ATC Weekly Update April 4

The Importance of Mentoring and Sponsoring

Barbary Brunner, CEO

I had the pleasure of being asked by the Austin Business Journal to be part of the mentor team at their Bizwomen Mentoring Monday this month. It’s an event done in partnership with 42 other American City Business Journals featuring more than 1,720 women business leader mentors and almost 10,000 women in business seeking advice.

I was honored to be part of a group of 40 amazing and brilliant women, many of them members of the ATC community, including April Downing (WP Engine), Mini Kahlon (Dell Medical School), Abby Payne (SailPoint), Lisa Pearson (Umbel), Jennifer Poppe (Vinson & Elkins), Jan Ryan, Michele Skelding, and Ellen Wood (VCFO). It’s an opportunity for each of us to help other women move forward in their careers, something we are all deeply invested in. By now, we have all read the statistics that show that increasing the number of women on your product and brand teams increases employee and customer satisfaction, that more women in the C-Suite and on the Board increases financial performance. But tech still suffers from an astonishing amount of gender imbalance and overt chauvinism. We are all shocked by what we’ve read about the treatment of female engineers at Uber, but almost every woman in tech has a story of her own.

The only way to make sure that tech is a welcoming place for women is to ensure that leaders are involved in looking out for and correcting behavior that undermines female employees, creating a culture where women know that they are free to bring issues forward, where they are rewarded for having the same drive and passion that we value in our rock-star male employees. Human Resources plays an important role, but the Senior Leadership Team must talk the talk and walk the walk.

Mentoring is critical, sponsorship is even better. If you are a tech executive, I challenge you to find a talented and promising woman in your company to sponsor. Make it your mission to ensure that she gets a seat at the right tables, gets introduced to people who can advise her and inspire her, that you help her strategize a way through the roadblocks in the way of her success. I guarantee that the impact of your doing this will be exponential and reach far beyond just the one woman you sponsor.

Employee Experience: Culture is more than Ping Pong Tables

Join ATC for our first 2017 HR Executive Dinner and a panel of experts who will lead discussion on new trends for on-boarding, employee reviews, opportunities for advancement, and reward & recognition programs.

Our C-Level dinners are protected environments where executives come together and participate in a casual discussion led by a thought leader within the ATC community on a topic highly relevant to your needs. This dinner is for CEOs, Presidents, Founders, and Executive Directors.

ATC CTO Dinner Recap

Lead and Disrupt: How to Solve the Innovators Dilemma

Provided by PetersGroup PR & Marketing


On March 29th, ATC held it’s third executive dinner of the year. The evening was hosted by Ray Wolf, Interim COO of ReDirect Health, who rounded up a group of Central Texas’ top technologists to discuss innovation models, how innovation drives business success, and how, as innovators, they are able to draw new ideas through organizational culture that pushes people past their comfort zone and seek out answers to problems that need to be solved.

The evening’s panelists included Alan Knitowski–Chairman and CEO of Phunware, Liam Quinn–CTO, SVP and Sr. Fellow for Dell Technologies, Robert Reeves–Co-Founder & CTO of Datical, John Ruggles–SVP Global Sales for Frost & Sullivan and Marc Willebeek-LeMair–Chief Strategy Officer for Alert Logic.

Over the last year, we have had a variety of interesting dinner conversations and speakers, but this more than the rest drew attendees who came ready to take notes. Ray put together a panel of speakers that each had a unique background and approach to innovation that represented the stage and culture of each company.

Some interesting take-aways:
How do you source ideas for innovation from outside the company?

  • Marc – “take the executive team out of the office and into the streets to meet with people and pitch their concept”
  • Liam – “tech tours in Asia, and customer interviews” also “develop people in a way that enables innovation”
  • Robert – “reward ideas from your employee’s immediately and publicly”–also, “sometimes too many readily available resources can lead to failure”
  • Alan – “global, real-time, focus groups” also “all the really great businesses come from creating markets where none previously existed”
  • Ray – “connections to “hackathons” and published problem catalogs

Advice for Start-Ups:

  • John – “focus on collaboration and sourcing ideas for the next 10 – 15 years and be realistic”
  • Marc – “IGNORE reality – let’s assume, then innovate and come back to the challenges”
  • Alan – “find the True North and make sure it wont change 10, 15, or 50 years from now”

In upcoming events we will further explore the topic of innovation and how innovation modeling and executing can move your business forward.

Thank you to all of our speakers and attendee’s, as well as our sponsors for the evening Texas Engineering Executive Education and O’Reilly Media.