The CEOs of PagerDuty and Puppet have each others’ backs

Jennifer Tejada says she “sucked” at schmoozing. Yvonne Wassenaar says she thought she didn’t have the time for casual conferences over drinks and outings. But each ladies say they owe some measure of their skilled success to networking. Certainly, Tejada, chairperson and CEO of tech platform PagerDuty, advisable Wassenaar for her job as CEO of Puppet, which helps companies handle and automate their IT infrastructure. Each ladies have presided over progress of their companies: Tejada took PagerDuty public in 2019, and income is up 80% for the reason that IPO. Puppet below Wassenaar is on monitor to submit $100 million in annual income.

Tejada, who beforehand served as CEO and president of Keynote Techniques, and Wassenaar, who has held jobs as CEO of Airware and CIO at New Relic, met at a tech convention and cast a  skilled bond that, they are saying, reveals how essential networks will be for girls and individuals of colour. They spoke with Quick Firm about their paths to energy, and the function of mentors, sponsors, and good trade contacts. Edited excerpts observe.

Quick Firm: Jennifer, how did you get your first CEO gig at Keynote Techniques?

Jennifer Tejada: My profession is sort of unconventional [among] individuals who lead deep tech firms. I began at Procter & Gamble in model and gross sales and advertising and marketing. Finally I realized quite a bit about provide chain, and I ended up at a provide chain automation firm within the late ’90s. I got here into tech as a marketer, versus a know-how individual. Round 2010, 2011, I used to be working for a CEO named Greg Clark, who went on to be the CEO of Blue Coat and Symantec. And Greg sat me down sooner or later and stated: “You recognize, you’re principally working the corporate because the No. 2, however I primarily get the credit score. And it looks as if try to be a CEO.”

I had a listing of explanation why I both wasn’t prepared or didn’t wish to be the CEO on the time. I had a younger child. I had a husband that was additionally a frontrunner and traveled considerably. And I actually felt like having the ability to delegate some issues and not being the place the buck stopped was a very good match for me. [Clark] truly satisfied me that main the corporate permits you to set the clock and permits you to construct the corporate and the tradition round the best way you’re employed finest. He began placing my title within the ring for CEO jobs.

But it surely didn’t occur immediately.

JT: The first CEO gig is a tough gig to get, as a result of no person likes to guess on a first-timer until they arrive extremely referenced. We low cost individuals who haven’t completed a job earlier than, even when they have greater than sufficient {qualifications}, and as ladies, we frequently low cost our personal {qualifications}. When you consider the distinction between a mentor and a sponsor, a sponsor is somebody that’s related, who has visibility into highly effective networks the place alternatives reside, and will truly make you seen as a candidate and will advocate for you.

Yvonne, how did you get the CEO job at Puppet?

Yvonne Wassenaar: My path was not too dissimilar. My first CEO gig was at a startup the place I went over to be COO and two weeks into it they got here to me and stated, “No, try to be CEO.” And I had the lengthy checklist of all of the explanation why that was a foul thought. I have three youngsters. John Chambers [the former CEO of] Cisco occurred to be on the board, and he sat me down and he stated, “You’re extra prepared than you notice, and I’m going to be your wingman.” You want any individual who’s going to sponsor you, however you want that self-belief. And half of what holds us again is that there’s not sufficient of each of these issues.

My first CEO gig was an awesome studying expertise. I used to be attempting to determine if I wished to only do board work or take one other working function. After which Jenn despatched me a really harmless textual content. It simply stated, “Hey, there’s a very attention-grabbing firm searching for a CEO. And I’m an enormous fan of the parents working the search. Would you discuss to them?” She didn’t inform me what firm it was. She didn’t inform me that she was on the board. She simply stated, “I’d like to introduce you to those individuals if you happen to would contemplate speaking to them.” I naturally stated sure, and that comes from the truth that I deeply respect Jenn. I belief her.

Jennifer, what made you attain out to Yvonne in regards to the Puppet CEO job?

JT: I keep in mind the place I used to be standing after I despatched that textual content. I used to be standing out on the patio in my yard. While you’re a board member liable for a management transition, you’re feeling the burden of ensuring that the corporate you have oversight accountability for is transitioned from good palms to higher palms. I wished somebody for Puppet who was technical, however who had coronary heart, who might develop the imaginative and prescient, and who might construct on prime of the tradition and scale the corporate. That’s arduous to seek out in a single individual, however I had seen Yvonne actually flex muscle groups, coming from a big firm background, being the CIO at New Relic, and then going to this type of high-growth startup. However I didn’t know if she would take one other CEO gig.

In recommending Yvonne, was half of your motivation to ensure that there was a powerful feminine candidate on the slate?

JT: I have an virtually relentless perspective on ultimate slates as a result of I don’t suppose one numerous candidate is sufficient. I feel half the ultimate slate must be numerous and underrepresented for a various or underrepresented individual to even have a preventing probability of being chosen.

Yvonne, are you pissed off or bewildered that we’re nonetheless having these conversations about numerous slates, and that individuals such as you and Jennifer nonetheless want to talk up on it?

YW: Annoyed? Sure. Bewildered? No. Individuals have good intentions, however we’re not shifting the needle. There are two problem areas that leap out at me, notably once we’re speaking about high-level roles. The first is that you simply have to be tied into the quote, proper networks, unquote. Most of the C-suites and boards are run by white males, and so once they go and they brainstorm who needs to be on the slate, they suppose [of] the individuals they know. Except you have range in that room, it’s extremely unlikely that you simply’re going to get range on that slate. And even if you happen to do, there’s unconscious bias all through the entire course of. Take any individual like me. I have 13-year-old twins and a 15-year-old daughter. There’s an instantaneous assumption about how a lot I’m going to wish to journey. I’ve programmed in assembler, Pascal, and I began my profession as a software program engineer. But individuals would come as much as me [when I was at New Relic] and say, “Wow, CIO, that’s a very technical job. How did you get that?” There’s simply layer upon layer upon layer of unconscious bias.

JT: After I insist on a balanced slate, it means the recruiting course of will take longer. And I’m the identical annoying chief who’s additionally saying we’ve acquired to rent quick, we’ve acquired to develop. I count on my leaders to only handle that paradox. That’s simply half of the gig. After we determined to open one other location in North America a pair of years in the past, one of our prime three standards for a brand new workplace was to create entry to careers within the tech trade for underrepresented individuals. We ended up launching an workplace in Atlanta, which has been an enormous enterprise success. Atlanta produces extra underrepresented undergraduate engineers than anyplace else in North America. You may [diversify your workforce] and drive additional and sooner on the identical time.

YW: I wished to diversify my board because it associated to individuals of colour, notably black leaders. I checked out my very own community, and I didn’t have quite a bit of black leaders, however I had a pair. I went to them and they launched me to some individuals, who launched me to different individuals, and all of a sudden this complete valley of unicorns appeared. They invited me in as a result of I had true intent to truly make a distinction.

Typically you have to check limiting beliefs. “Gosh, can somebody who’s by no means been a CEO earlier than be a CEO?” Effectively, any individual needed to do the primary time. On my board, of the 4 members I added, three had by no means served on a board earlier than.

JT: I consider illustration on the board is tremendous vital. I do know that the black group inside PagerDuty felt very strongly that they wished to be impressed by seeing a black individual on our board, by having somebody who units an instance and who’s looking for that group as an element of, of their directorship.

Yvonne, how did you and Jennifer first meet?

It was in San Francisco, at a Ladies in Tech convention, and Jenn was the speaker earlier than me. One of the good issues once you’re on the talking circuit is you do get to satisfy these different superb leaders. I might textual content Jenn and be like, “Hey Jenn, I’m elevating cash. Are you aware so-and-so?” She was any individual who would all the time get again to me. And he or she might attain out to me and say, “I’m back-channeling this individual—are you aware them?” That actual form of assist of each different is important.

You’ve talked quite a bit in regards to the energy of networking, which ladies and individuals of colour can discover troublesome. What’s your recommendation for professionals from underrepresented teams—or people who simply actually hate doing it?

YW: However the very best recommendation that I acquired from one of my male colleagues was: networking as half of your day job. There’s this perception networking has to occur after hours and on the weekends, and as a single mother with three youngsters, that’s fairly arduous. And my male colleague checked out me and he stated, “Yvonne, you eat your lunch at your desk. At your degree, half of your job is networking. It helps you get info, make relationships with future expertise.” I feel it’s actually vital that we give ourselves permission, notably early in our profession, to know networking isn’t extracurricular, it’s half of your day job. And the extra senior you get, the extra that try to be doing.

JT: I sucked at networking for many of my profession. I truly dismissed the significance of it for a very long time. [I didn’t appreciate it] till I had been dwelling in Australia for 12 years and got here again to the U.S. and no person had ever heard of me in Silicon Valley. If you consider your community as forex, you strategy it very in another way than if you happen to suppose of it as a essential evil or one thing that you simply have to do with the intention to get forward. The different factor is, like some other kind of forex, you have to put money into it to get [something] out of it. So quite a bit of my networking time is spent serving to others.

YW: Jenn and I aren’t private associates; we don’t hang around or get-together with our households. However we’re nice skilled associates. I can all the time name on her for something, and she is going to assist me out, and I’ll do the identical. Most individuals assume that, , ladies community personally, and we should get our hair completed collectively. We don’t. Jenn and I community professionally—I’d do something for her and she’d do the identical for me.