Monthly Archives: May 2016

If I Were 22: Five Things I’d Do with Hindsight

They say hindsight is 20/20. Given the benefit of looking back, if I were 22 and fresh out of college again, I’d give myself some valuable advice, including:

Do what you want to do. Truth be told, I always lived my life this way. I pursued what I wanted to pursue from a very young age. I didn’t worry about who I was gender-wise, and my parents raised me in a gender-neutral way. Women shouldn’t avoid roles they consider to be primarily male, nor vice-versa. Your passion for doing what you love will be part of what breaks stereotypes in the long run.

Pick a path and stick to it (unless your intention is to experiment). You have to invest a lot of time and energy to get really good at what you do, and that’s how you get someplace with your career. Early on, things are rarely easy. Be forewarned: if something looks like a low-hanging fruit, it probably is. Don’t go for “easy.” Go for a consistent direction, ideally trending upward. You may have to compromise sometimes, but you have to have your goals and remain true to them. Think long-term. Keep your eyes on your goals and work hard to get there.

Focus less on compensation/money and more on your experience. You should definitely advocate for your fair pay. At the same time, pay shouldn’t be the only reason you take a job. Focus on what you want to do and on becoming successful in what you believe you have talent in. If you pursue that, money will come. To be successful in title or in salary, you have to be able to believe you’re doing the right thing. Sometimes the tradeoff for pay is valuable experience that will lead toward what you want to do. It’s not as simple as dollars equating to work-satisfaction or to success. Ask for what you can ask for, compensation-wise, but be mindful of how that sits in the big picture of achieving your dreams — which hopefully aren’t only money-focused. At only 22, you have a lot of years to fill, and you’ll fill them best if they’re fulfilling, which is not only money-related.

Balance your time. When I became a mom, I subconsciously feared saying “I have to go and pick up my son” or “I have to take my son to the doctor today.” I was worried that I’d be perceived as somehow less committed to my work if I had family obligations. In retrospect, that’s ridiculous; family needs are a part of everyone’s lives. Having a great work life and a great family life are doable more than ever know with flexible, mobile tools in-hand to work from anywhere. This isn’t to say that everyone needs to be “always on,” but, when unexpected things arise, it is a great convenience to be able to juggle our lives a little more seamlessly thanks to handy tools.

Be yourself, and believe in yourself. Successful people will tell you that there is no “fake it ‘til you make it.” There are all sorts of resources on how to do things like someone else did in order to climb the ladder faster and higher, and those will not help you as much as all things described above that are unique to you: do what you want to do, pick your path and stick to it, stay experience-focused, and balance your time with regard to all things that matter in your life. Believe that you are worth a good career and a good life, and make choices reflective of that. When you do those things, that’s how you will not only get ahead but also is how you’ll feel good about yourself while doing it.

We all have our own unique life experiences, and no one person’s journey can be a roadmap for someone else’s. By sharing my own personal insights, I hope that I’ve shed some light that might help some young women, especially, consider their many options. The best advice I can give is to listen to your gut. Mine has often spoken loudest in both best- and worst-case scenarios, even at “only” 22.

This post originally appeared on Linkedin on May 16, 2016.

More Women of Inspiration

While the news frequently (and rightly) covers the significant gender divide in high tech, there are no shortage of high-impact women leaders. When we celebrate these women who are doing amazing things in positions of high tech leadership, I believe the industry will be a lot more attractive to future generations of women.

If I were to gather a group of women leaders to serve as role models to today’s college-aged women who are aspiring to careers in high tech, whom would I choose? A year ago, I wrote about five women of inspiration: Donna Horton Novitsky, Amal Johnson, Victoria Treyger, Heidi Roizen, and Leyla Seka. This year, I would like to pay homage to five more Women of Inspiration whom I am fortunate to know, including:

Janice Durbin Chaffin: Janice has over 30 years of high tech experience. She led Norton’s consumer security business to over $2B in revenues with 2000+ employees while demonstrating revenue growth for 17 straight quarters. She also served as the first Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) of Symantec and, as part of their C-suite team, helped to grow Symantec from $1B to $6B in revenue. Prior to that, at HP, she was a founding member of the HP9000 enterprise server business and later became the P&L responsible general manager of the $5B+ business with over 4000 employees worldwide. She now serves on the Boards of Synopsys,, and PTC. Janice is known for her skill in developing executive and management talent. I also know her to be amazingly good at connecting people.

Nancy Schoendorf: Nancy was one of the first female venture capitalists. She is now Partner Emeritus at Mohr Davidow, which she joined in 1993. Prior to joining Mohr Davidow, she had 17 years of experience in high tech, including 10 years at HP where she ran operating systems projects including HP-UX and its real-time extensions as engineering section manager. She serves on the boards of Shuttefly, Infusionsoft,, NOMi, Panasas, and 1to1 Venture Partners. Nancy and I have something rare in common: she and I both studied Computer Science as undergraduates at a time when it was highly unusual for women to do so. I met Nancy the first time I was raising money as an entrepreneur and was impressed with how well she listened and how easy it was to share my thoughts and ideas with her.

Carol Carpenter: Carol is CEO of ElasticBox, an end-to-end DevOps solution that enables continuous delivery of apps to any cloud. She has over 20 years of tech leadership experience including as CMO of ClearSlide before ElasticBox. She serves on the Board of Dice Holdings. Carol’s lifelong passion is to deliver innovative products that transform businesses. Carol credits another amazing woman, Barbara Cardillo, the VP of Product Marketing at Apple Computer, for inspiring her career in high tech leadership, citing Barbara’s focus on the importance of integrity, authenticity, and empathy as a leader.  Carol has a “take no prisoners” attitude.  She is right there with her team, leading and supporting them.

Claudia Fan Munce: Claudia founded the Venture Capital Group at IBM, where she served for over 30 years. Now she is a Venture Advisor for NEA. She is a board member of the National Venture Capital Association, chairwoman of the board of Global Corporate Venturing, board member of Bank of the West / BNP Paribas, board member of Best Buy, and an advisory board member of numerous other global venture capital organizations. She is a pioneer thought leader in the corporate venture community and is widely published in that realm. Claudia has opened up IBM doors for many young companies to help them find their way to the right channels within IBM.

Yoky Matsuoka: Yoky is a robotics expert with a PhD from MIT. She co-founded Google’s X Lab and is the former head of technology for Nest. This year, Yoky joined Apple to help further the company’s wellness initiatives, including HealthKit, ResearchKit, and CareKit. I met Yoky when we appeared on a panel together at Haas and was impressed right away by her extreme intelligence. News reported that just as she was poised to take a significant role at Twitter last year, she battled a life-threatening illness. What an inspiration she is to have come back from that to lead wellness initiatives at Apple!  The first time you meet Yoky, you know that she is a brilliant technologist and innovator.

These ten women all together form an impressive group with whom I’d love to have a dinner table conversation about the future. I’d ask these women for their thoughts on gender-neutral workplaces, and I’d also ask them how they’d encourage future generations of women to follow in our footsteps.

What questions would you ask this group, and who would you add to the list?

This post originally appeared on LinkedIn on May 9, 2016.