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.

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About Kira Makagon

Kira Makagon is a successful serial entrepreneur and tech industry leader. A graduate of UC Berkeley with both an undergraduate degree in computer science and an MBA, she enjoys sharing her lessons learned from being a veteran “only woman in the room.”

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