Author Archive

Building Community In the ‘New-Normal’

March 25, 2020

NewNormal

For leaders of companies big and small, there’s a looming question: ‘How do you carry on, business as usual, when circumstances are SO unusual’, when things happen so quickly, when we’ve never seen such happenings before? 

And ‘What if this is the ‘new Normal’, and this ‘Work from Home’, ‘Shelter in Place’ scenario becomes the defacto standard?’

Yes, the COVID-19 has hit all of us personally, socially, professionally and economically, and in ways deeply felt, and never before seen. 

I can’t see the future any more than anyone else, but I will share some thoughts on how you, as a business leader, can help build culture for your team and organization given the ‘WFH’ and ‘SPP’ directives, given these uncertain times.

  • Be organized and collaborative.
  • Be informed and act with prudence but don’t over-react and do un-productive, energy-zapping things.
  • Practice deliberate calmness and optimism, tempered with data and reason.
  • Connect with others emotionally, if not physically. Have more time for each other, for our people matter more than ever in these times of change.

During these strange new circumstances, we as leaders and managers must take measures to support our people – whether they are employees or partners, customers or teams. Below are some thoughts on how to maintain a feeling of community, a sense of culture, a belonging to a team when you’re Sheltering in Place or Working from Home.

Set up for Success

  1. Ensure that there is clear, inspiring, top-down communication around mission and values, timelines and goals, and that they are adopted bottoms-up, with questions welcome, and regular updates as appropriate.
  2. Work with Company leaders to commit to the success of everyone – from the top-down, from the bottom-up, at each and every meeting as a group, as individuals, in thoughts, words and actions – all the time, every time.
  3. Ensure that there’s full buy-in from everyone, and positive, productive energy from everyone. (Take measures to assess whether each person can consistently adopt this mind-set, for this is critical to the success of the individual, the team, the project.)
  4. Provide clear projects and timelines which fit the talents and abilities for each team member, and which fit into the larger mission of the product, team and organization.
  5. Promote a digital company culture, leveraging technologies and tools, data and information real-time so that everyone can be productive and connected.
  6. Adopt processes and standards that protect un-interrupted ‘work-time’ without chatter, as well as structured ‘project coordination’ time to share status, and ‘social/other’ time to build bonds between team members.
  7. Help each person separate work and home life physically, mentally, emotionally.

Establish Clear Standards and Processes

  1. Be open and authentic, compassionate and human
    • Focus on making positive and constructive remarks, comments and input, and ask everyone on the team to do the same.
    • Welcome input and feedback without judgement or consequence. 
    • Build trust to help people feel that they can share freely and safely. 
    • Forgive mistakes and transgressions. Help others to do the same.
    • Be compassionate, giving and vulnerable.
  2. Practice virtual meeting etiquette. Use the mute button, manage ambient noises. Get cameras and audio tools working well. Pay attention to intonations, facial expression and body language.  
  3. Honor everyone’s preferences around meeting timing, topics, length, etc..

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Thoughts on How to Creating a More Connected Remote Workforce

Build Teamwork

  1. Allow and encourage mindless chatting, ‘off-task’, but very relevant discussion
    • Spend meeting having team members share something about themselves or share how working remotely is impacting them.
    • Pose open-ended questions, with the intent of getting to know everyone better.
    • Brainstorm with each other how to address specific challenges around WFH.
    • Help everyone feel that they are all alone on doing their (very important piece of the project), but also they are all inter-connected and all on the same team.
  2. Create and use different layers of celebration and different formats for celebrating the different types of successes real-time and incrementally, short term AND long term; team AND company; milestone achievement AND bug fix, etc.,
  3. When practical, provide opportunities for in-person social gatherings, group trainings, cross-functional/cross-product gatherings, etc., so everyone feels part of the bigger team.
  4. Reward choices made to support the team AND individual progress on key initiatives.
  5. Reward initiative and drive around creating social and team initiatives – both online and in-person.

Build Relationships

  1. Assign a buddy-system to do periodic project-based, or role-based check-ins.
  2. Create regular ‘bonding’ time (by role, by buddy-system, by mentor/mentee, etc.,)
  3. When practical, provide opportunities for cross-functional/cross-product gatherings, etc., so everyone feels part of the bigger team.

Encourage Curiosity

  1. Welcome conversations about how company/team/product values are being upheld.
  2. Encourage and reward curiosity on how things are done, why things are done this way, why things are going well or not, why customers prefer one feature over another.

Practice Compassion

  1. Be curious about how people are responding to the changing requirements and processes, and how personal circumstances might be impacting work requirements.
  2. Be supportive of those who need logistical support to address WFH, SiP mandates.
  3. Regularly assess how WFP and SiP challenges are affecting individual team members and the team overall.
  4. Be flexible on timelines and deliverables while your team and their families adjust to new circumstances.
  5. Do the little things to let people know that you’re aware of their challenges and that you’d like to support them in navigating these challenges. It may be as simple as sending them a new webcam or mailing them a handwritten letter.

Build Engagement

  1. Reward people for bringing something to Share or Give at a meeting – data, tool, resource, learning, ideas, patterns, etc.,
  2. Reward process-improvement suggestions so that everyone has the tools and information they need to get the job done, the plan is clear on how to get what kind of support
  3. Encourage and reward team members who contribute to meetings, written communications, team projects – online or in-person.

This list isn’t meant to be comprehensive, but we will keep building on it. Your thoughts are also welcome.

Opportunities and Challenges for Innovating on the Edge

March 13, 2020

EdgeComputing

FountainBlue’s March 13 VIP roundtable was on the topic of ‘Opportunities and Challenges for Innovating on the Edge’, with leaders from Maxim for leading the virtual discussion. Thank you also to our executives in attendance for their input and advice. Below are notes from the conversation.  

We were fortunate to have a diverse range of executives in attendance who worked in and around the edge computing field. As we grow solutions around edge computing, they agreed that it’s important to manage the following:

  • Seamless connection on an ongoing basis
  • Low latency/rapid response, especially when the stakes are high
  • Immersive experience so people can manage and use the solutions effectively
  • Connectivity wherever you go
  • Privacy and security of users and their data

In order to do that, we need to do the following:

  • Capture, manage and process the volumes of data generated by the growing number of sensors, devices, wearables
  • Increase speed of access to the data, without a gap
  • Gather, integrate, process and filter data between all sensors/devices/wearables on the edge in the cloud 
  • Send back filtered/processed data back to the edge for response and action

Challenges and opportunities abound. Below are some thoughts around the data.

  • Optimize the gathering/filtering/processing of data and returning only the ‘relevant’ data back to the edge/device/user
  • Validate the accuracy of the data generated.
  • Remember that where there is data, AI and ML can improve that data, making it more relevant and useful. 

Other challenges and opportunities are highlighted below.

  • Make algorithms effective enough to be useful, small enough to not consume too much power, not take too much time to process.
  • Design the architecture to better manage the power for devices/sensors/wearables on the edge.
  • Make the hardware small and compact, but also simple to integrate with the firmware and software.
  • The processing of images and videos will also provide many opportunities.

Below is advice on how to better innovate on the edge.

  • Provide options for selecting variables and rules which impact what data.
  • Validate the integrity of the data received from sources on the edge.
  • Make predictions about what’s going to happen based on patterns of what’s happened in the past.
  • Work with regulators so that they understand how technology works and can update their policies so that people are protected, but they can also get access to life-saving and life-improving solutions in such regulated industries as automotive and healthcare.
  • Proactively manage and maintain systems, computers and machines so that they can send data about system health and issues, including issues which might be related to their own functioning.
  • If you’re running multiple engineering/product teams, help them collaborate on common solutions, bringing the best brains and solutions together rather than working in silos
  • Provide personalized solutions for client companies which would have immediate benefits as well as scalable impact.
  • The mass adoption of 5G wireless has reached health and infrastructure obstacles, so don’t count on its adoption as part of your sales and marketing strategy for your edge computing solution.
  • Create edge computing solutions which meet the ‘hard constraints’ of being on the edge: the need for POWER, the SIZE of the device, and the COST to manufacture, distribute and maintain these devices/sensors/wearables. 

We end with the staggering thought that we will soon have 42 billion connected devices. The solutions that we are providing and planning today are real use cases. But think also about what’s transformational for the future – not just what devices are sensing, but also empowering a tool/process/human/algorithm to take proactive action, based on data generated, models created. We are not quite there, and is much thinking, collaboration, and working to do before we get there, and many safeguards to put in place to make sure that’s done right.

Overcoming Imposter’s Syndrome

March 13, 2020

ImposterSyndromePanelMarch2020

FountainBlue’s March 13 When She Speaks event was on the topic of ‘Overcoming Imposter Syndrome’. Our panelists loosely defined ‘Imposter Syndrome’ as the delta between what you think you’ve done and how it matches with the expectations of yourself and others, and the resultant anxiety associated with any mis-match.

The panelists brought up that many people experience Imposter Syndrome, that many women do, even accomplished women, but it’s also not just a woman’s thing, and it’s not just also for tech professionals as wives or husbands and athletes might experience it too. 

Our amazing panelists had experienced imposter syndrome at various points in their very impressive careers, especially as they were just starting out in a new field, role or industry.

Below are some of their suggestions and advice for how to navigate imposter syndrome.

  • Be data-based rather than emotive. 
  • Know the facts, be prepared, do the things you need to do to succeed.
  • Recruit and nurture advocates, sponsors and mentors. Ask people to be sounding boards. Build teams and communities.
  • Say yes to opportunities, even when they stretch your abilities and make you feel uncomfortable.
  • Be confident enough to try something new, open enough to seek input and guidance in that new role, and persistent and hard working enough to perform well in that new capacity.
  • Own your plan for success. If you’d like to be promoted, make sure that you backfill for your position, and can prove that you’re ready for that next position.
  • Be positive and supportive to others. Support them in their challenges and ask for help with your own.
  • Don’t expect to know it all, but do ask relevant questions that make people think.
  • Select a manager who is supportive and has your best interest in mind.
  • Tell a story to communicate your point: the message, the data, the conclusion.
  • Remember that you are not alone. Even people you think are very accomplished may not be as confident as you think. 
  • Adopt an ecosystem view to understand complex issues. There are many layers of people and issues involved in any one decision.
  • Adopt a thinking rather than an emotional approach to a career question or issue.
  • When you need to, fake it until you make it. Be confident.
  • Be curious.

Be encouraging and positive about what you do, and supportive even when things don’t go as planned. Proactively and positively manage that voice in your head.


Please join me in thanking our panelists for FountainBlue’s March 13 When She Speaks event was on the topic of ‘Overcoming Imposter Syndrome’.

  • Facilitator Linda Holroyd, CEO, FountainBlue
  • Panelist Jane Divinski, serial entrepreneur and engineering leader
  • Panelist Joyce Eng, Senior Director, Strategy, Program Management, User Experience, Roche

  • Panelist Krista Pavlakos, Senior Director, Marketing Communications & Demand Creation, Renesas Electronics
  • Panelist Lori Kate Smith, former Director, Marketing Programs, Machine Learning (ML), ARM

Leading with Finesse

March 1, 2020
FinesseHeptagon
It was my pleasure to attend the February BAHREC meeting, featuring Ryan Lahti, speaking about ‘The Finesse Factor‘. 
Ryan spoke eloquently about his extensive educational background and corporate experience working with STEM organizations large and small over the past three decades. The focus of the workshop is around leaders with ‘finesse’ tend to add greater value.
Defined as both a noun and a verb, finesse is an ‘intricate and refined delicacy’ as a noun and ‘do(ing) (something) in a subtle and delicate manner’ as a verb. In other words, leaders with finesse can get something done well during difficult and uncertain, and often in high-pressure situations. 
My greatest takeaway is around the patterns of behavior exhibited by leaders showing ‘finesse’. See Ryan’s chart above.
  • In his studies and in his book, Ryan points out that finesse would start at the 4-5 o’clock point of the heptagon, with ‘Leveraging Self-Awareness’. 
    • Without self-awareness, it would be difficult for any leader to finesse a successful outcome from a complicated situation. Without self-awareness, it’s difficult to be more than reactive. Without self-awareness, it’s difficult to know you need help, or to ask for help.
    • Leaders with self-awareness must decide many things, including: 
      • Is this a situation which needs to be addressed?
      • Am I the person who could help address the situation?
      • What are the short-term and long-term consequences for myself and others should I attempt to address the situation?
      • Is it worth my while to do so?
  • Going clockwise at 6 o’clock, Ryan points out that leaders with finesse must next assess the situation and look at the ecosystem of stakeholders affected by the situation.
    • This would take some strategic thinking as well as some tactical execution to best understand the situation and to best understand how to navigate the relationships in order to secure support and resources to address specific challenges and opportunities.
  • Continuing clockwise, from there, leaders with finesse strategically assess the impact of choices made, actions taken, before taking action.
  • From there, it’s about communicating a strategy and a plan of execution with a ‘measured presence’. 
    • Taking the previous steps will help leaders with finesse deliver messages with confidence.
  • When conflicts inevitably arise, leaders with finesse respond with reasonable facts in a calm manner, sticking to the issues, and not making matters personal.
  • Coaching, counseling and support help leaders with finesse manage and work with others through periods of great change. In addition, note that leaders with finesse don’t insist on always ‘being the candle’ to bring the light. They are also open to ‘being the mirror’, reflecting the light of others who may have better options and solutions.
  • Lastly, to complete the heptagon, is the step of ‘getting work done through others’. Delegation is tough for many high-performers, but leveraging the talent of others will multiply the impact, providing greater opportunities for all.
In conclusion, I was deeply impacted by this model, and by Ryan himself. It showed with clarity that all leaders (of all genders and ages) must have the first three skills, but to be recognized as a leader, the additional steps must be taken. 
May this research help you raise the bar for yourself, for your team, for your organization.

DevOps Opportunities and Challenges

February 15, 2020

DevOps

FountainBlue’s February 14 VIP roundtable, on the topic of ‘DevOps Opportunities and Challenges’. Thank you also to our gracious host at Comcast. Below are notes from the conversation.  

We were fortunate to have a diverse range of executives in attendance who worked in devops in many different ways. Collectively, they defined ‘devops’ in the following way:

  • tools and processes designed to empower and enable developers to better serve internal and external customers;
  • systems and solutions intended to help developers integrate solutions end-to-end, rather than handing off projects to other parties;
  • integrated solutions and processes which help individuals, teams, and leaders better respond to a fast-moving, highly-demanding customer base;
  • systems designed to facilitate the communication and coordination, encourage the collaboration between silos of stakeholders.

Our executives agreed that the many elements of devops solutions are integral to the success of ventures large and small, and that individuals and companies who don’t acknowledge and accept this fact will be left behind.

Below are thoughts on how best to support the adoption of devops principles.

  • Consider the needs of all stakeholders in designing solutions.
  • Align all stakeholders behind a corporate vision, a common goal.
  • Hold everyone accountable for the success of a project, rather than on 
  • Blur the line on role definition, boundaries between what you do and what others do. Focus on what we do together, what success together looks like, how to align behind a common mission/vision/milestone.
  • Help people plan from the top down, deliver from the bottom up.
  • Clear, transparent communication from the top-down, from the bottom up is critical.
  • Not everyone will embrace the new way of doing business with devops principles. 
  • Collaboratively design a process which delivers measured results. From there, you can decide on which tools and which people can help deliver those results.
  • Find and recruit the passionate, the talented, the open, the hungry and empower them to succeed.
  • Embrace a culture of accountability. Erase a culture of entitlement. 
  • Executive sponsorship and buy-in are essential to encourage a shift to a more open, more devops-oriented culture.
  • Consider Security and Scalability issues in designing extensible devops solutions.

We close with some key comments:

  • Partnerships within and across the company are key to all devops initiatives.
  • Devops leaders and innovators are resourceful, action-oriented and results-focused.

Thank you again for taking the time to join us and share your perspective and information. 

One Plus One Makes Eleven

February 15, 2020

OnePlusOnePanelFountainBlue’s February 13 When She Speaks event was on the topic of ‘One Plus One Makes Eleven’. This month’s inspiring panel of leaders came from a wide range of backgrounds and experiences, but they had much in common.

  • They are clear and inspiring communicators who are both humble and confident.
  • They have navigated some challenging waters, and learned from both their successes and their challenges.
  • They continue to push the envelop, holding the bar higher for themselves and for all those they work with.

They also agreed on many things.

  • Empowering the people and the team is a critical management and leadership skill. 
  • The only way for individuals and teams to scale is to include a broader, more diverse team members.
  • It’s not always easy to integrate someone into a team, but it’s often worth the effort to try. Build rapport with each team member.

They also shared advice on how to get teams to be more innovative.

  • Create and nurture a culture which rewards failure, which invites courage.
  • Invite the multipliers to join the team. 
  • Inspire and engage the right people to join and stay. 
  • Embrace a collaboration mind set – 
  • Be ever ready to answer the questions: how are we better together? how are we making a difference?
  • Celebrate the wins.
  • Err on the side of inclusivity.
  • Decide for yourself what types of people would ‘push your buttons’. Find out how to best manage yourself, and best work with people who might be toxic or difficult under specific circumstances.
  • Be customer-oriented and motivate the team to also focus on the customer.
  • Be metrics/data-based, especially when emotions run high.

We close by challenging everyone to be the leader, be the change. Never settle into complacency. Celebrate successes, but then be passionate about what’s next.


FountainBlue’s February 13 When She Speaks event on the topic of ‘One Plus One Makes Eleven’. Please join me in thanking our panelists and our hosts at Citrix.

  • Facilitator Linda Holroyd, CEO, FountainBlue
  • Panelist Indira Joshi, Director of Technical Marketing, Emerging Memory Solutions, Micron Technology
  • Panelist Shikha Mittal, Director, Product Management & Strategy, VMware
  • Panelist Marissa Schmidt, Senior Director of Product Management, CITRIX

With Each Challenge Comes Opportunity

January 24, 2020

AllAboard

We world-changers believe that ‘with each challenge comes opportunity’. In fact, it’s too overwhelming to be a world-changer if we take the business, sustainability, equality challenges too much to heart.

Consider the challenge of getting more diversity, more empowerment and more engagement within teams and companies and industries. (This post will not cover why this needs to happen or what the benefits are should it happen. Read further if you’d like to help make it happen.)

To get ‘All Aboard’ in tackling this challenge, we must all do the following:

  1. Collect and Disseminate the Research on the Value of Diversity on Teams, in Companies, on Boards.
    • The data is out there. Compiling it and reporting on it will help drive momentum, facilitate change.
  2. Build a Network of like-minded people, invested through thoughts, words and actions.
    • Speak up and align thoughts, words and actions with those who also want to make a difference and move the needle forward.
  3. Expand the Candidate Base – focus on the children.
    • Focus on initiatives which would support the children. Help them think, dream, plan for a more open, more inclusive, more diverse future. Inspire, empower and engage them.
  4. Expand the Candidate Base – focus on corporate professionals.
    • Help our young professionals succeed where they are now, and rise among the ranks and reach for new heights. Their success would influence all they touch.
  5. Welcome Creative and Entrepreneurial Representatives.
    • Be open, warm and accepting of those who can’t/won’t ‘draw within the lines’. In thinking differently, these creatives, these entrepreneurs also hold a piece of the puzzle.
  6. Challenge the Mindsets of Leaders and Innovators.
    • Often, ‘what got you here won’t get you to that next level’. A change in mind-set, a broader, more open perspective, a more inclusive network may help re-set and expand expectations and achievements. 
  7. Connect People, Networks and Communities.
    • The more I learn, the more I grow, the more I see us all as ONE. Finding intersects which bring greater inclusion, broader perspectives, shared objectives will help each of us work collaboratively to serve as all.
  8. Choose a Cause. Make a Stand.
    • We are in crisis mode. Don’t wait for an invitation to serve. We can all be knighted to serve the many opportunities to make a difference.
  9. Communicate, Coordinate, Engage around a Cause.
    • Which specific problems will you tackle? Keep us posted on the what, the how, the who.
  10. The Time is NOW. The Baton is Yours.
    • How will YOU lead through this crisis? 

Healthcare Opportunities and Challenges

January 21, 2020

Healthcare

FountainBlue’s January 17 VIP roundtable was on the topic of ‘Healthcare Opportunities and Challenges’. Thank you also to our gracious host at Roche. Below are notes from the conversation.  

We had an outstanding group of diverse executives, all representing the breadth and depth of healthcare – from medical equipment and medical supplies and devices, to healthcare services and providers, to the biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, and miscellaneous scientific and professional services related to the curative, preventive, rehabilitative, and palliative care of patients of every ilk.

Through the variance of perspectives, our healthcare executives agreed the data revolution continues and is impacting healthcare in many ways, even enabling personalized medicine. For example, the sheer volume of knowledge is overwhelming and the accumulation of knowledge continues to escalate. In fact, accumulated medical knowledge took 50 years to double, but today, it takes 73 days.  

What becomes critical then is figuring out what data is relevant to whom for what purpose and how that relevant data will drive better decision-making for patients, practitioners, providers, vendors, care-givers, insurers, etc. 

Below are some opportunities highlighted by our executives:

  • Leverage the data to optimize diagnosis, decision-making, and treatment easier, more collaborative, more robust, more dynamic.
  • Embrace technological solutions to age-old health challenges.
  • Help institutions and providers leverage technology to be more effective and more efficient.
  • Provide integrated hardware and software solutions which help patients optimize their own health, manage their own conditions.
  • Efficiently provide comprehensive, individualized programs which are scalable and customizable, yet also cost-effective to manage and run.
  • Serve the proactive, informed patient/consumer who will increasingly demand more personalized services.
  • Offer technology solutions which enabled integrated health and wellness.
  • Create solutions which help hospitals integrate legacy data and hardware, while also improving processes and providing more digital functionality.
  • Consider opportunities around remote monitoring for the aging population, leveraging mobile devices and sensors.
  • Optimize logistics, delivery, fulfillment and retail support for the highly-regulated healthcare market.
  • Integrate today’s hot technologies into comprehensive healthcare applications: AI/ML, Edge Computing, IoT, Robotics, Deep Fake, 3D modeling, AR/VR…

A major theme in the discussion is that collaboration across leaders, organizations, nations, and industries is key.

  • Corporations continue to make build/buy/partner decisions with start-ups targeting specific niche markets.
  • The sharing of data, if managed well to respect privacy and access, can benefit all stakeholders.
  • Create platforms which would allow multiple stakeholders to collaborate in the service of patients, in the search for cures.
  • Industry leaders and technologists and advocacy groups need to partner with policymakers to improve the evaluation process, to better serve patients.
  • Genius ideas can come from anywhere – providing the data and information will help more geniuses step forward.

The bottom line is that no matter where we sit at the table, as a patient, as a technologist, as a provider, we are all in charge of our own health. Empowering all stakeholders with tools, resources and information will help us all make better healthcare choices.

A Seat at the Table

January 20, 2020

SeatAtTablePanelFountainBlue’s January 18 When She Speaks event was on the topic of ‘A Seat at the Table’.  Although this month’s panelists had a wide range of styles, perspectives and backgrounds, they have each certainly earned their seats at the table. Below is a compilation of their advice on how we could each also earn the respect, influence and resources needed to make a strategic and tactical impact at work and in life.

  • Be Brave.
    • If you want to make a difference and experience something different than what you’ve experienced to date, be courageous in making well-thought-out, uncomfortable choices.
  • Be Calm.
    • Manage your own emotions so that you can have more influence. When emotions run high, try to assume positive intent and understand the motivations and actions of people who are making you upset. 
  • Be Prepared.
    • Think strategically and tactically about what you’d like to accomplish and why, who can help make it happen, how it could happen, what success looks like, etc. 
  • Be Authentic.
    • Be fully and genuinely and openly authentic, truthful, compassionate and human. This is especially true through tough circumstances.
  • Be Connected.
    • Grow your personal and professional network to include a wider and broader swath of people.  
  • Be Empathetic.
    • Be open and empathetic, more curious than judgmental about people who are not-like-you. 
  • Be Collaborative.
    • Partner and work with like-minded people to achieve results which benefit all.
  • Be Charming.
    • Honey attracts flies better than vinegar. Never underestimate the power of charm. 
  • Be Strategic.
    • When making decisions, consider the why, the what, the who, the how and achieve those long-term and short term goals. 
  • Be Effective.
    • Know what success looks like and measure and report on your progress along the way, engaging all stakeholders.
  • Be Creative.
    • Embrace your ability to think outside the box. Welcome others to also voice diverse perspectives.
  • Be Compassionate.
    • Be gentle with yourself and others. We are all one, on an imperfect journey to finding our greater selves.
  • Be Positive.
    • Manage your self-talk and your energy to think and act positively.

The bottom line is that we can each earn a seat at the table, no matter what our background, role, education, etc., If you choose to have a seat at the table, first ask yourself WHY you’d like to do it, WHAT you’d like to influence first, WHO can help you to do so, and WHAT success would look like.

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FountainBlue’s January 18 When She Speaks event on the topic of ‘A Seat at the Table’. Please join me in thanking our panelists and our hosts at TechLAB.

  • Facilitator Linda Holroyd, CEO, FountainBlue
  • Panelist Coco Brown, Founder and CEO, The Athena Alliance
  • Panelist Barbara Massa, Executive Vice President, People & Places, FireEye
  • Panelist Nivedita Ojha, Senior Director – Product Management, Edge Devices & Cloud, Mobile, SaaS, Citrix
  • Panelist Sonya Pelia, CMO, Cira Apps Ltd; Board Member, How Women Lead
  • Panelist Ronit Polak, VP Quality Assurance, Palo Alto Networks

Men Who Open Doors

December 20, 2019

MenOpenDoors.jpg

FountainBlue’s December 13 When She Speaks event was on the topic of Men Who Open Doors.  This month’s panelists represented a wide range of companies, backgrounds and roles, but they had much in common which made them great sponsors.

  • They consistently and strategically sponsor the women in their organization because they believe in the business, professional and personal benefits for doing so
  • They have success stories which show how sponsorship has benefited individuals, teams, and organizations.
  • They support and espouse a culture of inclusive beyond the people they can personally sponsor.

Below is advice they shared about how to sponsor a promising staff member.

  • Doing the right thing by someone and supporting their advancement is also good for your culture, your product, your company.
  • Be an empathetic and proactive listener. 
  • Help someone clarify their passion, and create a path to work on something of interest to her/him.
  • Have a merit-based view of the world.
  • See others without the filter of judgment. 
  • Learn from everyone, no matter what their role is, what their organization is.
  • Invite diverse perspectives to support everything from product development to decision-making, from hiring to marketing.
  • Encourage people to stop complaining and start doing something. Empower them to succeed.
  • Allow access to key leaders and customers so that they can see the larger perspective. 
  • Give them opportunities to prove themselves, to shine and thrive.
  • Help people gain the self confidence to reach beyond their comfort zone.

Below is advice for people who are seeking sponsors.

  • Be strategic about what you’re looking for, who can help you, how she/he can help you.
  • Know that not all sponsors are the right ones for you, and even that not all sponsors are good sponsors.
  • Be clear on your interests and your passion, and how these things can benefit the product, the group, the organization.
  • Be willing to work hard, to learn to think, speak and act differently.
  • Embrace feedback and input.
  • Be open minded about available options.

Below is advice on how we can help each other move the needle forward.

  • Help and support others, even if it’s not your job to do so.
  • Choose to do the right thing, and help others to do the same.
  • Have an abundance mindset – the more you help someone else – even if that person is not directly related to you – the more you help everyone.
  • Help someone find his or her voice.
  • Make a stand for someone whose not acknowledged.
  • Defend someone from the games others are playing to undermine her/him.

The bottom line with these sponsors is that they whole-heartedly believe that together with a more diverse, more inclusive team, we are ALL better off, in the short term and for the long term.


Please join me in thanking our panelists and our hosts at Texas Instruments.

  • Facilitator Linda Holroyd, CEO, FountainBlue; Director, Vonzos Partners
  • Panelist Dr. Benjamin Cook, Sr. Director, Nanotechnology – Kilby Labs, CTO Organization, Texas Instruments
  • Panelist JD Dillon, Vice President of Marketing, Enphase Energy
  • Panelist Martin Jessen, VP Learning Solutions North America, Schneider Electric
  • Panelist Mike Snell, Vice President of Operations, Global Operations, Lam Research
  • Panelist Jon Woolvine, Distinguished Engineer, Director Information Technology, Cisco 
  • with opening remarks provided by Rajni Dharmarajan, Product line General Manager, Texas Instruments