Archive for the ‘When She Speaks’ Category

Collaboration Best Practices

December 13, 2017

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FountainBlue’s December 8 When She Speaks event, on the topic of Collaboration Best Practices. We were fortunate to have a wide representation of companies, roles and perspectives for our panel discussion. Despite their many differences, our panelists had much in common:

  • They had an inquisitive nature and moved from many different types of roles, developing a broad background and perspective.
  • They witnessed and responded to the many changes in the tech sector related to both technologies and businesses. 
  • They built deep and broad connections which helped them to learn and grow and make measurable impact in collaboration with key stakeholders.

Our panelists agree that the pace of change is accelerating, so it’s becoming increasingly important to collaborate with others to keep up and remain relevant. This is true independent of role, company, gender, industry, geography, age, etc., In general, we must be more collaborative so we can be more:

  • inclusive, with many parties working on the same project. 
  • communicative, so we can share information real-time, and coordinate with people working on other facets of the same problem.
  • responsive to the real-time needs of our customers, working with many internal and external partners. 
  • comprehensive in our ability to address problems end-to-end.
  • efficient and accurate in delivering results.

A compilation of our panelists’ advice for facilitating collaborative innovation is below.

  • Adopt a collaborative mindset.
  • Develop a skillset and adopt the tools which will help you communicate at the speed of business and coordinate with other stakeholders.
  • Make sure that you have the full information so that your project can succeed. Create a culture where the generous sharing of information is rewarded.
  • Seed a conversation with important stakeholders before an official meeting. They should not be surprised about a collaborative initiative at the meeting.
  • Sometimes there’s a been-there, done-that mentality for a change initiative which is more collaborative than the current standard practices. Patient management and data-based communication will help many people overcome these reservations. But there may still be hold-outs, as sometimes the older ways die hard. Focusing on the ‘loudest’ protesters might help everyone transition to a more collaborative mindset.
  • Be analytical in your orientation, detailed and thorough and frequent with your communications.
  • Model the collaborative management style you would like others to emulate. Show gradual and immediate improvements and measured results.
  • Facilitate an elegant hand-off between people and teams to ensure that the ball doesn’t get dropped between parties.
  • Authentic, honest, low-ego communications welcomes direct communications and transparency. These qualities help keep projects moving forward, especially when complications arise.
  • Be curious about the motivations for other parties. Find a common ground, based on their motivations.
  • Invite and respect the participation of all stakeholders. Keep them apprised of progress and reward for results.
  • When new collaboration partners come onboard, be proactive in your communications to all stakeholders. Everyone should know the strategic reasons for the new partnership and also be informed on partnership results and empowered to participate when it makes sense. In short – Inspire everyone about WHY something should happen; then Align stakeholders behind the partnership; then Change or Adjust where necessary, and then Measure for success.

Today, many corporate cultures embrace Collaboration as part of their DNA. Others tie collaboration as a key to Innovation. The bottom line is that creating CLEAR shared goals and managing by these objectives will encourage everyone to collaborate in achieving results. 

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Please join me in thanking our gracious hosts at Nutanix and our panelists for FountainBlue’s December 8 When She Speaks event on the topic of Collaboration Best Practices!

  • Facilitator Linda Holroyd, CEO, FountainBlue
  • Panelist Ruth Cotter, CHRO, SVP Worldwide Marketing and Investor Relations, AMD
  • Panelist Nolwenn Godard, Head of Pricing Product & President of Unity Women, PayPal
  • Panelist Marissa Schmidt, Director Product Management, CITRIX
  • Panelist Michele Taylor-Smith, Sr. Director Corporate Social Responsibility, Nutanix
  • Panelist Praveena Varadarajan, VP of Product Management, FICO
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Lean In, and Level It Up

November 13, 2017

NovemberWSSPanelFountainBlue’s November 10 When She Speaks event was on the topic of Lean In and Level It Up. We launched the panel talking about our greatest take-aways from Sheryl Sandberg’s book ‘Lean In’. 

  • Work through your fear and find your voice.
  • Take a seat at the table at every opportunity, no matter what your role or level or background or authority is.
  • Be vulnerable and authentic.
  • Your career is not linear – it’s a jungle gym, not a ladder.
  • Have the confidence to be your full self.
  • Don’t take your foot off the accelerator. 
  • Surround yourself with those who would support you in stretching and reaching for what’s next. Be that person for those around you.

A compilation of our panelists’ advice for leveling up is below.

Be a leader you can admire.

  • Be confident enough to be assertive, humble and kind enough to be respected.
  • Challenge yourself to identify and overcome your fear.
  • Work hard and be passionate about and good at what you do. 
  • Spell out the problem, articulate the solution and detail the results for the work you do.
  • Try not to take things personally. Focus on the facts and the data.
  • More important than the work you do is the feelings you instill in others. Be the kind of leader who makes others feel good.
  • Be honest, open, transparent and authentic, especially when there’s a lot of ambiguity. 
  • Say what you’ll do. Do what you said. Show the data behind the results.

Seize every opportunity to grow.

  • Embrace every opportunity to learn and grow.
  • Embrace the risk with every opportunity. Be comfortable with the ambiguity so that you can define and create success.
  • When you come against a difficult ‘either this or not’ decision, try to choose ‘this AND that’.
  • When you’re considering a great new work opportunity, make a choice based on your values and your priorities. 
  • Diversify your training, background and experience.
  • It can be overwhelming to be in the midst of a huge problem, which is also an opportunity. Have the support system around you so that you can take it one step at a time. Go easy on yourself and enjoy the ride.
  • Ask for the resources and authority and empowerment so that you can solve complex problems.
  • Learn from your mistakes. See failure as opportunities. Have a resilience to keep pushing forward, despite any setbacks.
  • Women may get fewer opportunities to lead at the highest level, and even when they do, the opportunity might not be ideal. However, the women who are succeeding even under extreme circumstances are paving the way for more women to reach the highest level, and grow the company and team from that level.

Be Collaborative.

  • It takes a village – be that supportive leader for others. Seek the support from others.
  • Grow your network so that you can have a broad and deep support base, and a broader view of the world.
  • Get the help and support you need to succeed. Delegate the things that you don’t want to do. 
  • Work with your team to get from point A to point B. But remember that not everyone can get from here to there, especially when there’s too much ‘history’ involved.
  • As you rise, always make room for others.
  • Build relationships with teams across the company. Trust others and be worthy of their trust. 
  • Partner with your spouse to divide up the other tasks so that everything is good at the home front. 

Be the best YOU you can be.

  • Keep reaching for stars. 
  • Embrace failure as a learning opportunity.
  • Have mentors and heroes, but don’t try to replicate what they do. Be original.
  • Be versatile and broad in your impact so others can’t box you into a specific label. 
  • Don’t take yourself too seriously. Celebrate all your little successes.

The bottom line is that YOU are the best YOU there can possibly be. And YOU are in charge of Leaning In, to get the support you need, and Leveling Up, to the level that works for you.

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

  • Facilitator Linda Holroyd, CEO, FountainBlue
  • Panelist Madhavi Deshmukh, Head of Product Management, Security Products, PayPal
  • Panelist Laura J. Durr, Chief Financial Officer and Executive Vice President, Polycom
  • Panelist Niki Hall, VP Corporate Marketing, Five9
  • Panelist Ishita Majumdar, Senior Director of Products, eBay
  • Panelist Ronit Polak, VP, Quality Assurance, Palo Alto Networks

Please join us also in thanking Polycom’s CEO Mary T. McDowell, who provided such inspiring introductory remarks to launch the panel discussion.

ISMAC is Where It’s At: Immersive, Security, Mobile, Analytics, and Cloud!  

October 12, 2017

FountainBlue’s October 12 When She Speaks event was on the topic of ISMAC is Where It’s At: Immersive, Security, Mobile, Analytics, and Cloud!  

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We were fortunate to have such a talented and diverse panel, so passionate about innovation and leadership. Although they represented a wide range of companies, backgrounds, education and roles, they had much in common. 

  • Each was curious and passionate about math and science and learning, even from a young age, even when a technology is complex and evolving.
  • Each was brave enough to keep raising the bar, competent enough to keep delivering results, connected enough to keep sharing results to larger circles of others.
  • Each shifted and evolved and grew in many ways, trying different technologies, roles, and companies.
  • Each continued to push the technology envelope in new ways, with an eye on the needs of the customer, and an eye on the needs of the market.
  • Each has delivered tangible and useful products and services to happy customers and growing markets, and plans to do so on a grander scale.

Below is their compiled advice on how to lead innovation, wherever you’re sitting at the table.

  • Keep taking measured risks and reaching for stars. Technology will keep changing the world.
  • Surround yourself with people who can support you, and reach out to them frequently and strategically.
  • Find or create projects which would allow you to collaborate with others.
  • Be highly focused on what you’re doing AND deeply connected with others in your partner ecosystem.
  • Map your direction, chase with enthusiasm and perseverance.
  • Be detailed enough to do a great job and productive enough to get things done efficiently.
  • Manage the relationships and networks around your project and proactively manage support for your innovation project at the meeting and prior to the meeting.
  • Build relationships before you need favors and resources.
  • Build a brand and reputation of success worthy of funding and supporting.
  • Try the entrepreneur, corporate AND investor paths and see where you best fit.
  • Identify opportunities to integrate technologies across products, across teams, across companies.

It’s exciting how technology has shaped our world in the last few decades. And there are so many more opportunities ahead. We concluded the discussion with some thoughts on how to remain human in this digital age:

Core to the success of any innovation is the relationship between the people collaborating on the project. And core to building deep relationships is genuine, open, transparent communication – like the conversation we had at this event.

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Please join me in thanking our gracious hosts at PayPal and our panelists for  FountainBlue’s October 12 When She Speaks event, on the topic of ISMAC is Where It’s At: Immersive, Security, Mobile, Analytics, and Cloud.

  • Facilitator Linda Holroyd, CEO, FountainBlue
  • Panelist Serpil Bayraktar, Principal Engineer, Chief Architect’s Office – Development, Cisco
  • Panelist Preethy Padman, Director of Business Operations – Global and Strategic Accounts, Nutanix
  • Panelist Gayathri Radhakrishnan, Head of Product, Catalina Labs, Inc
  • Panelist Arthi Rajan, Senior Director, Strategic Risk Partnerships and Credit, PayPal

Make Your Own Rules

September 14, 2017

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FountainBlue’s September 8 When She Speaks event was on the topic of Make Your Own Rules. This month’s panelists were full of spunk, confidence, creativity and inspiration. They had practical ideas which delivered results, great things to consider while toeing the line and while breaking the rules. Although they varied in terms of background, education, upbringing, perspectives and even gender (!), they had many things in common.

  • They have built their reputation and their credibility so that they are well positioned to facilitate change.
  • They are respectfully confident and know how to engage all the leaders and stakeholders to make shifts small and radical to address the long-term and short term needs of the company.
  • They break rules because they know that it’s core to innovative and transformational thinking, the heart of business success.
  • They are passionate and empowering communicators who made others want to work with others, to make a stand for the greater good.
  • They know themselves and keep choosing positive, proactive learning environments and experiences – so that they can better perform, better support those around them.
  • They are open-minded, curious and innovative by nature, and embrace opportunities to expand their perspectives and opportunities.

Below is a compilation of their advice for others who want to make their own rules.

Know yourself. Be centered. Stretch yourself.

  • Trust yourself, your judgement, your gut.
  • Surround yourself with those who can keep you centered and strong and reaching for stars. People who will help you keep changing and growing and breaking and bending rules, even when it gets uncomfortable.
  • Know your own unconscious biases. 
  • If you’re not happy, do something to change the circumstances. Consider getting more education, following a different discipline or role or company or industry.

Be strategic.

  • Keep an eye on the big picture, while also knowing how the individual pieces fit under the overarching vision. With this perspective, you can help ensure the broader view fits the market and customer needs, and that the tasks, projects and technologies are in alignment with that vision.
  • Decide on what’s important to change and whether it’s the right time to change it.
  • Know the circumstances around the rules, and choose to strategically choose conform, acquiesce, resist or transform based on your own moral compass.
  • Evaluate your actions individually, rather than scripting responses based on the ‘rules’ and circumstances. 
  • Be willing to lose a battle so that you can win the war.
  • Sometimes it’s better to ask for forgiveness than permission.
  • Look for opportunities to innovate collaboratively.
  • Understand the mentality, the thinking, the rationale for all new strategies and directions. And get on board if you can, or bring up objections respectfully, making a stand for principles, for customers, for staff, for products. But when the decision is made, fall in line so that all can roll forward together.
  • Know the consequences before you break a rule. Be willing to live with them.
  • Learn from the risks you’ve taken yourself and encourage risk-taking in others. 

It’s about the people.

  • Be with the people, projects, processes and team who will help you stay productive and optimistic and positive.
  • Be curious about people who are not like you, as their perspectives are also valid.
  • Be around the people and culture who believe in you. And then BE the biggest, best YOU possible. 
  • Build momentum, allies, partnerships behind a new direction, reversing a rule you’d like to break.
  • Invite the ideas and participation of all people, especially if they are not inclined to actively participate.

When others are driving change

 

  • Agree and commit or disagree and commit or offer another solution.
  • Do not stay silent, or do nothing – you become part of the problem

 

Resources:

  • Consider Kohlberg’s six stages of moral development when evaluating whether to break the rules: 
    • hedonism – because you can get away with it (probably not best for long-term goals or relationships)
    • pleasing – because you would perceived as the good girl/boy (following rules is generally good, especially if it’s adaptive for your safety . . . but don’t blindly follow rules)
    • intentions – consider the intentions behind the actions
    • law & order – because you would perceived as the good girl/boy (following rules is generally good, especially if it’s adaptive for your safety . . . but don’t blindly follow rules)
    • majority rules – rules can be changed by majority vote (if you don’t like a rule, change the rules within the system)
    • moral mandate – do the right thing because it’s the right thing to do, regardless of the above 

I’ll conclude by saying that understanding deeply what rule needs to change and why is only a beginning. A leader must also communicate with all stakeholders to get them on board with the new direction. With these communications, the leader is metaphorically tossing a stone in a pond and embracing the ripple effect, spreading rule-breaking change to all, for all.

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Please join us in thanking our panelists for FountainBlue’s September 8 When She Speaks event, on the topic of Make Your Own Rules and our gracious hosts at Texas Instruments! 

  • Facilitator Linda Holroyd, CEO, FountainBlue, Chief Revenue Officer, 888 Steps 
  • Panelist Alex Gorjanc, Area Director, Texas Instruments
  • Panelist Daniela Busse, Director, Innovation & Strategic Partnerships, Citi Ventures
  • Panelist Rajni Dharmarajan, Product Line General Manager, Texas Instruments
  • Panelist Suruchi Kaushik Sharma, Senior Director, Corporate Strategy, Flex

Balancing Privacy, Security and Access

August 11, 2017

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FountainBlue’s August 11 When She Speaks event was on the topic of Balancing Privacy, Security and Access.  

We were fortunate to have such a passionate, experienced and diverse set of panelists, who covered a broad range of areas around the privacy, security and access topic. They shared some common characteristics:

  • They are curious about both the technologies and the business models, and industrious, intelligent and flexible enough to embrace new learnings and experiences so that they can fully explore business opportunities, and add value for their teams, their products, their companies, their industries.
  • They are forging new ground in many ways in the short term and for the long term, so that those who follow will be better prepared to successfully balance privacy, security and access.
  • They regularly navigate a delicate balance between being both philosophical and practical, both prescriptive and fluid, both confident in existing best practices and curious about how to stretch the envelope to the next level, and are both consistently principled and innovative. 

Below is a compilation of their thoughts and advice on how to best balance privacy, security and access.

Consider the career and business opportunities ahead.

  • The technologies, the business models, the leaders are changing rapidly. There are tremendous opportunities ahead for every company, in every industry. 
    • We have so quickly gone from wired to wireless, from wireless to mobile devices, from mobile to phone to IoT and are rapidly evolving still. We don’t give up the old technologies, but do keep embracing the new ones!
  • Think about solutions that reach traditionally non-tech sectors. These are great, practical use cases for technology solutions.
  • In considering new opportunities and solutions, think about how technologies like Blockchain, Artificial intelligence, machine learning, IoT, might factor in.
  • Consulting and specialized services in this area may be on the rise, in response to the growing and complex demands.

Embrace best practices in managing the balance between privacy, security and access.

  • Define the norm, the standard processes and procedures in detail, in collaboration with other business and technology stakeholders. Clearly defining baseline requirements, worse-case scenarios, rapid-response protocols and the like, will help ensure that you keep your customers happy, your company compliant, your product secure. It will also help position your company for success, making good choices in the short term and for the long term.
  • Nurture partnerships and relationships to build a community of supporters representing a range of needs and motivations.
  • Communicate clearly, often and transparently. Opening the kimono and speaking candidly and authentically and inviting collaboration can work wonders in building empowerment and engagement, thereby distributing responsibility, commitment and ownership.
  • Speak to the overarching need for complying to processes and procedures as well as the implications for divergence from accepted norms. Speaking about consequences in logical, non-emotive terms will more likely build cooperation than rantings and threats to those making questionable choices.
  • Be ever plan-ful and strategic, while also allowing teams to innovate quickly and maintain access with minimal hassle.
  • Be customer focused. Customers will help you define direction, and your internally policies will help you create a solution which is safe, secure and scalable.
  • Consider outsourcing some of these solutions to specialists if it’s not a core competency.
  • Assume positive intent, but plan for external infractions and attacks and for user negligence.

Manage your career opportunities in this space.

  • Keep stretching yourself and providing value. Be open to new roles and responsibilities and positions in this hot and emerging space.
  • Consider both entrepreneurial and corporate opportunities.
  • Be open to taking classes. Technical coursework and certifications would allow you to drill deeper, business classes would help you get a broaden perspective. Both are important.

It’s inevitable that we must continue to leverage tech to fight tech hacks and vulnerabilities so there’s an ocean of opportunity ahead! Make sure that you, your team and product, your company and industry, are well equipped to stay above water and swim underwater. 

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FountainBlue’s August 11 When She Speaks event was on the topic of Balancing Privacy, Security and Access. Please join me in thanking our gracious hosts at Palo Alto Networks and our panelists!

Facilitator Linda Holroyd, CEO, FountainBlue, Chief Revenue Officer, 888 Steps
Panelist Shruti Gautam, Cofounder – Firecode.io, Senior Software Engineer, eBay
Panelist Sujata Ramamoorth, CSO, Cloud Platform and Services, Cisco
Panelist Geetha Rao, CEO, Springborne Life Sciences
Panelist Paola Zeni, Global Privacy, Senior Director, Palo Alto Networks

Conflict Resolution

July 17, 2017

FountainBlue’s July 14 When She Speaks event, on the topic of Resolving Conflict When the Stakes are HighBelow are notes from the conversation. 

We were fortunate to have such a fun, experienced and practical group of panelists, representing a wide range of companies, projects, educational backgrounds and perspectives. They also shared much in common: their competence and leadership got them noticed by important people, their successes and results facilitated introductions to larger-impact opportunities, their passion and leadership helped them serve their team, product, company and industry, and their practical experience made them the wise leaders they are.

They deal with a wide range of conflicts: 

  • the engineering vs business unit conflicts which pit developers against business unit managers and sales and marketing leaders;
  • the finance vs product vs operations vs sales/marketing conflicts around costs, timelines and deliverables; 
  • the management vs staff conflicts around the strategic direction and how and when it is implemented;
  • the merger-mergee integration conflicts which come with all M&As;
  • the generational conflicts across age groups;
  • the cultural conflicts across geographies, and/or cultural conflicts within the same physical geography;
  • the personal conflicts at home, the personal conflicts brought into work . . . 

Conflicts are everywhere. Below is a compilation of advice for resolving conflict.

Accepting Conflict within Companies 

  1. Accepting this fact, and embracing the learnings and opportunities around conflict resolution is the first step to positive, constructive conflict management.
  2. Align to corporate goals and missions.
  3. Assume positive intent.
  4. Embrace the opportunities to learn from others not-like-you, to experience things beyond your comfort zone.
  5. Choose your battles – not all conflicts are worth having.

Being Fact-Based

  1. Make decisions based on data – what are the pros and cons for all stakeholders? Identify the factors for each decision. Have each stakeholder give weightings for the importance of each factor.
  2. Quantify the inefficiencies rather than pointing a figure at who is causing the inefficiencies.
  3. Focus on areas of compromise.
  4. Collaborate with stakeholders to deliver tangible win-win results. 

Managing Emotions

  1. Make everyone feel recognized and important. Encourage and support their engagement.
  2. Stay away from personal attacks and judgments.
  3. Know and manage your own hot buttons.
  4. Give yourself and others a cooling-off period when emotions run high.
  5. Give the object of contention a time out, so no parties get access.

Managing People and Networks

  1. Be curious about motivations.
  2. Identify all stakeholders.
  3. Understand the other perspective.
  4. Build networks of relationships you can trust.
  5. It is more important to respect the feelings of the other party then to be ‘right’.
  6. Be a great listener. 
  7. Lobby for buy-in, rather than mandating it.
  8. Stand behind your team/product/company, and do all you can to help it succeed.

Communicating Clearly

  1. Communicate clearly and transparent and directly, especially when things are not going well.
  2. Try this formula for gender (or other) conflicts: 1) Call attention to the behavior. 2) Associate a feeling with the behavior. 3) Request an alternate behavior. 4) Check for understanding and commitment.
  3. Spell out assumptions. 
  4. Spell out boundaries for discussion.

The steps to resolving conflict can be summarized in 5 steps: First gather the data. Next recognize the motivations and feelings of all stakeholders. Then deliver measurable results and lastly communicate successes. 

Resource: The Culture Map by Erin Meyer


FountainBlue’s July 14 When She Speaks event, on the topic of Resolving Conflict When the Stakes are High. Please join me in thanking our gracious hosts at NVIDIA and our panelists!

  • Facilitator Linda Holroyd, CEO, FountainBlue, CMO, 888 Steps
  • Panelist Vicki Sam, Chief of Staff/VP, EFI
  • Panelist Joy Taylor, General Manager, Product Line Director, Texas Instruments
  • Panelist Prajakta “PJ” Gudadhe, Director Software for Consumer Products, Virtual Reality and Mobile, NVIDIA
  • Panelist Liming Wang, Sr. Director, Manufacturing Finance, Western Digital

Navigating a Multicultural Workforce

June 25, 2017

FountainBlue’s June 23 When She Speaks event was on the topic of Navigating a Multicultural Workforce.  Below are notes from the conversation.

We were fortunate to have such an outspoken, fun and engaging panel to speak on navigating a multi-generational workforce. Despite their differences in academic, educational, professional, cultural background, our panelists shared an uncanny ability to make things happen, working people, products and processes, and habitually overcoming extraordinary circumstances.

When asked to speak to the value of having diversity in the workplace, the reasons ran the gamut for our illustrious panel, but the consensus is the same: Diversity in the workplace benefits the business and the people in many ways. Whether it supports market share by including staff members which represent the broad swath of users across the globe, or whether a think-differently mind set helps long-standing engineering teams to think, speak and act differently, studies and results show that including a diversity of perspective benefits all.

Whether you’re just building awareness of gender and age differences for your organization or whether you’re one of the lucky companies with strong diversity and impact figures, companies big and small are all striving to recruit, develop and retain the most talented, the most versatile, AND the most diverse workforce.

Our panel of executives and millennials had a wide range of suggestions on how to embrace that other-focused, open perspective in the workplace. 

  • Lead the diversity initiative for your team and organization, no matter where you sit at the table. Choose your company wisely and work with company leaders to think, speak and walk the talk around diversity and its impact on innovation and business results. 
  • Embrace opportunities to learn many things and make broad and measurable impact. Our panelists’ breadth and depth of experience was remarkable, as was their ability to succeed under such a wide range of circumstances and requirements. 
  • Be aware of your own skill set and take ownership of your own growth. Adopt a high level of self awareness and raise the bar for yourself, while seeking to learn from and provide support for others around you.
  • Invite those who don’t think like you into your circle. Recruit team members who came from different backgrounds and perspectives and reap the social and professional benefits.
  • Facilitate social and professional connections between different people, groups, ethnicities, genders. Understanding the humanness of others who don’t think like us will help us all get a broader and more compassionate world view, which benefits everyone we touch.
  • Encourage everyone to have a voice and reward them for sharing their perspective. What the timid and reclusive say may likely surprise everyone in a good way, and encourage broader and more vocal participation overall.
  • Work with a diverse set of companies and products, and welcome the opportunity to grow a start-up. Having a varied background will give you rich and broad experience and leave you even more open to embrace new people, projects and ideas.
  • Develop relationships with partners to help recruit millennials into the workforce pipeline. Recruiting Interns is a popular strategy for test-driving and recruiting young talent into an organization.
  • Be clear, authentic, transparent and vulnerable in your communications, especially when you’re talking to a broad range of people who don’t think like you. Conflict will be inevitable, but having direct, drama-free, no-nonsense conversations will help every find a common ground, and work toward a common cause and purpose.
  • Learn the vocabulary of the millennials/boomers, and have fun doing it. Or you’re be in the dark and experience FOMO (fear of missing out) when there’s a QBR (quarterly business review) going on.

The common consensus was that it wasn’t about age or gender or role or company or industry, or any other bucket. We are all ONE, and embracing the vast differences within that broader ONE will help ALL within it to succeed.


Please join us in thanking our panelists for FountainBlue’s June 23 When She Speaks event, on the topic of Navigating a Multicultural Workforce and our gracious hosts at eBay:

Facilitator Linda Holroyd, CEO, FountainBlue, CMO, 888 Steps

Our Executive Panelists include:

  • Panelist Tiffaney Fox Quintana, Vice President of Marketing, HelloSign
  • Panelist Helen Kim, VP of Business Operations, eBay
  • Panelist Kerry McCracken, Vice President: Flex Connect, Flex
  • Panelist Jennifer T. Miller | Vice President & Deputy General Counsel, Gigamon
  • Panelist Michele Taylor-Smith, Senior Director, Corporate Social Responsibility, Nutanix

Our Millennial Panelists include:

  • Panelist Maliena Guy, Senior Product Manager-eBay Search, eBay
  • Panelist Nikita Maheshwari, Sr. Product Manager, Nutanix
  • Panelist Ama Misa, Senior Manager, Business Development, Strategic Partnerships Group, Flex
  • Panelist Claire Murdough, Content Marketing Manager, HelloSign
  • Panelist Catherine Stevenson, Human Resources Representative, Gigamon

Customer

May 15, 2017

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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.

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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