Diversity Woman Magazine

SPR 2019

Leadership and Executive Development for women of all races, cultures and backgrounds

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hen Robin Washington graduated from the Uni- versity of Michigan, her first two jobs were in ac- counting and auditing. Wash- ington was comfortable in Michigan, where she grew up. But she wasn't happy—mainly, she was bored. So when she was offered a job by Tandem Computers in Silicon Valley, she took a deep breath and made the move. Twenty years later, Washington was named the CFO of the Fortune 500 biotech company Gilead Sciences. "I believe that one key to success is the willingness to take risks," says Washington. "When I moved across country, I didn't know anyone, but I was intrigued about living somewhere new. en, when PeopleSoft [her next employer] asked me to move to Am- sterdam, I was open to it. I had always wanted to live overseas." She believes that success in leadership in the STEM fields (sci- ence, technology, engineering, and math) is about more than technical skills. "People skills are just as important," Washington says. "And that often means getting comfortable with being un- comfortable." Stacy Brown-Philpot, the CEO of TaskRabbit, agrees that the willingness to take risks is the key to success. "e number one piece of advice I got early in my career was be willing to take risks," she says. "It can often feel scary, as a black woman who has sacrificed and struggled a lot to get to where you are, but once you take that step, you will see the upside." Risks and opportunities are simply two sides of the same coin, says Shellye Archambeau, the former CEO of MetricStream. "All through my career I have been open to taking risks. I believe in taking the stretch opportunity. For instance, I once moved my entire family to Japan for a job. is willingness to push myself has given me more opportunities to demonstrate my capabilities." Diversity Woman sat down with these three dynamic and thoughtful African American women to explore how women who want to advance into more senior roles in tech and STEM companies can position themselves for promotion—and equally important, what companies in these male-dominated sectors must do to bring greater gender equity. The journey Shellye Archambeau's path to the CEO seat began when she was in high school. She was a student leader, serving in leader- ship positions in many clubs and organizations in her school in Montvale, New Jersey. As an undergraduate at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Business, interested in the still nascent tech sector, Archambeau majored in economics with a concentration in design science—in the 1980s, most colleges didn't offer a robust computer science program. After college, she slowly worked her way up the ladder at IBM. Archambeau made no secret of her desire to be CEO of IBM one day. She was its first African American woman to head an international division. However, in 1999, when she was recruited by Blockbuster and became head of its explod- ing e-commerce division during the dot-com boom, she saw a quicker pathway to the top. After several more career changes, she became CEO of the cloud-based open-platform Zaplet in 2002. Two years later, Zaplet merged with MetricStream, and she finally achieved the goal she set in high school—CEO. d i v e r s i t y w o m a n . c o m S p r i n g 2 0 1 9 D I V E R S I T Y W O M A N 35 allenges in STEM Three African American C-suite leaders share their stories and offer insights on how women can break through the gender and race barriers in STEM by JACKIE KRENTZMAN W

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