Discussion: Clara Shih, Well Known Technology Leader

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Marketo has a program called Momentum, which focuses on creating an environment to succeed in the work place. (Note: The company wide program was started by our fearless community leader, Liz Courter. Today, we had a fire side chat with Clara Shih, the CEO and founder of Hearsay Social. You can find her bio here.


Here are some sound bites from our company wide meeting with her today (some of the sound bites might not be exact quotes : )

  • Six years ago saw the opportunity to tie social media to sales so I created a company focused on highly regulated industry. We focus on financial institutions
  • Our company is 50% women. I am happy to support Marketo's efforts to support women
  • I struggled at the beginning about how I would tell people -- in my company and on my board. And people ended up being happy and supported. I ended up taking two months off. At first I thought I shouldn't take so much time off because there is a business to run. But then I realized that everyone is looking to you (the leader) in setting up an example. I wanted to set up the right example for the company. Also, when you are a leader it sends a powerful signal to the team when you trust them (the executive team) to manage things when I am away. (She was the first person to go through maternity leave cause we have a young culture)
  • We have a four month maternity leave -- But it was nice for me to have a 'step ladder'  - having employees come back one day a week, then two days a week, etc. We have now implemented it in the company.
  • There is a supply / pipeline problem for women. Women have to take responsibility and ownership of their own careers (as the book Lean In highlights). At Hearsay, we think there are three steps you have to iterate through
    • Step 1: Think problem over technology.
    • Step 2: Have an honest assessment. We have to quantify the problem and state what the business impact is and what is the employee impact
    • Step 3: Create commitment and goals stating where we are today and where we want to go. .. it is a sum of goals to help us get there.
  • In hiring, there's advice on the recruiting side, at Heresay, we started with the Rooney Rule: For every position, you had to interview one diverse candidate (no matter how it was defined). This was effective, but the numbers were off. So upped the ratio: For every non-diverse candidate, you have to interview three diverse candidates.  And post hire, it is about mentorship and sponsorship. We challenged each manager to mentor someone in the company.
  • Here's what it means to be a mentor. Lean In,Sheryl Sandberg's book has a section about mentorship. Cheryl is my mentor and she is busy, but she always gets back to me even if I am busy. So mentors want to make it a priority. Mentors should ask leading questions guiding users to an answer. So the mentee makes the decision. The Mentee has to challenge the Mentor. It is a two way street. The Mentee has to do a lot of leg work and come to discussions prepared.
  • I am a first time entrepreneur so I hire people who are more experience than me, so I learn a lot from my direct reports. I am on the board of Starbucks, so I learn a lot from the Starbucks board and CEO. I learn from my mentors and role models.
  • Women on boards cause better outcomes -- in revenue growth and profitability
  • Diverse leaders tend to attract diverse candidates. So we tend to view Diversity holistically.
  • I like Susan Wojcicki  as a leader.
  • The pipeline problem is real, so I try and help young girls in STEM programs  (Women in STEM | The White House )  We also created a coding academy. Any women in the company can enroll in our own Coding Academy. So, we are trying a series of different tactics.
  • We have focused mainly on STEM, but we should address other groups too.
  • The Diversity dialogue has become national. Here are some organizations making an impact
  • Our company values are used to evaluate employees: Focus on long-term customer success, get stuff done and team.
  • In starting my company, I had highs and low. Every time we closed the quarter and beat our numbers (for example, we just closed our first multimillion dollar deal) was a high. Since I left on maternity leave, three women have come to me and said they are pregnant. They said they were scared at first to talk to me but after seeing me leave, they came forward.


Elizabeth Oseguera