Tableau Hosts Women in Leadership Panel


Prompted by recent research on women in the workplace, Tableau hosted a panel on Women in Leadership. This is a topic near and dear to my heart (and, let’s be honest, my wallet), so I accepted the invitation to join approximately 100 others to learn how local women business leaders are using their innate superpowers to advance their personal and professional success.

Let me get the tasty stuff out of the way first, though. The event was held at BeSpoke on Market St in San Francisco, and we were greeted with champagne and delicious bites at check-in. Our name-tags were printed on seed paper that I’ve since planted in my garden. Nice touches all around.


Sarah Lash and Dan Miller of kicked off the panel, which was expertly moderated by Andrea G. Tatum, Tableau’s Sr. Manager of Inclusion at Tableau.

Some of the more interesting points made and tips shared:

  • ReBoot Accel helps women get current, connected, and confident to resume careers, while also helping companies to create cultures that hire, advance, and empower women. I’d never heard of this organization until Lisa Hammitt mentioned them during the panel, but their work is necessary.

  • Engage babysitters. This tip was mentioned by panelist Hilarie Koplow-McAdams. I’m amplifying it here because my husband and I have done this with our daughter’s babysitter. When she asked us for an increase in her hourly rate we both enthusiastically agreed. We let her know that young women should feel confident asking for desired compensation, just as she had done, and that we were proud of her for doing so.

  • Men will apply for a job if they reach 60 percent of the requirements. Women apply for a job if they match 100 percent of the described requirements, because they follow what they perceive to be the rules. This data point was offered by panelist Carlyn Lamia, and it hit home with me as I’m currently taking on a job search. The habit would be hard for me to break, but I’ll keep Carlyn’s comment in mind: “Don’t color inside the lines.”

  • On the topic of job searching, Hilarie Koplow-McAdams advised attendees to know their narrative of of strengths when interviewing. Talk about yourself and your aspirations with confidence. “Use strategic language for the context of what you want to do, then fill it in with content.” This is wise direction, as narratives are powerful and memorable ways to relate information.

  • Look for your advocates and for your critics. Hilarie Koplow-McAdams pointed out the difference between mentors and sponsors, while pointing out that situational mentors also exist. (The Center for Creative Leadership’s article “Women Need a Network of Champions” does a good job of explaining the various roles.) Archana Kshirsagar indicated that, specifically, leaders need to know how they’re perceived and can gain that understanding from critics that come from a place of good intent.

  • Take on ageism. Lisa Hammitt bookended the panel by bringing it back to ReBoot Accel, this time speaking about how the organization’s CEO Diane Flynn is taking on ageism. Eloquently, Lisa shared how they’re talking about sages in companies, which indicates the power of word choice. She furthered, “Institutional knowledge, we can’t let that go.”


I’ll be reminded of these great tips whenever I don my new Tableau cap and sip from the Tableau Yeti cup from the event’s goodie bag.

Year 2, but still Day 1

What I’ve learned from two years (and counting!) at Amazon

Hello World flipped.jpg

I’ve been head down on Alexa Voice Service work for two years now, and am using this milestone to reflect on the experience thus far. It’s been an amazing experience that’s huge in reality, but getting the listicle treatment here because time is short!

  1. When Amazon says every day is Day 1, the company means it. Innovation, passion, and results are de rigueur.

  2. This is the second company I’ve been employed by that truly lives its Leadership Principles. The other company was AMB (now ProLogis). Not coincidentally, these are the two companies with truly great leadership influencing my approach to work and career.

  3. The two year mark means something to Amazon. The five year mark means even more — it’s the first time the color of your badge changes. Longevity at Amazon gains a person respect.

  4. Speaking of… I’ve learned that at Amazon, the more respect your manager or team lead has, the easier it is to do your job with less friction. Respect by others for your manager is a currency.

  5. The company has improved culture after that scathing New York Times editorial. This is a sign of an evolved company that, despite its size, can nimbly respond as needed.

  6. Many “individual contributors” here used to run their own companies, and chose to join Amazon as powerhouse ICs — the people are brilliant, innovative, and deeply knowledgeable.

  7. Being an Amazonian has made me more aware than ever of the impact the company has on society, on business, on consumer behavior, and on technology. While the retail business is core to the company, its impact is well beyond that.

  8. That said, it’s still amusing to me that the first book I ever bought online (from Amazon, natch) is titled Shopping in Space. There’s something poetically perfect about that. And no, the book is not about e-commerce. Rather, it’s a collection of essays on America’s “Blank Generation” fiction.

  9. I may never get used to waking up, turning on NPR, and hearing my company in the mainstream news. At least, I hope I never get used to it. Holding both an insider and outsider perspective, simultaneously, makes it all the more interesting.

  10. Even while working at the most valuable retailer, my intellectual curiosity continues to be pulled in the direction of the enterprise and the developer.

Thanks for reading this long-due blog article. I certainly planned to write here more frequently. I hope to do so this year!

Women in Leadership

It's Election Day here in America, and we have the first female Presidential candidate of a major political party. The highest and thickest glass ceiling has been cracked (if not broken). For good. And for *good*. 

This makes today ideal for posting my first blog article. It's a report from the Woman in Leadership panel I attended at St. Mary's College. 

Panel of inspiring women

The topic alone wasn't enough to draw me to Moraga. The panel had to be populated with impressive executives who happened to be women. And it was. 

  • Moire Rasmussen: PricewaterhouseCoopers Diversity and Inclusion Leader (moderator)
  • Donna Uchida: chief of communications at Kaiser Permanente
  • Amy Vernetti: director of leadership recruiting at Google
  • Tiffin Groff: vice president of channel marketing for Peet’s Coffee & Tea

Unconscious bias

Vernetti proposed that unless there's 30% women at the table, there is discrimination. Throughout her Google activities and at the companies she advises, this is the yardstick by which she determines whether or not she's in a fair environment. 

Rasmussen suggested the USA Today article "Becoming conscious of unconscious bias in high tech" by Hank Williams. While this article is two years old, and there's been much more written on this topic since then, it's useful editorial. 

One of the best pieces I’ve read on the topic is from Russell Reynolds Associates. The research report titled Different is Better states that, as it relates to boards of directors, “Being able to draw upon a diverse set of competencies and knowledge is essential if boards are to successfully address the complex issues their companies face.”

HeForShe was recommended as a starting point for ideas on how to effect change toward gender equality. HeForShe is inviting people around the world to stand together to create a bold, visible force for gender equality.

What we can do for ourselves

The panelists shared several quality tips on what women can do for themselves in the workplace. 

  • Be competitive and ambitious. Operate as if you want a seat at the table. Be outward about your goals. 
  • Be heard. While in meetings, if someone else repeats your earlier-shared-but-ignored idea, respond with something along the lines of, "Thanks for saying that in a different way that I did." I love the suggestion because this scenario is very common, and the response isn't defensive. 
  • Ask for what you want. That promotion, that raise, that chair position on an important committee, that high-profile project. Ask for it. If you don't, the answer will always be "no."
  • Read the room. In meetings, during presentations, and at the big pitch, tune in to what your audience needs from you. A very funny story was shared by Rasmussen. She was going on too long during a meeting, taking a winding route to her main points. Her mentor said, "Land the plane." That's it. Land The Plane. Rasmussen didn't take it personally. She focused, and then succinctly hit all her main points. If she had read the room, she would have gotten there quicker. 
  • Maintain the body language of confidence. Uchida talked about getting a seat at the table, in part because of her level head. She meant that literally, too. So doesn't cock her head to one side when presenting her ideas. Neither should we. Another panelist talked about the "power pose" and what that does for confidence. 
    • I suggest social psychologist Amy Cuddy's TEDTalk that shows how "power posing" — standing in a posture of confidence, even when we don't feel confident — can affect testosterone and cortisol levels in the brain, and might even have an impact on our chances for success. It's been viewed more than 37 million times!
  • Take the meeting notes. Now this is an interesting piece of advice. We're typically advised to NOT take the notes, as it can appear to secretarial. But Rasmussen proposes that having this role in a meeting gives you great control, puts you in the position of having others clarify their comments, and puts you at the whiteboard where everyone sees your participation (should you decide to take notes in that way). 

What we can do for others

There were a few nuggets of solid advice on what we can do for other women in the room. 

  • Back up other women in meetings. When they say something important or valuable, amplify their comments with credit to them. And block others from speaking over them. 
  • Vernetti suggested we look for the "men with ovaries" who will also back up other women in meetings. 
  • I posed to the panel the question of what we can do for the very young women, the girls in our families and communities. Vernetti responded with the notion of "Be what you see." Meaning, kids can be anything they see as possible. So take them to work, bring them to meetings, show them your involvement at city council meetings. 
  • We were reminded of Madeleine Albright's famous line, “There’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help each other.”
    • She's since apologized in the New York Times for saying this in relation to Hillary Clinton's presidential run. But come on, it does apply to women in the workplace. Let's support each other.

Time to land the plane!

One point from the panel that I had to applaud was the notion: do what makes you uncomfortable; run toward those things. I love that. 

Thank you for reading my report from St. Mary's College's Women in Leadership panel. 

St. mary's college in the rolling hills of moraga, california

St. mary's college in the rolling hills of moraga, california

Watch this Space!

Over the next few weeks, I will be posting here for the first time, on my shiny new blog. Topics I can't wait to explore further are: 

°  Keeping an aggressive start-up culture when your team resides at a huge company. 

°  Managing a PR agency for maximum results and a joyful experience for all. 

°  Mentoring your summer intern so YOU'D want to work for THEM one day. 

°  Revising marketing communications planning in the face of a reorg.