International Women’s Day 2015 – Informatica’s Female Leadership (Part 3)
In honor of International Women’s Day 2015, Informatica is celebrating female leadership in a blog series. Every day this week, we will showcase a new female leader at Informatica, who will share their perspective on what it’s like to be a woman in the tech industry.
Chief Human Resources Officer and EVP, Facilities / Corporate Real Estate
A few weeks ago, I read the recent article in Newsweek pointing out how discrimination and sexism is rife in Silicon Valley and it gave me pause for thought. Yes, the tech world is still a majority male world and we all hear and read stories of bad behavior. There is one well known hi tech “taxi” company whose services I stopped using after reading yet another article about misogynistic practices at the top but I also see many examples of smart tech leaders hiring people for their talents, not for what they look like and because they know that diversity of thought leads to better output and success. After the Newsweek piece came out, someone inside Informatica emailed me and asked me what I thought about the article and suggested I write a piece responding to it as he felt that Informatica was not that way at all. I agree.
Informatica has always been a company that embraces good ideas and hard work and is gender and color blind and I think that’s been a key factor in our success. Our CEO, Sohaib, recognized several years ago that we could benefit from more diversity on our Board and so we conducted a very targeted search to change that, focusing only on female candidates that brought great business and market knowledge. The candidate pool was not as large as the male pool would have been, but we found some amazing talent and I am pleased to say we now have 2 female directors on our Board. To me it is a sign of a leader’s intelligence; if they have diversity on their team and surround themselves with people from a broad set of backgrounds with a broad set of skills, preferably that complement their own, then they are consciously thinking about how to make the sum of the parts greater.
There are times as a senior leader, where I am the only woman in the room but that’s Ok, I might also be the only English person in the room! My approach has never been to make a big deal out of it, or develop a chip on my shoulder about it as I think that only leads to negativity. Instead, I try and think consciously about what I can change even if its baby steps. I am lucky in my role that I get to directly influence some of that change and help support programs like the women’s resource group recently developed by some of our female leaders at HQ. That program has had such great success and when I travel to our offices in Bangalore next week, I am excited that we’ll be kicking off a women’s group in India. There are always interesting cultural differences that factor into how women think in different parts of the world and the challenges they face, but what is clear to me is that we have amazing female talent across the company who want to come together to learn from one another and drive change.
I do think that female leaders need to be conscious of the influence they can have, be aware that other women might look at them as role models, and conduct themselves accordingly. Sometimes I think women can be the harshest critics of each other. We all have the power to make change happen, whatever role we are in, whether it is how we act, who we mentor or even the words we use when we describe each other.
Advice for other women:
As women, our brains work differently (usually) so we can bring a unique perspective to a conversation that’s full of male brains. My advice is – if you are the only female in the room then turn it into an advantage and embrace it. You can offer something the men cannot.
I feel fortunate in that I have rarely come across overt discrimination in my career. There are people who’ll fight your corner and that if you can bring your best work, you’ll be judged on what you produce, not your gender or the color of your skin. There are times when people will label you in some way and never change their opinion, even in the face of great work, but life is too short to worry about those types of people; focus on the ones you can change and those you enjoy being around.
Thoughts about Informatica’s culture:
I celebrate 14 years with the company next week so clearly, I love life at Informatica! I joined in 2001 as the Senior Manager for HR, Europe and over the years, I have had a lot of opportunity to grow my career here. Every day I get to learn new things, some are more challenging than others but they all test my knowledge and give me a chance to grow. Most of all, I enjoy the people I work with, both within my own fabulous HR team but also across the company. As we’ve grown from 500 to nearly 4000 employees, from 12 countries to 28, we’ve preserved that focus on our people, on ensuring the culture values how you do your work, as much as what you do and that to me, is a sign that talent and contribution can win over gender bias and is both the key to our success and the reason I rate Informatica as such a great place to work.