Growth Gurus: Female Leaders from Prevalent, Spanning and Smartsheet
Insight's mission is to fuel the growth of our companies and their leaders, which in turn, creates opportunity for all stakeholders. We believe that diverse talent creates better outcomes and to celebrate National Women's History Month, we showcase some remarkable female leaders within our portfolio.
Karen Padir – Chief Product Officer of Prevalent
Provide a synopsis of your career and how it has defined your personal mission statement. As a 25-year veteran within the software industry, I have served a multitude of successful technology and leadership roles with organizations large and small including: Progress, Sun Microsystems, Red Hat, and EnterpriseDB. Early on in my career, I had a passion for understanding the big picture of how people interact with technology in business. I made it my mission to experience firsthand all aspects of this Business-IT connection—from product inception, development, and delivery through customer deployment and support.
Was there an inflection point in your career, and what did you learn from it? In 1996, I was managing a large, highly productive team at Sun Microsystems in the support organization. I heard about this new language and platform called Java. I knew that if successful, Java would change the way software applications were developed for the entire industry. I had to be a part of it.
I took a demotion, to become a project manager in the Java Software organization, which was the best decision of my career. As one of the founding members of the J2EE organization at Sun, I managed the creation of specifications, compatibility test suites, blueprints and guided implementations of Java in the enterprise. J2EE captured more than 96% market share in the application server market, which represents the fastest Java technology adoption in its history.
What is the best career advice that you would give a new person starting out in their career? Study and be prepared for everything you do. Find and surround yourself with people who are smarter, who think differently and will make you be better. Learn, adapt and grow.
Jennifer Ceran - Chief Financial Officer of Smartsheet
Provide a synopsis of your career and how it has defined your personal mission statement. When I was 21 and ready to start my first job, I saw my career as an exciting journey to discover my passions and do my best work. At that time, I had no idea where the journey would take me. It was not until I was 27 that I discovered my love for finance and the treasury function. At that time, I set a goal to become a Treasurerbefore the age of 40.
At 39, I became the Treasurer or eBay. It had just over $1 billion in revenue then and I remained at eBay for the next 10 years as it grew to over $14 Billion in revenue.
Was there an inflection point in your career, and what did you learn from it? After being the Treasurer of eBay for 7 years and successfully leading the company through the tumultuous financial crisis, I came to the conclusion that what motivated me was a challenge. By then, Treasury was no longer a challenge. I expressed my interest in leading Investor Relations because I wanted to help others better understand the eBay story. In my opinion, eBay was amazing but the market undervalued it. I was finally given the opportunity to run IR as well as FP&A. I took a huge risk leading two functions that I had very little prior experience in.
What I learned was to be incredibly resourceful and courageous. I leveraged the sell-side analysts to learn investor relations and, mostly thanks to them, I was ranked #1 investor relations professional in II's annual rankings the first year on the job. For FP&A, I helped to set up a Silicon Valley FP&A group that met quarterly to discuss topics related to financial planning and analysis. As a result, some of the best FP&A leaders in all of Silicon Valley became my mentors. And as a result of expanding my capabilities, I was able to take on my next challenge - becoming a CFO. That has been an exciting and unexpected stop on my journey.
What is the best career advice that you would give a new person starting out in their career? You are going to get a lot of feedback along the way. Listen to it, be grateful for it but don't let any of it hold you back from pursuing your ambitions. Some people will give you great advice and others will give you really bad advice. Just remember it's your career and you control it. Oh last thing, no matter what, have fun, be a great colleague and enjoy the ride.
Andrea Adams - VP of Engineering at Spanning
Provide a synopsis of your career and how it has defined your personal mission statement. My passion for technology and engineering started early with a penchant for problem solving. Prior to joining Spanning, I led software development teams at ServiceMesh Inc., Paymetric Inc., and Vignette Corporation. I started my career at Spanning managing a single product line, took on responsibility for additional teams, and now have responsibility for the entire engineering team as VP of Engineering.
My career has been driven by a love of learning — especially of new technologies — and a love of working as part of a close-knit team. When looking for a new opportunity I’ve focused less on the specific responsibilities and seniority of a position and more on what I could learn and the people with whom I would work. My talent lies in coming up to speed quickly, focusing on people and processes, and always being ready and willing to roll up my sleeves and work alongside my team.
My personal mission statement is: Be curious, genuine, work hard, and have fun. If you love what you do and love working with the people around you, that’s the best form of success.
Was there an inflection point in your career, and what did you learn from it? You can start again! I left the workforce when my second child was born, and I didn’t think I would ever rejoin the tech space — I was convinced it had passed me by. After a few years out of the workforce, with the encouragement of some former co-workers and close friends, I decided to return. While it took a few years to work my way back to where I had left off, I was able to re-earn my stripes.
I learned through this experience that while technology changes, the fundamentals stay constant and you remember more than you might think. If you’re ready to work hard to catch up on the technology, your strong foundations and old relationships will carry you through. And your children will adapt.
What is the best career advice that you would give a new person starting out in their career? Try new things — new technologies, new positions — figure out what you like.
If you don’t like where you end up, you can always get back to where you were. Your path is not always straight — enjoy the journey and don’t be in a rush to make it to your next promotion.