We suddenly have a lot of women CEOs, both inside and outside of tech. While this certainly represents change, it falls far short of the potential. Most seem to struggle in their roles, too, which speaks more to an across-the-board lack of mentoring for top executives but seems more prevalent in women executives because there are fewer of them. Thus, they stand out more.
I see no evidence that female CEOs are any better or worse than male CEOs, especially when they're thrown into the top spot without adequate preparation. Below the CEO, though, in companies such as Dell, HP and Intel, women are having a profound impact on their companies - and one effort underway could eventually make all CEOs more successful, regardless of gender, by restoring effective mentoring.
This came to me as I moderated a panel on big data analytics for Women in Technology Summit. (I have a fairly unique background, given that I have less of an attention span than Google, so my education and experience spans human resources, marketing, computer science and, thanks to my previous employment at IBM, most every business function within a large company.)
As I listened to the panelists - Anjul Bhambhri, vice president of big data and streams at IBM; Yael Garten, manager of mobile data science at LinkedIn, and Cheemin Bo-Linn, president of the analytics consulting firm Peritus Partners - it became clear I wasn't looking hard enough below the office of CEO to see the positive changes that women bring to the technology segment.
An increased use of analytics stands at the core of much of the coming change. Let's look at three examples that showcase how women executives are driving change in technology, and the world, through information-based decision making.
Dell's Karen Quintos: Turning the CMO Into a Closing Machine
Most companies first use data analytics in the marketing department, so that's where most of the skills for best using this tool are developed. As I mentioned, HR is part of my background; at that time, it came with a substantial anthropological and physiological component. One thing that came from that work was the understanding that women are more likely to reach decisions analytically, though men are more likely to develop the analytical engine. (We men are great at creating the tools but not so good at using them properly.)
Women dominate marketing, and the skill you need to sell a product is that of a user, not an engineer. At Dataquest a number of years back, we did a study and concluded that user advocates, by a massive margin, represented the most effective closing tool.
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