Archive for the ‘When She Speaks’ Category

Unconscious Bias

November 11, 2019
UnconsciousBias

Left to Right: Sonya, Megan, Martha, Linda, Alia, Sujatha

FountainBlue’s November 8 When She Speaks event on the topic of Overcoming Unconscious Bias. Our panelists represented a wide range of perspectives and backgrounds, yet they had much in common.

  • Each are intelligent, driven, flexible and competent enough to excel in a corporate environment while remaining business-focused and people-centric.
  • Each are committed to sharing their best practices, in the interest of supporting the larger community.
  • Each has the self-awareness and confidence to address and confront their own unconscious biases, and stoically plod on the self-improvement journey, while supporting others with theirs.

They shared their advice with wisdom, insight and humor.

  • Be slow to judge, quick to support.
  • Be actively thinking, actively listening to what’s said and what’s meant.
  • Look closely, judge kindly.
  • Reflection and introspection help people get grounded and centered.
  • Take all the help you can get to manage your own unconscious biases – whether it’s through your company, your trusted board of advisers, your school and community, etc.,
  • Choose to be the bigger person when you are the one being judged. Consistently build that brand of taking the high road. Deliver with your results.
  • Recruit others to support you in overcoming biases, conscious and conscious.
  • Watch your language. Manage your filters. 
  • Pick your battles. Address the mid-term and long-term goals. The short term battles are difficult to win, especially when the biases aren’t conscious, when the judgements run deep.
  • Know what you can influence and what you can’t influence. Accept what you can’t influence – (at least not in the short term.)
  • Watch the packaging – how you dress, look and act may have others judging you favorably or unfavorably. Aim not to offend.
  • Have honest conversations with yourself about any biases you might have.
  • Immerse yourself in uncomfortable situations and circumstances so that you can better understand those who are not-like-you.
  • Spell out how others are categorized and considered for hiring and promotion. Is it fair and just? Is it generating the diverse results you say you’re seeking?
  • Create processes which would help others fairly consider all options.
  • Watch the exceptions that you’re making, to ensure that those exceptions are fairly distributed.

In the end, we concluded that it’s hard to be open to your own biases when you don’t know that you have them, or what they are. Assume that you do. That everyone does.

You can only manage your own journey, and support others as they manage theirs.


Please join me in thanking our panelists for FountainBlue’s November 8 When She Speaks event on the topic of Overcoming Unconscious Bias and our gracious hosts at Aruba HPE.

  • Facilitator Linda Holroyd, CEO, FountainBlue 
  • Panelist Alia Ayub, Vice President of Tax, Lam Research
  • Panelist Megan Cheek, Head of Human Resources, Anatomage
  • Panelist Sujatha Mandava, VP of Product Management, Aruba HPE
  • Panelist Sonya Pelia, CMO, Cira Apps Limited
  • Panelist Martha Ryan, Executive Director Business Transformation, Maxim

Mentorship

November 11, 2019
Mentorship2019HonoreesFountainBlue’s First Annual Mentorship Awards event, part of the When She Speaks series, was scheduled for November 1.
Our mentorship awardees this year had a wide range of backgrounds and experiences, but each had much in common:
  • they each valued the input of the mentors from an early age and on an ongoing basis;
  • they worked with their companies to create a program which support dozens and even hundreds of men and women;
  • they each continued to mentor others as they themselves advanced in their careers;
  • they are each committed to continuing to mentor others, on top of their immense work responsibilities, community commitments, and the day-to-day joys and challenges of a busy family.
Our panelists agreed on the short term and long-term benefits of mentorship. Mentors can help solve current problems, but they can also help with longer-term gains building confidence, expanding perception, providing support, especially when times are tough.
 
There are many reasons to become a mentor. Not only is it personally satisfying, but also supports the professional development of mentees, but also the team and organization as a whole. Mentoring is a great way to give back – to your team, to your company, to your community, to the next generation. 
 
Below is a summary of mentorship best practices.
  • The mentoring relationship is a dynamic one – the needs of both mentors and mentees change over time. Clear communication from both sides help ensure productive interactions between mentees and mentors.
  • One goal from a mentorship relationship is to develop a ‘thicker skin’, so that the mentee is more resilient and confident even if an environment is less than ideal.
  • Mentors can successfully mirror behavior or attitude of the mentee, so that she/he can better understand how others are responding to them.
  • There are many different kinds of mentors and mentoring relationships. Just because you have a technical mentor doesn’t mean that you don’t also need a mentor to help navigate a new role, for example.
  • Mentors can help filter messages and information, so that you focus on what’s important and use your time most wisely.
  • Mentor people at all levels, not just those designated as ‘high-potential’. Even if the mentee never gets into management levels, that mentee would have more influence and more confidence in whichever level they’re in.
  • With that said, make sure that both mentors and mentees are willing participant. It doesn’t work to mandate a mentor-mentee relationship.
  • Have specific criteria if you’re matching mentors and mentees, and have direct communication to ensure that both parties continue to benefit from the connection.
Every speaker remarked on how important it was to develop our people, our relationships, and how mentorship is a critical tool to grow everyone at all levels at scale.

Please join me in congratulating FountainBlue’s 2019 Mentorship Honorees.
  • Amber Barber, Sr. Manager Business Operations Management, Lam Research
  • Serpil Bayraktar, Distinguished Engineer, Chief Architect’s Office – Development, Cisco
  • Christina Lewis, BU Controller/Director, Enterprise Finance, Western Digital
  • Ronit Polak, VP, Quality Assurance, Palo Alto Networks
  • Kavita Shah, Senior Director, Strategic Marketing, Nova Measuring Instruments
Thank you also to our hosts at Lam Research, to Erin Yeaman, Managing Director of HR, Lam Research and to Mike Snell, Vice President of Operations, Global Operations, Lam Research for their introductory remarks. 

Age of the Customer

October 14, 2019

FountainBlue’s October 11 When She Speaks event was on the topic of ‘Age of the Customer’. Below are notes from the conversation.

We were fortunate to have such a fun, passionate, customer-focused panel to speak on this ‘Age of the Customer’ topic. Clearly their focus on the customer helps them better understand the needs and motivations of internal and external customers. The far-ranging conversation covered the drivers which lead to the empowerment of the customer, including the infrastructure development and technology advancement which influenced this trend:

  • The hardware and software advancements 
  • The networking and bandwidth advancements 
  • The big data, AI, database advancements
  • The sensors, IoT, and other data-generating devices and things

Indeed, the world has become more connected, the customers more empowered. Our panelists agreed that the challenge now is not getting the data, but filtering the data for relevancy; not retrieving the data, but how quickly we can get access to the right data; not creating simple if-then scripts around the data, but creating and continually updating programs to proactive receive and act on relevant data, so we can make real-time inferences and decisions, sometimes when the stakes are very high.

In this age of the customer, proactive companies:

  • invite customers to provide input on current and anticipated problems 
  • integrate historical, customer and market data to better anticipate future needs
  • synthesize data to add strategic value for each customer
  • help internal and external customers better navigate changes in market and technology trends

Below is advice provided by our panelists on how to better serve customers:

  • Be proactive. Err on the side of action. 
  • Don’t let ‘best’ be the enemy of ‘better’. 
  • Align stakeholders on a common cause – the needs of the customer.
  • Be fluid, be open. Don’t be complacent.
  • Invite the feedback and participation from the naysayers.
  • Believe in yourself.
  • Be persistent – go over, go around, go through if you must.
  • Build communities.
  • Build relationships.
  • Leverage data and metrics to better understand and address the needs of the customer. 
  • Embrace failure as a lesson in succeeding. But if you must fail, fail fast. Don’t hang on to long to something that will fail. 

We concluded by remarking that serving customers will be more efficient, even as customers becoming more demanding for personalized solutions. So automation, ingenuity and programming will be key. However, humans will always be necessary. There will be no substitute for the human connection. Humans will always be needed to make those decisions, to solve for new problems, to come up with those creative solutions, in this age of the customer.


Please join us in thanking our panelists for FountainBlue’s October 11 When She Speaks event, on the topic of ‘Age of the Customer’ and our gracious hosts at Pure Storage.

  • Facilitator Linda Holroyd, CEO, FountainBlue 
  • Panelist Donelle Block, Director, Global Support Operations, Pure Storage, Inc.
  • Panelist Lauren Larson Diehl, Sr. Director, Customer Success Management Global Program Office, Oracle
  • Panelist Shikha Mittal, Director, Product Management & Strategy, VMWare 
  • Panelist Meena Narayanan, Vice President – People & Culture, Livongo Health
  • with opening remarks by Bill Cerreta, General Manager, Platform BU, Pure Storage

See bios and invitation at https://www.tikkl.com/fountainblue/c/collaboration

Collaboration

September 25, 2019

CollaborationBestPracticesPanel

We were fortunate to have such a diverse, inspiring and experienced panel of leaders speaking on a range of collaboration concepts. They represented a range of educational backgrounds, corporate experience, and cultural and entrepreneurial backgrounds, but they had much in common.

  • They each leveraged collaboration to bring out the best in themselves and in others. 
  • They are each experts at drawing on the experience and backgrounds and perspectives of others, while focusing on common issues and problems.
  • They are each passionate about learning and growing, and committed to spreading their learnings to others.

Below are some thoughts they shared about the benefits of collaboration:

  • Collaborating with others leads to greater results for all.
  • Collaborating with others who are different than you brings great value still.
  • Business issues ranging from problem-solving to decision-making, from brainstorming to conflict resolution can be resolved through collaboration.

Each panelist emphasized that leaders who can best facilitate collaboration will consistently bring better results. Below is some advice on how to better encourage collaboration.

  • Understand the background and motivations of others, so that you can better work towards a common goal.
  • Identify criteria and factors of importance for a project’s success.
  • Ensure that the data you use is valid and true. That data’s integrity is critical to the success of any project.
  • Larger networks are not necessarily better, but more diverse networks generally can be better. So encourage diversity of thought in your team, for your projects, in your life.
  • Be inclusive of others. Help others feel comfortable contributing.
  • Focus on the needs of the customer. Ask your internal staff, your partners and your customers how you can best serve their needs.
  • Clear, transparent, true communication is critical for all effective collaborations. 
  • All successful collaborations rely on mutual trust.

Here are some final thoughts around collaboration.

  • Be humble. Be open. Be a lifelong learner who believes you can learn from anyone, from every experience.
  • Have a good attitude. Your Attitude and Your Aptitude will define your Altitude.
  • Empathy is the new superpower. Be empathetic to those around you. Understanding everyone’s point of view, and having compassion for their pain-points and challenges will help you better understand yourself and your project.

Resources:

Collaboration Best Practices

September 25, 2019

CollaborationBestPracticesPanel

FountainBlue’s September 13 When She Speaks event, on the topic of ‘Collaboration Best Practices’. Below are notes from the conversation.

We were fortunate to have such a diverse, inspiring and experienced panel of leaders speaking on a range of collaboration concepts. They represented a range of educational backgrounds, corporate experience, and cultural and entrepreneurial backgrounds, but they had much in common.

  • They each leveraged collaboration to bring out the best in themselves and in others. 
  • They are each experts at drawing on the experience and backgrounds and perspectives of others, while focusing on common issues and problems.
  • They are each passionate about learning and growing, and committed to spreading their learnings to others.

Below are some thoughts they shared about the benefits of collaboration:

  • Collaborating with others leads to greater results for all.
  • Collaborating with others who are different than you brings great value still.
  • Business issues ranging from problem-solving to decision-making, from brainstorming to conflict resolution can be resolved through collaboration.

Each panelist emphasized that leaders who can best facilitate collaboration will consistently bring better results. Below is some advice on how to better encourage collaboration.

  • Understand the background and motivations of others, so that you can better work towards a common goal.
  • Identify criteria and factors of importance for a project’s success.
  • Ensure that the data you use is valid and true. That data’s integrity is critical to the success of any project.
  • Larger networks are not necessarily better, but more diverse networks generally can be better. So encourage diversity of thought in your team, for your projects, in your life.
  • Be inclusive of others. Help others feel comfortable contributing.
  • Focus on the needs of the customer. Ask your internal staff, your partners and your customers how you can best serve their needs.
  • Clear, transparent, true communication is critical for all effective collaborations. 
  • All successful collaborations rely on mutual trust.

Here are some final thoughts around collaboration.

  • Be humble. Be open. Be a lifelong learner who believes you can learn from anyone, from every experience.
  • Have a good attitude. Your Attitude and Your Aptitude will define your Altitude.
  • Empathy is the new superpower. Be empathetic to those around you. Understanding everyone’s point of view, and having compassion for their pain-points and challenges will help you better understand yourself and your project.

Resources:

See bios and invitation at https://www.tikkl.com/fountainblue/c/collaboration

Please join me in thanking our panelists and our gracious hosts at Western Digital for FountainBlue’s September 13 When She Speaks event, on the topic of ‘Collaboration Best Practices’:

  • Facilitator Linda Holroyd, CEO, FountainBlue 
  • Panelist Marilyn Becker, Director, People Analytics, Western Digital
  • Panelist Win Chang, Cloud Customer Experience Director, Oracle
  • Panelist Karthi Gopalan, Product Line Director, Mobile Power BU, Maxim
  • Panelist Shalini Kasliwal, Founder and CEO, JoinEight
  • Panelist Shveta Miglani, Head of Global Learning and Development, Micron

Keeping Up with the Bad Guys

August 13, 2019

BadGuysPanel.png

FountainBlue’s August 9 When She Speaks event, on the topic of Keeping Up with the Bad Guys. Please join me in thanking our panelists and our gracious hosts at Palo Alto Networks. Below are notes from the conversation.

We were fortunate to have such a technical and articulate panel of leaders to speak on the Intent-Based Networking topic. Our panelists represented a wide range of educational and professional backgrounds, but they had much in common:

  • They have deep business and technical expertise that they leverage in their day-to-day activities.
  • They are continuous learners, making sure to apply new learnings to improve professional and personal outcomes.
  • They have a customer oriented mindset, and strategically focus on growing the ecosystem.

They each spoke eloquently on the cyber security opportunities and challenges ahead.

  • Plan ahead in case there’s a security breach. Train your people, adopt your processes, be aware of implications, etc.,
  • Be customer focused – whether you’re serving internal or external customers. See the challenges through their eyes and make it easy for customers to help themselves.
  • No matter where you sit at the table, communicate clearly and transparently, and manage projects and people collaboratively.
  • Leverage automation and AI to handle standard cyber security challenges, but don’t stop there. Assume that threats can’t be addressed through automation alone.
  • Regardless of whether you’re directly in charge, learn from each breach (whether it happens to your company, your team or someone else’s) and integrate these learnings into new plans and processes.
  • Critical elements for proactive cybersecurity management include: Proactive Risk Assessment, Strategic Continuous Management of Access, and Ongoing Authentication and Validation.
  • Security is a team sport. It’s everyone’s job at some level to Protect, Detect, and Respond to cyber security threats. 
  • Adopt tools and processes which would allow your company to manage possession, custody and control of assets.
  • With all the data out there, it’s important to quickly sift out the anomalies – as these events are much more likely to be problems.
  • Cybersecurity involves many overwhelming tasks. There are so many things to oversee and manage, so many things to control and configure, so many people to track and communicate with. 

Our panelists were bullish on the opportunities ahead in cyber security, and encouraged each of us to seriously consider how we could each contribute to a burgeoning industry.

They concluded that leaders and managers must stay on top of policies, requirements, training, as well as ongoing management and proactive planning and support. Nobody can do everything right all the time. Hence, it will take an ecosystem of partners to stay ahead of the bad guys. Collaboration is key.


FountainBlue’s August 9 When She Speaks event was on the topic of Keeping Up with the Bad Guys. Please join me in thanking our panelists and our gracious hosts at Palo Alto Networks.

  • Facilitator Linda Holroyd, CEO, FountainBlue
  • Panelist Julie Cullivan, Chief People and Technology Officer, ForeScout 
  • Panelist Vaishali Ghiya, Senior Director, Security Sales Systems Engineering, Cisco
  • Panelist Katrin Jakob, Co-Founder, White Hawk Software
  • Panelist Jocelyn King, CMO, Encryptics; Managing Partner, Vonzos Partners 
  • Panelist Archana Muralidharan, Principal, Technical Risk Management, Palo Alto Networks

See bios and invitation at https://www.tikkl.com/fountainblue/c/badguys

Intent-Based Networking

July 19, 2019

July19WSSPhoto.jpeg

FountainBlue’s July 19 When She Speaks event, on the topic of Intent-Based Networking. We were fortunate to have such a technical and articulate panel of leaders to speak on the Intent-Based Networking topic. 

Our panelists represented a range of industries, experiences and roles, but were each educated as technologists and each displayed in-depth technical expertise and experience. They made it clear that IBN is inevitably in our future and provided clear examples of how it is impacting us today.

They have each seen the evolution of manual configurations around the network, and witnessed the progression to scripts and programs to manage networks, and then the development of software-defined networks (SDNs), which to this day still help automate the management of networks.

To them, IBN is a progression of this pattern. Software is progressively more leveraged to manage networks, and networking leaders are progressing toward solutions which better focus on the intentions of the customers.

For example, instead of having protocols for every scenario, an IBN approach might focus on the problem a customer would like solved.

Many things need to fall into place before we can smoothly transition to a deeper adoption of IBN.

  • The hardware and software infrastructure must be reliably, pervasively and securely available to all relevant stakeholders. 
  • There must be a level of trust and communication between customers and vendors and partners in order to best understand the customer intent. Plus ongoing clear and transparent communication is needed to ensure smooth development, monitoring, and execution to deliver that custom program.
  • Sufficient data must be available in order to manage create programs which address the needs of the customer.
  • There must be clarity on which party plays which role in the IBN development and management process – the visionary, the creator, the enforcer, the manager.

It’s not clear how and whether some industries and some companies will adopt IBN. But it is clear that there are advantages for leading companies to do so.

  • The amount of available data is mind-bogglingly huge, and will only get larger. IBN will help companies proactively deal with problems as anticipated by customers, rather than reactively respond to a problem, as defined by large (and growing) sets of protocols and rules. 
  • Leveraging AI and ML to deliver solutions based on customer needs will likely lead to deeper relationships, more partnerships, and a better understanding of current and even future needs of the customer.
  • Better understanding patterns and edge cases will help better serve a wider range of customers and their needs.
  • Making predictions based on data patterns will in turn help better deliver results for customers.
  • Each of the points above will increase customer retention and customer acquisition, while also potentially leading to a wider set of offerings for each customer.

The road to adoption will take more leadership, more innovation, more collaboration. The open sharing of solutions, combined with a customer-centric mind-set will help hard-working, smart companies and leaders make progress in embracing the adoption of IBN.


Please join me in thanking our gracious hosts at Cisco and our panelists for FountainBlue’s July 19 When She Speaks event, on the topic of Intent-Based Networking.  

  • Facilitator Linda Holroyd, CEO, FountainBlue
  • Panelist Serpil Bayraktar, Principal Engineer, Chief Architect’s Office – Development, Cisco
  • Panelist Liliane Peters, Director Configuration & Release Management, Ericsson 
  • Panelist Ranjeeta Singh, VP, GM, Data Science and Artificial Intelligence, Teradata
  • Panelist Su Tsai, Director of Data Center Networking Services, Cisco IT 

See bios and invitation at https://www.tikkl.com/fountainblue/c/intent

Welcoming the Gift of Feedback

June 17, 2019

Screen Shot 2019-06-17 at 1.56.35 PM.png

FountainBlue’s June 14 When She Speaks was event on the topic of ‘Welcoming the Gift of Feedback’. See panelist bios at https://www.tikkl.com/fountainblue/c/june14feedback. 

Our panelists this month represented a wide range of companies, roles and perspectives, but they shared a passion for leadership and management, and humbly shared their best practices for providing feedback.

Provide impactful feedback:

  • Make feedback specific, sincere, data-based (not personal), and continually, so that others know how to better perform.
  • Aim for ‘SMART’ feedback which is specific, measurable, achievable (or actionable), realistic and time-lined.

Focus on growth and positivity: 

  • Be as open to receiving feedback as you are to providing feedback. Welcome opportunities to grow yourself, while providing learning opportunities for others to also grow.
  • Be positive and constructive rather than negative and judgmental.
  • Empower and enable others to help themselves, to come to their own conclusions and solutions.
  • Adopt a positivity mindset – Find ways to be more positive and constructive with your feedback, while still correcting for inevitable errors.

Be strategic:

  • Recognize the motivations of the other party that’s providing the feedback. Understanding their motivations will help you validate the relevance and legitimacy of the feedback offered.
  • Consider both the strategic and the tactical implications of the feedback offered.
  • Focus on the longer-term performance and development of the person, rather than individual mistakes and errors made.
  • Look for trends on the feedback delivered.
  • Identify and focus on the root cause of problems.

Be Leader-ly:

  • As a leader, own the problem, recognize and coach the team.
  • Listen well before speaking and acting. With that said, err on the side of action.
  • Work collaboratively to solve problems.

Nobody’s perfect. Everyone can benefit from feedback, as long as it’s delivered with positive and constructive intent, and received in the same manner.


Please join me in thanking our gracious hosts at ASML and our panelists for FountainBlue’s June 14 When She Speaks event on the topic of ‘Welcoming the Gift of Feedback’:

  • Facilitator Linda Holroyd, CEO, FountainBlue
  • Panelist Nancy Gilbert, Director of Engineering, Lam Research
  • Panelist Nithya Ruff, Head, Open Source Program Office, Comcast; Board Member, The Linux Foundation 
  • Panelist Jinping Song, SQA Director, ASML
  • Panelist Monika Thakur, Vice President, Cloud Operations, Oracle

Local Input, Global Impact

May 14, 2019

 

FountainBlue’s May 10 When She Speaks event was on the topic of ‘Local Input, Global Impact‘.  Below are notes from the Conversation.

We were fortunate to have such an inspiring and accomplished panel to speak on this month’s topic. They were each as adept at prescribing and creating the future of an organization as they were at inspiring everyone to contribute to a common cause. They were as passionate about delivering bottom-line results as they were about motivating all stakeholders to contribute personally and professionally to that cause.

As the speed of technology and markets continue to evolve rapidly, change is inevitable. Keeping ahead of change is imperative. Below are thoughts on how to amplify local impact to maximize global impact in order to keep up with this change.

  • Plan strategically for the necessary market changes. 
    • Help individual people make shifts to people and technology strategies to keep up with market forces. 
    • Communicate succinctly, strategically and tactically so that your message is heard, and that the appropriate actions follow.
    • Design and implement collaborative solutions to specific problem statements.
  • Help people embrace the unique value they bring to the table.
    • Develop the ‘as-you-are’, ‘full-self’ culture which accepts people for who they are, and invite them to fully engage and contribute.
    • Respect others for their differences. Be open to how they view the world.
    • Acknowledge people for what they contribute for each project. 
    • Speak in a language the other person understands, even if it’s foreign to you.
    • Be humble, authentic, transparent, vulnerable and sincere. 
  • Welcome diverse ways of thinking, acting and being in your local groups.
    • Never impose your values on others.
    • Empower others to open minds, doors and networks.
    • Help people identify and share their own unique perspectives.
    • Shine the light on the problem without offending transgressors.
    • Collaborate with others to help ensure all voices are heard and welcomed.
  • Help people manage themselves so that they can consistently bring their best selves to work.
  • Engage the support of all stakeholders in strategic, specific and ongoing ways.
    • Enlist support from the top-down and from the bottom up.
    • Be the role model for others. Invite others at all levels to also model the way.
    • Celebrate bottom line successes. 
    • Measure and report on cultural impact.
    • Drive results in the short term. Provide ongoing efforts for the long term.
    • Tell a story that will inspire and motivate others to also get involved.

The bottom line is that Thinking about local impact is a necessary foundation. Speaking about it adds credibility and focus. But taking action and providing resources and support to make it happen in specific ways will get Local People Engaged, leading to Global Impact.


Please join me in thanking our gracious hosts at Oracle and our panelists for FountainBlue’s May 10 When She Speaks event, on the topic of ‘Local Input, Global Impact’:

  • Facilitator Linda Holroyd, CEO, FountainBlue
  • Panelist Markia Archuleta, Vice President of Oracle’s Advanced Customer Services (ACS), Oracle
  • Panelist Marc Gregorio, Executive Director of Human Resources for Asia Factory Operations, Maxim Integrated
  • Panelist Gayathri Radhakrishnan, Venture Partner, Impact Venture Capital
  • Panelist Shobhana Viswanathan, Senior Director of Product Marketing, Automation Anywhere
  • with introduction by David Ortiz, Senior Diversity and Inclusion Consultant, Oracle and male VP from Oracle with passion for D&I.

See bios at https://www.tikkl.com/fountainblue/c/localglobal.

Lean In and Level It UP

April 12, 2019

LeanInApril12a

FountainBlue’s April 12 When She Speaks event was on the topic of ‘Lean In and Level It Up’. Below are notes from the conversation.

We were fortunate to have such an inspiring and accomplished panel to speak on this month’s topic. They represented a wide range of academic and professional backgrounds and experiences, yet they had much in common:

  • They juggle as much as the rest of us between work and life.
  • They try to plan as best as they can, and roll with whatever life has to offer when the plan doesn’t work out.
  • They are humbly human, and grateful for all those who helped them to level up to where they are in life and work.
  • They are reaching today to become an increasingly better version of themselves.

Below is some advice they have on how to support each other, and reach for what we’re seeking in life and at work.

  • Embrace and create new opportunities as they arise. 
  • Have the self-awareness to know what you want and the courage to reach for it.
  • Build the network of others to support you in the journey. It’s not just the obvious senior executives who can help you. The people who can help you come from many backgrounds and they are above, below, beside and within you.
  • Know your value-add. Grow that value-add. Communicate that value-add.
  • Be open to the opportunities which arise from failures and mis-steps. They provide the greatest learning opportunities.
  • Be clear on your priorities. Make proactive choices to respect those priorities.
  • Be clear on your expectations of yourself and others. Communicate clearly and regularly to ensure a clear understanding of expectations, especially as it evolves.
  • Know yourself and what you need. But be flexible enough to bend, but not compliant enough to break under the will of others and their agenda. Your own needs are also important.
  • Be clear on what you’re seeking, direct on how you ask for it, and collaborative on how you deliver it. 
  • Learn from people who can show you how something should be done.
  • Create a work and role you enjoy and look forward to. One where you can stretch and grow and contribute. Shift the role and responsibilities as needed to ensure that you remain happy and satisfied.
  • Be yourself. Your full self. The best version of yourself.
  • Grow a network with people who have your back. People who would stand by you in the good times and more so in the bad times. 
  • It’s OK not to want to level up. Lean in to help others get to where they want to go, even if he/she doesn’t want to level up.
  • Create calm from chaos.
  • Be resilient and persistent. 
  • Shoot for the stars. You might reach the moon.
  • Don’t be a fair-weather friend. Don’t hang around with people who are fair weather friends.

The bottom line is that regardless of whether you want to level up, choose to be a good person. Make the tough choices in alignment with that choice, even if that means you’re not going to level up to a position you’re seeking. Doing the right thing is always the right thing to do.


Please join me in thanking our gracious hosts at Synaptics and our panelists for FountainBlue’s April 12 When She Speaks event on the topic of ‘Lean In and Level It Up’:

  • Facilitator Linda Holroyd, CEO, FountainBlue; Director Vonzos Partners
  • Panelist Deepika Bajaj, Serial CMO and Vonzos EIR
  • Panelist Sharmistha Das, Director, HCM Applications Development, Oracle
  • Panelist Carina Fang, Director, IoT Program Management, Synaptics
  • Panelist Christina Lewis, MBA, Finance Director, Devices BU, Western Digital
  • Panelist Preethy Padmanabhan, VP of Marketing, Panzura

with opening remarks by Jean Boufarhat, Senior Vice President of Engineering at Synaptics and Tamara Lucero, Director; Inside Sales / S&OP, at Synaptics.