Archive for the ‘When She Speaks’ Category


January 23, 2017


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

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

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

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


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

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

Power to the Team

December 12, 2016


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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



November 14, 2016


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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

Women Leading Innovation in Silicon Valley and Beyond

October 14, 2016

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

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

Below are notes from the conversation.

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

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

Below is a compilation of their advice and recommendations.

Know yourself and your value-add

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

About innovation

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

About Leadership

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

Pay it Forward

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

Trends and Predictions:

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



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

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

Make Your Own Rules

September 10, 2016

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

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

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

Below is a compilation of their advice and recommendations.

Be Strategic

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

Be Collaborative

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

Be Proactive

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

Be Persistent 

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

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

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

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

Politics in the Workplace

August 18, 2016

FountainBlue’s August 12 When She Speaks, Women in Leadership Series event was on the topic of Politics in the Workplace, the Good, the Bad and the Ugly. Below are notes from the conversation. 

We were fortunate to have such dynamic panelists representing a wide range of perspectives, skills and educational backgrounds to speak on the politics topic. Their wisdom, energy and generosity touched us all. 

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

About Politics

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

About Yourself as a Leader

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

Strategies for Managing Through Political Situations

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

Lifting People Up Above the Politics

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

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

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

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



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

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

Career Agility

July 18, 2016

July15WSSSFPanelFountainBlue’s July 15 When She Speaks, Women in Leadership in SF event was on the topic of Agility: The Key to a Successful Career. Below are notes from the conversation. 

We were fortunate to have such a dynamic panel of women leaders representing disparate roles and companies. Each panelist had a compelling perspective, a poignant voice, and each authentically, candidly and generously shared their journey and their learnings. They had the following in common:

  • They all started out with something small, which grew as they succeeded at each opportunity. Sometimes that led into deeper responsibility in similar roles, and sometimes to something different altogether.
  • They got noticed for their abilities by those who mattered, and these people were able to craft opportunities for them which were able to further stretch them, and the organization as well.
  • They fearlessly embraced the unknowns as they strove to become fully realized beings. They plowed ahead despite the fear. Their go-for-it mentality inspires us all.
  • They know their priorities and their values and don’t compromise on them. 
  • They know their strengths and select opportunities which allow them to lead with their strong suit(s).
  • They insist on always growing and learning – for themselves and for those around them.
  • They make sure that they add value wherever they’re working, whatever their job description. 
  • They are passionate about what they do and consistently stretch themselves and others on how it’s done.
  • They are curious and open-minded about the perspectives of those not-like-themselves.

Below is advice that they shared with us regarding embracing opportunities to advance and realize your professional potential.

  • They wisely touted the usefulness of a full and broad network which helps gain both access and perspective. But a network is also a two-way street, and they generously reach out, give back, mentor and support others in their network as well.
  • They repeatedly mentioned that we must all know what our brand is – what we do for whom and why we are passionate about doing so. Being cognizant of your brand and proactively reaching for what’s next can help you transcend from one job to another, from one role to another, from one industry to another.
  • Be aware of what you’re looking for, and be specific about what you’re looking for, so that others around you can help you realize that vision. 
  • Wherever you are is where you are meant to be, unless you decide it no longer is. Then it’s on you to do something about it.
  • The best lessons in life are often the hardest lessons. Learning from these tough lessons will make you more agile, more resilient, more effective. 
  • Choose opportunities and lessons which would expand your knowledge and perspective. Hiring and working with people not-like-you is a good way to do so, as is traveling to places before unknown.
  • Walk a mile in the shoes of others so that you can support them in their journey as well. With that said, watch your back and don’t succumb to the manipulative games of self-serving others.
  • Work hard, do good work, work your brand, and seize the opportunities that present themselves to you. Being prepared helps set yourself up for receiving lucky opportunities and having courage helps you to open the door when someone or something’s knocking!

Below is advice for those looking at what’s next for themselves career-wise.

  • When you’re looking for what’s next for yourself career wise, reach for what you’re looking for and make the case on why you are the best candidate for the role.
  • Ask for help from others – nobody is ever alone, unless they elect to be that way, or allow themselves to think that way.
  • Be positive, always gravitate to something rather than running away from something!
  • Stare down the worst fears. Break it down so that you understand the fear, and let others help you gain a perspective beyond the fear. 
  • Compromise on the little things (it might be title, salary, corner office etc.,) so that you can reach for the things that really matter to you (impact, passion, result, growing something from nothing, independence).
  • Sometimes career agility must take place from the employer side. Be creative in finding ways to keep top talent engaged and present
  • As you’re hiring, consider the skill side (what someone can do) and the style side (how they get things done). Training on skills is easier than training on passion and coachability. 

Our dynamic and amazing panelists are challenging us to to be career-agile, to reach high to be all you can be, first by knowing yourself, then by constantly reaching and growing yourself and all those around you. 


Please join us in thanking our panelists for FountainBlue’s July 15 When She Speaks, Women in Leadership in SF event, on the topic of Agility: The Key to a Successful Career as well as our gracious hosts at StubHub! 

  • Facilitator Linda Holroyd, CEO, FountainBlue – Coach, Adviser and Consultant 
  • Panelist Laura (Danckwerth) Bermudez, Director of Software Development for StubHub Social & President of eBay Women In Technology
  • Panelist Melissa Daimler, Head of Learning + Organizational Development, Twitter
  • Panelist Carole Gum, VP Global Campaigns, AppDynamics
  • Panelist Alexandra Shapiro, SVP, Marketing, PR and Communications, Bigcommerce
  • Panelist Miriam Warren, VP of New Markets, Yelp

Social Media

July 3, 2016

July1WSSPanel.pngFountainBlue’s July 1 When She Speaks, Women in Leadership Series event was on the topic of Social Media for Work and Play. Below are notes from the conversation. 

Our panelists this month represented a wide range of companies, educational backgrounds and experiences, yet each had extensive experience and perspectives around social media.

Our panelists are experienced professionals with distinct perspectives around leveraging social media for work and play, and they generously shared some common best practices.

They each actively and consciously leveraged social media in their day-to-day activities to build relationships, to share their brand, to keep in touch with others in their network, and also for pure enjoyment. 

Each panelist recognized that the different social media tools serve different purposes, and that each individual has different objectives. So key to knowing what tool to use to communicate what message is to understand what your goals are – whether it’s a social goal of staying connected with family who are spread out, or extending a corporate message to strategic partners.

Whereas LinkedIn is a must-have for all professionals, open to those well beyond your immediate network, FaceBook and Instagram are more social platforms for more personal communications with messages more intended for friends.

Whereas blog tools like Medium and WordPress are platforms for communicating a brand and message, tools like Slack and Yammer are designed for social interactions between an established group, to build connections between teams who work in different locations for example.

A tool like Twitter can be used to perpetuate a corporate message, and also to add a personal and social element to that professional brand. Our panel mentioned some interesting and creative tools which you might consider for your company.

  • LinkedIn provides a background and history of a professional career, complete with testimonials, allegiances, educational background etc. Every professional should have a profile, and link to fellow professionals whom they know and trust. 
  • WeChat and WhatsApp can be used to connect to message between people who are far apart.
  • WordPress and Medium and other blog sites are great platforms for spreading your message and your brand.
  • YouTube can help communicate deep technical issues or share presentations and information easily online.
  • Wikipedia may be used as a platform to share deep technical expertise.
  • helps compile written and curated data on the same theme, by the same group or individual.

Because there are so many options to use social media, companies need to proactively manage the corporate and product brand. It helps to have a handbook and agreement and a regularly-updated message about what to say and how to say it, but in the end, professionals must trust that employees know how to exercise good judgment and use discretion as their words and actions may reflect badly on themselves, their teams, their products/services. 

Marketing and PR teams may also work closely with executives to draft communications and messages, and also provide a handbook to the general staff on approved company communications policies and practices.

The bottom line is that social media is great when it helps you expand and grow your network and your brand, and not so great when the message and consequences are not as intended. Proactively managing your brand and thoughtfully communicating through these platforms would help you get more consistently positive results.


Please join us in thanking our panelists for FountainBlue’s July 1 When She Speaks, Women in Leadership Series event, on the topic of Social Media for Work and Play and our gracious hosts at Synaptics.

  • Facilitator Linda Holroyd, CEO, FountainBlue – Executive Coach, Tech Adviser and Leadership Consultant
  • Panelist Stefana Hunyady, Sr. Director, CPI Horizontal Programs, PayPal CTO office
  • Panelist Ann Minooka, Sr. Director of Marketing and Communications, Synaptics
  • Panelist Laura Padilla, Senior Director Technology Alliances, Nutanix
  • Panelist Heather Sullivan, Vice President & Head of HR – Global Innovation Center, Samsung Electronics


June 11, 2016


FountainBlue’s June 10 When She Speaks, Women in Leadership Series event was on the topic of Embracing Our Multi-Generational Workforce.   Below are notes from the conversation.

We were fortunate to have a broad representation of business, company and technical leaders on our panel, all with in-depth experience working with millennials, and who are generously shared their perspectives on how to successfully work with a multi-generational workforce.

Our panelists agreed that millennials are already an important segment of the work population, and will become increasingly more so, as more move into the workforce, and others leave the workforce. These digital natives are re-shaping the way we live and work in many ways:

  • Tech-based devices and applications are now a part of our life and work. It’s hard to imagine our lives without social media, without texting, without real-time notifications, on digital devices which are never far from us.
  • We are more freely questioning the-way-things-are-done, and invite new and better processes, technologies, approaches and systems… because we can.
  • We are ever more curious about the why of everything, and use that curiosity to seek understanding, and possibly to seek solutions to an existing or emerging problem.
  • Social justice, environmental responsibility, and doing the right thing are becoming a big part of who we are, what we do. Companies which both say the right things in this regard, and act on that resolve are resonating more with their larger community – from employees to partners to customers.
  • Collaborations and partnerships are increasingly becoming more accepted. Indeed, the layout of office space reflects this shift in mentality.

Because these changes are happening, below are suggestions on how we can embrace the mindsets of millennials into the workforce.

  • If more of us are inviting more challenging and meaningful work, invite people to create and lead projects which do make that difference.
  • Invite active participation in corporate activities that support the community overall.
  • If we challenge people to question the status-quo and invite them to design new ways of doing things, positive transformations can take place, transformations which are both easily adopted, and which also directly impact the bottom line, as well as employee engagement.
  • If we focus more on impact and purpose than on title and compensation (not that these aren’t important), you would be more likely to recruit, retain and development the best people.
  • If you continually raise the bar and keep work interesting and challenging, if you reward based on performance, you will also recruit, retain and development the best people.

The conclusion is that millennials are in general well worth the time and investment. Mentoring and training the best of our millennials on how to better communicate and lead is an investment in our future.


Please join me in thanking our gracious hosts at NVIDIA and our panelists for FountainBlue’s June 10 When She Speaks, Women in Leadership Series event, on the topic of Embracing Our Multi-Generational Workforce. 

  • Facilitator Linda Holroyd, CEO, FountainBlue, VP of Professional Services, IQVIS
  • Panelist Serpil Bayraktar, Principal Engineer, Cisco Systems
  • Panelist Tonie Hansen, Senior Director, Corporate Social Responsibility, NVIDIA  
  • Panelist Charu Madan, Head of Business Development and Partnerships, DataTorrent, Inc.
  • Panelist Yezhisai Murugesan, Architecture Engineer, NVIDIA
  • Panelist Lucia Turpin, Senior Director for IT Governance and Strategy, Polycom


May 16, 2016

WSSMentors051216FountainBlue’s May 12 When She Speaks, Women in Leadership Series event was on the topic of Standing on the Shoulders of Mentors. 

We were fortunate to have panelists representing different backgrounds, upbringings and perspectives, and who so graciously shared their wisdom and experience, stories and advice. Below is their collective advice and recommendations.

Know yourself.

  • Know yourself and your value-add. What can you do better than what other people can do, and how can you leverage that for the good of the project, the good of the team.

Stretch yourself.

  • Consider becoming a mentor, for it energizes you, helps you see new perspectives and also what’s next.
  • Embrace opportunities for continuous learning.
  • Be the kind of stand-out employee who gets noticed for consistently, energetically and good-naturedly deliver quality results, no matter what you are asked to do. This way, the right people will notice you and consider you for positions that would stretch you in good ways.
  • Be open and curious and outwardly facing, and connect with people who can help you remain that way, whether they are mentors, mentee, sponsors, champions, advocates or others.
  • Look for opportunities for continuous learning, which may make you feel uncomfortable at times. Putting yourself front and center may be an initiation by bonfire, but it will tell you and others ways you can shine, and also ways you can grow.
  • If you’re interested in advancing, take the time to know the executives in your company as she/he would be in a position to recommend you for a position or a project which you might not know about, and which might stretch you in a great way.
  • Consider hiring a coach who would help you better understand your value-add, your response to group and team dynamics, your current challenges and opportunities. He or she may help you create a proactive plan for your career and your future, and also be an accountability partner for you as you execute that plan.
  • Be worthy of champions and advocates by performing well at work, delivering measurable results, and treating others with respect and support. Any number of these advocates and champions may give you the time, energy, dollars, resources, connections etc., that you may need to make something happen.
  • Consciously choose to work with people not-like-you, as a mentor, as a mentee, as a boss, as a colleague etc. She or he would help you see things in a broader and deeper and different way.
  • Invite opportunities to connect with customers and understand their current and anticipated needs, regardless of what role you have within a company.
  • Be curious about why things are not working or responding as expected. Ask the right questions of the right people and learn the whys behind it. 
  • Bring your A Game, every time, all the time. Especially when things are really challenging and you just don’t feel like it!
  • Be hungry – don’t settle for more of what you’ve got, but invite opportunities to do more, be more!
  • Keep seeking all different types of mentorship and learning opportunities.
  • If you’d like to move forward, don’t look down, look up and around, and work with people who can help you do that.

Understand the world you’re working in.

  • Do the market research and learn about what’s new and what’s next so that you can stay ahead of the curve.
  • Align corporate goals, mandates and objectives from a strategic and a tactical perspective and continue to measure results.
  • Look beyond where you are to the future of technology, the future of industry, the future needs of the customer.

Remember that it’s always about the people.

  • Relationships come first and foremost. 
  • Connect with people beyond your day-to-day circle so that you can see new perspectives and opportunities.
  • Choose to work with people who would accelerate your growth, while you are accelerating their’s.
  • Find a mentor/mentee with whom you can build a long-term, productive, win-win relationship. There are many different kinds of mentors and mentoring relationships, and many ways both sides can benefit from these relationships. Work proactively with your mentor/mentee to ensure that it’s a positive win-win relationship across roles, companies, time.
  • Take the WIIFM perspective – What’s in it for me? – Ask yourself the question how are you helping your boss and her/his boss? 
  • Pay it forward. Find every opportunity to give back.

Resources onlilne:

  • Thank you to Erna Arnesen for sharing the following: 

    • Blank form for mentee to complete 
    • A sample completed mentoring session form
    • Sample of a reverse mentorng form, courtesy of Erna Arnesen
    • Sample Mentor Mentee Agreement 
  • Thank you to Laura Owen who shared the following:

    • Polycom’s mentoring program and mentoring guide
  • 22 Quotes to Help Boost Your Mentoring Prowess, Inc. Magazine


Please join us in thanking our speakers for FountainBlue’s May 12 When She Speaks, Women in Leadership Series event, on the topic of Standing on the Shoulders of Mentors as well as our gracious hosts at Polycom.

  • Facilitator Linda Holroyd, CEO, FountainBlue – Executive Coach, Tech Adviser and Leadership Consultant
  • Panelist Erna Arnesen, former VP, Global Channel and Field Marketing, Plantronics
  • Panelist Jocelyn King, Sr Director, Programmable Solutions Group Marketing, Intel Corporation
  • Panelist Laura Owen, Chief Human Resources Officer, Polycom
  • Panelist Gail Rahn Frederick, Senior Director, Developer Ecosystem and Services, eBay