Archive for the ‘When She Speaks’ Category

Customer

May 15, 2017

May12Panel

FountainBlue’s May 12 When She Speaks was on the topic of Age of the Customer. Please join me in thanking our gracious hosts at WD and our panelists! Below are notes from the conversation.

We were fortunate to have such seasoned, well-spoken and diverse set of leaders on our panel, representing a wide range of companies, roles, backgrounds and cultures. They also had much in common:

  • They worked hard to prepare for success through their academic choices, their professional positions, and their direct experience.
  • They have a wide range of experiences working with a broad breadth of customers, which qualifies them well to communicate the needs of the customer to staff, executives, providers and partners and all others in the ecosystem, while also providing them the credibility and influence to lead initiatives which transform how companies proactively meet the needs of the customer.
  • They each had a broad view of who the customer is, and are laser-focused on serving the needs of those customers.
  • They don’t aim to please every customer every time, but they do make sure that the team and company get it right when things don’t go as planned.
  • They understand enough about the products, the processes, the people, the solution, and the needs of the customer so that they can orchestrate comprehensive, customer-facing initiatives involving an ecosystem of stakeholders, all focused on providing exceptional service and solutions for each niche customer segment.
  • Each leader came from different industry backgrounds, and each found her way into technology companies. They leveraged their experience and perspective to transition to the technology industry, and to rise among the ranks once they’ve landed there.

Below are our panel’s thoughts on why customers are more empowered today:

  • The advances in IT and technology and the reach to a large volume of people worldwide is creating larger markets.
  • Allowing the larger volumes of customers to connect with each other gives more power to each customer. As a consequence: 1) Customers can better vet solutions with online information or networks of others prior to making purchasing commitments, and are no longer dependent on companies for the information they need to make a commitment. 2) With access to other customers and to online information, customers can more clearly envision alternative offerings. 3) There’s a plethora of offerings for almost every solution, so customers can be more discerning about which offering would best serve their needs.
  • With the large volumes of offerings and customers, there are also changes in regulations and laws worldwide. 
  • Because of the sheer volume of information hitting customers, there is little patience to wait for load times for example, and little tolerance if information isn’t available in the format customers need at the moment (think it’s got to work on their mobile device NOW).

Below is collective advice from our panel on how companies can better anticipate and serve customers.

  • Accept that the customers are empowered and create processes to ensure companies gather quantitative and qualitative data about current and anticipated needs, hire, develop and retain people who are service-oriented, and influence the company’s vision and direction to ensure a culture and mindset that puts customers first.
  • Collect and follow the data about what customers are looking for, and how satisfied they are about the service provided by your company. 
  • Be empathetic about the needs of the customer – in vision and in execution (product, service, UI). Measure your company’s success in this area, and train everyone to have that customer-empathy mind-set.
  • Be the customer spokesperson at every opportunity. Do things great and small to perpetuate that customer-centric mentality.
  • Connect customers to each other in community, and collaborate with those communities to proactively serve niche customers. 
  • Consider creating and supporting a customer advisory board, which would be a great way to get proactive and ongoing input from your most influential customers.
  • Create and serve niche customer communities where it makes sense, and empower them to define their needs.
  • Create efficient and scalable solutions which are based on the needs of the customer. Don’t be so customer-centric that you would design one-offs for each individual customer, regardless of how many other customers would need that solution and how much it would cost to deliver that solution!
  • Make every customer feel important, no matter how much or little they might impact the bottom line. With that said, listen and act more responsively to the customers who represent larger current and potential markets.
  • No matter where you sit at the table, no matter what kind of impact or knowledge you might have about a problem or solution, take ownership of a customer’s issue or problem and make sure that she or he gets served. Propagate and reward that mindset within your company.
  • The customer is always right, unless they’re not. Work with them to get it right if you need to, then serve them well, within or outside the direct connection with your company.
  • Collect the detailed data around customer expectations, preferences and aversions and respond based on that data.

In conclusion, our panel attests that it’s a ‘Buyer’s Market’. The customer will remain empowered for the foreseeable future. The companies who recognize, accept and even embrace this change will gain and maintain market leadership.


FountainBlue’s May 12 When She Speaks was on the topic of Age of the Customer.

  • Facilitator Linda Holroyd, CEO,FountainBlue, CMO 888 Steps
  • Panelist Amy D. Love, VP Corporate Marketing, TriNet
  • Panelist Anshu Narula, Engineering Director, Partners and Marketplaces, PayPal
  • Panelist Suchitra Narayen, VP, Legal and Associate General Counsel, Supply Chain Legal, Oracle
  • Panelist Margret Schmidt, VP Product Development & Chief Design Officer, Tivo

Brand

April 20, 2017

April14WSSPanel

FountainBlue’s April 14 When She Speaks was on the topic of Building and Reinforcing Your Executive Brand. Below are notes from the conversation.

We were fortunate to have such impressive, amusing, well-spoken and diverse panel of leaders, representing a wide range of companies, roles, backgrounds and cultures. They also had much in common.

  • They were clear about their strengths and their impact, as well as their direction. 
  • They were similar in their collaborative and communicative style, displaying high emotional intelligence, superior facilitation and program management skills, and a consistent track record for delivering measurable impact on a diverse range of projects.
  • They each went through an introspective phase which helped them hone in on their brand and their focus, with the guidance of select others around them, and the feedback of direct experience.

Their collective advice for creating and reinforcing your brand is summarized below:

  1. Know what you want, then do what you love. Be open to experimenting with new things so that you find new things to love, but if you don’t love it, make a different choice.
  2. Grow where you can – stretch yourself and be of service, solving problems that make a difference.
  3. Listen closely and learn from everyone. Integrate these learnings so that you’re more effective at what you’re doing.
  4. Communicate clearly, transparently and inclusively. Be passionate without being overly emotional, driven without being ruthless, open to new opportunities while also making sure that it’s something you want to do for the long term.
  5. Nobody should feel all alone. The more we share, the more we give the stronger we all are. Reach out when you’re in need. Lend a hand, lend an ear when someone else is in need. The best way to honor those who helped YOU is to pay it forward to others – sharing your network, experience, stories, energy, etc. Be a stalwart champion, no matter where you sit at the table. Empower all those around you to succeed and grow.
  6. Take a leap of faith when opportunity knocks for you, but have confidence that opportunities will come at other times if higher-priority things like your family and your health take precedence.
  7. Personal and professional brands overlap. Be who you are consistently in all situations, but express yourself differently depending on the environment, regardless of whether it’s a physical location or a social media platform.
  8. Everyone has to work with difficult people. Find a positive way to work with people who push your buttons when you have to do so. Identifying commonalities will help you to do that.
  9. Be fearless and persevere. You’re too busy making something happen to listen to the nay-sayers who say ‘who is she/he to do this or that’. It’s not about the degree, the role, the background, the gender, the experience, the age, etc., It’s about the bottom line results. Live and breathe by the results you deliver. Consistently and clearly communicate your value add based on the data.
  10. Reach out to others when you need guidance, validation, support, perspective. Nobody is an island and part of stretching yourself is seeing and understanding a reality beyond your own.

It was a very fun panel, filled with real-life stories involving real-life events, humorously told. We all left inspired by their bottom line: Be strategic communicators who focus on aligning all stakeholders to deliver impactful and measurable results for the greater good of the individuals, the team, the companies and the industry.

—–

Please join me in thanking our April 14 When She Speaks panel on the topic of Building and Reinforcing Your Executive Brand and our gracious hosts at Flex! 

  • Facilitator Linda Holroyd, CEO, FountainBlue; CMO of 888 Steps
  • Panelist Amy Barzdukas, VP of Global Solutions Marketing, Polycom
  • Panelist Reenita Das, Partner, Senior Vice President, Transformational Health, Frost & Sullivan
  • Panelist Vonnie French, VP, Supply Chain, Palo Alto Networks
  • Panelist Melanie Nelson, Sr. Director of Marketing Communications, Samsung
  • Panelist Birte Schwarzenfeld, VP, Head of Corporate Strategy, Flex 

Career Agility

March 13, 2017

WSSMar2017

FountainBlue’s March 10 When She Speaks event was on the topic of Embracing Agility in a Sea of Change. Below are notes from the conversation.

We were fortunate to have such influential, well-spoken and diverse leaders on our panel, representing a wide range of companies, roles, backgrounds and cultures. They also had much in common:  

  • They did great work and got noticed by influential others around them. These people then became mentors, sponsors, and supporters – that network which helped each of them advance with their work, and with their role and influence.
  • Having this network of support made it easier for our panelists to shift from one project to another, from one team to another, from one company to another, from one industry to another.

Their collective advice for owning your career path is summarized below.

  1. Know yourself and your strengths and weaknesses. Do what you’re passionate about. Be curious about new ways which would challenge you in good ways, so that you can keep relevant and engaged. Seek the opportunities that would stretch you and make you feel uncomfortable.
  2. Have the confidence to show up and do what you love well! Work with people you like, products and services you can believe in. Always stand by your values and principles, with your integrity intact. Your reputation and brand will speak for itself, and influential people may give you that opportunity to be agile, even if you’re not looking for it at the time!
  3. Don’t expect yourself to be perfect. Take the ‘go-for-it’ and the ‘what-if’ approach rather than wait for that coveted invitation, that perfect fit, that just-right job description. 
  4. Focus on solving problems in front of you. Doing so may open doors to opportunities which make you feel uncomfortable, but may be exactly what you need to stretch yourself.
  5. Embrace your failures as a badge of courage. Most people learn more about themselves and their world from failures than from successes, so welcome the opportunity to succeed, learn if it doesn’t go quite as expected, and be stronger for every attempt.
  6. Say what you want to do, even if you’re not clear exactly how it will happen to you. If you speak to the right people about what you want to do, that other person may have something in mind which would serendipitously fit your passion. Or they may be able to even create a door if they share your vision and passion! This is a planned happenstance . . . Coincidence? I think not! The luckiest people have adopted this strategy . . . 
  7. The way you communicate is critical to your success. Be clear first with yourself and then strategize on what you’d like to communicate to which audience to help you achieve what you’re looking for career-wise (and in all matters frankly). Market yourself authentically without “bragging”, and help others take credit where and when credit is due.
  8. When asked to compare working in start-ups vs working in corporates, our panelists agreed that working in both are important, and which one you select depends on what your current priorities are.
    • What’s wonderful about working in a start-up is that you get to influence the direction of the company, and shift and evolve quickly with the company. This allows you the opportunity to learn and evolve quickly and bring big-company experience to guide start-ups with their growth and expansion.
    • What’s beautiful about working in a large company is that you can be agile from within – shifting between projects and divisions and geographies, all with great opportunities for stellar growth, for lasting impact.
  9. Empower and encourage your team to step up and be heard if they want to have a seat at the table.
  10. Glom on to leaders and mentors and team members you admire and work well with. You may go through many journeys together.

The bottom line is that our panelists have encouraged us to both being open opportunities which arise while also setting boundaries based on who you are in terms of skills and values, what you want to do next, and what’s happening otherwise in your life. If you’re self-aware enough to know what you want when, you will be much more likely to have your cake and eat it too!


Please join me in thanking our gracious hosts at Aruba, an HPE company, and our panelists for FountainBlue’s March 10 When She Speaks, on the topic of Embracing Agility in a Sea of Change: 

  • Facilitator Linda Holroyd, CEO, FountainBlue, CMO, SignKloud
  • Panelist Aimee Catalano, VP, Partner and Integrated Marketing, Pure Storage
  • Panelist Jennifer Miller, VP and Associate General Counsel, Gigamon
  • Panelist Maria Olson, Vice President Global & Strategic Alliances, NetApp
  • Panelist Ronit Polak, VP Quality Assurance, Palo Alto Networks 
  • Panelist Jessica Swank, VP Human Resources, Aruba, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company 
  • Panelist Tricia Yankovich, Head of HR, Five9

Negotiating for a Win-Win in SF

January 31, 2017

Jan27Collage.png

 

FountainBlue’s January 27 When She Speaks, on the topic of Negotiating for a Win-Win. Please join me in thanking our gracious hosts at Twilio and our panelists! 

  • Facilitator Linda Holroyd, CEO, FountainBlue, CMO, SignKloud
  • Panelist Angie Chang, VP Strategic Partnerships, Hackbright Academy
  • Panelist Genevieve Haldeman, Vice President, Marketing Communications, Twilio
  • Panelist Zaina Orbai, Sr. Director – Head of Global HR Operations, Yelp
  • Panelist Katie Penn, Director of Demand Marketing, Twitch

Below are notes from the conversation.

We were fortunate to have a wide range of backgrounds and perspectives on our negotiation panel. Their combined advice is summarized below.

  1. Start by understanding what all parties want out of a negotiation. Understand what drives the other party so that you can collaboratively create a win-win.
  2. Be strategic, prepared and plan-ful about how you negotiate, and practical about how to make both parties comfortable, to increase the odds of a successful negotiation. 
    • This means that you must understand your own needs and that of the other party and find that intersect, driving towards common ground.
    • Use LinkedIn and other online resources to Google the backgrounds of the people you’re negotiating with. 
    • Consider factors such as gender, ethnicity, age, language, etc., when you’re negotiating with others. It will help you better understand their background so that you can properly prepare for a negotiation. 
  3. Go beyond doing the research prior to the negotiation. Vet your strategy and findings with others who may help you think through your strategy and plan prior to the negotiation.
  4. Know your triggers and manage through them so that you don’t get too emotional throughout the negotiation process.
  5. Surround yourself with mentors, supporters, champions, managers, and advocates, who will support you and help you learn and grow.
  6. Embrace the opportunity to connect with people who don’t think like you, who don’t act like you do.
  7. Sometimes negotiating with your loved ones is harder than negotiating with your peers and partners and customers at work. These family relationships run long and deep and can be more complicated. Focus on the long-term relationship rather than the short term wins.
  8. Whether you’re negotiating a big deal, or just doing business as usual, remember that networking is the greatest indicator of your success. 
    • Build relationships and connections before you’re in desperate need of them. Make broad and deep connections. Your network is closely tied to your Net Worth.
  9. Be that ethical, authentic, trusted party who will negotiate in good faith, and be true to the relationship and the agreement.
  10. Know your value and your worth, and be confident about lobbying to make sure that you get what you earn and deserve. Center yourself so that you feel that confidence even when you’ve had a bad day.

Below is specific advice which may help you with daily and ongoing negotiations at work and play.

  • If you’re trying to get on the calendar of important people, be succinct and focus on what’s in it for them. 
  • Offer one of several options which you define. This way, you get to control what’s to be done, and the other party feels like it’s their choice as well.
  • Be curious about people’s differing viewpoints. Inviting diversity into your circle can help everyone within your circle, provided everyone is open and respectful.
  • When you have to work with someone with whom you’ve had a colorful past, try to be open-minded. Humanize the other person, and find an area of common ground as a starting point.
  • Focus conversations on the issues at hand, staying away from the personal and emotional issues which may color the conversation and lead to unproductive cycles.
  • If you and the other party are bogged down with a negotiation, try backing off and coming from a different angle. Whether it’s working with champions behind the scenes, finding an alternate path to agreement.
  • If you’re negotiating a compensation package, consider many factors and weight them all, focusing mostly on the things that are most important to you. From there, you can overlay the various options. Factors other than salary include: Working Hours, Benefits, Bonuses, Title, Role and Tasks, Parking and Commute and Public Transit Access, Leadership Team, Project Preference, Boss and Manager, Team Leadership, Industry, Technology/Customers, Advancement Opportunity, Education and Training opportunities, Presentations to management/customers . . .

The bottom line is that negotiating is a part of life, and your perspective around how to negotiate and your preparedness for any negotiation will help ensure your success.

Negotiating

January 23, 2017

NegotiatingJan2017.png

FountainBlue’s January 20 When She Speaks was on the topic of Negotiating for a Win-Win. Below are notes from the conversation. 

We were fortunate to have a wide range of backgrounds and perspectives on our negotiation panel. Their combined advice is summarized below.

  • Build relationships deep and wide before you need to.
  • Fundamental to any successful negotiation is understanding your own personal needs and desires, and also the motivations and interests of the other people involved.
  • Emotions may run high when stakes run high in a negotiation. Accepting that this may happen and managing your own emotions – like giving yourself the time to react and respond – will help you be more successful through a negotiation.
  • Know the strength and value for yourself and for your team/product/company so that you can enter into a negotiation from a position of strength.
  • Be open and curious about the perspective of the other parties so you are better positioned to negotiate a win-win.
  • Take a chance and get noticed. Reach beyond your responsibilities and role when you’re able to.
  • Work with partners, mentors, allies and sponsors to keep stretching yourself, and to make sure others hear of your successes and impact.
  • Sometimes asking for something a bit less than you wanted may bring you closer to what you wanted in the long run.
  • Be a great listener, one who truly and authentically cares about the welfare of the other party.
  • Don’t generalize about people based on gender, ethnicity, age, etc., Everyone is different and unique.
  • Make others around you look good, feel good.
  • Make the best of what you are given. Sometimes what you dread happening may wind up being better than what you wanted in the first place.
  • Put yourself first – that’s hard when your team and family are so important.
  • Be accessible and reachable so that people will reach out to you and start that communication channel.
  • Manage the conditions for the negotiation itself – everyone should be comfortable and not feel rushed or pressured.
  • Have open communications with spouse regarding work priorities so that your own front is managed and your work demands are addressed.
  • Be proactive about spelling out your needs and dreams. Don’t judge yourself or others, or be with those who judge you for your needs and dreams.
  • Encourage and support children to take responsibility and ownership for their own problems.
  • Know your walking points and be wiling to walk under those conditions.
  • Know the top line and the bottom line going into the negotiation. Having those boundaries will help ensure a successful outcome.

Bottom line – be strategic, relationship-based, and engage with long-term, win-win results in mind. We wish you the best of luck in managing your upcoming negotiations. 

=============

Please join me in thanking our gracious hosts at Samsung and our panelists!

  • Facilitator Linda Holroyd, CEO, FountainBlue – Coach, Adviser and Consultant
  • Panelist Charlotte Falla, Vice President and General Counsel, Samsung Research America, Inc.,
  • Panelist Jennifer Morrill, VP, Commercial Legal (Americas/EMEA), LinkedIn
  • Panelist Lucia Soares, Vice President, Healthcare Technology Strategy, Johnson & Johnson
  • Panelist Yvonne Thomson, Vice President, Culture & Employee Experience, Symantec

Power to the Team

December 12, 2016

TeamCollage.png

FountainBlue’s December 9 When She Speaks was on the topic of Power to the Team, hosted by Nutanix. Below are notes from the conversation.

This month’s panel represented a wide range of backgrounds and experiences, but they had much in common.

  • Their authentic voice and leadership style helped them connect with people across the organization and between people and teams. 
  • Their varied experience helps them work with a wide range of people and perspectives, in a broad range of functions and roles.
  • Their track record for success helps them succeed in higher-impact positions and projects, and gains them credibility across the board, and including executive suite members.

Leading teams is much more challenging today than it used to be for many reasons. 

  1. The technology is more complex. There are many more moving pieces and many more people and groups involved in development. 
  2. The pace of change has accelerated, from the technology side and from the business side.
  3. The size of the team, and the number of groups and teams involved is now greatly increased.
  4. The customers are much more discerning, much more demanding. They are also requesting customizations and personalizations. It takes a coordinated team effort to deliver these solutions at scale to this discerning customer base.
  5. Changes in corporate direction happen, and teams must deliver to new objectives mid-stream, even when the new goals are contrary to prior plans!
  6. There’s a greater need to include more diversity on the team, to represent a much larger and broader customer base.

The need for collaboration and communication is much greater because of these changes. Below are some best practices for leading teams.

  • Be authentic to your values and your goals, and ensure alignment between who you are, and what you do, working with people who share your values.
  • Be a versatile team leader who are also adept at following. 
  • Help others disagree and commit where necessary.
  • Be positive, candid, transparent and clear in all communications. It’s not always easy to ensure seamless alignment on clear, measurable goals, especially when changes and challenges take place. It takes courage to have difficult conversations, to own up to mistakes and problems, to maintain momentum and credibility, despite the changes. But it must be done to maintain energy and progress.
  • Be nimble, agile and quick. 
  • Make it about the data and the cause, not about personal or political agendas. 
  • Focus on quality and results rather than volume and quantity.
  • Build relationships that are deep and broad in the short term and for the long term. Build relationships not because you might need something from them someday, but because you can build these relationships, because you can help each other one day, because you can better understand the perspectives of others, especially when they don’t think like you, especially when change is in the works!
  • Focus on high-impact tasks which would generate measurable progress towards well-defined goals. Communicate progress to stakeholders regularly and build momentum around the cause.
  • Secure the sponsorship of key execs to help ensure your team has the resources and support it needs to succeed.
  • Pivots will happen. Be transparent and clear about why pivots happen, what it means for the team and company and individuals, etc.
  • Celebrate successes and progress.
  • Be inclusive, productive and positive.
  • Enlist the support of a Board of Directors, a group of mentors and supporters to help you identify and work around your blind spots. Play that role for others as well – whether they are execs who would value an opinion or a high-potential team member.

The overarching message from our inspiring and diverse panel is clear – be true to YOU, and keep the energy and results flowing, so you can serve your customers, support your team, and deliver for your product and company!

==========

Please join me in thanking our gracious hosts at Nutanix and our panelists for the Power to the Team Event.

  • Facilitator Linda Holroyd, CEO, FountainBlue – Executive Coach, Tech Adviser and Leadership Consultant
  • Panelist Neela Deshpande, R&D Programs Director, Chief of Staff, VMware
  • Panelist Natasha Hoady, Senior Director of HR, Nutanix
  • Panelist Cheri Leonard, Senior Technical Program Manager, Samsung Research America
  • Panelist Martina Sourada, Senior Director, SWQA, ISV Certification, NVIDIA

TeamCollage.png

Diversity

November 14, 2016

nov11diversitypanel

FountainBlue’s November 11 When She Speaks event was on the topic of The Business Case for Diversity. Below are notes from the conversation.

Today, more than ever, it’s important to bring the diversity business case to the forefront of the conversation. Being open to diverse points of views and backgrounds, being truly inclusive independent of gender, age, political and cultural backgrounds, facilitates the success of individuals and teams and companies overall. Leaders who think, speak and act with open-minded and empathetic inclusiveness draw out a wider range of perspectives, ideas and input, which ultimately leads to increased innovation and an increased ability to meet the needs of a diverse set of stakeholders. (See resources below.)

The twenty years of globalization has not only led to expanded operations and increased market share, but it also to an increased pace of innovation, a more empowered, more demanding, and more diverse customer base. Successfully serving the needs of the market and customers involves increased complexity, increased partnerships, as well as a more diverse and more educated worker. 

Recruiting, retaining and developing the diverse workforce is core to success. Below is an aggregated list of best practices for embracing diverse perspectives into the workforce.

  • Create a culture that thinks, talks and walks in alignment with diversity values. From the top down, from the bottom up, with each and every conversation, work toward embracing diversity, especially when it makes you feel uncomfortable. Take specific and immediate action if the alignment falters because of specific words, actions, and events.  
  • Be curious about what others around you think and invite their perspectives at every turn, building bridges in every direction, at every opportunity.
  • Work with allies and partners to communicate directly, clearly and transparently, and follow up with clear and consistent, measurement-based actions.
  • Be curious especially when their may be an ‘unconscious bias‘, one that is so engrained that you didn’t know that it existed.
  • Be selective about the thoughts, words and actions you use, to make sure that you’re making the impression you want, whether you’re the one being evaluated, or the one that is doing the evaluating.
  • Enable managers and leaders to succeed, proactively welcoming their questions and curiosity, while also providing training and education, and even rewards specific to diversity and inclusion measurement improvements.
  • Adopting tactical practices such as blind resume reviews, interview panels  and anonymous code review may help managers more consistently address unconscious biases based on gender and other factors.
  • Offer job rotation opportunities so that people can participate in different functions and see the business from a wide range of perspectives.
  • Be emotionally intelligent, so you can recognize and read your own emotions, and that of others, so you can discern what is said and what is meant, so you can manage the labels placed and mis-placed, and ultimately so you can guide thinking and behavior – your own and that of others.
  • Be Patient for change takes time.
  • Be the Role Model you want to see.
  • Find the Role Model who will stretch you, and give you the opportunities to succeed.
  • See the promise in others, and allow them to step up, while giving them a leg-up.
  • No matter what your background, do a good job – be competent, work hard, be pure of intent. Your thoughts, words and actions will build momentum and catch attention.

Resources: 

Contact us for a list of measurement-based resources which may help you measure your diversity efforts.

——–

Please join us in thanking our panelists for FountainBlue’s November 11 When She Speaks event was on the topic of The Business Case for Diversity and to our gracious hosts at Symantec! 

  • Facilitator Linda Holroyd, CEO, FountainBlue – Executive Coach, Tech Adviser and Leadership Consultant
  • Panelist Weiping Cai, Sales Director » Product Development & Marketing | Sales & New Account Acquisition, ASML 
  • Panelist Nolwenn Godard, Director of Pricing Product and President of Unity, Women@ PayPal
  • Panelist Andria Jones, Senior Corporate Counsel, Office of Ethics and Compliance, Symantec 
  • Panelist Chhavi Upadhya, Head of Engineering, Strategy and Operations, Nutanix

Women Leading Innovation in Silicon Valley and Beyond

October 14, 2016

women-leading-innovationFountainBlue’s October 14 When She Speaks, Women in Leadership Series event, on the topic of Women Leading Innovation in Silicon Valley and Beyond. Please join me in thanking our gracious hosts at FireEye and our panelists! 

  • Facilitator Linda Holroyd, CEO, FountainBlue – Executive Coach, Tech Adviser and Leadership Consultant
  • Panelist Vijaya Kaza, Senior Vice President, Cloud Business, FireEye
  • Panelist Indira Joshi, Director, R&D Engineering – Memory, Samsung
  • Panelist Sunitha Kumar, Technical Leader, Software, Security & Trust Office, Cisco Systems
  • Panelist Sangeeta Relan, Sr Director, Engineering – QA, Nutanix 
  • Panelist Lucia Turpin, Sr. Director of IT Governance and Strategy, Polycom

Below are notes from the conversation.

We were fortunate to have such an energetic, forward-thinking and accomplished range of innovators on our panel. Although they represented a wide breadth of academic and social backgrounds, upbringings, roles and companies, they had much in common:

  • They learned early about their passion for technology and the magic that it can create.
  • They invite opportunities to learn and change and shape the technology and business landscape.
  • They embrace opportunities to lead people, products and technologies.
  • They generously share their wisdom and insights, believing that educating and enabling others makes things better for everyone.
  • Get feedback and insights from others, especially if they don’t think like you do.

Below is a compilation of their advice and recommendations.

Know yourself and your value-add

  • Have the self-awareness to know what you do well, what you like to do and how that intersects with companies, people and products.
  • Invest in yourself. Take the time to rejuvenate, to refresh, to learn and do something new.

About innovation

  • Technology continues to evolve quickly, so embrace opportunities to change and shift with it, quickly providing viable and practical solutions.
  • Embrace the opportunities to become uncomfortable. Beware those who hang on to the status quo.
  • Know what market your innovation will be entering. Confirm that there’s a valid and paying customer in that market. Collaborate with them to deliver that innovation to a larger market. 
  • Having new use cases for the same technology can be a valid innovation.
  • Hear the music, the magic by expertly filtering out the randomness, the noise.
  • Innovation is not just about technology – it’s also about the needs of the customer, the implementation hurdles and challenges, the timeline and roadmap. So don’t just ask ‘can this innovation be done’, ask also ‘is it a compelling need and is it practical to deliver what they need?’
  • In today’s world, the market will speak forcefully and quickly. There’s an innovate-to-stay-relevant mindset and leaders must embrace that mentality to stay relevant.

About Leadership

  • Be clear, transparent, trustworthy, and communicative. Truly care about the people you work with.
  • Select carefully for each role on your team. It does take a village to make something work, and everyone needs to perform and have great energy and attitude in order for the team to succeed.
  • Align everyone from the executives to peers to team members and partners on the strategic vision. Communicate clearly on goals and progress toward that shared vision. Enable all parties to succeed in achieving their part of the vision.
  • It’s unrealistic to expect innovative thinking and acting all the time, every time from everyone. Everybody has a role in the innovation pipeline, and the leader expects everyone to fulfill their role in a manner that works best for each party.

Pay it Forward

  • Develop a culture of innovation, one that encourages people to think differently and to apply practical solutions to real problems.
  • Embrace the geeks-rule mind-set for both genders, at all ages.
  • Raise the bar for all those around you.
  • Make it fun and cool and magical to innovate at all ages, in all roles.

Trends and Predictions:

  • Expect continued improvements with hardware and software so that we can better connect and communicate with each other. 
  • With that said, expect a wide range of offerings around managing privacy, security, scalability and access. Social, mobile, analytics and cloud solutions will be huge.
  • Accept that there will be breaches in security sometimes and quickly mitigate any breaches while proactively managing risk.
  • The agile method of development will continue to rise and there will be increased standardization which would make it easier for customers to plug and play hardware and software solutions from different companies.

Resources:

—–

Please join us in thanking our panelists for FountainBlue’s October 14 When She Speaks, Women in Leadership Series event, on the topic of Women Leading Innovation in Silicon Valley and Beyond and our gracious hosts at FireEye. 

  • Facilitator Linda Holroyd, CEO, FountainBlue – Executive Coach, Tech Adviser and Leadership Consultant
  • Panelist Vijaya Kaza, Senior Vice President, Cloud Business, FireEye
  • Panelist Indira Joshi, Director, R&D Engineering – Memory, Samsung
  • Panelist Sunitha Kumar, Technical Leader, Software, Security & Trust Office, Cisco Systems
  • Panelist Sangeeta Relan, Sr Director, Engineering – QA, Nutanix 
  • Panelist Lucia Turpin, Sr. Director of IT Governance and Strategy, Polycom

Make Your Own Rules

September 10, 2016

Screen Shot 2016-09-09 at 3.43.02 PM.pngFountainBlue’s September 9 When She Speaks, Women in Leadership Series event, on the topic of Make Your Own Rules. Below are notes from the conversation. 

We were fortunate to have such feisty, rule-breaking execs on our panel, representing a wide range of companies, experience and roles. They had much in common:

  • They are confident and clear on who they are and what they want to do.
  • They communicate directly and clearly to advocate for rule-changes.
  • They enlist support and advocates to make the case, highlighting the logical benefits and tangible results.
  • They challenge the status quo and question why things are done, while focusing on the best way things could be done.

Below is a compilation of their advice and recommendations.

Be Strategic

  • There are rules which are necessary, so accept them as such.
  • With that said, make a stand against social norms which limit what people think and how people perform. This benefits nobody.
  • Know yourself first – what you’re good at, what you’d like to do, what challenges you, what your limits are, etc. Then see the rules of the world framed from your perspective.
  • Know what to ask for in order to make small steps toward a bigger change.
  • Accept that sometimes you can’t change the people, the culture, the circumstances, and make the best of it or find a way to elegantly leave.
  • Set the expectations beforehand about what your values are, what you would put up with, what you stand for.

Be Collaborative

  • Know the motivations of those around you, especially if they are tied to rules that you think should be changed. Know also why others think a rule should be changed so that you can collectively advocate for that change.
  • Enlist the support of peers, mentors, champions and sponsors.
  • With that said, take ownership of your own career, your own battles.
  • Invite diversity, creativity and inclusion in the workforce.

Be Proactive

  • Take the initiative and define success criteria for a change you’d like to foster. Lobby with stakeholders to make that change stick. Adopt a culture, product, company that would be receptive to that sort of change.
  • Sometimes choosing to stay on the same path is like ‘playing with the pigs’, with the danger that you could get dirty. So stop choosing that same-old path and make the proactive choices which would set you up for success. 
  • Ask for specific feedback. Don’t let someone just say you need more scope or more visibility or more strategic vision or more networking ability. Have them define specific, achievable objectives.
  • Be plan-ful when you’re trying to redefine rules. Know why you want to do it, why other stakeholders also want it done, how it would be done, who would stand in the way and why, etc.,

Be Persistent 

  • Rule-breakers don’t always win. And rule-breaking is not always fun. In fact it’s sometimes painful. Accept that’s the case and be selective about which rules to change, which battles to fight.
  • Mindfulness, meditation and yoga may help people get centered and see some of the unconscious biases, the accepted assumptions which are limiting our realities. Question the unconscious biases and assumptions and perspectives we all have as they limiting what we as people, teams, companies and industries can do.
  • Embrace periodic refreshes in your life and career. Learning new things, adopting new projects will help build a larger perspective and more visibility and impact. Plus it’s more enjoyable.
  • Drivers, pioneers, integrators and guardians see the world from different lenses. Yet each plays a role in the changing of rules, and each must be brought into the larger game so that rules can be changed and those changes stick.

Our illustrious rule-breaking panelists are stand-out real-world examples of leaders who stand up and question and redefine the rules we live by, stretching the envelop of possibilities for each of us. We are in their debt.  


Please join me in thanking our gracious hosts at PayPal and our panelists!

  • Facilitator Linda Holroyd, CEO, FountainBlue – Executive Coach, Tech Adviser and Leadership Consultant
  • Panelist Deepa Bajaj, Senior Director, Business Intelligence & Data Management, Finance Technology, PayPal and Head of Affiliations for Unity, Women@PayPal
  • Panelist Mary Emerton, Senior Director of Fulfillment Operations, Nutanix
  • Panelist Tonie Hansen, Senior Director, Corporate Social Responsibility, NVIDIA
  • Panelist Kaaren Hanson, VP Design, Medallia
  • Panelist Nithya A. Ruff, Director, SanDisk Open Source Strategy, CTO Office, WIN Board Member, SanDisk

Politics in the Workplace

August 18, 2016

FountainBlue’s August 12 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 dynamic panelists representing a wide range of perspectives, skills and educational backgrounds to speak on the politics topic. Their wisdom, energy and generosity touched us all. 

Below is a compilation of their from-their-trenches advice on how we can all better navigate the inevitable political situations at work. 

About Politics

  • Accept that politics is a part of life and have that positive, productive mind set as you manage the politics and ride those waves!
  • See the opportunity with every challenge, and help others to do the same.
  • Remember that thoughts lead to words, which leads to behaviors, which define your brand and reflect your values. Then manage, think, speak and act accordingly.
  • If others are wrestling in the mud, don’t necessarily join them in their game, but do understand why they are wrestling and help them disentangle from that fray and engage in a positive and productive direction. Ignoring the mud-wrestling might mean that you and others can become a victim, and that the energy lost in the wrestling would make the team and company less powerful, so respect the conflict and the positions of those engaging in the conflict.

About Yourself as a Leader

  • Know your values and stand by them – don’t compromise those values because a leader or a project takes you in that direction. Find or create another way, or decide that’s your walking point and forge an alternate path.
  • Embrace the learnings from all situations, particularly from those which don’t go as expected.
  • Be kind and empowering and collaborative with others for their success feeds to that of others.
  • Be calm, while also being firm, direct and fair.

Strategies for Managing Through Political Situations

  • Not everyone engaged in the conflict will be able to fall into the fold. But most people can disengage and commit if you ask in a way that benefits all. But for those who can’t do that, help them choose another path, for their energy would only bring everyone else down.
  • Be direct and transparent and vulnerable and open minded when working through politically-charged situations.
  • Do your homework and understand the motivations of all stakeholders. Put on your business hat and decide that best use of dollars and resources to get the job done, focusing on results and numbers rather than on political connections and promises.
  • Having those direct conversations in politically charged situations will help manage emotions, expectations and ultimately, productivity.
  • Choose a company and a team which values meritocracy in thoughts, words and actions. Do your part in helping that company hold that gold standard.

Lifting People Up Above the Politics

  • Spread your learnings to others in a way that benefits all.
  • Taking a hill is not as important as empowering others to climb the mountain.
  • Be that role model for others, aligning all to the short term and long term goals for the company. This sets the culture, the tone for the company.
  • Embrace feedback as a gift, a learning opportunity. Give the gift of feedback to others as well.
  • Make others feel welcome, valued and included.
  • Set up people, teams, and the company for measurement-based success.
  • Bring emotions down and logic up with every politically charged confrontation.
  • Help others embrace the discomforts which inevitably come with change, for change is a core trait for innovative tech companies.

All in all, to be successful in navigating politics, be:

  • other-centric, so that the perspectives of others feeds to your own understanding;
  • open-minded, so that you can see different sides of a problem;
  • positive and constructive, so that all can be productive;
  • cross-functional, so that people are engaged across an organization;
  • cross-company, so that collaborations exist between companies;
  • resilient, so that you can learn from your own mistakes and that of others;
  • the change you seek (Gandhi).

I’ll end with an image. If you have a basket of crabs, you don’t have to put a lid on them, for they would never collaborate with each other to get out of the basket! This is the embodiment of a political quagmire. To help make sure that bad things don’t happen to good people, rise above that basket, and work with each other to escape and find a new reality.

Crabs

———

Please join me in thanking our gracious hosts at Samsung and our panelists!

  • Facilitator Linda Holroyd, CEO, FountainBlue – Executive Coach, Tech Adviser and Leadership Consultant
  • Panelist Shubha Govil, Head of Products, Cisco DevNet, Cisco
  • Panelist Sylvie Kadivar, Senior Director of Strategic Marketing, Samsung
  • Panelist Maricela Monge, Senior Director of HR, LifeScan
  • Panelist Eileen Sullivan, Vice President Project Management Governance, UXC Eclipse
  • Panelist Michele Taylor-Smith, Sr. Director Channel Marketing, Nutanix