Elevate: A Women's Leadership Institute Podcast

Paige Paulsen Erickson: Breaking Barriers and Building Diverse Teams

April 08, 2024 The Women's Leadership Institute
Paige Paulsen Erickson: Breaking Barriers and Building Diverse Teams
Elevate: A Women's Leadership Institute Podcast
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Elevate: A Women's Leadership Institute Podcast
Paige Paulsen Erickson: Breaking Barriers and Building Diverse Teams
Apr 08, 2024
The Women's Leadership Institute

Paige Paulsen Erickson was the first female student body president at a major university, the University of Utah. She went from there to sitting on a board at a private equity firm and navigating the corporate waters of Adobe and IBM.  She then decided to pursue an MBA at 55. Paige turns the typical career ladder into a vibrant tapestry of experiences. Our discussion peels back the layers on how a nonlinear path, interwoven with family commitments and personal growth, is not just possible but profoundly empowering.

Along with exploring her nonlinear path, we discuss the secrets to constructing teams that aren't just groups of people working together but powerhouses of diverse personalities and perspectives. We discuss the alchemy of 'color energies' and the richness that gender and cultural diversity bring to the table. Paige shares anecdotes revealing how early leadership roles shaped her understanding of complementing her own style with the right mix of team members to create environments where everyone thrives.

www.wliut.com
@utwomenleaders

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Paige Paulsen Erickson was the first female student body president at a major university, the University of Utah. She went from there to sitting on a board at a private equity firm and navigating the corporate waters of Adobe and IBM.  She then decided to pursue an MBA at 55. Paige turns the typical career ladder into a vibrant tapestry of experiences. Our discussion peels back the layers on how a nonlinear path, interwoven with family commitments and personal growth, is not just possible but profoundly empowering.

Along with exploring her nonlinear path, we discuss the secrets to constructing teams that aren't just groups of people working together but powerhouses of diverse personalities and perspectives. We discuss the alchemy of 'color energies' and the richness that gender and cultural diversity bring to the table. Paige shares anecdotes revealing how early leadership roles shaped her understanding of complementing her own style with the right mix of team members to create environments where everyone thrives.

www.wliut.com
@utwomenleaders

Speaker 1:

Welcome to Elevate, a Women's Leadership Institute podcast where we showcase stories, celebrate successes and shift culture. Welcome to another episode of Elevate. I am your host, patti Cook, and recently, with my co-host, chris Jenkins, we were able to sit down and talk to global business expert Paige Paulson Erickson, who's worked with companies like Adobe and IBM, and as we talked about how to elevate women in the state of Utah, she said something really profound that stuck with me that we need to offer women the ability to practice leadership. As we practice leadership, we can become better at it and develop that skill. I hope you enjoy this episode. Welcome to the Women's Leadership Institute podcast. We're excited you're here and we're excited for our co-host, chris Jenkins of Mobley and also for our special guest, paige Erickson. Chris, do you want to introduce and share why you want to page on the podcast?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, happy to do that. First off, got really excited about the Women's Leadership Institute and what it stands for and the things that you're doing really in the community, and as I've been thinking about being on the podcast and supporting and ways that I can help, I instantly thought of all of the different managers that I had had that are women and that nobody knows about, or at least here in Utah it's not often talked about, but there's so many headlines of different executives that are men and not as many that are women, and so I thought it would be great to have Paige, I mean, favorite all-time manager, who not only has done some amazing things for me personally but for so many other people, so got really excited about wanting to share her story with Patty, and so she thought this would be a great idea, and so, paige, thank you so much for being here with us.

Speaker 3:

I'm super excited to have you. Thank you.

Speaker 2:

We'd love to hear a little bit about you and your background. If you wouldn't mind sharing some of your background and story and you know you talk a little bit about how originally from Utah, moved out of Utah so you got experience all over the place Just would love to hear your background?

Speaker 3:

Sure, okay, so I was born in Salt Lake and then my dad was in the ski business and so we left. For many years I grew up in ski areas in the West, moved back when I was in high school. So I went to high school in Salt Lake and then graduated from the University of Utah in 1980 with a degree in marketing and I got a job with IBM in Houston right after that.

Speaker 3:

So we moved to Texas and we were only going to stay there three years, but 43 years later we're still there, had a great run with IBM, Worked my way from training up to running a big business unit in Texas, and then I left and went to another big company in Houston called VMC Software and it was three miles from my house. It was a really great move for me, for my family. Then I went to work for CA Technologies and then at 55, I had like a career crisis where I decided I always had wanted to get my MBA and I never had. So I took a sabbatical at 55 and went back and got my MBA at the University of Texas in Austin and when I graduated from that I thought, well, I'm going to go try the startup route. And that's how I ended up back at Workfront in Lehigh working for Alex Schutman and literally was a great capstone to my career.

Speaker 3:

I stayed on a year after we were acquired by Adobe, which was a great capstone to my career. I stayed on a year after we were acquired by Adobe, which was a great exit, because at that point I was running the international business for Workfront. So I was even though I was getting up at 3.30 in the morning because it was the pandemic I was managing all of the London and Germany and all across EMEA and then into Australia as well. So we I stayed on a year to get everybody moved over, and then I retired officially from full-time work, Went to work for a private equity firm called Renovus, and I am an operating partner on two of their portfolio companies' boards now and I'm really enjoying that. And then, last but not least, I'm the chair of the Echols Advisory Board for the business school at the University of Utah and I'm really excited to give back in ways that I couldn't before. And so, yeah, that's my overall history.

Speaker 1:

That's awesome. Yeah, thanks for sharing that with us. I love seeing your career trajectory and also the transitions that have happened. I'd love to dive into that, because before the podcast we were talking and you mentioned that careers aren't linear, and I think that really applies to women as well. Tell us a little bit about those transitions, how you made them happen, like with your MBA, just deciding to do it. Some of those things that we can learn from that Sure.

Speaker 3:

Okay, so I mentioned I was at IBM and I was there 13 and a half years and the reason I left was because I had got a huge promotion and I was covering 10 states and I had an 18 month old and a three-year-old at home.

Speaker 3:

And I was missing everything, because that was back in the day when you really were on the road four or five days a week.

Speaker 3:

That was back in the day when you really were on the road four or five days a week, and I got an offer from one of my biggest customers, which was three and a half miles from my house, to move over there. So I chose my family, but I still wanted to work and it was still a really good company. And it ended up being a really great decision career-wise too, because I did take a big demotion at that time so I could spend more time with my kids. But over the years, I ended up being a senior vice president, global, in charge of you know, all the partners and I was traveling again, um, and at that point my son was in high school now and I decided to take another leave of absence and when I came back you'll appreciate this I was put on the mommy track after that and I was never looked at as seriously, and so I decided to Now wait, let's just clarify what do you mean by the mommy track, the fact that you weren't taken seriously?

Speaker 3:

No, what do you mean by that? It was interesting. You know, I had been on the executive team and really key, before I took the leave of absence and when I came back, I think they just said they just didn't put me back on the executive leadership team again and I really missed that. I really wanted to be in the room where the decisions were being made and the strategy was happening. And so I, a friend of mine, I was working on my resume and I sent it to her and she was at CA Technologies and she goes I want to hire you.

Speaker 3:

And so I started new at another company and by now my kids are really they don't need me at home as much. And so I was able to dedicate that time again. And I rose again through the ranks and was running one of the big divisions called Clarity at the time. And that's when I decided I had always wanted to get my MBA and if I was going to do it, I probably needed to do it then. And so I went back and got my MBA because I was going to teach. I was like I'm done with technology.

Speaker 2:

I'm going to go teach.

Speaker 3:

But then when I made it through that which was you know, I hadn't been okay, when I went to college, they didn't have computers, right?

Speaker 1:

That's a big change in itself, right?

Speaker 3:

So statistics was a big deal for me. I had to get a full-time tutor.

Speaker 3:

I hadn't done math like that in a long time. And so when I graduated I thought, no, I'm going to get a real job again. And so that's when I decided I'm going to try the startup route. And you know, it was interesting because I was able to leverage and use all the things I had just learned yeah, as in my MBA class, and learned a lot about how small startups get funding and how they grow. And you know all the trade-offs that you have to make, because when you work for a big company, if you really make a good case, they'll spend the money to do it, but in a small company, they really don't have enough money to do all the things that you want to do. So you really have to be really articulate about what are the goals and objectives that you're going to bring and how do they weigh over an investment in something else. And so that was why I did that.

Speaker 3:

And then, when I came back to Utah, alex Shutman I had worked with him at IBM and at BMC and I will say that's another theme really is, if you always do a really good job and people know you, you will always be able to get another job because your network will really help you.

Speaker 3:

So I went to CA because of a woman that I had worked with, I had worked with and I came to work front because I had worked with Alex and he wanted to start a whole new division or business unit, you know, around partners and just business development in general, and and he he also wanted me to help him change the culture at work front, and so I did and so it was great for me. I came back to Utah and really enjoyed the last really capstone of my career because I was able to leverage everything I had done. It was like all the sales and marketing, all the business development, partnering, but also the startup aspect of it as well, and I was able to hire some great people like Chris and start from scratch and really we built an amazing team.

Speaker 2:

One of the best.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, one of the best. And one thing I will say I feel really fortunate in my career to have had three really amazing experiences. The first was at IBM. You call them magic, right, magic, yes, exactly when the team is great, your peers are great, the product's great, you're having fun while you're working it doesn't even seem like work. And then BMC was like that too, because that was in the 90s, when software just completely took off and it ended up being financially a better decision for me as well than staying at IBM, which is just ironic, actually. And then Workfront was the same. We had a great team, great leadership focused on doing the right thing, which is refreshing and awesome when you've had an experience where you don't have that, to have that again and have it at the end of your career. It's amazing.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, let's talk about that, because that's something that connects you too. About the work front changing the culture, what that means. I know that Chris speaks very highly of you as his manager. What does that look like? Right Building and developing teams and managing people?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, you talk a lot about that you talk a lot about. You know we did the colors and the insights and all that stuff and I think there's some really cool things that great teams have and you mentioned a few of those. But I'd love to kind of hear your perspective on that again. And you mentioned a few of those but I'd love to kind of hear your perspective on that again.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, are teams like is it gender, is it culture, is it background personality? What makes a good team?

Speaker 3:

Yeah, well, let's stay on the colors for a little bit. I think the basic thing behind the colors is that everybody has different strengths and talents and so that by getting a team that has all of the different strengths, so somebody who's really dynamic and open, and you like the they call that the yellow energy, that that's really more like me. But the red energy is then like where you're really decisive and you know brief and get things done and you know, but maybe run over people in the process. And then there's the blue people that are the analytics, and so they're the people that are really thoughtful and looking at the numbers and thinking about. You know how we really need to, you know, take this to the next level. And then the green energy is the empathetic and the cares about everybody.

Speaker 3:

And so if you have all of those energies in a team, then when you look at a problem and there's a lot of statistics that show this you think of all the different ways that you can solve it. It's not just one way and you often will come up with by far the best. And it's kind of an analogy for men and women too, like having a diverse team in terms of men and women, backgrounds, racial differences you know, we all bring something different to a team. So we had a team that was really balanced. And I think that we did too at the executive level too with Workfront. So I think those two things really helped, both at my business unit level and as well at the executive level.

Speaker 1:

So you crafted it deliberately. Yes, we did so. It was in your hiring process. You did that Well we.

Speaker 3:

I would say I'm a good judge of people, okay, and I didn't have them take the test before. But when we were looking at people and you know their background and their skill sets, you know we were looking for certain people for certain roles. So, for example, in sales, you probably do want red, yellow talent. You know. So those people. You could tell if they had been really successful in the past, if they'd been decisive in the way they answered questions, that sort of thing. You know. Maybe on the other side, when you're developing a relationship, you probably want more green, blue. You know where they're like and that was you know. Chris was where we were shocked when he was agreeing, because I thought he was so aggressive, but he was.

Speaker 3:

You know, he was a big teddy bear who knew his numbers really well, so and that was really great for developing the relationships with the technology partners that we had built with. And then, yeah, so, and then I had another guy who was just he was red blue, which is a really unusual combination. That's somebody who's really uses the numbers to be really aggressive, and but he kept us on track. So you know, and I'm I have learned in my role that in my career actually, that I'm most successful when I have somebody who's really good with the numbers as my right-hand person. I can do it. I just don't like doing it.

Speaker 3:

So, if I have somebody who can really help me keep straight on the numbers that you know I will be more successful. So recognizing your own weaknesses and strengths is also a really important part of being a leader, and getting people around you that have things you don't have is really, really smart yeah.

Speaker 1:

I love that you said that in some of our leadership programs we give personality tests right Either the CliftonS, the predictive index and one thing that women really enjoy, and maybe overall in general, is that we can lean into our strengths instead of trying to improve our weaknesses. Yes, of course we're always improving, but oftentimes it's like we have to be all things to everybody, so it's really nice to just give them permission to lean into their strengths and then get someone who fills those things that you're not so good at, just like you said, with your numbers. You can do it, but that's not really your sweet spot.

Speaker 3:

You want to be in Right and there's so many studies that show when you're doing the things you love, it doesn't the day flies by versus if you're trying to like. You know strong arm it.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, so you talked a little bit about how, as a leader, looking at that as a team, right holistically, having something pretty balanced. You've shared before a little bit about some of these turning points in your career and so back when you were at the U you talked a little bit about sort of what you did there and running for, I think, class president, student body president.

Speaker 2:

Student body president, yes, student body president. So maybe you can share that story, because it seemed like, as we were talking, that that was kind of a pivotal point of you kind of realizing yeah, you are a leader.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, okay. So I originally got involved in student government and then I was on the cabinet and one of my good friends was on the assembly and we decided to run to make a statement for women. Um, and in the process we got super organized and we ended up winning, which was a really great thing. And, and so what happened is I? I mean that was a tough leadership role because those people are volunteers. So trying to lead a bunch of volunteers to get a lot of things accomplished, you know, was really really an interesting experience for me. It was also great.

Speaker 3:

I, as I mentioned earlier, I got to meet with President Gardner every week. Just, you know, he ended up being the chancellor of the entire University of California system. He was just a really, really awesome person, really taught me a lot about what I needed to do in my next step, you know. So start thinking early on like what do you want to do next? And so when I graduated, I really wanted to go work for IBM At the time it was the number one company in the world to go to work for. So it was really hard to get a job there, and I honestly think the fact that I did have really good grades, but the fact that I had been student body president on a major university campus, the first females in the country yes, was a really great you know feather in my cap and it also I'd managed a $425,000 budget.

Speaker 3:

We had put on concerts and we had, you know, done a lot of great things jogging trails and just you know, crazy fun stuff for the, for the student body, but also for me personally.

Speaker 3:

I learned how to manage people and it was the first experience I wouldn't say I was perfect at it, but I I learned what it takes to motivate people and you know it's not that hard. You know people who know that you appreciate the work that they're doing. They will work so much harder for you and then to recognize when they do really great work. That's also people. People want to, they want to pat on the back, they want acknowledgement that it mattered, that I worked hard and we accomplished this together. And then to have that overarching goal is to have a successful administration and, of course, we had a lot of pressure on us and, being the first women, we did not want to let anybody down, so we were really focused on making sure that we had a really awesome year and it was yeah, it did set me up and it made me realize, too, that I like leading people and I think that's something people either like or they don't like. I really think it's fun. I like it.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, thanks for sharing that. There's two things that I want to point out, and one it kind of felt like we glossed over just a little bit, but when you said you wanted to make a statement for women at the U and running for the student body president, that had never been done. They had never won no women, that had never been done. They had never won. No women, they had never won.

Speaker 1:

Right, were there women running against you in that.

Speaker 2:

Oh no. No just you, and this was in the whole country, not just at the U Right exactly On a major university campus.

Speaker 3:

yes, we were the first and we got a lot of press for that and we got invited to the White House for dinner. We won Glamour Magazine, top Ten College of Women. Because of that it was a big deal back in the 80s. Yeah, a long time ago. That's huge, it's amazing yeah.

Speaker 2:

And so then the other thing is and I think you know we talked a little bit about this before, but that's a huge deal across the country, but then here in Utah, at the University of Utah, it seemed like it was bigger. Not just that you were the first female, but your first non-returned missionary.

Speaker 3:

Yes, yes, that's true. I think that was really a big thing at the? U and I think it's still a big thing in Utah, obviously, because people recognize that it's tough to go on a mission, because people recognize that it's tough to go on a mission. And anyway, long story short, yeah, we were fighting against a lot of things. I wasn't Mormon. My partner, martha, was a Mormon, so, yeah, it was a big deal.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, just kind of highlighting the differences sometimes between like and what makes Utah a little unique you know not just the university.

Speaker 2:

but the state of Utah is a little unique in that way and partly why you know I got interested in wanting to support the Women's Leadership Institute is there have been a lot of studies and a lot of data that show that Utah isn't necessarily progressing as fast as maybe the rest of the country is on women in leadership and women in different roles in organizations and feeling comfortable or even having people that they can model after or role models. And so I'm curious, just from your perspective, having been outside of Utah, now in Utah again, do you agree with that and what have you seen and what needs to change?

Speaker 3:

Yeah, I, I had it. When I first came back and was at Workfront, we had just launched Lean In Circles and I attended my first one and I will say this I thought, wow, these people are dealing with things that we were dealing with in the 80s in Houston in high tech and I I my heart went out to them really, because I think it is a learning process to be able to stand up for yourself, to be able to voice when you feel like you've been treated unfairly or to advocate for yourself when you really want something, and there's two sides to that right. So I think that a lot of times the women in Utah they just haven't learned to advocate for themselves as much as other women have in other. You know, being raised in a different community, and so you get them in the business environment and they tend to really work hard and do a really good job and think that people will recognize that they've done a really good job and you're going to get that promotion.

Speaker 3:

But what happens is, while they're doing that, the guy next to them is. Then they're asking for the job, whether he's qualified or not, and I think that's a really important thing. We tend to think we have to be all the things on the list. Yeah, everything has to be checked off, and you have to, you know. And so what happens is by the time you realize that, wow, johnny got that job that I should have had and he's not nearly as qualified as I am, then you get angry too and you feel slighted. And I Chris knows this, but I'm a very big person on being fair. It is like when I take those tests, being fair is very high on what I think is important, and so that really did get to me, and I think we ended up putting the.

Speaker 3:

We formed a women's network at Workfront.

Speaker 3:

We had people come and talk I talked a lot about you know, there's there's things you can do to help yourself and and there's things that we can do to there there were a couple of women that were ahead of me who I felt like did not help me one bit, and I made a vow back when I was like 22 that I, if I ever got into a place where I could help others, I would be the person reaching down and helping them, because I didn't have that.

Speaker 3:

I felt like I was scratching and clawing my way the whole way and I am very excited today about the opportunities that women have, that there's so many more women in business. But you know they still need, they still have challenges because they want to have families. And I spoke at a university a couple well a couple months ago now and it was with a bunch of the top students in the honors program at a university in Texas and their biggest questions for me were how did I have a family and a career? Because they were top candidates. They were all going to work for big four consulting firms and you know other large, you know great companies and they had worked really hard to get there and they didn't want to think that that was not going to be possible.

Speaker 1:

Right, that's going to be an or yes, yeah, and and.

Speaker 3:

For me, having a family really was an important aspect and and I'm as happy, I mean, I'm as proud of the fact that I've been married 43 years really happily and have two successful boys that are also happily married as I am happily and have two successful boys that are also happily married as I am. Anything I did at work because that's also something that you know takes energy and time and effort and focus.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, yeah, I love that you brought that up. Some, the broken rung that is often talked about the manager into those executive levels, what you talked about, with women just putting their head down and meanwhile their other counterparts are asking for the job and someone will notice if I do good work we see time and time again. But also what we see is the ability to negotiate for what you want at that level, to manage conflict at that level right, because sometimes they come up against thing and they go ask for what they want but it doesn't happen.

Speaker 2:

Right.

Speaker 1:

So it's like coming back around again and I love that you talked about being fair and that that's something you. You saw the contrast of, yeah Right. Some women are really believe in scarcity, but we love the abundance mindset, that there's plenty for all of us, and we want to leave a legacy of helping each other and educating the next generation of leaders who come up.

Speaker 3:

You know, when you talked about negotiation and advocacy, I actually have some thoughts on that too, because when I'm a big believer in the getting to yes, negotiated method, where you, where you really think about what are the interests. So my advice to people is be prepared. I mean, do your homework, go in with what it is you think you really want, but listen and be present when you're in the meeting and listen to what they and go, try and get all the interests on the table. And try and get all the interest on the table, because I think some women will go in and they are, so I'm going to win this. That what happens is they probably will win that particular time, but in the end it's not the best thing for the company or for them, because people don't view them as somebody that they can work with.

Speaker 3:

Instead, go in, make sure you get something. You know like you shouldn't back down. I'm not saying back down, I'm just saying listen and participate and think about what is the ultimate best for everybody. You know best to go to a degree, how they say that best I'll turn to negotiate. I can't remember that and I can't remember what it stands for, but it's it's really that thinking of going for the what's something where both people feel like they came out as a winner will set you up for the next time you go in with that person and you'll people will see as she's fair, she wants to have the best for everybody, she's not just out for herself, and but you have to do your homework too.

Speaker 1:

Yeah Well, in relationship building, like you talked about, emotional IQ, right, knowing all those things?

Speaker 3:

Yes.

Speaker 1:

Those are excellent examples.

Speaker 3:

Thank you, One other thing about the broken rung. I'll tell you another story. When I was at BMC Software again, you know hardly any women in leadership and we started a women's network there. One of the things that I thought was really interesting we interviewed all of the first-line managers and second-line managers. Of the things that I thought was really interesting, we interviewed all of the first line managers and second line managers of the company that were women. Nobody wanted to go above a director because they were moms and they didn't feel like they could take on anything else.

Speaker 3:

Yes, and that was a real interesting um dilemma. I'm going to say that word because we knew that they were, like, really qualified and better. So one of the things that I think is really helpful is if companies can think, how can you help people see that they can do this job, you know, and be flexible enough? One thing the pandemic did for us is that a lot of people understand that, hey, you can be flexible and still get a lot of work done, and I mean, look at me, I managed all of Europe from Houston, texas and you know, I mean I really believe that you can do a lot in a different way, and that exposed that, but encouraging people like, ok, let's think through this. You know, don't just immediately shut down.

Speaker 3:

Think of ways that you could potentially In my case, I had a nanny- I had a housekeeper, I had yard people, I mean I didn't do any of those things. Obviously I was making enough money to afford that, but I spent every spare minute with my kids. You know I didn't do the grocery shopping or the laundry or that, you know, because I was working and I was being a mom and a wife.

Speaker 1:

I love that you brought that up, because sometimes moving up from that manager position, you don't want to move into a VP and say, oh sorry, this is too much.

Speaker 3:

Right.

Speaker 1:

But if you've never been there, maybe that's how mentoring comes in or other things, to kind of explore it, so that you can say I am capable and I can do it. And here's the different mechanisms we can use, right, maybe we can be flexible, maybe it can be more money, whatever that looks like, to help create that space for women to do the and right that they want in their life.

Speaker 2:

I that I think that's an important part of, again, my interest in in this area is that, as a startup founder and seeing all these other startups around here in utah, I think there's a an opportunity for us to kind of think a little differently than maybe we have in the past in some of these things and and be more flexible.

Speaker 2:

Flexible and do what you just suggested, which is like showing that it's doable in those other ways. Right, it's not just a work from home policy, right, or some of those kinds of things that we're doing or even just offering. You know, like lactation rooms and you know, like there's some things that kind of look like you might be helping, but the reality is, what we want is that personality, that experience, that teammate or that leader in the organization that's actually going to help move the needle and we don't provide and allow for and think a little differently to get there. We just won't ever get to where we want to get to. Right, and I think that your experience and example is tremendous and would love to see more companies kind of change how they do that in this sort of like the next up and coming group, for sure, because Utah needs to change.

Speaker 3:

Yes, yeah, I agree, and you know, sometimes it's just exposure to right. We talked about the Elevate Her Challenge that the Women's Institute really advocates for. We did that at work front, so it was. You know, we discussed it at the ELT level, the executive leadership team level, and we decided we're going to have every single manager sign a pledge that said, look, we will at least interview a diverse candidate out of the pool. And we didn't say you had to hire them, we just said, look, you have to interview, and I.

Speaker 3:

But what happened is great, women were interviewed and hired and promoted, and and that was that was one thing. But then the other thing that happened is Alex actually did that at the executive level. So when our CMO left, he hired a female CMO in his place. When the chief people officer left, he hired a female in his place. And so then what happened is we had basically a 50-50, which is so rare in tech anyway, but even more rare in Utah a leadership team that really was showing the way for many of the other. You know, women, that you can make it and you can make a difference, and personally I know for a fact we made better decisions because we had a real voice at the executive level.

Speaker 1:

I love that you brought that up. Alex Schutman was on the WLI board for a while and he attributes part of that transition from workfront to Adobe to the fit in culture and really aligning yourselves with the values and starting at the top Right, because Alex was on board, the executive leadership team was on board and these changes that Chris was talking about only can happen if leadership buys in. Yeah, and then it comes down to the vision of the company. So I love that you brought up that example of really walking the talk instead of just checking off the box that you have a lactation room or you started an ERG. Those are all wonderful, right, but really it's more of a vision and it has to start at the top.

Speaker 3:

It's interesting, I'm the only female operating board member at this private equity firm that I'm at now, which is normal for me, but I have really tried to say some of these things as well, like in trying to launch a diversity, inclusion, equity and inclusion initiative. And they're looking at it because you know what people that are graduating now. They and I'm talking people not just men or women, but everybody they are actually interested in working for a company that supports everyone, and so if you don't have women at the top or women engaged or you know, be racially diverse, and I think that's another thing with Utah, it's difficult here because we don't have that much of a racial diversity. It's that's just a fact. But but anyway, I think that matters too. Yeah, it's a having a having a plan and making sure that you are thinking about that. You're going to get better candidates coming to your company because they're looking at that.

Speaker 1:

Yes, it's a pipeline issue. It's a whole workforce issue of the talent that you can bring into your company. Yes, yeah, and or lose and or lose Excellent point. Yeah, we have the logos of all the Elevate Her Challenge companies on our website and we have women who go to those because they know that their company's invested in diversity, to say where do I want to work next or where do I make my transition to? Because they are interested in that. So that's a great point. I love that.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, and, to reiterate, like those that are saying they are more interested in working in these companies, it's not simply because they're, like, more woke or anything like. They're not trying to say we're better than anybody. They understand, though, that, having worked in teams at school and worked in teams that are diverse, that way they're better, right, and that's, and that's sort of what gets me excited is, you know, I've been on teams that are not diverse, and it just like the diversity of thought, just. I mean, there's no diversity of thought, and so then it becomes stale and the growth doesn't happen, it's stagnant, and so I think, you know, what we've highlighted here is, at least in part, right. Is that the diversity that we're trying to accomplish is because it's going to better everybody, right, and that's what we need to get to. Is that like, how do we? How do you see it? And I don't think you can see it unless you've been in those teams and have experienced it as much. Once you have, you know you don't want to go back.

Speaker 1:

Yes.

Speaker 2:

And that's why I love the part of why I love the work front team and the team you built was because that was what it was is. It was a very diverse and great group of people that fit and was well-balanced. We need more of that.

Speaker 1:

And once you've been on a team like that, you want it again. You do, yeah, you crave that kind of experience.

Speaker 2:

So, paige, what would you say I mean in your career has been the biggest learning that you've come away with as a woman leader in not just Utah but outside of Utah? The biggest thing In tech? Yeah?

Speaker 3:

Never give up. I'm serious Because I think that when you give up then it's over. But think of another way. I think that's how I would say it. Everybody's going to run into obstacles. People are going to, you know, have to take care of their, you know, dying parents, or they're going to you know they're going to have a really bad issue with a kid. They're going to have to take a break, like I did, um, and don't give up. I mean and, and and. If it doesn't, if it's not working at the company that you're at, then go find the company that does support what you want. And I think that's you know I just I never gave up. I would listen to that Tom Petty song. I Won't.

Speaker 1:

Back Down. You know, is that your power song? It was.

Speaker 3:

You know, just say, hey, I'm going to go for it and I'm going to keep trying, and if it doesn't work out this time, and then having faith that it will and it always did work out in the end. So. But that was a really important aspect of it, because I think some people just they get beaten up or something happens and they just say, ok, I'm not going to do that, and that's when you need a mentor or a peer that comes in and says you can do this, you know matters.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, that's great advice. So, as we close this out, what? Because you have been around, you've been in different environments, different companies, different industries as you come back to Utah, what does change look like here? Is that like creating some laws political? Is that from the business community? Is that from communities in general? What is that one lever that might be used to change?

Speaker 3:

Well, I thought about this. I think probably the most important thing is to you need to have experience in leading to become a leader, and that starts really young, I think. So I think if we could really give people the opportunity at each level I'm talking kids, you know T-ball, you know being team captain? I mean, have women do that too, right, like really get everybody encouraged to build this, this was like this learning that gets builds on itself.

Speaker 3:

I know the University of Utah. They've done some really great things, especially at the golf leadership center, where they really put people together on teams and they have different people lead. So everyone is actually getting that experience. Then when they go get out into the business community in the business world, they have led something you know, because I think you really learn like for me, the student body president thing that I've been to learn so much and you have to do it to learn it, you know. So I think I think starting earlier at giving people really good opportunities to lead is a really important aspect of of change. Um, I don't know that you can dictate it, it's, it's a, it's learning, um, and so making sure that everybody is more exposed to that is really important.

Speaker 1:

I love that. Thank you for sharing. Are there any? Is there a question we should have asked, or could have asked, that you would like to answer Anything you're burning to say to?

Speaker 3:

elevate women. I will say this If you're, you know, wanting to be in a family and lead, I have done some things that I think were really with you know, being in be in a family and lead, I have done some things that I think were really with you know, being in a two career family was a really great thing for me, and what my husband and I did is we literally set family goals and that meant sometimes he took a lesser job than I did, and sometimes it meant that I took a lesser job and we flexed over our careers. And the reason I bring that up is I think some women that and these are good friends of mine their husbands quit their jobs and so they became the caregiver. And what I really am trying to advocate for people is don't, don't give up your we used to call it your platform.

Speaker 3:

Like, maybe take, go ahead, like take a lesser job for a while while you need, you know, to take care of something, but like, for what happens is it's it's like a 10 year crunch time that you got to get through, and you just got to get through the 10 year crunch time, um, because then at the end of that, if you are like you know you're now you're working like crazy and your spouse is out playing tennis. That that's hard on relationships too, if, unless you've made that decision you know, together. But I think a lot of times people make that decision because something really bad happens. You know they've got to stay home and so, and they're you know, like I said, got to stay home and so and they're you know like I said and so then, and then they never get back in.

Speaker 3:

And I think that I would say the companies that recognize that you know the ebbs and flows of careers and and don't be in such a hurry to have the very next job. You know, because if you think about your life in a from a longer term and I can say that now because I'm 60,- you know the other end.

Speaker 3:

But I I really see that in like things that we did, that we both kept working but we maybe didn't have as big a jobs. We had focused on that. And then my friends that maybe didn't do that they regret because they got out and then it was too hard to get back in. So companies actually, maybe when you get back to that, one thing maybe that's the one thing that people could do is support the fact that women's careers ebb and flow with the needs of their family and they need to do that and so support that and like, hey, that job I had at Workfront I mean, I was working harder, it was like I was in my 20s again because I didn't have my kids anymore I was really able to devote time and I think they got a lot out of me at a later stage in life. And so give people a chance to come back and to not think of it just as a straight, linear career, but that it ebbs and flows yeah, excellent point.

Speaker 1:

I love that. Thank you for bringing that up. Yeah, anything else you want to?

Speaker 2:

know. Just thank you, paige, for being here. Very much appreciate this. It's a treat to always talk to you, so great. Thank you very much. A pleasure is a real honor to be here and thank you very much for asking me to be here.

Speaker 3:

So thank you.

Women's Leadership Journey and Transition
Building Effective and Diverse Teams
Women in Leadership and Advocacy
Empowering Women in Leadership Roles
Promoting Diversity and Inclusion in Leadership
Empowering Women in Leadership Journeys