Title/position: Vice president of marketing
Company: Forward Networks
Location: Palo Alto
How has the pandemic changed how you lead others? Honestly, I don’t think the pandemic has changed my leadership approach. I tend to be outgoing, so it’s been harder to connect with people via Zoom. If anything, I try to overcommunicate now, to compensate. Not sure if my team would say that’s a good thing!
How has the pandemic changed your outlook on life and work? Well, I finally summoned up the courage a few months ago to have brain surgery, a procedure I’d been waffling about for years. I’m so glad I finally did it! I think the pandemic helped me to put some priorities in order, and my health rose to the top of the list.
What’s your strategy for getting your business back to normal after the pandemic? For starters, getting back into the office! I’m really looking forward to seeing my team in person, and finally meeting people I’ve hired during the lockdown.
What would you like to accomplish in the next year? I’d like to help Forward Networks double our revenue goals.
What’s the best piece of advice you have ever received? One of my former bosses told me years ago that if you’re going to state a problem, you’d better have a proposed solution. That’s always stuck with me.
What is the biggest challenge facing women who want to take on leadership roles? Like the old horror movie where the heroine discovers that “the call is coming from inside the house,” I think the biggest challenges women face are self-imposed. We tend to question our own judgment, apologize too much and demand too little. In the worst case, we don’t serve as champions for each other, and I’d really like to see that change.
A female CEO or business icon you admire? My aunt, Mary Rooney Sheahen, is one of the most admirable and accomplished people I know, and she’s had a huge impact on my life. She started out as a nurse and rose to the CEO role at several large midwestern hospitals.
She just recently retired as the board chairperson of Northwest Medical Center outside Chicago, one of the first hospitals in the U.S. to treat known Covid-19 patients. She is proof that emotional intelligence and empathy can go hand-in-hand with leadership and respect.
Something about you that would surprise others? I’ve been brewing beer in my kitchen for about 20 years, long before the recent craft brewing trend — I keep a kegerator in my dining room. I also play tenor saxophone, but not nearly as well as I used to!
A moment in your career you are most proud of? Not letting a Parkinson’s diagnosis define me.
How many hours a week do you average at work? 50-60
How do you unwind after work? I usually pour myself a cold beer and take my laptop out on the patio to catch up on messages and non-work stuff.
What was your first job? I worked in restaurants in my teens and early twenties, but my very first job was cleaning houses, which my husband finds hilarious. Apparently, I put more effort into it back then.
What was your favorite pop-culture discovery during the pandemic? Well, it’s not exactly pop culture — far from it — but I reread some of my old favorite books while I had extra downtime. “East of Eden” by John Steinbeck is still brilliant!