I’m very happy we are celebrating International Women’s Day (IWD) and highlighting the achievements of the women of SparkPost. The theme of IWD is “A Balanced World is a Better World.” This theme can be interpreted in different ways, and I would like to share what this means for me.
I have been in the technology industry since 1997 (yes, I’m old). My experience for the first 20 years of my tech career was completely dominated by men. At the time I don’t think I was aware of how male-dominated my world was. I assumed it was the norm that for virtually every company with which I was involved, the entire board of directors and the full management team was male. I really didn’t have any perspective of whether or not this was a problem, or fine, or even worth thinking about.
It was not until I joined AddThis in 2013 that I woke up to what I was missing. I remember when I first started with AddThis I met the then Head of HR, Bhavna Dave. She asked me how I think about HR and culture and how it fits into strategy. My first thought was, “good question because I haven’t spent much time thinking about HR as part of our strategy.” Bhavna went on to help us turn culture and HR into a true competitive advantage for AddThis. We were able to recruit incredible people, develop a high performing team, have fun and reach success beyond all of our expectations.
Bhavna introduced me to my executive coach, Caroline Miller. When I started coaching with Caroline my goal was simple, I wanted to become a more inspirational leader. Caroline transformed the way I communicate with people and groups. She turned my thinking upside down about how to motivate people and introduced me to the power of understanding character strengths, gratitude, and mindfulness. Caroline has helped me focus on what matters, develop more meaningful relationships, and work to be my best self.
Bhavna also helped us recruit Claire Alexander to be Head of Marketing. I recall a 1:1 meeting with Claire a few months after she started. She sat down in my office and began the meeting by saying, “Rich, I don’t think you are doing your job, and here is why…” At first, I was somewhat shocked, but I quickly realized that Claire was giving me feedback to help me and the company be successful. She was so passionate about her ideas she had to let them out in the most direct way possible. I truly came to appreciate Claire’s courageous and direct style, and she absolutely helped me become a better leader.
Caroline, Claire, and Bhavna added new perspectives and ideas and helped me think about things in a totally new way. They are just 3 examples of many women at AddThis who had a tremendous positive impact on the company. I see the same thing here at SparkPost. In my short tenure, I have already experienced the value of different views and perspectives from many women, including Julie Acri, Amie Durr, Kathryn Schutz, Laura Rose, Tracy Sestili, Michelle Cunningham, and many others. We are fortunate to have these woman as part of our team and we will be more successful as a result of their powerful ideas and contributions.
Here is how these women have contributed to SparkPost in their own words: