An incubator of women leaders

Member Spotlight

  • 06/08/2016 8:37 AM | Anonymous

    Job / Title: Management Consultant – Leadership Coach/Partner, COO/Co-founder and Author of ‘Til Now, a memoir about growing up in an addicted home and finding my way to recovery and reality.
    Company: theBATstudio and KWAD
    Industry: Business Management/Operations, Start-up Social Media and Social Connection, Lifestyle, Leadership, Self-help

    Q: From your perspective, what are the most important trends that will take place in your industry in the next 10 years?

    Maggie: The way we use and interact with social media has become isolating and promotes a need for constant validation that feeds on insecurity and that has affected the way we connect with people. Facebook was an amazing tool initially. Now it keeps us behind a screen seeking “likes” for the carefully staged, selected, and filtered images of our life. Is that really an authentic life worth living?! To address this problem of authenticity I have developed two apps, what’sbumpin for college and CUltr for everyone. Fundamentally, they are about social connection and helping users find and create ways to actually connect with other people that I believe is much needed. With CUltr you can add an event, make it public or private, invite people, and share the event on external social media to boost participation. You can also open up the app and see what is going on around you. With a quick click you let people know that you are “in” for something. I see it being a great tool for something like the CLUB, where we can load all the events coming up, create a CLUB group (and sub-groups), and then manage attendance, updates, programming, etc. through the app. For instance, rather than getting an email from my East Bay group coordinator, having to respond via email or through the CLUB portal, and then waiting to get an email update, instead I could receive an update via the app, click a button saying “I’m in,” and then if something changes, I get an immediate alert. As more and more people use the app, the machine learning kicks in to start making recommendations for events and activities based on preferences and anonymized behavior from other users. The goal is to give you more options to have in-person experiences, free of screens!

    Q: What have been the hallmarks of your success?

    Maggie: Refusing to accept the word “no” or that there is only one way to do something have been the hallmarks of my success. I grew up in an abusive home and was regularly told why I couldn’t do something. As I was growing up I was repeatedly told that I wasn’t smart enough, I wasn’t accomplished enough, I wasn’t sophisticated enough. It took me a while to realize that even though the path may be hard, faith, success, and patience is what my success is built on.

    I started my professional journey by going to community college and then transferred to UC Davis. Despite many messages to the contrary, I took my studies seriously and gave it my best. The old sayings are true about hard work and perseverance – there really isn’t a better formula for wanting to achieve something. I often had to work 2-3 jobs, I never failed to work, and I think that structure really kept me moving when it would have been easier to just take a break. I was also, honestly, often motivated by some fear. If I left school I would have to start paying back my loans and likely move home – I really didn’t want to do either of those things so I just kept working. One of the things that helped was the feeling that even if I made a mistake with what I was studying, even if I didn’t know 100% that this was the right path, nothing I was doing would hurt me – it would just be something that became additive to anything else I did in the future.

    With my apps I have heard it all from others and my own self-criticism! I have faced pervasive negativity from “you can’t succeed with a start-up” to “if you don’t go to Y Combinator you are doomed” to “if you don’t get success in the first 30 days, you’ll never get it”. I continually work to rise above and ignore this noise, acknowledge the difficulty of the goal, and regularly asked for help. Offering my full self is a great strategy to defeat my own imposter syndrome and the low expectations of others. For example, I find that it is really important to be honest with other people. If I am nervous during a presentation I will often acknowledge the feeling and this acceptance of myself helps others to accept me and appreciate my authenticity.

    Once I was speaking at a major technology conference in Canada right after Arianna Huffington. To say that I was so nervous to follow Arianna was an understatement. So, I opened my remark with, “I am a basket case folks. I love Arianna and am just gonna have to take a second to calm down. She is a very tough act to follow!” And everyone laughed. I relaxed and gave one of the best speeches in my career.

    Q: What is your recommendation for choosing a good mentor?

    Maggie: Be selective and follow through. Today relationships are not as meaningful. We go to an event, make a connection, get on Linkedin, and then abandon the relationship. To find a mentor you have to develop another strategy. I recommend finding someone who has something that you want – be it a position, a job title, a style or something else – and then connect, be authentic and ask them to share their experience with you. Most importantly, think about ways to make a relationship long term and mutually beneficial. It is also a good idea to use different mentors for different kinds of help you want. You rarely find everything in one person! Sometimes we are drawn to someone. If you do not have a connection right away, it is okay to say “I would love to sit with you for 30 minutes and hear you talk about what you do.” Sometimes we don’t have a particular question to ask or a problem to be solved, but these conversations yield a great response, deeper connections, and longer relationships.

    Q: What are the hallmark traits of a great leader that you have observed in your career? How important is developing a management style?

    Maggie: Getting to know yourself and being authentic are the hallmark traits of a great leader. And so your management style must reflect you and your values. Understanding what is important to you and how that fits into the work you do is a great place to start. Reflecting you and your values in how you manage helps you show up authentically and consistently to your work, projects, and social engagements!

    Q: What advice would you give to someone looking to grow in her career while making time for her family?

    Maggie: You can’t do it all! No one wants to hear this, but it is true. The sooner you accept this, the easier it gets to find some balance. If you want to be home at 5 every night to make dinner and spend time with your family, then you are going to sacrifice certain opportunities and vice-versa. Don’t judge yourself, but do take the time to understand what matters to you and then own your choices.

    Q: Tell us something about yourself that is a fun fact.

    Maggie: I spend 10-15 hours a week on conference calls. To prevent myself from “multitasking,” I knit during calls. It keeps my hands busy and allows my mind to be totally present for the call. But I only knit simple things so I don’t have to think about what I am doing – hats and scarves! It is a great way to keep my hands busy and my mind focused and alert.

    Q: In what areas can you give advice to other CLUB members as part of the CLUB mentoring program?

    Maggie: I don’t know until you ask – but please do! I am happy to listen and provide a perspective, that’s the best mentoring I know. There is no such a thing as amazing canned advice. We need to connect and develop a relationship. And then I have a shot at giving you advice that fits you and your goals.

    One quote that I keep close and refer to often is: “Feelings aren’t facts.” It may feel trite, but if there is one piece of advice that applies to everyone and in so many aspects of life, it is this – be authentic to yourself and give yourself the freedom to explore the reality of your feelings. Too often we act based on feelings and they may not be our truest guide in empowering our lives.

  • 04/21/2016 8:42 AM | Anonymous

    Name: Olga V. Mack
    Job / Title: General Counsel
    Company: ClearSlide, Inc.
    Industry: Enterprise Software, Saas

    Q: What have been the hallmarks of your success?

    Olga: I often joke that I chose a legal career over a career as a prima ballerina (the Russian equivalent of a top model) because it is a profession where one has more opportunities and becomes more valuable as she ages. Throughout my entire career, both as a business owner and a lawyer, I have been puzzled that the world still correlates intelligence, achievement, perseverance, capability, and other virtues with grey hairs.

    It is true that one has an opportunity to get more experience over a longer period of time and over a variety of circumstances. The real question is whether one actually takes these opportunities to live different experiences, or if one relives the same year and experiences multiple times in a lifetime. For many people the latter is true – they relive the same life and maintain the status quo year after year.

    This, of course, begs the question – why do we still correlate intelligence, achievement, perseverance, capability, and other virtues with grey hairs? More importantly, why do we expect so little from our young? It’s important to note that in many professions, such as law or finance, being in one’s forties is often considered “young.” In private and public board service, even for young consumer-facing companies, being in one’s fifties is often considered “young.” Youth is relative, which makes it even more clear that intelligence and similar virtues cannot be correlated with age.

    While I consider this relative fountain of youth a perk of the legal profession, I also think we should empower and expect more from our young. And certainly, factors like age – too young or too old – should never hold anyone back. After all, we are all adolescents in today’s life expectancy of nearly one hundred!

    Q: If you can share one piece of advice that you know now about navigating your career, what would that be?

    Olga: Any successful professional, including lawyers, in-house or otherwise, perfects the art and science of empathizing — the capacity to understand or feel what another person is experiencing from within the other person’s frame of reference or the capacity to place oneself in the shoes of another — with a client or advice recipient. This ability to understand the needs of the recipient should guide all communications and actions. For example, it should help to determine what to advice to give, how quickly, in which format, at what level of detail, and other factors.

    Also, most successful professionals learn that conflicts are a necessary part of life — personal and professional — that often compel progress, change, and evolution. In fact, it is my job as an attorney to deal with conflicts all day, every day. After about a decade of practicing law, I firmly believe that most conflicts should be embraced, managed, and defused, often quickly.

    Q: What does leadership mean to you?

    Olga: Leadership is a place of equilibrium where I am able to get to a win-win-win solution. For example, as a columnist for the Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC), an international organization of over 30,000 in-house counsel, I love sharing the stories of other achieved attorneys, often women. In so doing, I help other in-house attorneys to learn from the stories of other highly achieved attorneys and the local attorneys that are profiled receive international recognition. In the process I get to know, be inspired, and learn from the best in class professionals. That’s is a win-win-win solution.

    Q: Tell us something about yourself that is a fun fact.

    Olga: A few years back, when I was a very pregnant junior attorney, a male judge asked me during my trial, “Ms. Mack, how does being pregnant affect your ability to try this case?” Without missing a beat I told him, “Your Honor, as my stomach grows, my brain stays the same.” After a three second pause, I continued with a slight smile, “I wish it were the other way around.” Stopping the awkward inquiry and speaking up for myself was empowering. I went on to give the best closing argument of my career and win my trial. A day after my win I gave birth to my first daughter. When I met her for the first time I promised to teach her to stand up for herself, if only so she can be empowered to win. Almost two years later I made a similar promise after giving birth to my second daughter. These promises inspire me to aim high.

    Q: In what areas can you give advice to other CLUB members as part of the CLUB mentoring program?

    Olga: Always aim high, higher than you think is doable or even sensible. After all, in retrospect, which is how all achievements are judged by definition, they always look doable and sensible.

    Olga Mack was selected for the 2016 CLUB Incubator program based on her early successes, graceful ambition and refreshing philosophy on being a startup lawyer who isn’t afraid to embrace calculated risks. You can learn more about Olga’s professional background, awards and interests – including her work to ensure more female representation on corporate boards – at

  • 04/08/2016 9:02 AM | Anonymous

    Name: Katherine Mendonca

    Job / Title: Director, iOS in Enterprise, Channel Sales

    Company: Apple Inc.

    Industry: Technology


    Q: From your perspective, what are the most important trends that will take place in your industry in the next 10 years?


    • IoT (Internet of Things) – Many more connected devices creating an overwhelming amount of data driving amazing efficiencies in business and in our personal lives.
    • Computing will be ubiquitous as more applications / platforms / devices leverage the “cloud”.
    • The growth of the wearable device industry will expand dramatically as a multitude of sensors / materials become miniaturized and embedded into many objects we wear. And in turn, creating more data!

    Q: What have been the hallmarks of your success?

    Katherine: I have had the opportunity to be a part of two very different industries at the beginning of industry tends, working with Aveda at the beginning of the natural personal care industry and more recently with the mobile computing industry. In retrospect, I see that it is important to pay attention to information and opinions of those knowledgeable within the industry to help one foresee the trends and then find your place within that journey (if it is indeed something that you find interesting).

    Identify and align with smart people to work with and be open to suggestions and recommendations that will be helpful to your career. Many times, the best advice comes from unexpected places! And then, once you have a strong sense of your interests, abilities and commitment, do not let naysayers deter you. If I had taken the advice of those that were not vested in the success of others I would have found myself left behind. 

    Q: If you can share one piece of advice that you know now about navigating your career, what would that be?

    Katherine: Be fearless. Don’t be afraid to seek advice, take chances, and look for opportunities. Hope is not a strategy and having a plan is key to guiding you on a path. For example, when I moved to the Bay Area without a job and a notion that I wanted to change my career path I worked with a career-counseling agency to ascertain transferable skills and possible new industries. Through this assessment process, I was able to solidify a plan to transition into a new industry. And lastly, develop your intuition, or as I like to call it, your sixth sense. There will be times when your sixth sense will help you make the best decision by blending the facts and the nuances of a situation.

    Q: How important is developing a management style?

    Katherine: A consciously developed management style is critical, much like a conductor is to an orchestra. When you leverage your strengths as a manager (listening, identifying strengths in others, building a diverse team, etc.), you will better understand what you can bring to your team and how to enable individual team members and the team as a whole to find a rhythm.

    If your strengths are not apparent to you, take the time to leverage the myriad of tools available (for example, The Gallop Strengths Finder or The DiSC Assessment). Engage with someone that can help you identify and leverage your strengths into your authentic management style.

    There are many “management styles” that are effective; just know what aspects are the best for you and will leverage your strengths. A few aspects I find imperative are clearly communicating the strategy (of the company, product, program, etc.) so that the team members understand their contribution. Strive to eliminate unconscious biases (gender, age, ethnicity, etc.). And be the resource that removes obstacles for your team so they can succeed. 

    Q: What role has mentorship played in your career?

    Katherine: I have had the benefit of several very positive mentors over the years. In these relationships I had a great deal of respect for these mentors and felt that they were invested in my success. Due to this mutual trust, I understood that they could see aspects of my capabilities that I was unable to see in myself. This perspective allowed me to find strength and confidence to follow through on my goals. When others see your strengths and can offer positive direction, this provides a sense of empowerment that one cannot always find in ones self.

    Q: What do you like to do to unwind?

    Katherine: I love living in the Bay Area and enjoy exploring the treasures all around us from museums, to wineries, to urban hikes around San Francisco discovering new vantage points and aspects of the city. As much as I love meeting new people and being out and about, I find that I recharge my batteries by retreating and making quiet time for myself. It’s soothing to me to test out a new recipe or read the many magazines I subscribe to. I also make time for exercise to clear my mind and move my body!

    Q: In what areas can you give advice to other CLUB members?


    • Changing Careers: how to assess transferable skills / strengths. Having made this transition myself, I am confident that transitioning careers is possible with appropriate planning and patience! 
    • Leveraging mobile technology in business
    • Ability to help others take a broad problem / topic and drill down on specific, actionable aspects. As a seasoned sales person, I am able to listen for and identify disparate components of a problem, break them down, and build a strategy to meet a desired goal.
  • 02/02/2016 8:44 AM | Anonymous

    Name: Michelle Garrison
    Job / Title: Group Director, Corporate Applications Engineering
    Company: Synopsys
    Industry: Software for Electronic Design (also known as Electronic Design Automation)

    Q: What is the challenge that you are most proud of overcoming?  Explain.

    Michelle: I changed jobs at one point in my career in an attempt to shift to an industry that would allow me to move out of a particular high technology segment. Essentially, I switched from a product revenue producing role to an infrastructure role; it was a difficult environment where my values were not in alignment with the leadership of the organization. For three years I struggled to adjust to the environment, but found my nerves and self-value were shot as a result of the lack of alignment between my own values and that of the organization. I moved on, and into a role that has been extremely successful in an organization that meets my needs. I learned from that experience and took those lessons into my life in a positive way – I can even spot it in others and help them see that it may be time to move on.

    Q: How have you grown your professional network?  Explain.

    Michelle: I changed positions about every 3-4 years. This allowed me to work with a wide variety of individuals over an extended period on time. This has been particularly useful at my current company because I am well known across many departments. This has been a huge advantage. I have volunteered for projects that span multiple groups, joined several women’s organizations and became involved in their programs, and pursued personal interests like cycling and soccer – all of which have further connected me across tech in Silicon Valley.

    Q: What role has mentorship played in your career?

    Michelle: Mentorship has always been informal in my career. I was fortunate to have various individuals take an interest in mentoring me. About six years ago, I joined a Leader Forum group of 7 women and we have remained intact.  We meet monthly.  This has been a great source of receiving perspective and insight from a variety of strong women in leadership roles.  This experience was the inspiration for starting the Mentoring Circles within The CLUB.

    Q: What is your recommendation for choosing a good mentor?

    Michelle: Get clear about your goals.  Think about what you want to accomplish and look for someone who has those skills or experiences you want to learn from.  Don’t box yourself into one topic. You will find that if you select well, there will be much you can learn in the process.

    Q: What are the hallmark traits of a great leader that you have observed in your career?

    Michelle: Vision, emotional intelligence, passion, drive for results and agility. The CEO of my company is an incredible visionary, guides the company toward the vision and is full of passion. Another great leader at my company has incredible business and technical acumen, coupled with emotional intelligence and driving for results. Both are wildly successful, but their skills are very different. 

    Q: What are ways that you have balanced career, personal, and other interests?

    Michelle: I have always maintained a goal of balance in my life. After having my first child, I decided to make choices in my career that would support raising a family, yet provide career growth and challenges. I turned down a few opportunities and changed positions several times to ensure this goal was met. I also adopted a philosophy of protecting my weekend for personal time. 

    Q: Tell us something about yourself that is a fun fact.

    Michelle: I’ve become very active in bicycling over the past two years.  It started with joining Team in Training when I signed up to ride 100 miles around Lake Tahoe and pledged to raise over $9,000 for cancer research. My last big fundraising event was bicycling 214 miles from Seattle, WA to Vancouver, BC over two days. 

    Michelle Garrison was selected for the 2015 CLUB Incubator program based on her extensive professional experience, unique philosophy on leadership and life. We’re delighted to learn from Michelle’s experience.

  • 01/06/2016 8:47 AM | Anonymous

    Name: Erin Sawyer
    Job / Title: Sr. Purchasing Manager of Core Technologies
    Company: Tesla Motors
    Industry: Automotive, High-Tech, Clean-Tech

    Q: What have been the hallmarks of your success?

    Erin: One of the hallmarks of success in my roles is frequent feedback.  I believe that being a good people manager is giving and receiving frequent feedback among your team so that you are all on the same page with priorities, responsibilities, opportunities for improvement and celebrating wins.  It’s super important to have frequent, real-time dialogue with your team and your boss, so that you know what’s working well, and what to refine.

    Q: If you can share one piece of advice that you know now about navigating your career, what would that be?

    Erin: My one piece of advice is to own your career.  You need to take ownership of the direction you want your career path to go.  Do not be afraid to ask for more responsibility, ask for a promotion, take on new roles, change companies, relocate, etc.  It’s up to you to be your own advocate and be proactive about what you want.

    Q: What is the challenge that you are most proud of overcoming?  Explain.

    Erin: Hands down, I’m most proud being a woman engineer.  As a mechanical engineer, and working in Automotive and Tech industries, I’ve always been one of very few women in the workplace.  Establishing credibility among both my technical and non-technical colleagues, both as an engineer and leader, has been key to my success.  I’m immensely proud of serving as a positive role model to the more junior women in my organization of what a woman engineer and leader looks like.

    Q: What’s the best career advice you’ve ever gotten?  Explain what and why it was so good.

    Erin: When I joined Tesla, my boss and mentor told me “welcome to the revolution!”.  His advice was that no matter how large or small of an organization you work in, you should not be afraid to change things for the better.  If the team structure, processes, or ways of working aren’t optimal– then don’t be afraid to change them.  This piece of advice really empowered me to take ownership of the organization and create a future-state that I wanted to be a part of.

    Q: How do you approach someone who you may want as a mentor?

    Erin: Some mentor / mentee relationships are natural, and some only come about if you approach the person.  When I was a young professional early in my career at Honeywell, and we had a new female executive in the organization, I approached her right away to ask her to be my mentor.  As one of the few women in Honeywell’s automotive division, she served as a more senior mentor with a similar engineering background that provided me with great advice.  I’m so glad that I wasn’t shy about asking for her to be my mentor and scheduling monthly lunches!

    Q: What are ways that you have balanced career, personal, and other interests?

    Erin: First, you have to prioritize what’s important to you, and second, you have to set boundaries to make time for your top priorities.  For me, the time with my husband is a priority.  We decided to set aside Tuesday nights to cook dinner together – so no matter what is going on at work or with friends, we always protect that one night per week in our calendars.  My other top prioritize is my health.  I’m a firm believer that eating healthy, regular exercise, and getting enough sleep will enable me to be happier and more effective in my career, so I make time to work out at least 5 times per week.  Once you identify your top priorities, you can set boundaries – leaving the office, setting aside your cell phone, etc. – to make time for the things that are most important to you.

    Q: Tell us something about yourself that is a fun fact.

    Erin: This year I became a board member of the non-profit Kids’ Vision, which is an organization that works to inspire young girls to enter into STEM fields.  We created an amazing after-school program, where girls 3rd thru 6th grade visit tech companies in Silicon Valley, meet female role models working in those organizations, and do hands-on experiments to learn about how mathematics and science are applied in companies in Silicon Valley.  I believe providing positive role models of women in STEM is critical for increasing our future pipeline of women engineers and leaders.

    Erin was selected for the 2015 CLUB Incubator program based on her achievements in the automotive industry and her passion for giving back to young women in STEM. Erin has been recognized as one of Fortune’s Most Powerful Women Next Generation. You can learn more about Erin’s professional interests and volunteer highlights at

  • 01/11/2015 9:08 AM | Anonymous

    Name: Laraine McKinnon

    Job: Advocating for American retirement readiness and security thru employer sponsored 
    retirement savings plans
    Company: BlackRock

    Industry: Financial Services


    What initially attracted you to The CLUB? What keeps you engaged?

    I am a big believer in women’s leadership and using the power of an inspired network to get women to the next level. I especially like the idea of the CLUB being an “incubator of women’s leadership”, which is why I offered to build a formal Incubator program to help provide a boost for a small group of CLUB members each year. The CLUB is just starting to uncover its potential – and that keeps me engaged and excited

    How do you see The CLUB evolving?

    The CLUB is gaining momentum. There are so many opportunities for our members to grow – learning from the strong content of events, taking opportunity to network, participating in the mentoring programs – and to give back through providing their own leadership on CLUB initiatives. I hope people take full advantage of it.

    I also see the CLUB taking a leadership position of its own – in connecting other women’s organizations, in helping redefine an inclusive workforce, in growing the pipeline of women ready for more powerful positions whether in corporations or on Boards. I hope we become the ‘go-to’ for recruiting and networking.

    What role has mentorship played in your career?

    I have a few mentors as well as an executive sponsor.  It took me a long time to understand how to make use of a mentor – the trick for me was asking my mentors open ended, somewhat unstructured questions. My executive sponsor changed the game for me when he provided unequivocal support.

    What has surprised you about your industry?

    This is less about my industry and more about corporate America more generally: I’m surprised by how challenging it is to drive real change. I think we all find this to be true even of ourselves in various ways – humans are slow to make changes even when we know the change is truly beneficial. (Think of dieting, saving money, exercising, quitting smoking, etc.)  I spend a lot of time with academics on behavioral finance, reading the literature around habits and figuring out how to methodically influence change.  This has implications for my work in helping Americans save for retirement – but also for the CLUB as we try to incent and inspire significant improvements in the number of women leading key businesses and initiatives.

    If you can share one piece of advice that you know now about navigating your career, what would that be?

    Women need to build an external network and become more publicly known.  Many of us keep our head down and do the very best we can at our jobs and don’t find the time to network externally, or publish, or -god forbid!- speak publicly. But we need to showcase and grow our expertise.  A strong external network gives us support, opportunities and a reality check (on our skills, leadership, achievements).

    Fun Fact

    I’m a sailboat racer – it’s a big part of why I moved to the Bay Area.  I met my husband Steve when we were racing against each other in a national regatta; we raced ocean or Bay nearly every weekend for 10 years and accumulated two boats along the way.  Although I don’t get much opportunity to race anymore (we have two busy girls, 7 & 8 years old) there’s hope: my 8 year old just went through Stanford University’s kids sailing program and loved it!

  • 12/01/2014 9:10 AM | Anonymous

    Name: Lee McEnany Caraher
    Job: President & CEO, Author
    Company: Double Forte
    Book: “Millennials & Management: The Essential Guide to Making it Work at Work”
    Industry: Public Relations & Social Media

    From your perspective, what are the most important trends that will take place in your industry in the next 10 years?
    Public Relations and communications has gone through a dramatic transformation in the last 4 years – while the fundamentals of what matters – what’s the message, who’s the audience, and how do you connect the two has stayed constant – how we do our work has completely changed and will keep changing. In the next 10 years I think we’ll see more dramatic changes in how people communicate and we’ll need to be right behind the edge of how things are working to be effective. At the same time I don’t think the fundamentals of communication will change – be real, be honest, be helpful.

    If you can share one piece of advice that you know now about navigating your career, what would that be?
    If your job grates against your soul, then you’re in the wrong job. Find work and an employer (or become an employer) where your worst day at the good job is a regular day in the soul-grating day. You are in charge of your career and your happiness.

    What advice would you give those beginning their own business?
    Focus is your friend, and it’s important to focus your activities on where you are most valuable. Focus on what you do well and pay or barter with someone else to do the things that you don’t do well. I can do the numbers and the billing but it’s drudgery for me. The first employee I had at my company was my accountant, who I paid 6 months before I paid myself. Best decision I ever made. (Although I still go to Office Depot myself because I love office supplies.)

    How do you approach someone who you may want as a mentor?
    Mentorship is so important – when my mother graduated from the first Simmons all woman MBA class, her advice to me was find a male mentor who is in the position you want and copy him to get where you want to go. That worked really well for her – she retired after creating the career she wanted, at the top of her game. I think today, gender is not as important in looking for a mentor. I recommend people identify someone who’s “just out of their league” or at least 2 rungs up the ladder. Consider what you want from a mentor — what do you hope to get out of a mentorship with this person? what is the timeframe you want? what is the subject matter? how would you like to engage (on email, on the phone, on Skype, in person)? and how often? What do you have to offer the potential mentor? Get specific so that when you approach the person, they will know exactly what you want and will be able to respond productively and more likely, in the positive. Then stick to your plan. And at the end of every meeting, check in to make sure it’s working for them.

    What does leadership mean to you?
    You can only lead those who want to be led. Leadership means that other people trust you to get them to their goals. I think the most important thing for leaders is to focus on engendering positive feeling among those who follow. That means we need to understand who’s following us, what makes them tick, and what will motivate them in the context of the company’s goals. It’s humbling and invigorating at the same time.

    Fun Fact.
    I strongly dislike olives, which my assistant noticed and took to heart. One day when we ordered pizza for the office I heard him say to the Office Manager “make sure there’s pizza without olives for Lee” – and since I overheard him, everyone else overheard him too, and now it’s “thing” in the office.

  • 10/06/2014 9:21 AM | Anonymous

    Name: Nicole Bartow
    Job / Title: Senior Litigation and Labor Counsel
    Company: Atmel Corporation
    Industry: Semiconductor


    If you can share one piece of advice that you know now about navigating your career, what would that be? 

    Don’t try to change who you are.  Instead, emphasize and capitalize on your strengths.  Determine how to use those strengths in the face of any given career challenge.


    Why did you choose to be a lawyer?

    I chose to be a lawyer after participating in speech and debate in high school.  I enjoyed the process of learning and mastering a subject and then presenting it (and then repeating the process again and again with new topics).  Plus, I love to win.


    What’s the best career advice you’ve ever gotten?  

    Find and fill a need – for example, mastering a substantive specialty and becoming the “go to” authority on the subject.  Or, positioning yourself to fill an upcoming void (e.g., where leaders in one area will be retiring soon) so you are the natural “next wave” for that role.  These strategic moves can make you indispensible and also offer the opportunity for rapid career advancement.


    If you had it to do all over again is there one thing you would have changed?  

    I would have taken time off between college and law school to travel, work and accumulate diverse life experiences, rather than going “straight through.”


    From your perspective, what are the most important trends that will take place in your industry in the next 10 years? 

    The explosion of the Internet of Things.


    What has surprised you about your industry? 

    The dearth of women working in the industry, especially in technical and sales roles, and at the executive and board levels.


    What role has mentorship played in your career? 

    I was very fortunate to find a great mentor in my third year at a firm.  This person was a male partner in my group, and we worked very closely together for seven years (until we each took different career paths).  He gave me a lot of responsibility on matters; much of the time I was in “sink or swim” situations, which are motivating for me.  He also helped me navigate the large firm politics and was my champion at the firm.

    Now that I have almost 20 years of experience of my own, I’m enjoying serving as a mentor, both to other lawyers (mostly through The CLUB’s mentoring opportunities) and to other non-lawyers in my organization.  Serving as a mentor has increased my own confidence and awareness, as I’ve had to reflect on my own career and experiences and realize that I have a significant depth and breadth of experience.


    What are the hallmark traits of a great leader that you have observed in your career?  

    An ability to get others engaged and focused on achievement and providing their best effort; genuine appreciation for contributions; passion, drive and vision; integrity.


    What advice would you give to someone looking to grow in her career while making time for her family? 

    Launch your career in a supportive environment; it’s hard enough to juggle multiple priorities without trying to do so in an unsupportive environment.  Get good help on the home front and show your appreciation for that person/system (whether that is a spouse/partner who takes on a majority of household responsibilities or a dedicated nanny or daycare provider or something else).  Outsource tasks that aren’t the highest/best use of your time – e.g., via Google Shopping Express, TaskRabbit, and other resources.


    What are ways that you have balanced career, personal, and other interests?  

    I have declared certain priority items as “sacred” and schedule around those items, even when difficult to do so.  Also, I have viewed the areas of career, personal and other interests as fluid, spending more time/effort in one area at certain times, but have reassessed regularly so that any “imbalance” doesn’t become the norm.


    Fun Facts 

    My first job was selling patio furniture.

    I have been a Stanford Football season ticket holder for 22 years (Go Card!).


    What do you like to do to unwind? 

    Exercise!  I have a weekly workout schedule that covers strength, flexibility and cardio.  These workouts are sacred to me – there are very few things that I will let disrupt this schedule.  On the weekends, I enjoy walking The Dish and bike riding on the Stanford campus with my wife and three kids.

  • 06/27/2014 9:28 AM | Anonymous

    Name: Holly Hogan
    Job / Title: Partner, IP Litigation
    Company: K&L Gates LLP
    Industry: Law / Technology


    From your perspective, what are the most important trends that will take place in your industry in the next 10 years?

    As an intellectual property (IP) litigator, I work at the intersection of law and technology, and believe that we will continue to see efforts to refine and further shape IP law at all levels of government, which will impact both the legal profession and the tech industry.

    Let’s take patent litigation reform, for example, where many branches and layers of government are “tuned in” to the concerns about how to do things better when it comes to dis-incentivizing frivolous lawsuits − from the Supreme Court’s recent rulings on the standard for awarding attorneys’ fees in meritless cases, to the White House’s patent reform recommendations, multiple (albeit stalled) bills in Congress, the FTC’s review of patent demand letters, and investigations pursued at the state level.  Similarly, in the arena of copyright law, stakeholders are looking for the “next great Copyright Act” that will adapt the current body of copyright law to the new mediums of expression that exist because of technological advances.  And it’s not just within the government, as we’re also seeing heightened interest in intellectual property issues in the news and among the general public, making these issues ever more critical to the business side, not only the legal side.


    What has surprised you about your industry?

     I’ve come to appreciate more and more just how much litigation is about telling a story.  Sure, you have to meet the legal requirements and find the evidence, but the compelling case is the one that connects all those pieces together into a narrative that resonates with a judge or jury.  There is a (mis)impression that IP litigation is “cut and dry,” but even in cases with intensely complex technology, there is always an interesting story, and I like finding it.


    What’s the best career advice you’ve ever gotten?  Explain what and why it was so good.

    Early in my career a mentor told me to always keep in mind that “people don’t want to hear about problems, they want to hear about your solution to the problem.”  Excellent advice.  This point is especially true for lawyers, who want to avoid the label of being someone who just tells everyone “no,” and doesn’t try to find a viable alternative.  Being someone who can not only spot an issue, but figure out how to fix it, is a great way to distinguish yourself early in your career (and throughout your life).  Keeping an eye on solving an issue also builds judgment and decision-making ability.  Problems and thorny issues are opportunities to show your ability to work through them.


    What role has mentorship played in your career?

    It has played a big, and meaningful, role.  I’ve been fortunate to have great mentors at every phase of my career who have helped me think “big picture,” opened up opportunities for me, and gave me great practical advice.  Earlier in my career, a partner at my firm let me run with depositions, and she invested the time to teach me how to do them well.  That experience set me up to lead a piece of the case, which in turn led to great trial experience.

    I also came to the CLUB through mentorship.  CLUB founder Annie Rogaski mentored me in Leading Women in Technology’s WILPOWER program (which I can’t recommend highly enough).  She is an oracle of first-rate, practical advice.  For example, a rut that women can get stuck in is being known just as someone who can get the task at hand done well − a “worker bee,” so to speak.  Of course you want to be known for doing a good job, but you don’t want your reputation to stop there.  You also want people to regard you as someone who can drive a strategy, and think about the overall issues.  Annie encouraged me to focus on building that kind of reputation, and taught me that to be strategic, you need to set aside time in the press of getting things done to actually stop and think about strategy − literally, put the time on the calendar!  I found that getting myself in that mindset at a dedicated time really trained me to be in that mindset the rest of the week, as well.

    We have an excellent group of women in the CLUB who are happy to mentor others, which I think says a lot about the women who make up this organization.  Check out the website for information on how to find a mentor.


    What does leadership mean to you?

    I’m a history buff, so I’ll borrow the wise words of John Quincy Adams; that is, leadership is inspiring others to “dream more, learn more, do more, and become more.”   It’s one thing to excel in your own endeavors, it’s quite another to lead others to excel in theirs.  The latter requires thinking beyond yourself, and thinking about other people, an organization, and the goal.  Leaders who have impacted my life all had an ability to inspire others to “think bigger” and “get things done, better.”


     Fun Facts

     I love to read and have a copy of every book I’ve ever read (Yes, I’m one of the dinosaurs that still buys a hard copy!)  I tend to re-read Hemingway, and enjoy his Hemingway-isms, chief among them: “When people talk, listen completely.  Most people never listen.”

  • 05/01/2014 9:32 AM | Anonymous

    Name: Pam Fulmer
    Job / Title: Partner
    Company: Arent Fox
    Industry:  Legal

    My name is Pam Fulmer and I am a trial lawyer specializing in representing technology companies in high stakes intellectual property and commercial litigation matters.  Rather than simply writing a biography about myself and my background, I thought it might be helpful to talk about two very important life lessons that I have learned and how these lessons have changed my life for the better, and why these lessons may also be important to Club members reading this Spotlight.  I am talking about the value of not being afraid to take risks, and not hesitating to mentor and be mentored.

    Risk Taking 

    One of the most important lessons I’ve learned in life is to not be afraid to take risks. Lawyers tend to be naturally risk-averse, and that is why many of us go into the law. But the most successful lawyers among us are calculated risk takers.

    One risk that I took early on, was moving to California with my college roommate after graduation. Although I knew no one in the Bay Area, I figured it was as good a time as any to make a move, as I did not want to spend my entire life in Ohio.  The idea was to work for a year and to get our California residency, so that we could enjoy the lower California in-state tuition for our post graduate studies. With only $1200 in my pocket and nowhere to live, I rolled the dice and took a risk.  I boarded a plane in Cincinnati, Ohio and my roommate boarded one in Miami, Florida, and we met at San Francisco International Airport.

    We decided to move to Berkeley (it was a college town after all), and try to get jobs as waitresses. The Grateful Dead were playing in Berkeley that night and the hotels were almost all booked, but we finally managed to get a room in a flea bag hotel (The Capri) on University Avenue.  Even that cheap hotel was expensive to me given how much money I had to work with.  None of the rooms had phones and I remember standing in a phone booth on University Avenue watching the traffic whizz by, and assuring my Mom and Dad that everything was fine.  I was scared to death and already second guessing myself.

    The next day I started my job hunt, and discovered that no one wanted to hire me as a waitress as I had no experience working in a restaurant.  Finally, with my money running out and my prospects looking exceedingly dim, I secured a job as a Radio Shack management trainee.  I knew virtually nothing about electronic equipment, or antenna or fuses, but somehow I managed to eke out a living for a few months and save up additional money until I could find a higher paying job.  And then despite additional challenges, things finally started to break my way.  By the time I entered law school, I knew absolutely that this is what I wanted to do and I worked hard to do well in school and go to a highly regarded law firm.

    I have never regretted my decision to take the risk of moving to California.  And I have found that sometimes as a lawyer I have needed to take risks too. These are of course calculated risks, and ones that are weighed carefully and thought through.  There is risk involved in advocating a novel legal theory, which may not be well settled, but through hard work and flawless execution secures for the client a great settlement.  Or going with the witness that others doubted could withstand a vigorous cross-examination, and preparing her so well that by the time she got to the stand she told her story so convincingly and so honestly that the fact finder had no trouble going her way.

    I think as a general matter that women tend to be more risk adverse than men.  I don’t see this as a good thing. I think it is one of the challenges that we face as women in the work force. When I first started practicing law, in-house lawyers who were women seemed reluctant to hire other women. It was much safer to stick with the tried and true men who had always been hired, and who were familiar to their bosses. But sometime in the last 10 years or so, I see in-house female lawyers much more willing to take the risk and hire that female outside counsel, even though that female lawyer may not be a well-known brand name.

    I am thankful to those women in-house lawyers who have taken risks on hiring me.  I work very hard for them so that they never regret the decision that they made in choosing me to handle their case.  I urge other Club Members who are in-house lawyers to make that stretch and to take risks and to hire other women, and give them an equal opportunity to pitch your cases.     The way law firms are structured it is sometimes hard for women to get a place at the table.  If our in-house women colleagues are demanding that law firms provide qualified women candidates for their consideration, we will only gain by breaking down some of the barriers that hold all of us back.


    Another important lesson that I learned is that it is a lonely road to try to go it alone.  It is very important to trust other people and to actively seek out mentors, and to look for people to mentor along the way.

    After graduating from law school I started as a first year associate at the Howard Rice law firm in San Francisco.  My first case was an environmental lawsuit where we were representing a landfill in Northern California that was allegedly leaking into the groundwater.  The Senior Associate on the case ran me ragged for a year, and really put me through my paces.  I felt at times like she was unhappy with her job and perhaps did not feel that she had been treated fairly, and she was enjoying hassling someone more junior.  I could never go to her with questions, and she had no interest in being a mentor, and my life was tough.  I resolved at that time that if I was ever the senior associate on a case, and provided I survived my first year as a lawyer that I would be different and I would actively seek to be a mentor to others more junior.  Well of course I did survive, and I have fulfilled that promise to myself and have served as a mentor to many other lawyers.  This has been one of the most rewarding and satisfying aspects of my career.

    I have also benefited by being mentored by other great lawyers throughout my career.  I believe that it is essential for women to actively seek out mentors or sponsors that can help and facilitate their professional journeys.  Also I believe that it is essential for women who are still junior in their careers to make sure that they are looking out for and offering to mentor newer lawyers.  I learned so much during my first year out of law school, that by my second year I actually was a great resource to the lawyers who were just starting.  Everyone knew that they could come to me and I would share the knowledge that I had.  I also made sure that I didn’t use the fact that people were coming to me for advice against them later.  The conversations that we had were private and were between the two of us and I never tried to leverage someone’s lack of knowledge to my advantage.  Now some of my best clients have been colleagues who I mentored years ago.

    My advice to Club members is to stretch, get out of your comfort zone, take risks, and treat people fairly and be a sounding board for them.  The encouragement, mentorship and support that we give each other now will pay off both personally and professionally for us all.

    Pam Fulmer is a Partner in the San Francisco office of Arent Fox and is a member of the firm’s Women’s Initiative and Diversity Committees.

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