Women Who Don’t Self-Promote Are Letting Us Down. A self development discussion with Maggie Fox

In August 2013, I read a daring blog post that made me fall in love with the author, Maggie Fox, and evaluate my feelings towards the idea of Self Promotion:


You can imagine how thrilled I was when a month later, my employer, SAP, announced that we had hired Maggie as the new head of Integrated Digital Experience, and waited patiently for the opportunity to meet her in person.

In western cultures, self-promotion is an essential tool in career advancement. Yet, so many women of us have a difficult time with it. I will have a heart to heart discussion with Maggie Fox this Thursday, April 3,  from 12-1pm at SAP offices in Palo Alto (Building 2, Embarcadero) as she shares her perspective on the subject and showcases some techniques on how to do this more effectively.

Senior Vice President of Digital Marketing at SAP

Maggie Fox, Senior Vice President of Digital Marketing at SAP

A little more info on Maggie: She is the Senior Vice President of Digital Marketing at SAP, responsible for delivering a unified digital experience to SAP customers and the market. Prior to joining SAP, Fox was founder and CEO of Social Media Group, established in 2006 and one of the world’s most highly respected independent agencies helping businesses navigate the socially engaged Web. She has been interviewed about social and digital trends by Inc. magazine, The Washington Post, CBC Radio, The Globe and Mail, CBC News, CTV News and The Financial Post, among others. In 2011, The National Post named her one of Canada’s Top Innovators. Fox sits on the boards of GetElevate.com and the Heart and Stroke Foundation.

These are the questions I will ask her:

  1. How do you define self-promotion?
  2. How do you think we can draw the right balance between self-promotion and coming across as rude or arrogant? For the past five years, in every single review I received, I was told to be more assertive, showcase my confidence, etc. After taking a women’s leadership course and reading your blog, I tried to focus on self-promotion, and three months later, during my annual review, I was told that the stake- holders found my communication style to have become rude lately. (When I asked my manager for specific examples, he mentioned that by rude he meant too much self-promotion.  When I shared my story with other women at SAP, to my surprise, they had very similar experiences.  Have you had a similar experience? 
  3. Do you think as women we should employ different methods than men in self-promotion?
  4. What would you say are the main differences in self-promoting yourself online and offline?
  5. Could you give examples of two women who do a beautiful job in self -promotion (one online, one offline) and what they are doing right?
  6. What is one important thing you want to leave everyone in this room with today?

Here is a recording of our session, would love your input on my moderation skills!


Participate in the Corporate Women’s Initiative Consortium Upcoming Events

It has been really exciting to act as the C0-Chair for the “Corporate Women’s Initiative Consortium”, (CWIC), a networking group of representatives from women in tech groups from various companies in Silicon Valley.

What a great way to kick off 2014, my employer, SAP was able to host our first event on March 11th. The Presentation by SAP’s Business Women Network was inspiring and fun!  SAP’s Silicon Valley Chapter was launched seven years ago; it was great to have insights from the original founding members as well as the new leaders. You may find a copy of our presentation here.

This was a special meeting for Cheri and I as it was our first meeting held as Chair and Co-Chair.

After the formal presentations and networking we had an amazing session on how can we keep women engaged in networking, and climb the leadership ladder? See attached pic of ideas discussed by one group.

I am looking forward to my year as Co-Chair with Cheri Leonard leading the way you as some of the most passionate women I have met in this journey.

For 2014, we have hosts for March and July; please let me know if your organization is interested in hosting in May, September or November.

2014 CWIC Lunch Dates:

  • May 8th: Charles Schwab, Menlo Park
  • July 10th: Applied Materials
  • September 11th: Lockheed Martin
  • November 13th: TBD


We’ve been storing files and information under our Yahoo Groups, the Yahoo Groups format has changed and isn’t as easy to use as it used to be so we wanted to propose using a LinkedIn Group moving forward. Please let us know if you would like this.

Upcoming Events of interest:

Women who don’t self promote are letting us down! April 3rd, A conversation with Maggie Fox, head of Integrated Digital Experience at SAP

Invent Your Future: April 22nd: professional women’s conference

PBWC: May 13th: professional women’s conference

Anita Borg Women of Vision Dinner: May 8th

Society of Women Engineers Conference, technical women’s conference:  in October and nearby in LA this year and they are currently taking submissions

Thrive: March 26th and 27

Bay Area Girl Geek Dinners: has openings available if your company would like to host, reach out to Sukrutha Raman Bhadouria <sukrutha@bayareagirlgeekdinners.com>

FountainBlue: When She Speaks: monthly lunch events

Networking with a Purpose: is a great cross corporation networking event with several of our members as organizers; we just missed one at Cisco and I’ll let you know when the next one is scheduled


As members of your organizations Women’s Network, we want to encourage conversation and event sharing across the other members of CWIC, however, we want to keep the topic friendly and focused and vendor free.  As CWIC members, you are welcome to share information about up coming events of interest and activities with this group.   The main goal of CWIC is information sharing and to be effective we need to have trust, therefore please help us all by keeping the CWIC member information private.   To help, please use a BCC strategy and start the subject with CWIC.

As you are meeting women from other Corporate Networks or women that want help to get one started, please feel free to educate them about CWIC and introduce them to Cheri and myself.

Please let me know if you have any questions, suggestions or feedback.

Thank you!


Leadership Ladder and Engagement. Ideas to motivate participation and growth!

Leadership Ladder and Engagement. Ideas to motivate participation and growth!

Journaling my way to Entrepreneurship

During a leadership seminar last week, I learned about the importance of journaling in all aspects of life, including leadership and entrepreneurship. Growing up I was a journal junky but put the practice aside as I began blogging about various work related topics.  After the seminar, I realized journaling and blogging are still two different things; the main difference for me is that when blogging, I still have to keep my audience in mind, and write in a style that the audience can follow. When journaling, the main customer is myself. When I begin writing, I wont’ worry about grammar, spelling and structure, I will just get the words out as fast as I can and put my thoughts together.

During the seminar they gave us this outline for everyday journaling:

When I feel understood,  I…….

When I’m not at my best, I…..

What I really care about is…..

I suppose I can follow the above template or come up with my own.  So far my biggest challenge in wanting to launch ‘Chef Koochooloo’ is the fact that my thoughts are all over the place, and I have so many ideas and so many things that need to be done in order to get a product launched, that I simply just don’t find enough time to do everything. And I feel overwhelmed with even the number of emails I have to answer.

Perhaps one way I can get started is by coming up with my main goal/objective for Chef Koochooloo, and figuring out what my mission would be, then every day on my journal write about.  After that, I can prioritize on the list of things I need to do and how I will go about it.  I think it would also be helpful to write about one thing that made me happy that day, and one thing that brought me down (kind of like the exercise I do with my daughter at night).

So let me get started with the positioning of Chef Koochooloo:


Chef Koochooloo

 An international educational platform that empowers families to engage in fun interactive cooking games while learning about math, science and social responsibility.

With Chef Koochoolooo:

  • Kids discover new countries through recipes and fun kid-relevant factoids
  • Parents are guided to safely involve kids in preparing a healthy meal
  • Parents and kids can learn about world concerning issues and contribute towards social change

And I will end each journal with highlights and disappointments of the day.

Today, I was surprised by how unsupportive some friend can be, they make excuses for something as little as providing input.  On the other hand I am so surprised to see mere acquaintances that I met an event or a business meeting, are willing to go out of their way and provide support!










Want to Make a Career Transition? Start Planning a Few Steps Ahead!

As I have begun working on launching a social enterprise “Chef Koochooloo” in the Tech Ed/Food Innovation Space, (Yes, I know it is  VERY FAR stretch from Enterprise Software) I began consulting with other female entrepreneurs to see how the transition was for them. The conversations were so helpful that I decided to design the mini workshop:  “Managing Career Transitions” and invite one of my all time favorite managers from Yahoo! (and former entrepreneur) , Sarah Acton to come and provide mentorship to SAP’s Business Women Network.

Sarah is a highly creative and strategic senior marketing executive with over 17 years of experience at companies such as LinkedIn, Yahoo!, Coca-Cola, and The Home Depot, as well as a successful launch for a store. She is also someone who has successfully navigated transitions in her own career and always had a smile in her face, no matter how tough the day was. I was impressed by Sarah’s ability to keep a balanced life and manage two active boys.

Sarah’ support was incredible when I went through the first round of ‘ectopic pregnancies’.  I still remember the day she personally drove me to the hospital, and given her positive outlook on life, I could not be in better company as I held to the door handle with pain and hoped for the best . When I lost the baby, her flexibility in allowing me to work from home during recovery phase was touching.

Sarah’s talk was engaging and inspiring.  One of the young aspiring Marketers in the audience, Teresa Huang wrote a blog post about the event and we thought it would be good to share her post below with those who could not attend.


Here are the key takeaways from Sarah’s engaging talk:

Start thinking a few steps ahead.

Think about the “after” while you’re still in your current position. Where do you want your path to go, and how will you get there? Identifying your goals and assessing your current skill set will help you formulate an action plan. Acknowledge that there are areas where you may need help and begin networking strategically.

Know your story.

You’ve planned ahead, done your research, and now you’ve landed a job interview. Great! Be prepared to explain why you’ve decided to make this transition and what specific skills you can offer to the new position. Showing resiliency, creativity, and an ability to overcome challenges can also help to tell your story. Minimizing your perceived risk to the hiring manager is essential and can take you further in the interviewing process.

Keep in touch with your network on a regular basis.

Even when you’re not looking to make a career change, stay in touch with your professional and personal network. If contacts in your network reach out to you for advice, offer your help without expecting anything in return. You never know when you may need help in the future! If you do end up asking your network for help, be clear about your goals. Your contacts will best be able to help you when you’re specific about where you’re headed.

We also discussed some interesting questions, which I’ve highlighted below.

What are your thoughts on the role of higher education in career transitions? Is an MBA still necessary to obtain a role in upper management or becoming a successful entrepreneur? 

There isn’t one magic answer to this question. The value of an MBA (or other degree) depends on an individual’s target position. Do some research and look at individuals in your network that hold the job that you want, and see if they have MBAs. Talk to those contacts about their experiences, and this will help you decide if an MBA will be valuable in your own career path.

How do I make a career shift within my current company?

If it makes sense within your company’s culture, talk to your current manager about moving to a different job function and how s/he can help you reach that goal. The company has already invested in you, so it’s in their best interest to continue to retain you, even if it’s in a different department. If you’re not comfortable bringing up a career shift to your manager, find a colleague or a friend who has successfully made an internal job shift, and learn how they were able to achieve that.

Lastly, I will leave you with a few of Sarah’s tips to strengthen your LinkedIn profile when transitioning into a new field, or launching a company in a different space:

  • Be creative with your headline. The headline defaults to your current or most recent job title. This is your opportunity to tell others the bigger vision you have for yourself, so get creative! For example, “Passionate leader with proven track record of innovation.”
  • Customize your LinkedIn Profile URL. Go to Edit Profile > “Edit” (next to your current LinkedIn URL) > Customize your public profile URL.
  • Be actively engaged. Join a few groups and network with like-minded professionals. Follow influencers that you respect. Your profile shouldn’t be merely a description of your current and past jobs. Potential employers and networking contacts who view your profile will want to know who you are, not just what you do.

Thanks again to Sarah for an engaging and lively discussion!

What are your best tips for navigating career transitions successfully? If you are an entrepreneur as well, share with us if you would do anything different!

Best Practices from Corporate Women’s Initiative Consortium.

Hi Everyone:

For the past two years I have been attending the quarterly CWIC meetings.  (Corporate Women’s Initiative Consortium) A networking group of representatives from women in tech groups from various companies including Yahoo! Google, Intel, SalesForce, IBM, Oracle, eBay and many more.

I had the pleasure of witnessing the launch of many women networking groups and watching them progress, as well as learning from the more established groups such as Intel and Google. Normally, CWIC meets once a quarter, and one company shares their story, (this could be how they just launched their club, or what they plan do for the year, or share a story on how they measured their success and presented results to Executive team, etc).

Per Inga and Caroline Kohout’s suggestion, I have summarized my learning’s below. This outline represents the most common factors each group attributed to their success so far.  It looks like BWN has incorporated many of the best practices, but as always, there are a few points we could improve upon and learn from our peers in Silicon Valley.

A Solid Business Case

Making a convincing business case for the women’s network is critical for receiving the infrastructural support that makes the network effective.  Most successful groups begun by looking at the company’s overall objectives that often included organizational success and employee success, and presented research that showcased how the company would be better served by taking advantage of women employee’s fully realized potentials and developed skills. They showcased how those skills are nourished through the support, consulting, and training that a woman-networking group offers.

A Clear Mission Statement

Firm Infrastructure

1. Agreement on the frequency of the meetings

2. Definition of roles and establishing the ideal time for each term (Most clubs have one year limit for each role, but some also offer six month periods).

3. Fair and inclusive nomination process

4. .Transparency on eligibility and responsibilities tied to each role

Officer titles that are most commonly used:

  • Club Chair/Co-Chair
  • Global Inclusion and Diversity Officer
  • External Relations Officer
  • Internal Relations Officer
  • Member Engagement Officer
  • Member Recruitment Officer
  • PR and Social Media Officer
  • Marketing Officer

CEO and/or a Male Executive Sponsor

Many clubs have shared that male participation has contributed to their effectiveness, most importantly when it comes in the form of active sponsorship or championship.

  • Partnership with HR and Diversity Teams

A few companies including Brocade shared how they work closely with HR to follow the career roadmap of network members, and compare them to non-members. Not surprisingly, they discovered a positive trend in accelerated career growth for the active members who had participated in the networking and training sessions.  They were able to quantify this research and as a result obtain additional budget for advancing their programs.

  • Specific goals & Clear Measures for Success

Many clubs work with HR to tie specific goals to each initiative and look for patterns and proofs of concept. For instance, in launching a new mentorship program, they document the career path of the participants and look for patterns of success, they also interview the menthes periodically and survey whether they are truly benefiting from the program or not.

  • Safe and confidential environment for sharing

Many groups endorse a ‘confidentiality agreement’ for certain meetings in order to encourage women to voice their concerns in an open and constructive manner.  We also held such a meeting during which one of the company representatives shared how a female Sr. Executive who had been ‘fired’ came back to the meeting and shared her version of the story, (which the women found extremely helpful and actually encouraging).

Some of the Most Successful and Popular Initiatives that were showcased during the meetings:

Yahoo! Agile Conflict Management Workshop: The Human Hack: Reinventing How We Work

A new approach to people and conflict management facilitated by Geraldine (Dene) Rogers

Google’s Women in Tech Conference and Travel Grants

As part of Google’s commitment to encourage women to excel in computing and technology, Google offered Women in Tech Conference and Travel Grants for their female computer scientists that included:

  • Free registration for conferences
  • Up to 1000 towards travel and accommodation costs

eBay’s Global Women Leader’s Conference

In 2011, eBay held the Women’s Initiative Network (WIN) summit in San Francisco; the event brought together for the first time the top women leaders from eBay Inc. – nearly 200 people worldwide. The group participated in workshops and panel discussions. They identified actions that they and the company can begin taking to build greater career opportunities for women and enable eBay to build a more diverse global leadership team. The results were phenomenal and the women at eBay feel the company has taken a great positive shift since.

Cisco’s Women Health Workshop in July 2013: (The link between Fitness and Career Success)

Discussion Topics included Health Issues Women Face, Tips to Eat for Energy and Stress Management

SAP’s Panel on Fashion and it’s impact on Career Growth in June 2013

Thanks Inga and Caroline for encouraging me to post this.