Monthly Archives: May 2015

Monthly Mentions: May 2015

 

Monthly Mentions recaps my publications, citations, and appearances for the month. My goal is to share broadly my thoughts on women in technology leadership, cloud technology, entrepreneurship, and more.

In the press this month, I published:

Finding the Future of Cyber Security in Silicon Wadi on the Huffington Post

On my blog this month, I wrote:

 The IoT Summit: Heralding the Intelligence Age

Working Parents, Let’s Worry Less

YWCA Tribute to Women Honor

On the RingCentral blog, I wrote:

 Managing the Product Development Lifecycle

On my LinkedIn page this month, I shared:

 Managing the Product Development Lifecycle

I’m featured in:

Influential Women 2015: Kira Makagon in the  San Francisco Business Times

Women of Influence: The best advice in 10 words or less in the Silicon Valley Business Journal

If you are interested in inviting Kira Makagon to guest-author a piece on your site or to speak to your organization, please contact Evie Goldstein, RingCentral’s public relations manager,  via e-mail, evelin.goldstein at ringcentral.com. Thanks!

YWCA Tribute to Women Honor

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Kira Makagon, Honoree, EVP of Innovations, and Vlad Shmunis, CEO, Founder, and Chairman of the Board, Ring Central; photo credit: YWCA of Silicon Valley

Recently, I felt honored to be recognized in the 2015 YWCA Tribute to Women Awards Program. The program read: “As Executive VP of Innovation at RingCentral, Kira Makagon is an exceptional leader, innovator, coach, mentor, and a strong female role model in the technology industry. Makagon proudly represents 700 employees (60% of the RingCentral organization) spread across four continents. She is a key player in developing the up-market strategy for the company and has a direct role in the company’s 40% year-on-year business growth.”

The YWCA asked me to share around 30 words of advice to women for a successful life. I offered: “Follow your dreams, and set ambitious goals. Go at your own pace, and don’t waste energy wondering if some things would be easier if you were male. In an ideal world. our workplaces would be completely gender-neutral, and our homes would be balanced, too.”

I’d like to thank the YWCA for this honor and for all that the organization does to advance women. I’d also like to congratulate my fellow honorees, listed here.

Working Parents, Let’s Worry Less

 

As both a working mom and as a manager of other working parents, I am sensitive to the issues that working parents face around wanting to be both exceptional parents and ambitious professionals. Recently, an article in the New York Times called “Mom: The Designated Worrier” caught my eye and inspired me to share some of my thoughts on working parenthood.

In this piece, the concept of the “concerted cultivation” of our children is referenced with regard to kids’ extracurricular activities. How overscheduled and overtaxed working parents are when it comes to keeping up with these activities is addressed a bit in the piece. Of course, it’s unquestionable that many working parents – and not just moms, but dads, too – are overwhelmed with the demands of their jobs alongside their jobs as parents. It’s exhausting to keep up with a full-time professional schedule plus after-work needs as we assume the roles of chauffeur, #1 fan, finder of sports equipment, scheduler, meal preparer, and more. Personally, I’m no stranger to these challenges. A single mom when my son was young, I worked at a start-up and found myself lucky to have my parents both nearby and willing to help me when needed. Whether you’re a single parent or a family with two working parents, the question remains: how do we manage these challenges so that we’re able to retain our professional ambition without exhaustion and without sacrificing our kids’ opportunities?

Well, for starters, sometimes we need to admit that even if we can do it all, we don’t have to do it all. Thank goodness we’re in an era of technology where “do it for me” apps abound. Grocery and meal delivery, driving services (including kid-centered ones like Boost), and more are right at our fingertips. Services like Care.com offer ways to find pre-vetted, quality childcare, whether for daycare or for afterschool help. With the availability and increasingly low-cost of outsourcing options available, it is possible for working parents to find more time and sanity in their day. This leaves much more time for quality family time absent the mile-long to-do list.

About that to-do list, though: reassess it often. It’s important to be clear about your family’s priorities for kids’ activities. For example, do you really need to enroll your child in the traveling soccer league that requires 4 hours of driving every weekend versus the local, fun league at a nearby park? Is your family over-invested in enrichment activities, perhaps at too early of an age for your kids; and, if so, what’s your end-goal? Sometimes families need a lot of afterschool activities for childcare, but, sometimes, that begets a lot more work, too, in the finding, packing, and transport of related equipment and tools. If kids’ activities are running roughshod over family time, which is parents’ only downtime from work, it may be time to ask if the benefit to the kid outweighs the cost to the parent. It’s important to remember that parenting is not a competition. What works for your family – and what is necessary for your and your child’s long-term happiness – is totally unrelated to the family next door, or to the worker in the next cube and how he or she is managing his or her family. No parent, working or not working, is as good of a parent when he or she is so stressed by a web of obligations that constant unhappiness results. And unsurprisingly, lots is being written these days about how kids, too, are overscheduled and overstressed, just like their parents. Maybe we all really do need to do a little less of this “cultivation” of childhood, for everyone’s sake.

Taking a fresh look at what you do and need to do to maintain a happy household is just as necessary as cleaning out your closet every once in a while or taking a critical eye to the weekly meetings you’re signed up to attend at work. Sometimes we need to outsource or to delegate. Sometimes we need to cancel, reschedule, or change things around. We know in our gut when things are out of whack. And it’s in these times, too, when, if we have one, we need to turn to our partners for help. I remarried, and now my husband and I share a refreshingly equal partnership. In our house, it’s my husband who mostly takes care of grocery shopping while I do most of the meal preparation; we share the clean-up. We don’t always strike a perfect balance, but we work together to craft a life with which we’re both comfortable. Working parents have a lot to consider, and I urge all of them, myself included, not to self-sacrifice so much that the worrying takes over the joy of it all.

Managing The Product Development Lifecycle

As seasoned engineers and executives know, developing a technology product doesn’t begin and end with the product team. Creating a website, app, hardware, or software product involves an intensive effort on the part of multiple departments within an organization, with the project manager or team at the helm. Even with years of experience, executives leading the creation, updates, scale, or management of a technology product can endure dozens of scenarios that can delay the effort, and, in some cases, significantly increase costs.

Below are a few personal lessons learned on the frontlines:

1. Put discovery as the focus first. It can be easy to assume that a project will go as planned, even with the estimate of issues or problems baked into the project timeline. CEOs and executive team members may put the pressure on for hard dates and deliverables during initial discussions and scope of the project. But do not make any conclusions until you’ve taken a thorough assessment of every element with which you might be faced. This can mean asking questions about priorities and trading off given constraints such as budget, time, and resource availability. Find out all that you can from every corner of the organization. Then, set your course.

2. Be clear on what’s possible. Once you’ve worked through the variables of the project, it’s time to get clear on what is and what isn’t possible. This might sound like a ‘no brainer’ for most executives, but we’ve all felt pressure to set ambitious goals. There’s nothing wrong with aiming high in product development, providing that you’re honest about what is possible. Set realistic, attainable goals. This goes beyond what you think is possible for your team to what is realistic for every department in the company. This requires clear internal communications between teams. While you can’t speak for the leadership in marketing or business development, asking questions as noted above and factoring them into what is possible in terms of the product’s development is important.

3. Identify and alert teams of anticipated delays immediately. Product development is a bit like a train in that whatever the engine does, the cars will ultimately do as well. Never take potential issues or red flags lightly, and cascade these issues or potential delays to the entire team immediately. It’s a good practice to stay true even when you’re not 100% sure something might go wrong. Measurable and frequent milestones are necessary along the way. Alerting the CEO or other leaders in the company of the potential issue doesn’t mean the process will be derailed but, rather, that it may need to be adjusted. This will help everyone from all sides of the company to be more agile and prepared, which keeps things running smoothly and on-budget whether issues and delays arrive or not.

It’s also important to remember that great products come from great teams, and great teams are motivated by good leadership. Be prepared to ready and to support your team. This is demonstrated through small and large gestures, from buying pizzas when everyone’s working late to ensuring that you set the pace, professionalism, and process by example.

Also published on the Women 2.0 blog and on LinkedIn on May 18, 2015.

The IoT Summit: Heralding the Intelligence Age

 

Recently, I attended the Internet of Things Summit in San Jose. Boasting “The Rise of the Interconnected World,” this summit brought together thought leaders to discuss how we might create smarter, more interconnected spaces. This was a great conference, very forward-looking and rife with great presenters calling this “The Intelligence Age.” This sounds pretty exciting to me!

It is unquestionable that the Internet of Things (IoT) is coming of age right now. Some slides from presentations at the summit show that Cisco believes the IoT space is a $19 trillion opportunity, and GE predicts that the industrial internet will grow the US GDP by $15 trillion. McKinsey consulting thinks the IoT space will have up to a $33 trillion impact on the global economy by 2025. These are big numbers, and they reflect how much growth is happening now and forthcoming in this exciting space.

In my own life, some IoT items will be of great benefit. As I frequently misplace my keys, I’m greatly looking forward to installing August smart locks on my office door. An added bonus is that I no longer will need to be at the door in order to open the door. Also, my parents have a hard time setting alarms in their house, so I can help them with a camera that I can manage remotely for them. That said, it’s important to note that the growth in the IoT sector isn’t just in things for the home. At RingCentral, we believe that we are becoming more and more untethered. With our products, you are no longer tethered to your desktop phone. IoT is for bigger industries too, including automotive, where the IoT will enable cars to talk with each other and with smart assistants. Also, large companies like GE, Rockwell, and Cisco are investing a lot in new ways to run networks and manufacturing and collect and analyze data in this space. What does that mean? I think that the IoT space as a whole is going to change the way we think of technology, and the way we interact with apps will soon change fundamentally. Instead of us operating technology, we are going to start learning how to trust technology to help us make decisions in our everyday lives.

By way of one more example, the IoT will be at the heart of the healthcare industry. This has already begun with smart medical devices such as heart pacemakers and blood glucose monitors. Everything from infant care to elder care to intensive care will change now as doctors and patients will no longer always have to be in the same room to give and receive treatment, establish diagnoses, or report on progress. IoT in this space will save lives.

Innovation is among my passions, so you can imagine that I left the IoT summit rather happy. It is exciting to think of how the Internet of Things will improve, and even save, lives.

The Intelligence Age

From a Logitech slide