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Taking Action: Getting Techical Women into the C-Suite

Posted By Administration, Thursday, September 20, 2018
Updated: Thursday, September 20, 2018

Register for Watermark's Advancing Technical Women with CCL. This is a day and a half in-person workshop in San Francisco on December 4-5, 2018. Join our informational webinar on October 2 for more information.

By Watermark Partner: Patty Burke, Center for Creative Leadership

Women in STEM careers are heroic!  They brave biases and fight stereotypes that are much worse than those of us in non-technical careers.   In many cases they are the only woman in their graduating class, and once they enter the workforce, they are one of the few women in their engineering group or technical lab.  At some point the ‘bro culture’ gets too frustrating, and they don’t stay to reap the benefits of their investment.  CCL and Watermark are partnering on a new leadership development experience to break this cycle.

The Promotion Pipeline is a Trickle

The statistics for women dropping out of engineering careers are alarming:  career lifespans for technical women are less than most goldfish!   According to recent research from the  National Center for Women in Technology, women in SET (Science, Engineering and Technology) leave their careers after 5-10 years, while the goldfish in your tanks survives for 10-15 years. 

No wonder there’s no pipeline of women ready to move into CTO, VP Engineering or Chief Scientist roles:

  • Women with STEM degrees are less likely than male counterparts to work in STEM jobs. 
  • More than half the women in STEM fields leave for other careers – and almost a third leave within their first year on the job.
  • Those who stay peak about 10 years into their career – failing to move into senior management or the executive suite

The bottom line: Though women continue to make gains across the broader economy, they remain dramatically underrepresented in STEM positions.

Breaking the Cycle---Promoting Technical Women

Research from CCL and Watermark on What Women Want in the Workplace shows the incredible value of women at work, so it’s even more important to give technical women every opportunity to succeed.   A group of us with the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL) from Silicon Valley decided to tackle this 2 years ago and began looking at the root causes and the knowledge and tools women need to break this cycle.  With input from the local chapter of IEEE Women in Engineering (WIE), we developed Advancing Technical Women (ATW) a unique 5-month on-line and face-to-face  leadership development journey designed to help women succeed and get promoted in STEM careers.  ATW content is based on CCL and industry research – a critical requirement with this audience of skeptical technologists. 

After 5 pilots and 120+ participants, CCL surveys are showing an exciting impact on the careers of technical women:

  • 92% Better equipped to advance in my career

  • 86%  Achieved better results as a leader

  • 79%  Improved visibility in my organization

  •  37% Promoted!  (higher level position or expanded scope of work)

One woman had the confidence to ask to have the engineering team of an acquired company report to her, and she got it!! 

Stretch Assignments:  The Path to Promotion

Not surprisingly, one of the most important requirements is access to stretch assignments.  Women often miss out on those big challenges because of unconscious (or conscious!) bias.  Bosses assume they won’t travel, they can’t move, or they are unable to manage major 24/7 projects with global teams because of family obligations.  Getting these assignments are a must for advancement and promotion, as well as job satisfaction.  In Advancing Technical Women, participants understand the research and tools for acquiring and succeeding at stretch assignments and develop action plans for getting projects that challenge them and lead to promotions.

CCL and Watermark’s Advancing Technical Women is a 5-month Learning Journey beginning in late November, with the 1.5 day on-site session in San Francisco on December 4-5, 2018.  Register here, or contact me or Kate Byrne for more information.

We are also hosting a complimentary Informational Webinar About Advancing Technical Women on October 2, 2018 to learn more about the course, REGISTER TODAY.

From pay inequality to appalling #metoo behavior, challenges for women in the workplace are top of mind for most of us and we’re taking action drive change. The Center for Creative Leadership is excited to be partnering with Watermark to change the equation for technical women too.

Tags:  CCL  Leadership  Leadership Skills  STEM  tech  women 

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Announcement: Make Your Mark Award Winners

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, September 19, 2018
Updated: Wednesday, September 19, 2018


Join us for our annual event, the Make Your Mark Awards! Enjoy old friends, make new ones and be inspired by the incredible women - and men - who make up the Watermark community. Let's celebrate these leaders who are driving change for women within their companies or organizations, and beyond! RSVP today to purchase your seat and your VIP Reception ticket.

Congratulations to the winners of this year's Make Your Mark Awards! And thank you for all the nominees submitted for consideration.

Connection: Brandi Galvin Morandi, Chief Legal Officer at Equinix

Development: Ana Gabriela Pinczuk, former President and General Manager at HPE

Advocacy: René Shimada Siegel, CEO and Founder at Connext

Impact: Women Who Code, accepted by Alaina Percival, CEO at Women Who Code

Bill Campbell Award: Rami Elghandour, CEO and President at Nevro

Watermark Senior Executive of the Year: Amee Cooper, Senior Director, R&D Operations at VMware, Inc.

Watermark Emerging Executive of the Year: Katherine Fordon, Corporate Communications Manager at Wilbur-Ellis


Over the next couple weeks, we are excited to share more about each of these special winners and their contributions to women in leadership! Subscribe to the Watermark blog to receive notifications about new posts. We look forward to celebrating with you in November.


If you are interested in sponsorship and/or table pricing, please contact Kate Byrne.


Many thanks to our Make Your Mark sponsors!

Tags:  Awards  leadership  Make Your Mark 

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Leading with Executive Presence: What can we learn from the Soldier and the Saint?

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, September 18, 2018
Updated: Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Register for Watermark's Executive Presence for Financial Managers with Ching Valdezco of Exec|Comm. Dates: 10/10 in Silicon Valley and 11/14 in San Francisco.

By Jay Sullivan, Exec|Comm

When I think of Executive Presence, I think of two very different people I’ve had the privilege to meet. Both exemplify the ideals of what’s become known as “Servant Leadership,” that notion of leading from a place of humility with the emphasis on those being led. They came from very different backgrounds, and had their own unique roles in the world. Although they both had many attributes that gave them that gravitas we all seek as leaders, I thought it would be most helpful to you to focus on one aspect from each of them.

Simply Being There

Years ago, I conducted numerous training programs for the law firm of Patton Boggs (now knows as “Squire Patton Boggs”). At the time, Mike Nardotti was the partner in charge of the Learning & Development Committee at the firm. Mike came to the firm after five years as the Judge Advocate General of the U.S. Army, in charge of an enormous team of dedicated lawyers. He retired from the army with the rank of Major General. When Mike walked in the room, you knew you were in the presence of a leader.

For those of us who don’t have experience serving in the military, our impression of a general is formed by TV and the movies. Think of the difference between how a general is portrayed, compared to a drill sergeant. The drill sergeant is most often portrayed as the person shouting in the face of the new recruits, breaking people down so they could be rebuilt as soldiers. The general, by contrast, is portrayed as the calm, steely eyed, self-possessed leader, confident of his statements, while carrying the weight of the importance of his decisions.

Mike was present at the start of every program I taught for the firm. He greeted me, and every attendee, by name and with a smile and welcome. He said a few words about the program, telling everyone the importance of building their skills, of investing in themselves, and of the firm’s commitment to their growth. He spoke clearly and briefly. Mike was as busy a person as any partner at any law firm. But since he led the Learning & Development function, he took that administrative function seriously. He was physically present to those he served in that role. His presence at the start of every program told his associates, “I care about you. I care about your development. You are important.” Simple physical presence is the first step in executive presence.

Staying on Message

Years earlier, before I attended law school, I spent two years in Kingston, Jamaica, helping a small group of nuns run an orphanage. There aren’t many advantages to being the only man living at the convent, but every once in a while, a nice opportunity would present itself. In 1985, completely unannounced, Mother Teresa (now Saint Teresa of Calcutta), came to Kingston to visit the small group of Missionaries of Charity, the order of Catholic nuns she had founded. The Sisters of Mercy I was living with at the time were invited to a reception to meet her at the Cardinal’s residence the evening she arrived. Since I was living at the convent at the time, the nuns allowed me to tag along.

About 150 people, mostly priests and sisters, filled the backyard at the Cardinal’s residence. Clearly, Mother Teresa had had a long and exhausting day, having flown halfway around the world, and then having spent the afternoon touring the facility where her sisters tended to the needs of Kingston’s poor. Yet she stood on the porch and spoke softly yet firmly, lovingly yet with great conviction, of the work that needs to be done to tend to God’s children. Clearly, she was preaching to the converted. Her words were of thanks, but also of the reminder of why everyone present was doing the work they were doing, whatever their particular mission. She knew that even the most stout-hearted needed reminding that their work mattered, needed reminding not only of the “what” but of the “why.” After brief, but poignant remarks, she stayed on the porch to greet each person, asking their name and about their role. I was last in line, so after we spoke briefly, she took my arm and I escorted her off the stage to her waiting van. She was 75 at the time, but walked quickly and with determination. Clearly, she wasn’t done for the evening.


What can we learn from the Major General and the Saint? First, physical presence matters. Get in front of your people. Make sure they hear your commitment to your ideas, to your ideals, and to them. Second, know what you stand for. Tie those convictions to the motivating forces for your audience. Leading isn’t about you as the leader; it’s about those you lead.

Originally Published on Forbes.com; Republished on Exec|Comm Blog

Tags:  Coaching  Communication Skills  Executive Presence  Leadership Skills  Life Skills 

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Watermark Entrepreneur Conference: The Big Pitch

Posted By Events, Friday, September 7, 2018

Attention entrepreneurs – and emerging entrepreneurs! Want to showcase your new idea or startup to an audience of potential investors, partners and customers? Could you use some practice pitching to top Bay Area VCs? Ready to receive some helpful suggestions on polishing your presentation?


Our popular afternoon session, The Big Pitch, is featured at our annual Watermark Entrepreneur Conference! The event is set for Tuesday, Oct. 16 at Fenwick & West in Mountain View. 

Watermark will select three entrepreneurs to present for five minutes apiece, followed by a three-minute Q&A and five minutes of direct feedback from a panel of expert judges including VCs.

The Big Pitch is open to all entrepreneurs. You do not have to be a Watermark member to apply.

You must complete the application form by Friday, Sept. 14, to be considered. We’ll announce the winners by Friday, Sept. 21.

Criteria for Submission:
• Founder or at least one member of the C-Suite must be female
• Completed application
• Your idea/company has not yet received first round of professional funding

Pitch Format:
• 5 minute presentation + 3 minute Q&A + 5 minute feedback
• 10 slides maximum

• Each presenter receives one full conference pass, as well as a presentation coaching session with Nathan Gold, The Demo Coach
• Each presenter/company will be included in all Watermark conference promotions – before, during and after the event – including on our website, social and our popular email blasts

Apply Now:
Please download and complete The Big Pitch application by Friday, Sept. 14.

Want to attend the conference but pass on pitching? Purchase your tickets today as this conference always sells out!

Questions? Send us an email and we'll get right back to you.

Thank you, and good luck!

Tags:  entrepreneur  entrepreneur conference  pitching  vc 

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Looking for Women Board Candidates for HomeFirst

Posted By Administration, Sunday, July 8, 2018

Are you an active Board Member or have you explored becoming a Board Member for a non-profit? HomeFirst of Santa Clara, a non-profit that provides emergency housing and support services for the homeless of Santa Clara County, currently is accepting applications for Board Member positions. HomeFirst is the largest provider of homeless support services in the County Contracting with the City of San Jose, Santa Clara County, and the Veterans Administration. The Board provides policy development and fiduciary oversight, while day-to-day operations are managed by the CEO, CFO and Executive Team. If you have any questions, or wish to inquire further, please contact HomeFirst Board Member, Kirk Heinrichs directly at (408) 799-6376.

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25 Women | 25 Stories: Cindy Solomon

Posted By Mary Thorsby, Monday, March 26, 2018

In celebration of Watermark’s 25th anniversary, we’ve taken a step back to reflect on all that we’ve accomplished so far and commend the ambitious women – and men who get it – who are leading us into the future.


Today, our 25 Women | 25 Stories series honors Cindy Solomon of Cindy Solomon and Associates. This world-renowned leadership expert, author and keynote speaker is an active member of our board of directors and one of our most popular webinar presenters. Here's a link to Building Your Career and Your Brand from last December; and a link to Courageous Leadership, set for this December.


Here's a look at what Cindy has learned through the years – and how Watermark has played a role.

Tell us about the biggest risk you've taken – your most difficult moments?
Shortly after 9/11, one of my businesses failed. It was the one that I had built from the ground up and that I was the most emotionally attached to from a values perspective. That failure, in many ways, felt like a death, Not only did I have to cease operations and let go of a dream, I also had to lay people off who were a part of my family and who had been a part of the organization since the beginning.


It was in those dark days following that I had to really search my mind and my soul to see if I had the courage to begin again, or if I should admit defeat and escape back into the world of a nice, consistent paycheck every two weeks.


I started to look at what I had learned about owning and running a business from that failure and realized that while no one could have anticipated a 9/11 type event, there were things I could have done to ensure that I was more prepared for something unexpected happening in the economy.


It was from those learnings that I've been able to create an even more successful, larger and faster growing organization than I ever would have had I not had that failure in 2002. Said another way, my greatest and most difficult failure enabled me to not only withstand the last recession but actually thrive during it. Sometimes courage is the simple act of getting back up after you fall.


Is there anything from your childhood that has played a role in your success today?

I was so fortunate to be raised by parents who believed that with enough hard work I could be or do anything I wanted with my life. And I was taught how to really work from a very young age. From washing cars at 12 to being held accountable for family chores each week I found that I loved the feeling of accomplishment that helping a "team" succeed gave me from a very young age.


Additionally, my father was an entrepreneur and had significant financial ups and downs during my childhood – and that also gave me the feeling that success wasn't permanent and failure wasn't fatal, which has served me well through both my corporate and entrepreneurial careers!


How do you stay relevant? What new topics interest you most?

Every day I learn something new and significant both to my personal and professional life. I think the most important thing to do for yourself is to make time for your own learning. As a professional speaker, it's easy to just show up for my own portion of a program. But I have found that if I take the time to listen to other speakers, attend other conferences for my own learning and read, read, read. That's what allows me to keep my own learning and development a priority.


That's a huge reason why Watermark has such value for its members. Watermark allows you (if you are willing to commit time to your own development) to stay in the cutting edge of information and build the value you bring to your organization.


Do you live by a particular mantra?

I have two mantras I live by. The first I heard from Eunice Azzani: If you're not standing on the edge, you're taking up too much room. And the second is: If you're not uncomfortable, you're not learning.

cindysolomon.com   LinkedIn   @cindysolomon

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BetterUp Coaching: Sign Up Now!

Posted By Mary Thorsby, Sunday, March 25, 2018

Be sure to take advantage of our partnership with BetterUp! Whether you are just starting your career, preparing for advancement into a leadership position or thinking about a transition, BetterUp coaching provides 1:1 personalized development to support your success.

An introductory rate of $2,388 (just $199/month for an annual subscription) is available until March 31. This offer provides you with a professional coach and learning resources for one full year, including:

• Self-assessment using BetterUp’s Whole Person Model
• Weekly sessions with a coach
• Unlimited messaging with your coach in between sessions
• Activities and microlearning hand selected for you by your coach
• Reflection point assessment twice a year to measure your progress

Learn more and sign up today!

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Members on the Move

Posted By Mary Thorsby, Sunday, March 25, 2018

Watermark member Barbara Mark, Ph.D., of Full Circle Institute/A Time of My Own, invites you to participate in a research study and share your experiences of being a woman leader in the Prime of Your Life – 40s, 50s, 60s. The purpose? In our youth-oriented culture, little has been written about the experiences and contributions of mature women as well as the challenges they face that are unique to midlife women. To learn more and participate, download her PDF!

Watermark member Margaret Graziano, Chief Talent Strategist for Keen Alignment, invites you to Ignite Power: Awakening Feminine Leadership, a weekend designed to help you experience more energy, vitality, joy and peace – and transform your leadership presence. The program is set for May 2-4 at 1440 Multiversity in Scotts Valley. Register here – use 1440 for the code and save 50%.

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Leigh Wasson Joins Watermark Board of Directors

Posted By Mary Thorsby, Saturday, March 10, 2018

Watermark welcomes Leigh Wasson to our board of directors.


Leigh brings 28 years of investment management and client relationship experience to her role as a Senior Wealth Director at BNY Mellon Wealth Management where she collaborates with team members and advisors to develop and implement comprehensive wealth management solutions for entrepreneurs, founders, executives, philanthropists and their family members. Leigh’s areas of specialization includes working with business owners and founders to accelerate the value of their businesses.

Prior to BNY Mellon, Leigh was Regional Managing Director of Northern California for Citi Private Bank. Leigh's background also includes 16 years at JP Morgan with both the private bank and the institutional investment management division, where she was a Managing Director with assignments in Australia, London, New York, San Francisco, Silicon Valley and Newport Beach.

Leigh is a member of the Board of Directors of The Japan Society of Northern California, a member of the Advisory Board of Astia and is a Certified Exit Planning Advisor. Leigh earned her BBA in Finance from The University of Texas and an MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.

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The Power of Your Voice and Your Story: Join the Movement

Posted By Marlene Williamson, Wednesday, February 28, 2018

What an amazing Watermark Conference for Women! We're thrilled that you chose to spend this past Friday with us – more than 6,500 women and men marking Watermark's 25th Anniversary with inspiring speakers, new connections and a common vision of more women in leadership positions.

As Reese Witherspoon asked: "Does anyone feel we're on the precipice of something very different?"

I certainly do – and I am so inspired by Reese's commitment to giving women a stronger voice. A commitment so strong that she's taking matters into her own hands to bring better female roles – and authentic stories – to the forefront.

I am equally inspired by Amal Clooney's story – and how inspired she is by the students of Florida and young people everywhere.

Their messages – and those of all our speakers – carry a powerful thread: We all have a voice. We must use it.

Turn Up the Volume
At Watermark, we use our voice in a number of ways. March, in fact, is Voice Month, with exciting programs including Your Story is Your Power with Elle Luna and Susie Herrick and Is Your Voice as Powerful as You Are?, a hands-on, interactive workshop with voice coach Hillary Wicht.

We firmly believe that the power of our voices, backed by data, will help us reach gender parity in the workplace. We know that companies with women in leadership roles crush their competition, generating a return on equity of 10.1% per year vs. 7.4% for those without.

In our recent Women in Leadership survey, our own members report landing exciting new positions, promotions and big business wins, citing Watermark as providing the inspiration and leadership development programs that help them get ahead in their careers.

And they proudly recognize their own companies – many are Watermark sponsors and Make Your Mark Award winners – as role models in diversity and inclusion.

On the flip side, the majority of our survey respondents believe it's still far easier for men to advance their careers than for women – and more than half are survivors of sexual harassment. Of those who reported it, very few were satisfied with the outcome.

This is entirely unacceptable. Our voices, our stories and our commitment to women helping women are key to making a difference.

Three Steps Forward You Can Take Today
At Watermark, we take great pride in offering you the opportunity to:

1. Grow and nurture your network.
We host more than 60 networking and professional development events every year. We've connected thousands of women (and men!) with the proper resources to grow their careers and break glass ceilings. If you're not yet a Watermark member, now's a great time to join. We're offering a six-month trial membership – sign up this week and enjoy the full benefits of the Watermark community.

2. Invest in yourself. Tap into our partnership with Athena Alliance if you're ready to serve on a board. And take advantage of our partnership with BetterUp and receive personalized professional development coaching to help you realize your potential. You'll be paired with a certified coach and resources for one year, including:

• Self assessment using BetterUp's Whole Person Model

• Weekly sessions with a professional coach

• Unlimited messaging with your coach

• Activities and microlearning hand selected for you by your coach

• Reflection point assessments to measure your progress

3. Celebrate your role models. Nominations are open for our Make Your Mark Awards, our annual celebration of the Bay Area's organizations and leaders most supportive of women in leadership. Nominate your company, men who champion women – and the women leaders you most admire. This year's event is set for Thursday, Nov. 15, at the Santa Clara Marriott. Stay tuned for details.

25 Years of Women (and Men) Making Their Mark
Ever since Denise Brosseau and Jennifer Gill Roberts founded Watermark 25 years ago, our commitment to helping women reach our full potential has never wavered.

We have you, we hear you, we support you.

And we invite you to join us as we continue to make the world better for working women everywhere.

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