Our second annual Women in Digital breakfast kicked off Adobe Summit 2018 with a celebration of the achievements of influential women leaders in the digital space.
The inspiring event connected peers who are blazing a path toward an equal future where all women feel empowered, inspired, and educated — by each other.
“We were excited to host this gathering of fearless female leaders in technology,” said Perficient Chief Operating Officer Kathy Henely. “The event served as a platform to celebrate and learn from strong women leaving their mark on their respective organizations and industries.”
Loni Stark, senior director of strategy and product marketing at Adobe, served as a keynote speaker. Attendees also heard from a panel of influential women who are making huge strides in their fields. Lynn Brading, alliance director, Perficient Digital, moderated the panel. She asked a mix of personal and professional questions.
5 questions for the Adobe Summit Women in Digital panelists:
1. What did you want to be when you were a child?
As expected, the Women in Digital panelists had varied aspirations growing up, from a professional tennis player to a foreign diplomat in South America. Uma Devireddy, AVP, Enterprise Marketing PMO, GM Financial, mentioned that, given her culture, she was expected to be a doctor or engineer.
Uma realized her path might put her in a different direction. She wanted to do whatever it was she loved to do — at that time. And if there came a time where she was no longer passionate about her career, she would restart. And she’s done exactly that. She spent the first 15 years of her career in Human Resources before doing a complete 180, and starting from scratch, moved to an IT role. She was in IT for eight years, and just last year she again did a bit of a restart, moving to the digital marketing side at GM Financial.
2. What advice would you give your 12-year-old self?
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This question prompted some great insights from the Women in Digital panelists:
“Do whatever it is you love to do. We all change. Give it 120 percent, and you will find your way.”
“Stop worrying about what others think of you. Go do what you want to do, and forge your own path.”
“You can do anything anyone else can do.”
“Don’t question your ability or whether you are good enough for a role, as it’s irrelevant. Own it.”
“Don’t let society place boundaries, and don’t put boundaries on yourself.”
3. What is the biggest risk you have taken in your career?
“I went to work for a start-up. I learned so much, and it gave me a great perspective. No rules, and also no bricks. I had to put the bricks, or pieces, together.”
“I moved across the country to San Francisco knowing not a soul.”
“I changed industries to get into healthcare, felt passionate about improving healthcare delivery and being part of the change. This risk has also been the most rewarding, delivering healthcare to some of the most vulnerable and in need.”
Growing up in Canada, Loni earned a degree in engineering before moving to Silicon Valley. Loni pointed out that as you advance in your career, it becomes more difficult to take risks. People pay for your experience. She introduced a concept around “incubation” where you can gain new skills, for example, that you may need in a position you aspire for, or that you expect will be valuable to your business in the near future. She advises women to look for volunteer opportunities. When Adobe acquired Omniture (now Adobe Analytics), Loni spent her evenings taking online courses to get up to speed on all things analytics.
4. Since we are closing out this decade, what is the biggest change in this industry that has affected you?
“Social media. It has transformed the way we look at technology and how we do business. If a bank has an issue around online payments, and the issue is short term, people will still be talking about how online payments were down a year after it happened.”
“Consumer expectations in healthcare. People use their phone to get a ride via Uber or Lyft but have to call their provider whenever they need something, and likely go in for an appointment. People want convenience. Video visits with their provider, send the provider a picture of mysterious rash, etc. consumers expect a service.”
“People now know they need to be their own advocate in healthcare.”
“The threat landscape has changed. The amount of disruption, discomfort and ambiguity is huge.”
5. As we wrap up the breakfast, do you have any parting advice?
“At the end of the day, people need to change as leaders to lead people through the change. Be an educator.”
“Get out of your comfort zone. Sit with people you don’t know at an event or meeting. Be bold and proactive. Find people in similar roles, in the same industry, on LinkedIn, and reach out to them.”
Read about last year’s Adobe Summit breakfast here.