Archive for the ‘When She Speaks’ Category

Customer-Centered Big Data Use Cases

February 17, 2018

FountainBlue’s February 16 When She Speaks event was on the topic of Customer-Centered Big Data Use Cases.

Delivering personalized solutions to discerning customers real-time will continue to differentiate companies. We were fortunate to have a diverse and experienced panel to help us understand how technologies, companies and leaders are changing the way we work and live.

We began with some definitions – 

 

  • Big Data is a general term referring to the volumes of information made available by the programs, devices, tools and applications we each use every day, in growing proportions. 
  • AI or Artificial Intelligence offers a suite of reasonings to draw intelligence from that data, so that it’s understandable and adds value by describing and detailing what’s happening.
  • ML or Machine Learning turns to computers to identify and report of patterns which may not be obvious to the average user, and which be useful and insightful.

 

Our panelists shared a wide range of data use cases which describe well “what happened”, in detail, predicts “what will happen” based on the information provided by volumes of historic data.

Each company has developed sophisticated systems, processes, modules and leaders to help ensure efficient, secure, scalable solutions, despite the complex and overwhelming volumes of data managed, customers served, transactions facilitated. 

Key to providing exceptional service is the ability to anticipate problems, to mitigate risks, to collaborate with internal and external stakeholders in order to anticipate and address needs, and to get it right each time, every time.

Below are some aggregated thought-provoking comments from an expert panel.

  • This is a LOT of pressure, considering what’s at stake. But data management is a certain and inevitable direction for ALL businesses in ALL industries. So being open to these challenges and changes will help you keep your skills relevant.
  • Partner closely with customers to define, create, anticipate their challenges and needs, and serve their needs efficiently, leveraging real-time data.
  • Balance the need for security with the mandate for privacy, and the demand for efficient access.
  • Respect the data, but more importantly, use your judgment to ensure that the data provides useful information which is actionable and useful.
  • Focus on the prioritized pain points for each class of customer, and work collaboratively to solve them, preferably proactively.
  • Data scientists and business leaders are important on each team.
  • The hardware, the software, the cloud, all IoT devices add to the volume of data created, and are also instrumental in ensuring we manage the data well.

Our panel ended with some thoughts on the need for humans, for leaders, in an age where data reigns supreme. We will ALWAYS need humans:

  • To ask the right questions
  • To define the data to be measured
  • To understand the implications of the data
  • To validate the recommendations of the data
  • To take responsibility for the results of a project
  • To keep raising the bar, never settling for existing solutions
  • To ensure that we are leveraging data for the betterment of all
  • To decide what’s ‘useful’ about the data generated, and how it’s useful
  • To lobby for the money and energy to fund programs, devices, robots, systems
  • To draw conclusions and recommend decisions beyond the synthesized data sets
  • To draw creative and intuitive conclusions and recommendations which may not be logical

I’ll conclude this month by inviting everyone to Go Forth with the data, and DO GOOD THINGS.


Please use us in thanking our panelists for FountainBlue’s February 16 When She Speaks event, on the topic of Customer-Centered Big Data Use Cases and our gracious hosts at eBay.

  • Facilitator Linda Holroyd, CEO, FountainBlue
  • Panelist Pauline Burke, Global Head of Experimentation, eBay
  • Panelist Adriane McFetridge, Director of Engineering, Netflix
  • Panelist Maryam Sanglaji, Principal Product Marketing Manager, Nutanix
  • Panelist Suruchi Kaushik Sharma, Senior Director, Corporate Strategy, Flex
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Negotiating for Win-Win Results

January 20, 2018

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FountainBlue’s January 19 When She Speaks event was on the topic of Negotiating for Win-for-All Results.

We were fortunate to have such a fun and experienced panel of leaders and negotiators, representing a range of companies and backgrounds. They generously shared best practices around negotiating.

Negotiating takes place between companies, within companies, at home, at work, everywhere there are people. Learn from each negotiation, and build a network of supporters and mentors to help you better negotiate.

It’s all about the relationship.

  • Focus on building a long-term relationship with all stakeholders, even if it means sacrificing short-term victories.
  • Be curious about the motivations and needs of the other parties.
  • Insist on respectful interactions. Empower yourself to walk away if the interactions do not maintain a level of respect.   
  • Seek to create win-wins for all parties, for the short term and in the long term.
  • Build a team culture: Do the give and take, choose your battles, make your sacrifices, take one for the team.

Communicate clearly and respectfully in good faith.

  • Strive to keep a clear, open and transparent communication in your negotiations. Even if it means awkwardly calling out the other party for not adhering to that level of communication and trust.
  • Be firm, fair and consistent in your communication.
  • Know what you want and ask for it. (Implication: don’t complain that you don’t get what you want if you didn’t ask for it.)
  • Be generously forthcoming in sharing resources and information, and ask for that also in return.
  • Keep the momentum and conversation going. Stymied negotiations waste time and money and puts the credibility of all involved at risk.

Be strategic and hardworking.

  • Do your homework and be prepared for each negotiation. Learn about the people, their motivations, the product, the team, the company, etc.,
  • Use tools like milestones and roadmaps and project plans to help get all parties negotiating in alignment, and delivering positive results for the customer.
  • Understand and speak to the value you’re create, and its relevance to the audience you’re connecting with.
  • Give yourself cooling-off time if emotions run high.
  • When you get the attention of influential others, consider ending your conversation with an ask. The other way to put this is to have a goal/objective if you get the audience of someone influential.
  • Speak to the Value of something first, then to the Pricing of something, while factoring in the Cost of implementation. 

Be Other-Focused.

  • Take a ‘Cow’s Eye’ view of the world – seeing the world from the other’s perspective (a cow has eyes on the side of their head, so she sees the world differently).
  • ‘Fair’ does not necessarily mean equal. ‘Fair’ to one party is defined differently than it is for another. 

Support Others with their Negotiations.

  • Negotiate for yourself, and for others.
  • Create an old-girl’s-club to back each other up, so that you’re not your only advocate.
  • Don’t be the victim of ‘man-splaining’. If someone repeats what you just said and claims credit for knowing more, then call him on it. Or call out that man on your friend’s behalf.
  • Seek a mentor, advocate or champion. Be one for others.

Resource:

The bottom line is that negotiating is a part of life, and learning how to do it well would benefit yourself and all you touch.


Please join me in thanking our gracious hosts at Palo Alto Networks and our panelists for FountainBlue’s January 19 When She Speaks event, on the topic of Negotiating for Win-for-All Results!

  • Facilitator Linda Holroyd, CEO, FountainBlue
  • Panelist Vonnie French, VP, Supply Chain, Palo Alto Networks
  • Panelist Debbra Rogers, CEO, Paradata
  • Panelist Birte Schwarzenfeld, VP Global Account Management, Flex
  • Panelist Heather Sullivan, Chief People Officer, ChargePoint

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

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

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