LdC: This speaks to the power of relationships and being visible in business. So then, how did you obtain your current CEO position; and what is a typical day like (if such a thing exists?)
SA: I had always strived to be a CEO. When I was EVP of Sales and CMO at Loudcloud (renamed Opsware), one of our board members became a supporter of mine. He introduced me to a partner at Kleiner Perkins, a top VC firm in Silicon Valley. I ended up being hired as CEO by one of the KP partners. Business relationships and achieving results to build a strong reputation are very important to career success.
No, I don’t have a typical day. My days vary from staff and internal meetings, to customer meetings, analyst briefing, investor updates, industry event presentations, etc…
LdC: I love your high-achiever outlook, Shellye. So now that we know a bit more about your position, what is the greatest challenge that your job brings?
SA: There are several key challenges. Keeping the strategy aligned to the market needs and trends is critical. Hiring the right people, ensuring they are in the right roles and coaching them to become the best they can be makes or breaks a company. Shaping and reinforcing a positive winning culture is fundamental to our success.
LDC: On that note of “culture”, much has been said about the lack of diversity in Silicon Valley. What are your thoughts on that/how has it affected you personally?
SA: Silicon Valley leadership is not very diverse. I believe bringing together a broad set of experiences, backgrounds and perspectives ultimately makes for better decisions. Silicon Valley is an amazing place that has spawned technology and companies with far reaching impact. But just imagine how much better it could be if it harnessed a broader set of voices at the table.
LdC: What do you think is the biggest opportunity for African-American women in the technology space today?
SA: The opportunities in tech space are vast. The industry is growing and needs all disciplines: sales, marketing, engineering, customer services, etc…
LdC: What would be your suggestions how we can energize more women of color to make the leap from lead consumers to lead executives in the technology arena?
SA: Role models. We need to highlight successful African American leaders in tech.
LdC: Which is happening through this series, coincidentially! You are also out and about to spread the message, particularly through all your board positions you hold. How important is serving on boards to a Black female career today?
SA: Serving on boards expands your knowledge and experience, which helps you be a better leader. Board experience helps everyone.
LdC: What’s your biggest hope for the industry for the second half of 2012.
SA: We are planning much farther out. I’m hopeful that internet access will be ubiquitous for all Americans. Access to the Internet helps level the playing field by providing access. We won’t get there this year, but I do hope we get there soon.
That does it for another edition of “Behind the Click”. Don’t miss the next profile. In the meantime, stay up to date on tech news and more via my site at www.ldcoleman.com and my Twitter feed @mediaempress.