and other-focused.)
  • Adopt an inclusive mind set, facilitate a culture of innovation for your team and organization, and help create tangible opportunities to share ideas and fund innovation facilitates innovation within corporations.
  • Be warm and accepting of yourself and surrounding yourself with others who support you for who you are will help create a more open, safer culture of innovation.
  • Focus on program innovation rather than project innovation so that you can coordinate across departments and deliver across the life cycle of the product, and continue to serve the needs of the customer. If you focus just on a one-time project development, you may not get the long-term support you need for the product to succeed, and you may not get integrated support from all departments throughout the product life cycle.
  • Manage how much energy is invested in any innovation idea. Make sure that it’s needed and practical now, or plan for adopting a concept in the future.
  • Define and communicate boundaries of time and energy to protect your personal life, while supporting the innovation goals for yourself and for your team.
  • Get the support you need to remain positive, flexible and innovative, whether it’s within your corporate women’s group, within an external growth, amongst your community and friends, etc.,
  • Be willing to be uncomfortable! Innovators buck the status-quo – that may make YOU uncomfortable, but it will certainly make many others uncomfortable, and successful innovators know how to manage that for themselves, their teams, their customers and sponsors.

In the end, successful innovators want to stretch themselves, stretch what technology can offer, stretch their view of the world – and others benefit from their successes.


Please join us in thanking our hosts at eBay and our speakers below:

Facilitator Christine Kohl-Zaugg, Founder & CIO, BluBubble

Panelist Serpil Bayraktar, Principal Engineer, Chief Architect’s Office – Development, Cisco

Panelist Tasneem Brutch, Ph.D., Software Architect and Director of R&D, Samsung Research America

Panelist Gayathri Radhakrishnan, Director Strategy & Corporate Development, Dell Software

Panelist Kirsten Wolberg, VP of Technology, PayPal

Women Making Their Own Rules

September 15, 2014


FountainBlue’s September 12 When She Speaks, Women in Leadership Series event, on the topic of Women Making Their Own Rules, featuring:

Facilitator Brenda Rogers, HR Strategies

Panelist Erna Arnesen, VP Global Channel & Alliance Marketing, Plantronics

Panelist Petra Hofer, Chief of Staff to Mark Carges, eBay

Panelist Xiaolin Lu, Fellow and Director of IoT Lab, Texas Instruments

Panelist Shveta Miglani, Talent Development Manager, Sandisk

Panelist Monica Shen Knotts, Senior Manager, Senior Manager, Enterprise Technology Strategy, Cisco

Please join us in thanking our speakers for taking the time to share their advice and thoughts and to our gracious hosts at Texas Instruments. Below are notes from the conversation.

We were fortunate to have a range of women leaders on the panel. There was much diversity as they represented different companies, different educational backgrounds, different cultural experiences, and divergent paths to success within the corporate sector, but they also had much in common:

  • They consciously made their own rules for success, in environments which did not necessarily embrace women in leadership in general;
  • They rose to positions of impact, where they influence the executive direction, strategy and tactics for tech organizations across the valley;
  • They have touched the lives of many, and supported the growth of those around them;
  • They are clear, inspiring and direct communicators who speak from their heart and their experience, for the good of all.
  • They have changed roles, perspectives, product lines, and even industries, and continue in their forward growth personally and professionally.

They were generous enough to share their advice and wisdom.

  • Women who make their own rules don’t always get what they expect from doing so, but those who do it well, always benefit from doing so, and positively impact those they touched because they did so.
  • Being open to what others think, say and do helps you understand where others are coming from and why specific rules are in place. Understanding the purpose of these rules helps anyone break them in a way which makes better sense for all, should that be the choice.
  • Focus on whether a rule should be broken, and what the long term and short term consequences are for breaking these rules.
  • Build relationships with others so that you can socialize a concept before you take actions to shift, change, transform a rule.
  • Understand the spoken and unspoken rules, and always question whether these rules are the right rules and why.
  • Do what it takes to keep yourself and those around you engaged and impassioned, even if it means stirring the pot and breaking a few rules.
  • Know yourself and the values you stand for, and keep connected with that core self, as it will help you see rules which are overtly or subtly imposed on you, rules you may not necessarily choose to shape you or the direction you choose.
  • Be courageous enough to transcend social and other rules, letting your results and impact speak louder than social norms.
  • Consider the motivations of others who support or obstruct you from the breaking of rules.
  • Communication is key. Know your message, your purpose and your audience before you break any rules.
  • Celebrate creativity and innovation: Embrace the opportunities to think, speak and act differently. Do the uncomfortable by surrounding yourself with people who don’t think like you.

Memorable quotes from our dynamic panel:

  • Be the bamboo that bends but does not break.
  • Prove yourself in the boardroom, and go in wearing your Birkenstocks.
  • Ignore the voice on your shoulder that keeps telling you that you’re in over your head.
  • Assume positive intent from others who question your words, thoughts and actions (even if you know they don’t have your best interest in mind). It will help you be courageous enough to break a rule that must be broken.
  • Strategy, empathy, and passion are magical elements of the emotional intelligence you need to break those rules.
  • Effective rule-breaking must be a conscious, strategic choice.
  • Eggs will break when you make an omelet. Be prepared for the backlash, but also embrace the possibilities and up-sides.
  • An acronym for FEAR – false evidence appearing real.
  • Be respectful and appreciative of those who come before you, breaking the ground. Namaste, I honor you by bowing down


Politics in the Workplace: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

August 8, 2014

August8PanelAug8Pix (2) Aug8Pix (5)FountainBlue’s August 8 When She Speaks, Women in Leadership Series event was on the topic of Politics in the Workplace: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. Below are notes from the conversation.

We were fortunate to have such an experienced and diverse panel, who came from a range of backgrounds representing engineering, legal, management, each with in-depth experience leading in tech companies, each with varied experiences working with and for a wide range of leaders at all levels. They collectively shared these kernels of wisdom.

  1. Politics is not good or bad – it’s just the use of power and social networking to benefit a person or team or organization. There are times it could be bad because of the intent, where someone unfairly benefits for example, because those with merit aren’t getting the credit for work well done. But if the game is played fairly and well, right and good will prevail.
  2. Embrace politics as an opportunity to build influence and relationships. Don’t get stuck into thinking that putting your head down and doing good work will be enough, or that politics is for self-serving, self-centered, power-hungry others.
  3. When faced with a political challenge, consider if you can accept the political environment and dynamics, if you can change it in some way, or if you need to leave because you can’t make it work.
  4. If you decide to change things, be strategic about what you want to change, why it needs to be changed, who is involved in making these changes, when and how it would happen, etc.,
  5. Politics is part of the journey of life, so don’t treat political incidents as transactional happenings, rather as relationship and trust-building opportunities.
  6. You are in a stronger political position if you and your team deliver based on the needs of the organization and product. From there, leverage communication and negotiation skills to further your product, team and organizational success, preferably in collaboration with others and in alignment with corporate goals.
  7. Find the win-win in every political challenge, in every M&A opportunity, in every conflict.
  8. As you rise within an organization, you will no longer just represent yourself or your project – you will also represent your team, your product and your organization. Navigating the politics will be as much of your job as delivering the tech project. It will enable your team to have the backing, support and resources in order to do so.
  9. In a tech corporate setting, the politics often centered around the product and lobbying for the resources and influence in order to support the successful delivery of that product. Help your company and team focus on the customer, rather than on personality issues and conflict and personal agendas.
  10. When leading change in a politically charged environment such as an M&A, help leaders remain unbiased, focus on delivering quality products and services, and rise above the gossip, back-stabbing and gripe sessions which can be so debilitating.

You know that you’re good at politics if:

  1. You continue to work with your team to complete projects that benefit the company financially and technologically, focusing on delivering to the needs of the customer.
  2. An expanding body of people come to you requesting advice and support for organizational issues which may not necessarily impact you and your group directly.
  3. You find yourself listening long and deep, and sharing your advice and network to help others solve their problems.
  4. You gain brownie points for helping others, rather than using your authority and power to force something to happen (which actually costs brownie points).
  5. Your sphere of influence expands: you have a growing network which thinks highly of you, and a growing network of stakeholders involved in the work you do.
  6. You get really good at helping people better understand the motivations of others and thinking through their political circumstances.
  7. You remain focused on the bigger picture, the needs of all the other teams and stakeholders. Your team and product may not always win a battle, so focus on the larger picture – with a focus on the needs of the customer.
  8. You remain other-centric – always finding out what others need and find a way to leverage your resources, knowledge and influence to support and help them. Adopting a help-me-help-you attitude will build trust and relationships.
  9. You feel your influence spread in a good way, well beyond the people with whom you directly connect.
  10. You remain true to your morals and values, and ever communicate and negotiate with authenticity.

The bottom-line advice to leaders at all levels is to leverage your influence to remove roadblocks, to build alignment, to move the needle forward. In short, use politics for the good of your team, your people, your product, your company.



Please join us in thanking our panelists for FountainBlue’s August 8 When She Speaks, Women in Leadership Series event, on the topic of Politics in the Workplace: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, as well as our hosts at Cisco.

Facilitator Deb Kaufmann, Deb Kaufmann & Associates, Inc.

Panelist Sondra Bollar, Software Development Director, Oracle

Panelist Ruth Gaube, Vice President and General Counsel, Samsung Information Systems America

Panelist Vijaya Kaza, Senior Director of Engineering, Cisco

Panelist Karen Pieper, Senior Director of Synthesis, Tabula

Panelist Angie Ruan, Head of Retail Engineering, PayPal

Leveraging Social Media for Work and Play

July 12, 2014


FountainBlue’s July 11 When She Speaks, Women in Leadership Series event, on the topic of Leveraging Social Media for Work and Play. Below are notes from the conversation.

We were fortunate to have a wide range of perspectives for our panel, women leaders representing marketing, strategy, management, diversity, and social responsibility. They are impacted by social media through their daily work and working with internal staff, executive management, as well as customer communities. Their vision and leadership drive social media successes for their companies, and they generously shared their advice and wisdom with the audience.

1. Social media will forever change the way we communicate – respect its power and its impact, and integrate it into your everyday work and play.

  • There is no avoiding social media. People will use it and develop an opinion and perspective because of how you and your company are perceived. So embrace it and learn how to integrate it into your daily life.
  • Communication is two-way and immediate – more a conversation than a mandate.
  • Impact is probably broader than you intended.
  • Impact is immediate and can spread rapidly.
  • Impact will probably live longer than you expected.
  • Messages will reach people you don’t know.
  • Whether or not you know someone, he or she will have an opinion of you based on what you communicate on social media.

2. Given the above, be strategic about how you leverage social media in work and in play. Make sure that the message is clear, is in alignment with your values and your goals.

  • Leverage social media to get the word out, cost-effectively, engaging communities strategically.
  • Know your audience and be clear what your message is to that audience, and what results and engagement you’d like from that audience.
  • Focus on the business objectives for the social media campaigns/messages and deliver measurable results.

3. Leverage the power of social media and the analytics behind it to amplify the voice of the customer, to translate their desires to your internal teams, to connect one with the other.

  • Know what you’re measuring and why. Communicate that to the right people and plan accordingly.
  • Don’t count on automation and reports for making judgment calls about the community and what they are saying.

4. If a social media message brings negative response:

  • Develop and communicate a social media triage plan.
  • Leverage your relationship with the people who are responding badly.
  • Understand where they are coming from, and make them feel heard.
  • Diffuse the situation.
  • Decide whether it’s best to take a conversation offline, respond directly, ignore it, etc.,

5. Respect the person delivering the message.

  • Don’t try to control or over-manage the way people communicate. Let her/him have an authentic voice.
  • Do help them keep in alignment with corporate policies and strategies.

6. Train your internal staff to embrace social media.

  • Have clear policies in place.
  • Set up templates.
  • Provide materials and examples.
  • Encourage execs to lead the way.
  • Leverage what they are already doing, already comfortable with to bridge into social media communications, brand and message.
  • Refresher courses and ongoing tips would help most people more successfully embrace social media.

7. Build engagement and involvement within the communities, connections across communities.

  • Nurture your most involved community members and convert them to become advocates.
  • Deputize members of your team to represent different perspectives in the community. For example, having developers manage developer communities would make sense.

8. What you say across social media platforms will impact your brand, how others perceive you, so be proactive about understanding, communicating and managing your brand.

9. Connect with a larger group of people – across generations, across cultures, through the power of social media.

10. Create campaigns that leverage the power of communities and social media to spread the word, while saving money and increasing impact.

The bottom line is that social media is not a fad, it’s here to stay, changing the way we communicate and connect with each other, blurring the lines between personal and business, between employee and customer, and broadening and expanding and engaging all.


Please join us in thanking our hosts at Visa and our panelists for FountainBlue’s July 11 When She Speaks, Women in Leadership Series event, on the topic of Leveraging Social Media for Work and Play:

Facilitator Natascha Thomson, MarketingXLerator, Co-Author of 42 Rules for B2B Social Media Marketing Book

Panelist Christina Gleason, Director, Global Digital Strategy, Visa Inc.

Panelist Pegah Kamal, Social Media Marketing Manager, Aruba Networks

Panelist Petra Neiger, Senior Director, Integrated Marketing, Polycom

Panelist Keren Pavese, Program Manager, Western Division Office of Sustainability, Community Outreach & Diversity Councils, EMC Corporation

Panelist Mary Anne Petrillo, Strategic Marketing and Media Partnerships for Cisco Corporate Social Responsibility

Millennials In Our Midst

June 14, 2014

June13Panel (1)FountainBlue’s June 13 When She Speaks, Women in Leadership Series event was on the topic of Millennials In Our Mids. Please join us in thanking our speakers for taking the time to share their advice and thoughts and to our gracious hosts at EMC. Below are notes from the conversation.

Our panelists represented a range of tech companies, with leaders from many backgrounds and roles, representing different generations – working with and as millennials, all with experience at many different levels within and outside tech organizations and start-ups and consultancies. They have worked with a range of people, leaders, teams and companies, and have generously shared their wisdom and advice.

We started the conversation talking about what a millennial is and what they had in common. Our panelists agreed that although we should not stereotype millennials or any generation group, and we should not mistake lack of experience with traits of being a millennial, and we should not think that all millennials are equal, millennials do have some similar traits.

  • Millennials like to chase ‘bright, shiny objects’, in the work context and outside it. To motivate a millennial on the team, speak about projects so that they are motivated to participate, and allow them to move between and within groups to help retain and develop them within the company.
  • Millennials are known by some as the ‘trophy’ generation, where they are used to being winners. When reality hits in the work context, and they are no longer winning at everything, or winning because they show their best efforts, it would take some getting-used-to for them. So, sandwich criticism and help them embrace feedback as learning opportunities while continuing to stroke their egos.
  • Millennials creatively problem solve collaboratively with others. Give them big picture descriptions for meaningful projects (focus on the why), and avoid telling them what to do and how to do it.
  • Millennials love technology and devices, and communicate and connect differently than those of other generations. So accept that they communicate differently, but help them brand and message who they are and what they do in a professional manner. However, when a millennials’ love-of-devices makes them appear unfocused and un-engaged in meetings, someone should help them understand how he/she is coming across and make different choices.
  • Millennials may be more experienced and less fearful of trying new things, especially around technology, so use this to your advantage.
  • Millennials have an entrepreneurial streak, and enjoy both technical and business challenges.
  • Millennials love to continuously learn and grown. The other side of that is that they need to feel continually challenged in new ways, so they may hop from job to job, role to role. But if you understand that, you can create those roles for them and help them navigate through different jobs within the company.
  • Millennials tell it the way it is – they are clear and transparent and direct in general. This is great, but some may need a lesson in strategy or tact, in order to be perceived as a respectful team player.
  • Millennials want to know the why of things, and want to see the metrics and the data. Explaining projects with this context will help them understand its relevance and impact.

Our panelists espoused these truisms, regardless of which generation you represent:

  • Communicate, collaborate and connect with each other – build a relationship, work as a team.
  • Accept other viewpoints and perspectives will help us all learn and grow.
  • Customer-focused people, teams and companies win business.
  • Find your passion, and work with those who share that passion.
  • Communicate and message your brand, what you stand for, in a way that resonates with others.
  • It’s all about the attitude – be willing to work with the team, do what it takes, learn as you grow, work with others to make something great.

Advice for getting millennials integrated into your workforce:

  • Have millennials do a shadowing visit before they join, so they get to know who’s in the company, what the culture is like, and what the work is like.
  • Do cross-generational mentoring, especially if it would help bridge disconnects between engineering and sales, for example.



Please join us in thanking our hosts at EMC and our speakers for FountainBlue’s June 13 When She Speaks, Women in Leadership Series event, on the topic of Millennials In Our Midst:

Facilitator Camille Smith, Work In Progress Coaching

Panelist Lori Burningham, Manager, University Programs [UP]Community & Learning, eBay

Panelist Kim Chrystie, Sr. Manager, Advertising & Brand Strategy, EMC

Panelist Pegah Kamal, Social Media Marketing Manager, Aruba Networks

Panelist Almitra Karnik Sharma, Senior Product and Solutions Marketing Manager, Twilio, Inc.

Panelist Amy Papciak, IT Project Manager, Cisco



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