Archive for the ‘When She Speaks’ Category

Showcasing Collaborative Innovation

September 20, 2018

Screen Shot 2018-09-20 at 3.40.43 PMFountainBlue’s September 14 When She Speaks event was on the topic of ‘Showcasing Collaborative Innovation’! We were fortunate to have a large range of perspectives on our panel on the collaborative innovation topic. Our panelists represented the wide range of roles, levels and functions across tech companies small and large, and even representing different industries. But they also had much in common.

  • They explored many different classes, roles, and responsibilities, bravely trying new things and courageously delivering results in a wide range of contexts.
  • They have decades of experience, witnessing and contributing to the evolution of technology.
  • They pay close attention to the needs of the customer, and deliver what the customer is looking for.
  • They pay close attention to the market trends and advise their customers based on what they see with the market trends.
  • They are in alignment with the strategic direction for the organization and its leaders. In fact, they have chosen their role and company as they were inspired by same.

The way we do business is very different than it used to be.

  • Innovation is everywhere – in universities, at standards bodies, through start-ups, in Open Source solutions.
  • The problems today are much more pervasive, much larger, much more global than they used to be.
  • It no longer works to be the only local offering as the world has become flatter, so everyone can easily get anything from anywhere.
  • It’s becoming more expensive to solve even simple problems.

They each exclaimed in different ways about the pace of change, the rate of change, the constancy of change. Collaboration helps each of them to best cope with this change.

  • Collaboration enables people to specialize in specific technologies, partnering with others.
  • Collaboration helps companies address multiple market segments, again partnering with others.
  • Collaborative Innovation helps companies to differentiate themselves, focusing on their core value-add, and partnering with others to deliver complementary offerings.
  • Collaboration allows others to vet and trouble-shoot a solution, before it goes to market.
  • Collaboration helps all parties to consider additional applications for existing and known solutions.
  • Collaboration helps with product planning and implementation by identifying more corner cases.
  • There is less likely to be group-thinking when you are collaborating with a range of partners.

Below is advice on how to make your collaborative innovation projects more likely to succeed.

  • Gather a wide range of partners and collaborators.
  • Encourage brainstorming sessions.
  • Get all perspectives on the table, even from those who are not generally vocal.
  • Empower and engage all participants.
  • Encourage all to submit ideas and input, even if they are not involved in the project.
  • Consider that a solution for one problem may contain ideas and technologies which could be applicable to a totally separate problem.
  • Be bold and persistent, resilient and positive.
  • Have the hard and difficult conversations to stretch your own comfort zone and that of others.

It was fascinating to see how each of our esteemed panelists looked at innovation from a different perspective, yet each delivered a new and better product, process, solution, technology. 


Please join me in thanking our gracious hosts at TI and our panelists for  FountainBlue’s September 14 When She Speaks event on the topic of ‘Showcasing Collaborative Innovation’:

  • Facilitator Linda Holroyd, CEO, FountainBlue 
  • Panelist Mary Emerton, Vice President, Manufacturing, Nutanix
  • Panelist Padmaja Nimmagadda, Applications Program Manager, Texas Instruments
  • Panelist Laura Patton, VP,  Customer Solutions, Flex
  • Panelist Sangeeta Ramakrishnan, Distinguished Engineer, Cisco
  • Panelist Nithya Ruff, Senior Director, Open Source Practice, Comcast
  • Panelist Jeremy Yaeger, MGTS Systems Engineer, Texas Instruments
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Resiliency

August 31, 2018

ResiliencyFountainBlue’s August 30 When She Speaks in East Bay event was on the topic of ‘Resiliency as a Secret Weapon’.

We were fortunate to have such a diverse and powerful panel of leaders who shared both inspiring stories and practical tips on how to find strength, courage and perspective as we each navigate our own path.

Our panelists represented a wide range of educational, professional and personal backgrounds, but they had much in common:

  • Parents and other advocates who instilled in them early in life a drive to become excellent, a passion for learning and growing, and a resiliency which helped them overcome obstacles
  • A network of supporters, mentors, champions, and friends who can help them stay centered even through the toughest challenges
  • A desire to be kind and supportive and give back to others all that they have gained personally and professionally

Below is a summary of thoughts and suggestions on how to be more resilient and centered personally and professionally.

Know Yourself

  • Know yourself well – your values, your strengths, your purpose. Then have the moral courage to stand for your principles, the resiliency to be persistent in accomplishing challenging tasks, the strength to make the people, company, project choices which would set you up for success. 
  • Take care of yourself – physically, mentally, spiritually. Surround yourself with people who know you well who can help you make sure you take care of yourself.
  • Know what and who are important to you and act accordingly.
  • Create boundaries in your work life so that you can be there for the important people in your personal life.

Embrace Change

  • Be flexible and open to change.
  • Reach for what you want, but also accept what you get. It may be even better than what you wanted.
  • Ask for what you want and fearlessly reach for those stretch opportunities.
  • Go where you’ve never been and learn with every iteration.
  • Think outside the box.
  • Live and learn with every choice made. Learn to live on your own terms.

Build that Network

  • Ask for the support and feedback that you need to succeed.
  • Have others do the little things for you, even if they don’t necessarily do it the way you want it to be done. (It’s easier on both of you if you adjust your standards accordingly.)
  • Recruit the mentors, sponsors, partners and other stakeholders to help you get centered and remain centered especially during tough times.

Be a Magnet for Positive Energy

  • Have a positive and constructive mindset. Don’t expect to be perfect, but do expect to learn from every experience, good or bad.
  • Have a thick skin. Being overly-emotional makes people less likely to absorb the lessons learned through failure.
  • Have faith that you can make something happen, that you can help make tomorrow better than today.
  • Manage your self-talk and embrace a positive growth-oriented mindset.

Manage Yourself

  • Work hard. Keep learning. Be resourceful. Add value. Keep reaching for stars!
  • Choose to work with the company and people who can help you feel focused, productive and fulfilled.
  • Be consistently bold and decisive.
  • Be consistently open and coachable.
  • Be consistently strong and resilient.
  • Block off dedicated time for yourself.
  • Compartmentalize to help manage stress and remain positive and productive even through difficult times.
  • Don’t judge yourself or others too harshly. You don’t know the full circumstances of what others are going through, and it’s unproductive to judge yourself too harshly.

Lead a Team Through Adversity

  • Connect leaders to a common purpose and focus on taking productive, measurable outcomes which would gradually again build traction.
  • If you have to do it to prove yourself and you know that you are right, be willing to outwit, outplay and outlast others.

Helping Others Be More Resilient

  • Encourage and support others in being self-reliant and solving problems
  • Have empathy for the circumstances of others
  • Be a role model for others
  • Help others see failure as a badge of courage, as a predictor for success

I’ll conclude with the comment that this resilient panel left a mark on all of us, inspiring us all to have a Vision larger than we dared to dream, to push through obstacles and have Faith that we too can do our part and Change the world.

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Please join me in thanking EFI, our hosts for FountainBlue’s August 30 When She Speaks in East Bay event on the topic of ‘Resiliency as a Secret Weapon’, and our panelists:

  • Facilitator Linda Holroyd, CEO, FountainBlue
  • Panelist Gayathri Badrinath, Head of Global Marketing Services, Siemens Healthineers

  • Panelist Sharawn Connors, Vice President, Global Total Rewards and Diversity, Flex

  • Panelist Sherry Guo, Head of Global Analytical Science and Technology, Analytical Chemistry & Bioassay, Genentech
  • Panelist Jaya Nair, Senior Intellectual Property Counsel, ASML 
  • Panelist Meena Narayanan , Global HR Leader, Livongo

  • Panelist Jill Norris, CIO, EFI

  • Panelist Vicki Sam, Chief of Staff, EFI

Audience

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Integrating Work Into Life and Life Into Work

August 13, 2018

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We were fortunate to have a large range of perspectives on our panel on the work-life integration topic. They varied in their educational background, in their career choices, in the work experience, in their interests outside the home, and in their family choices. All chose to work professionally, and all excel in what they do. All chose to get married and have at least one child. And all are learning from the experience.

Below is some advice for others who are aiming to integrate life into work, and work into life.

  • Make a proactive, considered, data-based decision for both your work choices and your life choices, plus how to integrate the two.
  • Welcome help and support from your family, friends and networks, as well as technology tools and community resources.
  • Know what’s important for the important people in your life and make sure that you’re there for her/him.
  • Know when it’s crunch time at work and make the time to do work well. This may take more support, more understanding, and less time for life activities which are important for yourself and your family and friends, but make up for it when it’s no longer crunch time.
  • Don’t second-guess your work-life integration choices. Don’t judge others for theirs. Don’t be bothered by others who judge you for your choices.
  • Do embrace and work-life integration choice. Do support others in their life-work integration choices. Do accept input, feedback and support when it’s offered.
  • Mentor and support others who are navigating work-life integration challenges.
  • Be actively involved in leaders and causes which you’re passionate about. You will also meet like-minded leaders who would be great support systems as well.
  • Set time boundaries at work so that you can make time for important daily routines at home. Leaving at an earlier hour and working after the kids are in bed will help ensure that you’re there for your kids during their waking hours. 
  • Have a sense of humor and a broader perspective.
  • Do many things well, but don’t expect perfection. 
  • Ruthlessly manage what needs to be done, and when things needs to be done.
  • Allocate time for yourself to do the things which would energize you.
  • Take care of yourself – eat well, exercise, meditate, connect with friends and family.
  • Stretch your mind, your brain. Choose to learn and grow every day.
  • Choose to work on something that’s meaningful, and to work with people you enjoy and respect.

Nobody has all the right answers, but everyone struggles to find that integration between a stimulating and fulfilling life, and work that will make a difference. Choose to enjoy the ride.


Please join us in thanking our gracious hosts at Comcast for our August 10 When She Speaks panel, on the ‘Integrating Work Into Your Life, and Life Into Your Work’ topic, and our panelists:

  • Facilitator Linda Holroyd, CEO, FountainBlue
  • Panelist Maria Olson Kilgore, Vice President Global & Strategic Alliances, JetStream Software, Inc
  • Panelist Jyoti Kukreja, Director, Software Sales Strategy, Nutanix
  • Panelist Kitty Lou, Director of Product Engineering, Comcast
  • Panelist Ronit Polak, VP of Quality Assurance, Palo Alto Networks
  • Panelist Tamara Rivera, Director, Inside Sales, Synaptics
  • Panelist Nithya A. Ruff, Head, Comcast Open Source Practice, Comcast 
  • Panelist Erin Yeaman, Senior Director of HR, Lam Research

To Rosie the Riveter and Other Groundbreaking Women

July 17, 2018

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FountainBlue’s July 12 When She Speaks event was on the topic of ‘To Rosie the Riveter and Other Ground-Breaking Women’. Our panelists represented a wide range of educational and professional backgrounds, and a wide range of roles and organizations, plus of course multiple generations. But they had much in common.

  • They were very authentic, clear and self-aware. Clearly their life and work experiences helped to shape them, for the better.
  • Their successes and challenges helped them to further embrace the opportunities ahead – to seize the day and make the best of it.
  • They welcomed feedback and input from important others around them.
  • They erred toward sharing, toward helping others around them to also be more open, more inclusive.

Below is a compilation of learnings and advice for being the kind of strong and authentic leader who will help raise the bar for others, and produce lasting and tangible results.

  1. Know who you are, what you’re good at, and where you want to go. Be flexible about the plan to get from here to there as life happens despite the plans. Then keep reaching for stars.  
  2. Choose carefully the cause, the company, the team you join. This way, you can make the kind of impact which is in alignment with your values, with your talents, with your purpose.
  3. Embrace your circumstances. There is no ONE prototype for leadership. Step in and step up despite, or because of, your background and upbringing and life/work choices. It’s all in the frame of mind.
  4. Be inclusive and supportive. Empower everyone around you to achieve more and do more.  We are all learning and growing. Doing it together helps everyone.
  5. Be grateful for all you have. Bring positive energy to all you do.
  6. Be curious about people who are not-like-you. Having an open mind will keep you flexible, marketable and useful and perhaps happier besides!
  7. Don’t take things so personally. Frame conversations so that they are fact-based, and purpose-driven. Let your left brain take the lead when emotions run high during a conversation. What’s the kernel of useful wisdom in a charged interaction? How can that support your personal growth and your relationship with the other person?
  8. Look not necessarily to the public figures to be our heroes. In this day of communication, warts can be easily reviewed and no public figure is perfect, no matter how pure. Take the positive and constructive learnings from these public figures, but consider also what you can learn from the everyday heroes around you.
  9. Connect on common purpose and common mission, whether at work or in life.
  10. Focus on delivering clear and objective goals which are measurable. Change those goals with market and customer feedback.

We concluded by remarking that we can ALL be groundbreaking men and women, no matter what we’re doing, where we’re sitting. The more powerful we each are, the more we can do together. So let’s support each other in a common leadership and innovation cause – one conversation, one leader, one organization at a time.

Resources:


Please join us in thanking our gracious hosts at Quora and our panelists for FountainBlue’s July 12 When She Speaks event, on the topic of ‘To Rosie the Riveter and Other Ground-Breaking Women’.  

  • Facilitator Linda Holroyd, CEO, FountainBlue
  • Panelist Beth Arnesen, Inside Sales Manager, Pure Storage 
  • Panelist Kelly Battles, CFO, Quora
  • Panelist Stephanie Ho, Engineering Manager, Quora
  • Panelist Tiffany Iskandar, Portfolio Management Index Equity Analyst, BlackRock 
  • Panelist Nehal Mehta, Director Global Partner Sales, Veritas Technologies
  • Panelist Shveta Miglani, Head of Global Talent Enablement @LiveRamp @ Acxiom and Member of Forbes HR Council
  • Panelist Medha Samant Director of Product Management, COO- eBay Women In Technology (eWIT), eBay

Managing Up, Down and Sideways

June 11, 2018

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FountainBlue’s June 8 When She Speaks event was on the topic of Managing up, Down and Sideways. Our panelists represented a wide range of educational and professional backgrounds, and a wide range of roles and organizations. But they had much in common.

  • They were each authentic, candid and real. They learned their management and leadership lessons from the trenches.
  • They each successfully navigated the educational and professional hurdles put in front of them and became disciplined strategic thinkers, exceptional problem-solvers, and determined, results-oriented performers.
  • What’s more, they each took these learners and experience to keep raising the bar for themselves, learning and growing as they manage and lead.

Below is a compilation of learnings and advice regarding managing and leading:

Know yourself, and put yourself first.

  • Draw upon your passion and talents. Invite opportunities to be as fully yourself as you can be. 
  • When you’re at a life crossroads factor in what’s going on in your life. Put your family and your health first.
  • Don’t look back and have regrets for opportunities lost if you make that choice to put yourself first.
  • Management and leadership is not for everyone. Do what’s right for you.

Be strategic.

  • Be strategic about what you want to do as well as how it would get done. 
  • Align corporate goals with team and personal goals. Manage so that everyone works on maintaining that alignment and on demonstrating results.
  • With that said, be willing to shift the goals based on market and customer feedback.

Never settle.

  • Keep reaching for stars. Don’t settle for complacency, or for doing the same things only faster. Or you will be left behind!
  • Welcome the opportunities to learn and stretch yourself. Provide those opportunities for others on your team.
  • With that said, don’t expect to know it all every time,
  • The pace of business, the pace of technology development is overwhelmingly fast, so have an open mind about all things. What worked in the past may not necessarily work going forward.

Support each other.

  • Provide opportunities for everyone to participate in solving the problem.
  • It’s not always easy to toot your own horn or to get introductions to new people and new opportunities.  Be that wing-man for someone else, and welcome others to do that for you.
  • Go out and network and meet others – both people who share your background and interests and people who are very different than you are.
  • Ask for support from others you can learn from.

Select stellar leaders and companies to work for.

  • Stand by your own values. 
  • Work with people who are smart, have high integrity, and demonstrate enough authority and enough courage to foster change.
  • Work with people you admire and enjoy working with. 
  • Select a work culture which would support that mindset in thoughts, words and actions.
  • Pick a company and leadership team who understands the market trends and is strategic about executing the corporate strategy with that in mind.

Put your people first.

  • Do the right thing for your people, even if it’s a tough thing to do in the short term.
  • Treat people at all levels with respect. As Maya Angelou would say, it’s not about being right, it’s about how you make people feel.

Communicate clearly and transparently.

  • Listen to what’s said and what’s not said so that you can understand what someone needs and how someone feels and what motivates them. 
  • Think, speak and act as if others are important to you.
  • Be courageous enough to have difficult conversations when necessary. Not taking action when action needed to be taken does not help anyone, and is not good for the project, for the brand, for the team, for the company.

The bottom line is that it’s not about managing or leading, it’s about influencing others around you to bring energy and resources toward collaboratively driving tangible results.

Resources:

  • What Motivates Me
  • Grace Hopper Conference
  • Watermark

Please join me in thanking our gracious hosts at Pure Storage and our panelists for FountainBlue’s June 8 When She Speaks event, on the topic of Managing up, Down and Sideways.

  • Facilitator Linda Holroyd, CEO, FountainBlue
  • Panelist Kelly Battles, Chief Financial Officer, Quora
  • Panelist Serpil Bayraktar, Distinguished Engineer, Chief Architect’s Office – Development, Cisco
  • Panelist Betty Campell, VP of Ops, Pure Storage
  • Panelist Carolyn Crandall, Chief Marketing Officer, Attivo Networks
  • Panelist Julie Cullivan, SVP, Business Operations and CIO, ForeScout
  • Panelist Namrata Mummaneni, Sr. Director of Quality Engineering, eBay
  • Panelist Nivedita Ojha, Senior Director Product Management, IoT, Citrix

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Unconscious Bias

June 1, 2018

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FountainBlue’s May 18 When She Speaks in East Bay event was on the topic of Overcoming Unconscious Bias. Below are notes from the conversation.

We were fortunate to have such a passionate, articulate and diverse panel, representing a wide range of companies, roles, perspectives and backgrounds. They were each passionate about the topic of Unconscious Bias for different reasons, but generally it was from their own early direct experiences and their thoughts when they witnessed biases, conscious and otherwise.

Our panelists agreed that it’s normal, and even adaptive to have unconscious biases. They help us make wise decisions related to our safety, like not taking the subway at night by yourself, traveling through rough neighborhoods. Unconscious biases may also help us do the quick-filters we need to succeed at work, making sure that the candidates which pose the least amount of risk are assigned to the most mission-critical roles for example.

But there are also the kinds of unconscious biases which limit our ability to grow and transform ourselves personally, or our teams and our companies. Each panelist resolved to make a stand against unjust biases and commented on the benefits of being more inclusive, more diverse in the workplace. Specifically, they pointed to the following benefits of having more diversity in the workplace:

  • the improved company brand
  • the improved sense of community
  • the improved problem-solving abilities
  • the improved ability to recruit and retain more diverse candidates
  • the innovation advantages which come from having diverse viewpoints
  • the ability to better understand the diverse needs of a broad customer base

Below are our panelists’ suggestions for overcoming biases you may not know you have.

  • Approach each challenge and opportunity with an open mind.
  • Push your own comfort zone when you’re doing something the same way every day, every time. Challenge yourself to find an alternative approach, perspective, partner or mindset.
  • Understand your own upbringing and how it might impact how you’re showing up at home and at work.
  • Find support to help you challenge your own conscious and unconscious biases.
  • Be open to thoughtful and measured feedback.
  • Be self-aware enough to know when your biases may be limiting your successes at work or at home.

Some suggested best practices for overcoming unconscious bias are highlighted below.

  • Nurture an inclusive culture from the top down, from the bottom up.
  • Think, speak and act inclusively.
    • Call each other on it when that’s not happening.
    • Make it safe to call each other on it, even when a ‘subordinate’ is calling a ‘superior’ on it.
  • Create a tight community where a broad range of diverse people feel they can belong.
  • Adopt a corporate strategy which includes hiring a diverse workforce.
  • Build bridges between siloed teams and projects. Help them understand motivations of people not-like-them. Align diverse people to common corporate and team goals.
  • Expose teams to successful people from different perspectives and backgrounds.

The bottom line is that Unconscious Bias is a reality and can be helpful. But Build Self-Awareness in yourself to manage how you’re personally responding to these biases. Then Manage and Lead your team so that they can mitigate their own.

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Please join me in thanking our gracious hosts at Lam and our panelists for FountainBlue’s May 18 When She Speaks in East Bay event.

  • Facilitator Linda Holroyd, CEO, FountainBlue
  • Panelist Anne Nemer Dhanda, Managing Director, Global Learning and Organizational Development, Lam Research
  • Panelist Jennifer Geisler, Vice President of Marketing, ForeScout
  • Panelist Gina Lau, Director of People Experience & Development, HelloSign
  • Panelist Lisa McGill, Chief Human Resources Officer, CrowdStrike
  • Panelist Suchitra Narayen, Vice President, Legal and Associate General Counsel Commercial, Digital Realty

Men Who Open Doors

May 14, 2018
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Left to right: Janice Le, Michael Dickman, Ganesh Srinivasan, Ash Chowdappa, Linda Holroyd, Gopal Kumarappan, and Jatinder Narang

FountainBlue’s May 11 When She Speaks event was on the topic of Men Who Open Doors. Below are notes from the conversation. Our panelists represented a wide range of educational and professional backgrounds, and a wide range of roles and organizations. But they had much in common.

  • They had strong women in their lives who helped them understand the value of having women on teams and in their lives.
  • They fully understand the business case for diversity and inclusion in the workplace and are passionate and frequent advocates.
  • But beyond the data, they each make the choice to do the right thing because it’s the right thing to do.

Our panelists each consistently focused on sponsoring and supporting women in the workplace and pointed to the business case for doing so. The benefits mentioned included:

  • the increased diversity of thought from heterogenous teams, which can lead to innovation
  • the improved decision-making abilities of diverse teams
  • the increased creativity and increased amount of different ideas presented when brainstorming and problem-solving
  • the improved productivity and morale
  • the greater likelihood of reflecting the customer base you serve and the local community

Their collective advice to those who seek sponsors for their careers is highlighted below:

  • Be prepared to take advantage of opportunities which may arise.
  • Be consistently confident, competent and courageous, regardless of whether you’re seeking a sponsor.
  • Own what YOU can control – your experience, your results, your brand – while you’re waiting for the opportunity to be recognized by others.
  • Be your authentic self. Don’t think that you have to change who you are to succeed. Find a way to succeed by being uniquely you.
  • Make an informed and specific ask when the timing is right. Know who to ask for help, and why he/she is the best person to ask.
  • Work together and help each other be successful – in work and in life.
  • When you’re given an opportunity, be diligent, hard-working, open and eager person, passionate about generating measurable results.
  • Communicate openly and transparently and be worthy of the trust of others.
  • Select the right mentor and sponsor for you, based on what you need at the time.

Their collective advice for building more sponsors and mentors and leaders in their organization is highlighted below.

  • Work on changing the mindset of the executives in charge. 
  • Understand your own unconscious biases and those of other executives in the organization. You may have to overcome these biases to bring more sponsors and leaders to the team.
  • Pay it forward, in honor of those who did the little and big things to help YOU get to where you are.
  • Lead by example and model the way. As Mahatma Gandhi would say ‘Be the Change you want to see.’

Our parting thought is that we all have the power to impact others around us and support their growth. Take the mindset that working with and for others benefits everyone.

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Please join me in thanking our gracious hosts at Aruba and our panelists for our May 11 When She Speaks event, on the topic of Men Who Open Doors!

  • Facilitator Linda Holroyd, CEO, FountainBlue
  • Panelist Ash Chowdappa, VP & GM, Aruba Wireless LAN at Aruba, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company
  • Panelist Michael Dickman, VP, Product Line Management, Aruba HPE
  • Panelist Gopal Kumarappan, VP Software Engineering, AppDynamics
  • Panelist Jatinder Narang, Senior Director – Finance, Western Digital
  • Panelist Ganesh Srinivasan, General Manager, Power Management, Texas Instruments
  • with an introduction by Janice Le, Chief Marketing Officer, Aruba HPE

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Conflict Resolution

April 16, 2018

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FountainBlue’s April 13 When She Speaks event was on the topic of Resolving Conflict When the Stakes are High. 

Photo from left to right, Ruchika Jhalani, Director of Engineering, eBay; Sangeeta Relan, Senior Director, Quality Engineering, Nutanix; Wei Li, VP of Engineering Operations, ASML Brion; Linda Holroyd, CEO, FountainBlue; Sondra Bollar, Senior Director of Engineering, Oracle

Our panelists represented a wide range of backgrounds and perspectives, but they shared much in common.

  • They managed conflict as part of their day-to-day work, as part of their day-to-day life.
  • They build deep, trust-based relationships with a broad range of people.
  • They focus on common goals and perspectives.
  • They leverage data and information to keep the conversations constructive and positive.
  • They learn from their interactions, from their successes and their challenges.

Their collective advice is highlighted below.

Accept conflict as a part of life, as a part of work. 

  • Have an open and curious attitude about people who don’t share your perspective and opinion.
  • Pick your battles. Win the war, and battle from the same side.
  • It’s not always easy. But challenge yourself to make things work.
  • You can’t always be right. Agree to disagree, but then commit to the chosen direction.

Earn the respect of others by generating results for the greater good.

  • Go toe-to-toe with someone on their terms if the situation warrants this. But make it about the data and information, not about the emotions and politics.
  • Help make all parties look good when a conflict is resolved. It doesn’t help anyone’s cause to say ‘I told you so’.
  • Respect others for their varying perspectives and backgrounds. 
  • Align thinking, speech and words.
  • Be passionate and energized about what you do. But don’t be overly emotional if it makes the other party feel uncomfortable.
  • Seek to understand before trying to be understood.
  • Be the mediator and facilitator. Identify prioritized needs and assign resources and dollars accordingly.
  • Try to make the other party look good, even if you’re right about a conflict you’ve had.

Build a Network

  • Connect with a wide range of other people from varying backgrounds.
  • Invite face-to-face meetings, especially when building a relationship.
  • Meeting face-to-face also helps when you’re meeting people from another culture.
  • Be curious about others’ perspectives, and open to other interpretations.

Keep learning, sharing and growing. Never settle.

  • Take the ‘We are all one’ and ‘We are not alone’ mindset.
  • Adopt a Quality-First culture and make a business case for it.
  • Be open to people who don’t think, speak or act like you. 
  • Communicate in a language the other party would understand.
  • Be quick to listen, slow to judge, especially when others aren’t in agreement with you.
  • Stand up for yourself. Don’t be talked over or belittled.
  • Stand up for others who were dismissed or unheard.

The bottom line is that although conflict is inevitable, it can be a positive and constructive thing, if managed well.


Please join me in thanking our gracious hosts at ASML and our panelists for FountainBlue’s April 13 When She Speaks event, on the topic of Resolving Conflict When the Stakes are High!

  • Facilitator Linda Holroyd, CEO, FountainBlue
  • Panelist Sondra Bollar, Senior Director of Engineering, Oracle
  • Panelist Ruchika Jhalani, Director of Engineering, eBay
  • Panelist Wei Li, VP of Engineering Operations, ASML Brion
  • Panelist Sangeeta Relan, Senior Director, Quality Engineering, Nutanix

 

Transitioning from Technologist to Manager

March 12, 2018

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FountainBlue’s March 9 When She Speaks event was on the topic of Transitioning from Technologist to Manager!  We were fortunate to have an experienced and passionate set of panelists speak to their technical and management experience. 

We were in agreement that the technologist-vs-manager choice is highly dependent on the circumstances – the type of project, team, role and company for example – as well as personal preference.

Our panelists advised us to know ourselves first – our strengths, our aspirations, our goals. From there, we can decide what you want to do and do it well, whether as a technologist or as a manager. 

It’s all about being credible, and having a solid reputation for delivering on projects, for being kind and helpful to others, and for being bold and hard-working. 

Once you have a track record and built your credibility, be open to the opportunities ahead, and invite the support of influential others. You can plan-fully do that, or it may just serendipitously happen for you, provided you have that solid track record for delivering on challenging projects. 

The caveat is that when you deliver on key projects, it’s important that the right people know that 1) YOU are achieving great results (so someone else doesn’t take credit for your work) and that 2) they know that you’re OPEN to more challenging and different opportunities, whether that be as a technologist or as a manager. (They may otherwise assume that you’re happy doing what you’re doing.) If you don’t make that clear to people around you, you might feel stuck and frustrated with the same types of projects and little growth opportunity. 

The question came up about whether to stay in technology or go into management. The response was that some people like getting into the details with the technology, and might want to grow and learn about doing other types of functions or technologies. Management is an extension of technology, and asks for a larger, more strategic vision beyond single technologies. In tech companies, management might still be tightly tied to the technology, even requiring management at times to get into the code or the architecture. But ultimately, it’s about people and market and product challenges beyond the technology.

If the opportunity arises to do something beyond your comfort zone, err toward taking that chance, with the knowledge that you can switch back to another role or opportunity if it doesn’t work out. That opportunity arose because somebody believes in you. Find out why they do, and honor them by trying to make it work. 

Whether you choose to continue to be a technologist or to go into management, surround yourself with the positive and supportive people who can help you succeed. Know where you need support and who can provide that type of support for you. Be humble and open enough to accept that help.

Along those similar lines, be a positive and supportive person to others in your network. Have the mindset that the more people who succeed in different ways, the better it is for everyone in the ecosystem.

We concluded our conversation with a work-life question from a man in the audience. The responses are below.

Kudos to the powerful, centered man in the audience for asking the question. His wife is fortunate to have a spouse with that mindset!

It depends on the circumstances – the role, management, opportunity, etc., will vary. Proactively do what’s right for YOU.

With that said, your life circumstances will certainly impact the choices you make around change. 

Don’t make the assumption that management needs 1) an MBA, 2) more time, 3) less or more money, 4) more or less opportunity, etc. 

Know your priorities first, and interface your options ranked by your priorities. Family and friends are generally high priorities for each of us, so factor in their needs as you make the technologist vs manager choice.

Our parting thought – Embrace that Growth Mindset: Err on the side of embracing opportunity, and learn about yourself and your interests and gifts.  


Please join us in thanking Western Digital, our gracious hosts for FountainBlue’s March 9 When She Speaks event, on the topic of Transitioning from Technologist to Manager, and our panelists:

  • Facilitator Linda Holroyd, CEO, FountainBlue
  • Panelist Cynthia Dote, Director of Engineering, Pure Storage
  • Panelist Lakshimi Duraivenkatesh, Sr. Director of Shopping Experience, eBay
  • Panelist Maitreyee Mahajani, VP of Production Planning, Memory Technology, Western Digital
  • Panelist Preethy Padmanabhan, Director Of Business Strategy & Operations, Global Accounts, Nutanix
  • Panelist Bhavya Vaidya, Director Supply Chain at Lam Research, Lam Research

Customer-Centered Big Data Use Cases

February 17, 2018

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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