SVP Engineering, Paramount
It’s important to have more balanced executive teams, board rooms, and senior management representation. This is where organizations like Moves Power Women can really make a difference — if you’re in those rooms and environments, with positions of power and influence, use it to bring more people into the room!
In your opinion, what qualities make a “Power Woman”?
There is a “Power Woman” inside everyone. It’s a multitude of qualities woven in each of us. The challenge is making sure that power does not lie dormant.
What benefits and advantages does a company with positive gender equality have?
Diversity and inclusion in the workplace is essential for many reasons, and the benefits are demonstrated and measurable across many facets of business. Financial outcomes in organizations with gender diversity demonstrate better performance than those within industry averages. In addition, gender diversity leads to increased staff retention, a larger talent pool (and often very competitive ones!), and more innovation. I’m proud to work at a company that continuously strengthens its efforts to build itself as an inclusive company, where its employees feel equally seen, heard, and empowered to succeed.
What do you think is the number one action we as a society can take toward en-powering women and gender equality? (e.g. affirmative action)? What can we do to continue to support and enhance the growth and presence of women in high profile positions?
I recently represented Paramount at the Grace Hopper Celebration for women and non-binary technologists. The event is truly inspiring on many levels, and its goal is to bring the research and career interests of this important subset of technologists to the forefront. There are numerous areas of improvement we need to see in representation, from early career opportunities to those in the boardroom. It’s key that we take actions across this continuum.
Early career options benefit from very early intervention – Paramount partners with Girls Who Code, an excellent organization that starts giving female-identifying students opportunities in high school, leading to internship opportunities in college.
At the other end of the spectrum, it’s important to have more balanced executive teams, board rooms, and senior management representation. This is where organizations like Moves Power Women can really make a difference — if you’re in those rooms and environments, with positions of power and influence, use it to bring more people into the room!
Can you tell us a short story in which you encountered a block due to your gender?
I’ve been fortunate enough to have had opportunities where I was often supported and offered even more interesting opportunities by the people I’ve worked with. So I’ve obviously been very lucky. I don’t think we should mistake the fortune that comes with success for the all too easy stories of pure meritocracy we like to tell ourselves. All that being said, there is nothing really egregious I would call out from my own personal story. However, there are often micro (and macro) aggressions towards any underrepresented group, even if you’re not the target, which can wear you down. As I’ve had more life experiences, I have become more confident in pointing out these issues as I observe them happening. Ultimately, I believe this helps build stronger relationships with the people around me.
Was there a defining moment or experience in your life that led you to where you are today? What was it?
Yes, a key inflection point in my career happened a few years out of college. At the time, I was working in the aerospace field (at TRW, now part of Northrup Grumman) as a systems engineer. I was fortunate enough to have worked on numerous Space Science missions, including early work on the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST)- in the satellite and instrument systems design area. Astronomy and Physics have always excited me, and I found the work incredibly rewarding.
Some friends of mine from Caltech, where I received my undergraduate degree in Aerospace & Mechanical Engineering, had joined a tech startup in Los Angeles, and they had an opportunity on a growing team, to work on web development for the first college career-focused job search company – back in 1999! I took the leap, and said farewell to my day-to-day work in space science, moving into web-based internet software development work. Since moving into the online software development space, I never looked back. I’ve been able to work in many different verticals, including advertising, search, and media industries. Of course, I still keep up with the amazing advancements in aerospace that have happened in the years since I’ve left the industry, including SpaceX and the recently launched JWST!
Is “Education, education and education” one of the top three responsibilities of a civilized society? If not why not? If so why is it prohibitively expensive? Also who should decide on the curriculum?
Yes, I believe education and community building are two important building blocks for strong society. Public education, while increasing in cost at the university level, can still be a great deal, especially via community colleges. I personally believe education is under-invested in the US, while many countries have much more affordable education systems: university is completely free in Germany, for example – because their citizens vote for leaders who value education and recognize the importance of education for a capable, vibrant (and profitable) society.
If you could have someone else’s job for a day, who and what would it be? Why?
For a change of pace and because it’s the opposite of what I do in my day-to-day, I’d love to crew on a racing sailboat–for the adventure and proximity to nature, water & the elements.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
I always keep this advice in the forefront of my mind when hiring people to be part of my team: surround yourself with people who up your game, hold you accountable, identify gaps in your thinking, and who have expertise in areas you don’t.
What is your favorite book (fiction or non-fiction)?
I’m an avid reader so asking for a favorite book is like asking for a favorite person. However, I can tell you about a good book I think about often, All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr– highly recommend!
What do you most value in your friends?
Trust, Honesty, Dependability