Archive for the ‘When She Speaks’ Category

Ways to Lead

November 16, 2020
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FountainBlue’s November 13 Ways to Lead program. Please join me in thanking our hosts at Pure Storage and our esteemed panelists: 

  • Facilitator Linda Holroyd, CEO, FountainBlue 
  • Panelist Niki Armstrong, Vice President, Global Employment, Compliance & Litigation, Pure Storage
  • Panelist Sheryl Chamberlain, Board Chair Empower (Coupa Woman’s Program) and Global and Regional System Integrator Alliances, Coupa Software 
  • Panelist Karthi Gopalan, Product Line Director, Mobile Power BU, Maxim
  • with opening remarks by Ellen Lail, Regional Sales Director, Commercial, Pure Storage

Our panelists represented a wide range of backgrounds, educational paths and perspectives, but here are their top ten views on ways to lead.

  1. Leadership comes from many paths, from many directions. Defining your own leadership style will take much self-reflection, vast and deep support from many sources, an inquisitive mind willing to learn continuously, as well as the willingness to grow from both successes and challenges.
  2. Sometimes leadership opportunities are ones you aggressively and strategically pursue. Sometimes they appear to fall on your lap because others around you have faith in you. Either way, when presented with that leadership opportunity, be open to learning and growing, receptive to sponsors and networks of support, curious about the importance of the task at hand, and flexible about how you work with others to accomplish these goals.
  3. Leaders tend to integrate the data from the outside – from market, customer, business, people and other data – and collaborate with others to create strategies and approaches which may transcend the traditional modus operandi. The best of these leaders sell these transformational ideas into the mainstream, providing exceptional win-win-opportunities for all.
  4. Leaders define success not just by the business results, but also by the impact on the people they touch, which often transcends today’s business metrics.
  5. Leadership development invariably involves going off a planned course. Although the role, industry, or work may vary (the HOW a leader leads), the leadership path meanders around the core values, principles and skills for each leader (the WHO a leader is).  
  6. No leader is perfect. The best leaders learn most when they have been less than perfect.
  7. Leaders get their support and inspiration from many other people, resources and networks in their lives, surrounding themselves with positive and supportive others. 
  8. Leaders are the first to pay it forward, supporting those around them to also reach higher. 
  9. Leadership takes both confidence and courage. You can gain confidence by working with others and gaining skills. But courage must come from deep inside you, and a commitment to aim for something higher, with the grit and perseverance to succeed in making it happen, the fortitude and strength to try again despite the failures.
  10. Leadership is a practice which is enhanced through diverse experiences. Embrace the opportunities in front of you, and share your learnings in CSR, public speaking, board seats and volunteering.

We will conclude by saying the people are inspired and humbled when the principled leader speaks. They challenge us to embrace and support ourselves as we are, while we also strive for our greater selves. We respond with goosebumps, feeling the truth of the message, and the energy and optimism to reach for our own small star in the sky.

2020 Mentorship Best Practices

November 6, 2020

FountainBlue’s November 6 When She Speaks program featured our Annual Mentorship Best Practices program. 

We were fortunate to have a wide range of perspectives and backgrounds in our panel. Although each panelist was unique in her perspective, all speakers had much in common.

  • Their passion for mentorship, learning and growing runs wide and deep. They practice it in their thinking, speaking and in their actions, embracing opportunities for continuous learning within and outside the work environment.
  • They are each complex individuals with many dominant skills, but also open and eager to learn new and even scary things, if it’s an opportunity to grow, an opportunity to serve others.
  • They are each strategic while being tactical, team players while also very independent, open and trusting while also savvy and methodical.

Below is a compilation of best practices they shared in the panel discussion.

  • Each company, each leader has a different way of running a mentorship program. There are no right answers, but each solution keeps involving and improving, getting feedback and input from committed participants.
  • Implementing successful programs takes dedication and collaboration, to ensure that there is a process for matching mentors and mentees, a format for maintaining communications between pairs and across the program, a commitment for the funding and resources to grow a program, and an expectation to continue communicating and learning from successes and challenges, in the interest of continuous improvement.
  • Build a culture which builds people up, facilitates connections between people who work toward a common goal. 
  • Although there’s a need for structure to support the building of networks within and outside an organization, also embrace the opportunity which come from fluidity and creativity and random connections, which could lead to leadership and innovation outcomes.
  • Align the executive team to a people-first mindset, in thoughts, words and actions. 
  • Reward committed staff and volunteers putting structures and systems in place organically, to best serve the community. 
  • Serve the needs of the customers – the mentees and the mentors who want to contribute to their own growth and that of others.
  • Create a solution which is scalable and flexible, with a host of resources to support all involved across the globe.

These are the values mentors and mentees admire in others:

  • Humility
  • Trust
  • Candor
  • Humor
  • Openness
  • Vulnerability
  • Courageous/Strength

This is what our mentors and mentees would tell their 21-year-old self:

  • Don’t expect every experience to be a positive one, but do commit to persevering through the good and the bad.
  • Be the Advocate that you seek. You are in the best position to advocate for yourself.
  • Ask for More of what you’re seeking. It will greatly increase the likelihood that you’ll get it.
  • Pursue your goals – reach higher than you think you can and keep raising the bar for yourself.
  • Have patience with yourself. And with those around you. 
  • Make the goal is worthy of the journey.
  • Listen to and learn from everyone’s story. 
  • When you’re stuck, ask for help. Being independence, but being inter-dependent makes everyone better.
  • Assume that you will be evolving across roles, across companies, across geographies and keep your network and your education growing as you evolve.
  • You’re already a better leader than you think you are. You’re enough just as you are.  

Here’s a shout-out to all the mentors and mentees and coaches and sponsors out there – those who are investing in their own growth, and that of all they touch. May the energy come full circle back to you.


Please join me in thanking our hosts at Micron and our panelists for FountainBlue’s 2020 Annual Mentorship Best Practices program.

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  • Facilitator Linda Holroyd, CEO, FountainBlue
  • with opening remarks by Buffie Main, Global Executive and Leadership Development Senior Program Manager, Micron
  • Mentors:
    • Amber Barber, Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt, Global chairperson, Women in Global Operations ERG, Lam Research
    • Nancy Mason, Supply Chain Manager, NVIDIA
    • Gayathri Radhakrishnan, Director Venture Capital – AI Fund, Micron
    • Sandy Yu, Global Director, Product Strategy and Success, Oracle
    • Mentees:
      • Megan Cibula, Industrial Engineering Supervisor, Lam Research
      • Bambi DeLaRosa, Healthcare AI Principal Investigator and OHSU collaborator, Micron
      • Priyanka Kukade, Senior Design Verification Engineer, NVIDIA
      • Madeline Walsh, Senior Program Associate, Oracle Corporate Citizenship 

Who Moved My Cheese

October 9, 2020

FountainBlue’s October 9 When She Speaks event on the topic of ‘Who Moved My Cheese?’. Please join me in thanking our hosts at Aruba, and our esteemed panelists: 

Who Moved My Cheese – Sona, Win, Kim, Nicole, Partha, Linda
  • Facilitator Linda Holroyd, CEO, FountainBlue 
  • Panelist Win Chang, Western Region Public Sector State and Local Sales Consulting Director, Oracle
  • Panelist Sona Mahavni, Director – SW Engineering, Aruba HPE
  • Panelist Nicole Sharratt, VP of User Experience, FICO
  • Panelist Kim Willetts, Senior Director, Global Brion Division, ASML
  • with opening remarks and panel participation by Partha Narasimhan, CTO, Aruba HPE

Our panelists represented a wide range of backgrounds and perspectives, companies and roles. Because of the many amazing accomplishments they’ve shared and their amazing stories of perseverance and success, I have dubbed them the BTDT (been there, done that) – then Be Humble, Be BOLD panel. They humbly and eloquently shared their wisdom around change with us. 

Take a Long-Term View

  • Accept change as a part of life. Embrace the opportunities it unfolds for you, and those around you.
  • Plan for a marathon, not a sprint. Create structure and boundaries to make sure that you have the strength, balance, perseverance and willpower to remain strong and centered.

Seize the Opportunity in the Chaos

  • Accept circumstances for what they are, but embrace the circumstances to make opportunity. 
  • Every crisis has two elements – Danger and Opportunity. 
  • Be bold – go for it. Embrace failures as learning lessons and seize the day.
  • Be open and curious about what’s next, what’s new. Never settle into complacency.
  • Ask yourself how this challenge with the pandemic, or any challenge really, levels the playing field and opens up new ways of doing things better or differently.

Be a People Person 

  • It always boils down the the people around you and how they can each rise up in the midst of change, under extraordinary circumstances. 
  • The human spirit is stronger than we all realize. People accomplish the impossible every day.
  • Put people first in your mind, in your words, but most of all, in your actions.
  • Be positive, supportive and empathetic to others. Choose kindness and support. Everyone is going through so much in these uncertain times.

Unite People in Community, Align Them on Purpose

  • Share your humanity with others.
  • Create platforms and community to unite people, to align them to common causes at work and in life.
  • Accept that change is hard and help people help each other to address changes.
  • Be a force for good. Make a stand for others, for values, for principles. 

Leverage Technology as a Tool to Connect and Create

  • Use tools to build social connections even during a pandemic.
  • Show your empathy and authenticity regularly through through technologies and processes.

The bottom line is that through this change, we have remained productive to date, but we need to take care of our physical and mental health and build connections and community, plus leverage technology to maintain that productivity. 

Notes are available online at  and bios are online at .

CNBC, Oct 2020: What the Workforce will look like in 2025 as it morphs due to the pandemic 

Excerpt from the CNBC October article mentioned in the program:

A recent Boston Consulting Group study of 12,000 employees in the U.S., Germany and India found that productivity can be maintained surprisingly well in a virtual or hybrid work setting. This may be a result of many factors. Without long commutes, small talk with colleagues and leisurely coffees in the break room, many workers — especially those who don’t have to worry about child care — are getting more done.

Companies, too, are discovering that processes and procedures they previously took for granted — from lengthy meetings to regular status updates — are less essential than once imagined. And though some executives are concerned about burnout as working from home continues, they are enjoying the gains for now.

But key to success is tracking the pulse of employee sentiment. When analyzing the data, BCG found four factors that correlate with employees reporting continued or even enhanced productivity on collaborative tasks: social connectivity, mental health, physical health and workplace tools.

What the workforce will look like in 2025 as it morphs due to pandemic
PUBLISHED TUE, OCT 6 202010:05 AM UPDATED WED, OCT 7 202010:00 AM EDT
Lori Ioannou @LORIIOANNOU1

Embracing the Creative in a Tech-philic World

September 11, 2020

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September 11 When She Speaks Program: Embracing the Creative in a Tech-Philic World

FountainBlue’s September 11 When She Speaks event was on the topic of ‘Embracing the Creative in a Tech-philic World’. Our panelists represented a wide range of backgrounds and perspectives, companies and roles. Although they were each unique and accomplished, they had much in common.

  • Each chose a technical/science educational path, yet each made the proactive choice to go into more creative and business-focused roles.
  • Each has focused on solving critical, difficult problems, working with both technologists and creatives, and found a way to translate between the two sides when there were conflicts and misunderstandings.
  • Each is entrepreneurial, creatively solving problems in new ways, yet each is also process-oriented as she implements solutions.
  • Each is customer-centric, curious about the customer problems, the customer experiences. Each insisted in getting a first-hand connection to those customers so that she can better deliver solutions that serve the customers’ needs, providing a flow that is useful and easy to navigate for the customer.

Below is a compilation of advice and best practices on how to be creative in a tech-philic world.
It’s the Age of the Customer

  • Focus on the gaps and the pain points. Find out what your team/company is doing to address that pain point and how the customers are responding to these solutions. Then work from there.
  • Because technology is moving so fast, and solutions are getting so inter-related and complex, it’s often easier to design a solution based on the problem identified by a customer rather than innovating for the sake of innovating, without knowing if it serves a current pain point/need.

Know yourself

  • Know what you’re good at, what you want and reach for it.
  • Know how you work with others across the team and beyond, and learn how to work with others not-like-you.
  • Make sure that your current roles and responsibilities are a personality fit for you.

Challenge yourself

  • Never settle. Keep reaching for what’s next, what can bring out more learnings for you, more value for the customer, for your team and company, especially when it makes you feel uncomfortable.
  • Choose excellence, even if it means you have to work really hard to get there.
  • Persevere and learn as you go. Don’t expect to be always right, but do expect to be always learning.
  • Don’t always adopt someone else’s best practice. Do the research on what works for you and fold in also things that work for others which might also work for you.
  • Invite yourself to dream of practical innovations which meet customer needs today and also in the future.
  • Creatively consider how AI and IoT solutions can transcend industries not traditionally known for their tech.
  • Get noticed for the exceptional work you consistently deliver, the impossible problems you routinely solve.
  • Plan-fully and collaboratively plan a future for your product and team so that it has maximum impact on customers and markets.

Be a translator

  • Teams and companies need both creatives and technologists. Translating Geek-speak to Biz-speak and vice versa adds value to all involved.
  • Translate what Customers are saying to you so that both Creatives and Techies understand. Speak also to the Executives so they also understand how everyone is collaborating to deliver products and services.

Empower Others

  • Work with the Creatives to understand the Techies and vice versa, and help all to adopt a ONE TEAM mindset.

The bottom line is to be strategic and customer-focused. Ask yourself the Why of everything, then ask the What and the So What for Which audience.
Your network matters, if you want to make that lasting impact. Prove your value and you will secure additional sponsorship and mentorship and continue to drive high-profile initiatives and generate results.

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Please join me in thanking our hosts at Texas Instruments, and our esteemed panelists for FountainBlue’s September 11 When She Speaks event on the topic of ‘Embracing the Creative in a Tech-philic World’.

  • Facilitator Linda Holroyd, CEO, FountainBlue 
  • Panelist Hope Bovenzi, Sector General Manager for Automotive Infotainment, Texas Instruments
  • Panelist Revathi Narayanan, Chief Of Staff, Compute and Networking BU, Micron
  • Panelist Preethy Padmanabhan, Head of Platform Product Marketing, Freshworks
  • Panelist Charu Roy, Senior Director, Product Management Fusion PLM, Oracle
  • Panelist Urvashi Sheth, Senior Vice President Client Services, Intermedia

One of the Onlys

August 14, 2020
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FountainBlue’s August 14 When She Speaks event on the topic of ‘One of the Onlys’.

Our panelists represented a wide range of backgrounds and perspectives, companies and roles. Although they were each unique and accomplished, they had much in common.

  • They had strong relationships with key family members who helped them feel confident from a young age.
  • They create and facilitate a culture of support, a mindset of abundance at work and with their team.
  • They are confident in their uniqueness and celebrate their own individuality. They encourage and inspire others to do the same.
  • They are introspective and self-aware while also being communicative and engaging and direct.
  • They are so quotable, relatable and amusing!
Below is a compilation of their advice.
  • Be courageous enough to try new things and say ‘yes’ to opportunities which would stretch their own abilities.
  • Broaden your definition of what excellence looks like, for excellence comes in many shapes and sizes.
  • Be collaborative as often as you can, but be willing to adopt a command and control mindset if you need to do so for the good of the product, the team, the company.
  • Err on the side of helping and supporting and mentoring others.
  • Learn from your failures and be stronger and braver and more courageous because you’ve learned how to fail well.
  • Be authentic, genuine and sincere, humble and modest. But these qualities don’t mean that you should let others take credit for the work you perform.
  • Don’t let others classify you by your gender, race, background, education, (fill in the blank). Be uniquely, unequivocally, unapologetically yourself.
  • Take every opportunity to explore your own blind spots, to learn more about yourself and about others.
  • Consistently persevere and overcome extraordinary obstacles.
  • When you fail, have your left brain (the logical side) learn from the failure, and manage your right brain (the feeling side) so that you can be courageous enough to try again, even if you’re again risking failure.
  • Understand that everyone experiences a different sense of reality, and that everyone’s reality is absolutely real to them. Do what you can to expand your own version of reality, and help them to see a broader reality as well, if they invite you to do so.
We will conclude by saying that our panelists are all originals, each unique in their approaches to leading and managing. They inspired us with their stories and gave us much to think about how we can more gently embrace and nurture ourselves.
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Please join me in thanking our panelists for FountainBlue’s August 14 When She Speaks event on the topic of ‘One of the Onlys’ and our hosts at Lam Research, and our esteemed panelists: 

  • Facilitator Linda Holroyd, CEO, FountainBlue
  • Panelist Antoinette Hamilton, Global Head of Inclusion & Diversity, Lam Research
  • Panelist Indira Joshi, Head of Technical Marketing, Emerging Memory Solutions, Micron
  • Panelist Monika Thakur, Vice President, Product Management, Oracle
  • Panelist Lisa Violet, Chief Auditor, Varo Money

Say What You Mean, Mean What You Say

July 10, 2020

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FountainBlue’s July 10 When She Speaks event was on the topic of ‘Say What You Mean, Mean What You Say’, hosted online by Samsung.

Our panelists represented a wide range of backgrounds and perspectives, companies and roles. But they whole-heartedly agreed that saying what you mean, and meaning what you say is the essence of leadership. Below is a summary of their best practices for ‘saying what you mean’:

  • Build relationships of trust, based on a history of delivering what was promised.
  • Be authentic and open, flexible, curious and good natured, as often as you can, even when you don’t feel like it.
  • Always be respectful in how you communicate to others, how you treat others.
  • If you see something (wrong), do something. But do it in a way which is respectful of others, which is more inquisitive than commanding, more polite than dictatorial. 
  • Each conversation has the potential to raise the bar for the participating individuals and for the team.
  • Speak to the why, the what and the how, so that you can best build alignment.
  • Focus on the data and the facts and try not to get emotional even when your buttons are pushed.
  • Practice active listening so that the other parties feel heard.
  • Remember that the relationship is more important than a project or mistake or program.
  • Clearly communicate the goal and timeline in your meetings, and follow the agenda.
  • Speak succinctly and clearly.
  • Be persistent and patient in your communication, especially when change needs to happen.
  • Know your audience and their motivation.
  • Agree on and measure your progress.
  • Be curious about the perspective of others, and aligned on a starting point.
  • Have a clear call to action, in alignment with the common purpose.

Below are some best practices for meaning what you say.

  • Be clear on your communication and consistent with your follow-through to build that reputation as a competent and trustworthy professional. 
  • Speak to consequences for individuals, team, company, product if something isn’t delivered.
  • Be known for someone who follows through.
  • Be proactive is you need to change what you said in the past, and transparent about communicating why there had to be a change.
  • Don’t tolerate or participate in ‘blame games’, but do mean what you say and take positive measures to demonstrate that.

Leadership is often not easy but always worthwhile, even if the rewards aren’t either immediate or apparent.

Recommended resource: Mandel Communications | Course List and Reviews, https://directory.trainingindustry.com/training

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FountainBlue’s July 10 When She Speaks event on the topic of ‘Say What You Mean, Mean What You Say’. Please join me in thanking our hosts at Samsung, and our esteemed panelists: 

  • Facilitator Linda Holroyd, CEO, FountainBlue
  • Panelist Cara Bilinski, Executive Director, IT PMO, Maxim
  • Panelist Tracy Meersman, Director Sales Enablement, Skybox Security
  • Panelist Suchitra Narayen, VP Commercial Legal, Informatica 
  • Panelist Priya Poolavari, Director of Engineering, Core Data Platform / Data Intelligence, Samsung  

Start-Ups Changing the World

June 15, 2020

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FountainBlue’s June 12 When She Speaks program was on the topic of Start-ups Changing the World’. Our panelists represented a wide range of industries, backgrounds and roles, but also had much in common.

  • They are clear and passionate communicators with a track record for doing things big and small to change the world for the better.
  • They have a breadth and depth of experience which they leverage to solve the strategic and tactical problems facing them today.
  • They think about the big picture, engage the larger network, and focus on making things happen, delivering toward specific outcomes.

Below is advice they provided to the audience, regardless of whether you decide to be an entrepreneur.

  • Be collaborative and inclusive. Develop networks and allies who are passionate about the cause.
  • Be respectful of everyone. Be mindful of your purpose.
  • Celebrate your successes and learn from your failures as they are great growth opportunities.
  • Choose to be consistently excellent. Make this your brand.
  • Keep your mind open, your network positive and broad, your outlook curious.
  • Be strategic, engaging an ecosystem of partners to drive results.
  • Make a plan, pivot that plan if you need to.
  • Pay it forward, help others to also succeed.
  • Be gentle with yourself.

Below is advice for entrepreneurs.

  • Be all-in, but don’t let it be all-consuming.
  • Whatever you do, do with purpose and with passion. Focus on making a difference that matters.
  • Respect the down-sides of being all-in – you may be sacrificing your own health or the needs of your loved ones. Timing is everything, so maybe the entrepreneurial path is not right for you at this time, if you have other obligations.
  • Look for a big idea that will make a difference, one that will inspire you, one that will help make the lives of many people better, leveraging technology which helps you customize and scale the solution.
  • Dare to create something from nothing.
  • Turn a challenge, a failure into an opportunity.

As we face these very real, very traumatic challenges brought on by the pandemic, the resultant recession and the civil unrest, our panel tells us to:

  • Have faith, following each winter there’s a spring.
  • Accept the data. And then link arms and do something to make a difference, engaging others.

Please join me in thanking our panelists for FountainBlue’s June 12 When She Speaks program on the topic of Start-ups Changing the World’ and our hosts at Cisco.

  • Facilitator Linda Holroyd, CEO, FountainBlue
  • Panelist Heather Callender-Potters, Co-Founder, Vice-Chairman and Chief Business Officer, PharmaJet
  • Panelist Karthi Gopalan, Product Line Director, Mobile Power BU, Maxim
  • Panelist Lata Hariharan, President and Founder, SVAST
  • Panelist Gayathri Radhakrishnan, Director Venture Capital, Micron
  • Panelist Julia Zhu, Sr Manager, Analytics and Quality, Cisco

What He Said, What He Meant

May 8, 2020

FountainBlue’s May 8 When She Speaks event on the topic of ‘What He Said, What He Meant’.  

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Our panelists represented a broad range of backgrounds and roles, but they had much in common:

  • They shared a passion for growing people and companies.
  • They work with leaders and managers to create a culture which is vibrant, inclusive, and growth-oriented.
  • They think deeply about human and business issues, and solve problems big and small, focusing on creating meaningful, strategic outcomes.

Below are some of their suggestions for improving communications between men and women in the workplace.

  • Be straightforward, direct, structured and specific in communication with men, especially if they are engineers.
  • Speak to the problem statement rather than the emotions.
  • Be plan-ful, have an agenda, know what you’d like to accomplish and why it must be done.
  • Own any communication challenges or hurdles. Address any confusion directly, immediately, calmly, respectfully.
  • Do well by others, for others, and help them to spread the word about how and why to work with yourself or your team.
  • Be specific with an ask, and clear on why you’re asking for something, what’s in it for others, what success looks like.
  • Welcome all dimensions of diversity – not just race and gender and age, but also disability, child-status, culture, etc.,
  • Know your audience – not all men, not all people are built the same. What are their motivations? 
  • Prove and know your value, your worth, then communicate this with confidence.
  • Be confident in your communications, comfortable in your own value, your own skin.

In closing, our panelists recommend that you be the type of leader who:

  • invests in relationships and people, focusing on the needs of each individual;
  • helps get teams and leaders productive and un-stuck;
  • facilitates forward momentum, forward movement;
  • is a community organizer, standing for the individual and the team and the organization;
  • is vulnerable and authentic and a good story-teller; and
  • embraces a larger vision, acts with high-integrity, focuses on continuous learning and collaboration.

Resource:

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Please join me in thanking our hosts at Oracle and our panelists for FountainBlue’s May 8 When She Speaks event on the topic of ‘What He Said, What He Meant’:

  • Facilitator Linda Holroyd, CEO, FountainBlue
  • Panelist Marilyn Becker, Senior Director, People Analytics, Western Digital
  • Panelist Carina Fang, Director, Program Management IoT Division, Synaptics 
  • Panelist Regina Lawless, Global Director, Diversity, Equality & Inclusion, Micron Technology 
  • Panelist David Ortiz, Senior Diversity and Inclusion Consultant, Oracle 
  • Panelist Stacey Porter, VP of People Operations and Strategy, Outset Medical Inc.

People-First Mindset

April 10, 2020

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FountainBlue’s April 10 When She Speaks event was on the topic of ‘A People-First Mindset’.  Our panelists represented a wide range of perspectives, roles and backgrounds, but consistently thought about, spoke to and acted on the people-first mindset in their teams, in their companies, in their lives.

Below is a compilation of best practices for putting people first, as advocated by our panelists.

Be Strategic

  • Be fact-based when making decisions, but always make decisions framed by the impact on the people.
  • Understand how everyone fits into the ecosystem, and also what motivates everyone and what success looks like. Then work together to provide the resources and support so that people will succeed.
  • Align the thinking, speaking and actions around putting people first, last and always. Do it from the top down, and also from the bottom up.
  • Provide the team with the information and resources to make informed decisions. Support them through tough changes, including the COVID-19 pandemic.

Be Empowering

  • Empower everyone to have a voice, to have influence, no matter where they are sitting at the table.
  • Focus not just on what you do, but on how the thinking, words and actions make people feel. 
  • Don’t just look at the bottom line results. Look also at how those results were delivered and the cost to the people. If the people cost is too high, the results may not be sustainable.
  • Celebrate and highlight successes. 
  • Make the opportunity to be your authentic self. Welcome others to do the same.
  • Invest in the front-line leaders who are your interface to customers and partners.
  • Practice deep listening so that you can better understand someone else and learn from them.

Choose Direct and Positive Communication

  • Err on the side of transparent, efficient communications which builds connection, trust and empathy.
  • Working with people is not always easy, but if you deliver a tough message in an unemotional way, and provide a specific way to improve, you can help them understand that you are still putting them first.

Keep Raising the Bar

  • Remember that without people, we have nothing. So rise above the ‘I’ – there is no ‘i’ in team. 
  • Move with agility to embrace new ways to show people they matter.
  • Establish guardrails to facilitate brainstorming, and encourage everyone to think outside the box and welcome new and different perspectives.
  • Know your walking point if you reach a scenario, team or company which does not value having a people first mindset.
  • Incentivize managers and leaders to grow themselves and their teams.
  • Embrace fail-fast mechanisms so that you can quickly learn from successes and mistakes.
  • Keep asking the ‘why’ questions until you deeply understand perspectives and motivations.
  • Choose to experience and do something a little bit differently.

The bottom line is that putting people first is something you think about, speak to, act on – all the time, every time. Doing this well is contagious and will spreads well to all you touch.

Notes are available online at  and bios are online at https://www.tikkl.com/fountainblue/c/people


Please join me in thanking our panelists for FountainBlue’s April 10 When She Speaks event on the topic of ‘A People-First Mindset’ and our hosts at Maxim.

  • Facilitator Linda Holroyd, CEO, FountainBlue 
  • Panelist Sharawn Connors, VP, Diversity, Equality & Inclusion, Micron
  • Panelist Rita DeStaso, Services Account Executive, Strategic Enterprise, Microsoft
  • Panelist Monica Kaldani-Nasif, Chief People Officer, Kateeva
  • Panelist Tracy Laboy, Executive Director of Human Resources, Maxim

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