- All right, good afternoon, everyone.
Nice to see you all here.
My name is Courtney Chandler.
I’m the senior assistant dean, chief strategy,
and operating officer here at the Haas School of Business
and I’m thrilled to be here.
On behalf of Dean Ann Harrison,
who is traveling today,
I’d like to welcome you to our today’s dean speaker series,
which is co-sponsored by the AmpEquity series.
I am really, really thrilled to be introducing today’s guest
as well as welcoming back to campus,
Haas alumna, Yamini Rangan.
Yamini graduated in 2003 as part
of our full-time MBA program.
And today Yamini serves as the CEO of HubSpot.
Throughout her career, Yamini has been recognized
as a leader who is willing to jump into whatever challenges
is presented to her and the defies expectations
on her results.
This was never more on display then in 2021
when HubSpot co-founder Brian Halligan
unexpectedly needed to step down for medical reasons
following a snowmobiling accident,
and asked Yamini to take over running the company for him.
Not only did Yamini embrace this challenge,
but she was so successful after six months
in the role that Halligan asked her to take
the leadership position permanently.
Yamini brings, excuse me, a determination and growth mindset
to every position she’s held in her career,
and no doubt, this has been integral to her success.
Prior to becoming CEO,
she served as HubSpot’s first ever chief customer officer
overseeing about 3000 people on the marketing sales
and services team.
Before HubSpot, she served as the chief customer officer
at Dropbox and as a VP of sales and strategy
and operations at Workday,
where she helped quadruple revenue.
In 2019, Yamini was recognized as one
of the most influential women in business
by San Francisco Business Times.
Yamini, on behalf of us here at Berkeley Haas,
thank you so much for coming back
and speaking with us today.
I’d now like to turn it over to Kelly McElhanney,
founding director of the Center for Equity,
Gender, and Leadership,
who’ll be leading today’s conversation.
- Thanks Courtney.
I kind of wanna just to Yamini and talk,
but I know you’re all here too.
It’s interesting, there’s just so much interesting things
that I’m gonna try to boil it down.
And there will be time for Q&A.
My team will not let me be selfish, and we’ll open it up.
But I have a question I wanna ask, but it’s sort of,
I’m just, I wanna know, I’m gonna do,
I’m gonna start with question and then get bigger.
But I can’t imagine.
So Brian has a snowmobile accident.
[Yamini] That’s right.
And you get a call.
And what are you doing?
What are you, what’s like, Hey, what’s up?
Can you be the CEO?
- Well, doesn’t ask quite as dramatic,
but I’ll tell you, first of all,
it is so fantastic to be here.
I was here in 2001 with my friends.
It’s so nice to see you both.
We were all class of 2001, and I remember actually
just joining and, Mimi and Farmina,
they were literally on gold cohort,
and so it’s like fantastic to kind of be back here.
And it is just really, really exciting.
So thanks a lot for having me here.
And it’s special.
Haas is special.
So anytime coming here is a real, real special treat for me.
And Kelly, you are special.
I think we have had a very longstanding conversation
about diversity and equity.
So I’m especially thrilled to come here and join you all.
Yeah, so this was March, 2021.
So I’d been with the company for about a year
and three months, so about five quarters,
and Brian who’s the CEO of HubSpot,
and HubSpot is a CRM company for small
and medium businesses.
And I just found out today that Haas and Berkeley uses it
so thrilled to have you all as customers.
We provide marketing sales and service software
for small and medium businesses.
And he’s been our co-founder as well as CEO for 15 years.
And he was on a snowmobile, getting lunch with his son,
and unfortunately met with somewhat
of a really terrible accident where he broke, you know,
13 bones, was not able to move for six months,
and it was a very key point and turning point, I think,
for him as well as for the company.
And I’d been with the company for about five quarters,
and you know, he called from the hospital
saying that he was not in a position to move,
but he knew and trusted the leadership team
and me to run the organization.
And it was one of those, oh my god,
what is going to happen?
But, you know, in moments like those
in almost ever pivotal moment that you have in your life,
you have to go back to just basic guiding principles
and first principles with which you operate.
And there were a couple of first principles for me.
One is our organization is exceptionally customer centric,
and one of the first principles we have is solve
for the customer.
We call it SFTC, and SFTC is literally everywhere
within the organization.
And so when anything happens that causes a pivot
within the organization, we have to go back
to that first principle.
And then the second one is really
to provide stability and clarity.
I think that’s the role of leadership,
is to consume uncertainty and be able to deliver clarity.
And so I think those two were literally the first reactions,
how do we continue to solve for the customers
and how as leaders can we continue
to consume uncertainty and transmit clarity?
And yeah, that was last March.
But Brian, I will go back to the,
we’re gonna start by talking about her journey
from India to technology, but just one more thought.
Brian had a list of people that he could have gone to
and he came to you first.
So, I mean, that says a lot, right?
- [Yamini] I hope so.
- You’d probably been there the shortest amount,
and that’s amazing to me, I just wanna amplify that,
in our AmpEquity speaker series, that he called her first.
But let me go back with what we had planned to do,
which is talk about, yeah, your journey growing up in India
and how that brought you here to the United States,
into tech, and now into a position of CEO.
- Yeah, I will say Berkeley, my two years here were pivotal.
So yes, my journey I’ll keep it short,
I grew up in India and started in a very small town
that didn’t have a high school.
So part of my early childhood was making sure
that I would get to some kind of college,
and my parents made tons of sacrifices.
My mom moved to a different city
so we could complete our education.
And so fairly humble beginning.
So certainly not aspiring at that time to get
to any type of C-suite position.
So my journey started as an engineer,
and a lot of people say,
Hey, how did you come to the conclusion?
I have an elder sister.
She became a doctor.
And so I wanted to do what she didn’t wanna do.
I ended up becoming an engineer.
So there was nothing profound about my choice.
But what was very helpful starting as an engineer
is that first principles thinking,
it’s that systems thinking?
So it’s almost like anything that I’ve done in my life,
I’ve gone back to having first principles
to be able to guide decisions.
And then I came to the US and I studied,
as a computer engineer and continued
my graduate program there and started working
as an engineer.
And as I was in engineering,
I found like my colleagues would always say,
Hey, you should present, you know, our project to, you know,
the boss or to some team.
And I was like, oh, I must be good at presenting.
Turns out I was bad at coding.
So they were like, yeah, you know what,
let at me code and why don’t you present?
You seem to be doing that a little bit better.
And so, you know, I found myself like talking
about technology and explaining technology
much more than coding, and I was like, yeah,
this is about the time I was like, okay,
Berkeley sounds great.
So I was fortunate enough to join Berkeley
in 2001 with my cohort mates,
and it was probably the best two years,
you know, of my experience.
And it was also pivotal time.
You know, many may remember,
but September, 9/11 happened right after we started here
in Berkeley and it was a very, very different campus.
When a huge pivotal event like 9/11 happens,
the campus turns very different.
And so for me, I wanted to come in and I wanted
to change my career and found out that I was going
to go back into tech after I graduated,
and I wanted to be in product marketing,
and again, went and did my pitch thinking,
Hey, I think I’m pretty good at presenting.
And at the end of the whole pitch, they said,
well, you’re gonna be in sales.
And again, it was a very, you know,
a choice that I did not make at that time,
but turns out there are two things that you can do in tech.
You can build a product or you can sell the product,
and both of those are exceptionally foundational in,
you know, what you learn in tech companies.
And so it turns out that was a great choice because I spent
about a decade in sales selling
and understanding buyer behavior and buyer trends,
which turns out to be really, really important
in almost to any industry,
understanding your customers,
understanding why they make choices
and how they make choices, and really catering to that.
And so solving for customers came early based
on all of those experiences.
And then the second decade after Berkeley,
I spent at scaling companies, Workday,
which is a company that’s based in Pleasanton,
a cloud ERP company, as well as Dropbox,
which is, you know, an SMB company.
So both of those gave me experiences in terms of scaling.
I tell you all of this because, you know,
you’re here sitting, and some of you are thinking,
I don’t know exactly what I’m going to do in my life.
I want to, you know, accomplish a lot.
I wanna have impact, but I don’t know,
and that’s totally fine.
You know, it’s totally fine because life happens
and you’re really trying to make
the best out of opportunity,
and that’s how I got to HubSpot.
- I think I love that because one of the things
I hear from that is tech is not just coding, you know?
And I think if we open that up, more people,
more people from just men will be much more interested
in tech when we look at the broader swath of,
you know, your presentation skills got you there,
obviously your engineering degree and everything else.
But I like that story.
So talk about, you’ve been at HubSpot now two years?
[Yamini] Two and a half.
Two and a half years.
What did diversity, equity and inclusion look like
when you started, what does it look like today,
and then maybe some strategies and learnings
from a corporate perspective,
and then I’m gonna get into you more as a personal leader.
- Yeah, I mean, look, Kelly,
I can talk to you for a while about diversity and equity.
And I think at HubSpot early on, probably in 2016 and ‘17,
we recognized that change was not happening fast enough.
And that was the time we committed ourselves
to having a diverse and inclusive work environment.
And so we released our first diversity report in 2017,
and that report was not so great in terms of the results.
So we had 15% of our North America employee base
identify as BIPOC,
which is black indigenous people of color.
And we looked at our management ranks,
which is anybody within director or above, so directors,
VPs, SVPs, and above, and more than 60% were male.
And we didn’t quite like where we started
in terms of that journey.
And so since then, we’ve been on a whole path
of really building equity, inclusion and diversity
into the DNA of the company.
I strongly believe that change does not happen overnight
and change does not happen on an annual initiative basis.
It really needs to be built into the DNA
of the organization.
So we released our sixth diversity report last week
and we’ve made, you know, pretty significant progress.
The percentage of employees that identify as BIPOC
has gone from 15% to 35%,
the number of female leaders
within the organization has flipped.
So we now have 60% women in leadership positions.
Within our executive team of nine, four are women.
So it’s me, the CFO is Kate Bueker,
who’s been with us for a few years.
We just hired our CPO, she’s a woman,
and our chief product and people officer.
So we have four out of nine, and within our board,
70% identify as women or BIPOC.
So that’s just a lot of progress
. And I think we know that we are walking the walk
in terms of diversity, but we also know that change
takes a while and part of what we are working on
and the challenge that we face is now
that we have hired a lot of employees
coming from very diverse backgrounds,
how do we make sure that we onboard them?
How do we make sure that we develop them?
And how do we make sure that we retain
and promote them so that this does not stop
and we actually make meaningful progress
over the next few years?
And I was telling Kelly that, you know,
days seem long, but years seem short.
And what I mean by that is it feels
like there’s not enough progress on a day to day,
week to week basis.
But when you look at it, you know,
over a year or over a five year period,
you begin to see that type of change happen.
And so there’s a lot more for us to learn from you
and your playbooks, and I’m looking forward to that.
- Well, I was, Genevieve and ISH-UH-TUH,
telling her about our Belonging playbook.
And so she wants an early copy.
It’s really good.
So EGAL has a belonging playbook
that’s just being wrapped up and designed,
and I think you’ll really, really like that.
I don’t see any MBA students from my fall class,
but they were really pushing hard on incremental change
versus just ripping the gate off,
and I wanted to, that’s why I wanted her to talk
about that sort of, it’s the tension
between incremental change and really sweeping change.
Talk more now about you individually as a leader,
maybe what we’re, I would love to hear
two leadership lessons, one that was painful
and you got a little bloodied and one that maybe more fun
to learn along the way.
- All lessons are a gift.
You know, I will tell you some more painful than the others.
You know, I think the first one,
I’d say the leadership lesson is really to be very mindful
of transitions as you evolve as a leader.
And you know, in our careers,
we’ll go through a number of transitions,
first from an individual contributor
to maybe a manager and then from a manager to maybe,
you know, leader of a large group.
And then from there in your journey to C-suite.
And every one of those transitions are,
you really need to be mindful.
And I’ll tell you like the first transition
was probably the bloodiest,
most painful one as an individual contributor
to becoming a manager.
And as an individual contributor,
this was after my time at Haas, I was in sales.
And so it is fairly clear in terms
of what performance metrics there are, because in sales,
you have a quota and you have a number,
and it’s very clear when you get those,
and it’s mostly controlled by yourself.
Now you do have to have great relationship building
with your customers, but that is the key.
And so when I first transitioned from being
an individual contributor in sales to being a manager,
I thought I was doing everything right.
I was, you know, I was working longer than everybody else.
I was working faster than everybody else.
And I was like, yeah, this is gonna work out great.
Turns out, terrible, terrible.
I think my first performance review after I transitioned
to the manager, I literally took it home
and I was like, oh my God, I made a really big mistake.
I think I am not fit to be a manager.
I probably have to like go back and get back
into my older job of being an individual contributor.
And I found out a few painful lessons.
The first one is when you are an individual contributor,
it’s kind of like a sprinter’s mindset,
you work really fast and you’re kind of going,
you know, by yourself.
And when you become a manager,
it is a coach and a cross country coach kind of a mindset,
which is, it’s not about how fast you go,
it’s about how you bring people a long in that journey
and how you coach people along the journey.
And so that was a painful experience.
I think the second one is as an individual contributor,
you spend a lot of time making sure that you have answers,
answers your boss might have, or you know,
answers for questions that your boss might have,
or your customer might have.
And the transition is you have to get really good
at asking questions because when you have a team
and you’re managing a team,
they don’t want you to give them all the answers.
They want to know that they can get
to the answers themselves.
And so I had to stop giving answers
and I had to start asking questions,
and that was a huge transition in terms
of thinking about it.
So, you know, I learned, you know,
a couple of lessons from the early stages.
And since then, you know, I’ve taken every transition
as a time to pause, reflect and see what you know
are the practices that I have to continue keeping
versus what are the practices that I have to lose
and completely change,
and that has been just an important lesson,
probably very, very painful,
especially based on my initial few performance reviews.
I think the second I would say is that great leaders
are great learners.
And we have something at HubSpot that where we say,
we do not wanna be know-it-alls, we wanna be learn-it-alls.
And that’s an exceptionally important lesson
in terms of leadership.
And what I mean by that is almost every opportunity
is really about learning.
You know, you don’t need to be perfect as a leader.
You don’t need to have all of the answers.
And one of the best leaders, you know, really,
if you look at the trajectories about how much
they can change and evolve and learn.
And so the second big lesson is really about, you know,
how to be a great learner before trying
to be a great leader.
So I’d say those two are pretty big lessons.
- Sorry, guys, I’m just taking too many notes
because this is such great, this is really great,
and I like that one in particular
because it matches our defining principle at Haas
of students always.
Did we steal that from you?
[Yamini] No, no, I stole it from Haas.
For sure, that’s perfect.
I actually like your language better, but okay.
So you talk about, it’s interesting
that you bring up transitions as being a learning moment.
One thing that literature shows around imposter syndrome
is that it often shows up,
and I believe it shows up for men and women,
so I don’t wanna perpetuate a myth that only women
have imposter syndrome.
I think we let it hold us back more.
Both men and women have it,
but the research shows that imposter syndrome
is often highest when you just get a promotion
How, I really don’t, so please don’t answer it this way.
How do you deal with imposter syndrome?
And I just don’t, I wonder how effective it is
when the message is what I learned growing up,
fake it until you make it.
- Yeah, I don’t know if I could fake it
until I make it–
[Kelly] But that was the advice I got, to fake it.
Yes, you know, but Kelly,
I think the point that you’re making
is that it’s not just women.
I’ve met plenty of men, you know,
in my career where they feel like they don’t have it.
But I do think that women assume that they need
to know everything in the next job
to feel really good.
And there’s, you know, a tremendous is number of studies
where if you look at a job description,
the exact same job description,
a male might look at it and say, if I have 50% of it,
I’m going to do phenomenally well,
I’m going to apply and I’ll crush it,
versus a woman looking at the same job description
will want to check off 90% before
they feel confident enough to apply.
And so I do think that we bias ourselves in some of this.
But I will tell, you know,
have I felt imposter syndrome?
You know, in every one of the transitions,
the first time I actually got my VP promotion,
which in the industry was a pretty big deal,
and when I got it, I was like, no, why, I’m not ready?
I thought I had a few more, you know,
quarters to prove this.
And so I was like, no, and I’ll tell you,
when Brian called and he said,
Hey, I’m gonna make you permanent CEO,
I was like, no.
The first word were like, no, are you sure?
And he’s like, yeah, I’m sure.
And you know, in every one of those transitions,
I think the key thing that I have recognized
is that imposter syndrome really comes down
to your perception not being close enough to reality.
It really comes down to, you know,
your sense of what you can accomplish and what you can
actually do is not the same as reality
because someone else actually thinks very differently
from what you think of yourself.
And so my practical advice and I’ve gone through this
multiple times in my career is,
when I get to the point of questioning
if I’m capable of taking the next big challenge
and someone else thinks that I go on and talk
to people that will give me the truth.
So you do need to have truth sayers, you know, around you.
You can call them board of directors,
you can call them mentors, you can call them sponsors,
you can call them any of those names.
But you do need to have someone who will tell you the truth
because your perception is different than the reality.
And so in the case of my last transition, you know,
when Brian called me and I was like,
let me just, you know, take a day or two
to really assess this, you know,
I called our lead independent director of the board.
She’d seen me operate for a while.
I’ve known her, and I said, are you sure?
Tell me what you’re seeing that maybe I need
to catch up with reality.
You know, I asked mentors that I’ve had
and who have seen me develop over the last decade,
I said, tell me what, you know,
you are seeing that I should be paying attention to.
I asked my kids, and I have two boys, and I said,
Hey, do you think mom can do this?
And frankly, like, you know,
every one of those actually shared a perspective
that I didn’t have of myself and my own capability.
And so I do think imposter syndrome comes a lot
to do with your perception and the gap
of that perception with reality.
And when you do close the gap, then you’re like,
yeah, I can do it.
Of course, every role you’re going to have to learn,
you’re going to have to challenge.
But then you now have enough of a judgment
that you’ve done these things in the past
that can help you in the future.
And so that’s how I think of closing the gap.
So utilizing your personal board, which I love.
But what did your son say?
Oh, he was like, go for it, mommy.
How old is he, I have a daughter.
Oh, sorry, too old then.
You mentioned mentors and sponsors.
Do you see those as two separate different things,
and how did you go about finding mentors and sponsors,
or did they find you?
What’s your, do you have a strategy?
- Yeah, I mean, look, they are different.
They’re very, very different.
I mean, a mentor to me is someone that you can learn from.
And it’s actually for a very specific period of time
for a certain skill,
versus sponsor is someone who is advocating
for you in your career and are, you know,
is helping you kind of get to the next level.
So they are very different.
Now, a lot of folks, you know, come to me and say,
Hey, I want, you know, you to be a mentor,
and most of the times I ask for,
what is the specific skill that you’re looking to learn.
And when I have, you know, have gone out
and reached out mentors I’ve asked for,
Hey, I see that you’ve done a great job
of building your leadership team.
I would like for a six month period where I can learn
from you on how you’ve done that.
So it’s really skill based and competency based,
and sometimes people get confused.
Sometimes I’ll have someone come and say,
Hey, I want some time, but all I’m trying to do
is get promoted to the next level.
I’m like, I’m sorry, I can’t help you get to the next level
as a promotion, but I can help you if there’s
a specific skill.
And so Kelly, I think your question of, did they find you,
it is a natural a process.
I don’t think it’s a, you know,
I’m going to now have like five mentors
and I wanna get five mentors by this date.
I think you really have to let it develop
a little bit organically, but you have to look
at where are you today, where do you wanna, you know,
be in three years or five years,
and what are the core skill sets
that you need to develop,
and then go find people who can help you develop
with each of those core skill sets.
And that’s the way you think about having
a great board of directors or, you know,
personal board of directors.
I think sponsorship is completely different.
Sponsorship is someone who is directly in your line of chain
and someone who is advocating for you when you’re not
in the room.
And the best way to find a sponsor is to earn the trust,
earn their credibility so that they can represent you
when you’re not there in the room.
I’ve had some incredible sponsors, people that, you know,
bet on me even before I bet on myself,
but that was because I had worked incredibly hard
to gain their trust and gain the credibility with them.
And so it’s very, very different,
and you actually need both for different reasons.
- I’m just curious if you see a difference, right.
Because I’m a data wonk,
but I’m much more interested in the real world.
But the data says that men are, women have more mentors
and men are better at strategically finding sponsors.
Do you see that to be true?
- Absolutely, absolutely.
Because I think like we just tend to be perfectionists
in almost everything that we do.
And so we are like, ah, I need to develop all these things
before I can ask for a promotion.
I need to do all of these gaps before I can go
to the next level.
Whereas I think that’s not the way world works.
And so I do think that there is a gender bias
that they put on ourselves there.
[Kelly] So the data’s true.
[Yamini] The data seems to be true, absolutely.
We had a bit of a, you know, we’re doing a bit,
we have been doing a lot of work around language,
and one of the bits of this work that I think a lot about
is self identities or how do we wanna be identified?
And one of our tips in our playbook around language
is listen to how somebody identifies and then match that.
And I was, I trust you,
and I was able to ask and I like to ask direct questions,
so I would love to share this.
Do you consider yourself a BIPOC female leader?
Do you think of yourself that way?
- No, I did not.
When I started, you know, my career and certainly
when I was in Haas, I was like another student, you know,
going to business school, trying to figure out, you know,
things in the world.
And so no, I have never considered myself
as a BIPOC leader or female leader,
And that’s not what I brought in.
And also the choices that I made in my career,
being an engineer in tech,
like not a lot of like women around,
and being in sales in tech, not a lot of women around.
So as in mostly early career stages,
I was probably the only woman around and I did a lot
to kind of, you know, let people not put a,
shine a light on that.
I think that was the most important thing.
I was like, okay, I have to hang with this group
and I have to really be part of, you know,
we talked about belonging.
I wanted to just belong in that group.
And so I spent a lot of time not thinking about the fact
that I was an Asian woman, Indian woman, or woman,
you know, in the room that I was in.
But what I have found is that as I have grown my career,
I want the next generation of women
as well as BIPOC leaders to feel like
they can belong without having the need to change.
And so I’ve found that as I’ve progressed in my career,
and certainly where I am right now,
that me sharing my identity as yes, an Indian woman,
a person of color, a woman, it helps the next generation.
So now I’m embracing it a lot more.
But I certainly started at a point
where I didn’t feel comfortable doing that.
- I’m so glad to hear that that is happening in the world,
that you now feel comfortable,
but that you’re also intentionally embracing it
to free generations, you know,
younger generations to embrace it.
- Yes, and I I’ll say like, you know, tech,
and I know you’re all from different industries.
Tech is not, you know, wasn’t the most friendly,
but there are industries that are even farther behind
in terms of diversity,
and it shouldn’t be this hard for diverse leaders
to be in the C-suite.
And in order for us to have just not incremental change,
but really needle moving change,
we have to be talk talking about the challenges that we face
or being the one person in the room
that looks very different,
for being the person in the room that does not belong.
for really, even in those situations,
being authentic to yourself and what you bring.
And that’s part of the journey.
- I’m so glad you’re there, here,
but also there in that position for other people.
I’m gonna open up to questions,
but I’ll ask one before that.
What do you just feel most proud of in your life,
just in general as a leader.
- You know, so I’ll tell you what I’m most proud of.
I’m most proud of like being present with my family
while having just an incredibly,
just wonderful career that I’ve been, you know,
just so great grateful to have.
And a lot of times, you know,
you’d look at like role models,
and I certainly grew up in the industry
looking at role models of like,
you either have one or you have the other.
And I consider, you know, it a blessing to have the kind
of close relationship I have with my two sons.
They’re like 13 and 15.
They’re the love of my life.
I spend a ton of time with them.
But it’s not quantity of the time that I spend with them.
It’s the quality and the presence.
You know, if I spend 15 minutes with them at the end
of the day and they feel like they’ve connected with me,
that’s a blessing.
And doing that while having a challenging
and enriching career, that is what I mostly am grateful for.
- And I also like your real,
you don’t have to be at every soccer practice,
you don’t have to be at–
[Yamini] Yes, you know that.
Yeah, yeah, I’ll never forget driving my daughter,
carpool’s the best time, if you are parents
or gonna become parents, when you have kids in the car,
you hear everything.
And I remember my daughter saying to her friend,
I’m so glad my mom wasn’t that mom,
and I’m like, oh no, what’s gonna come next.
She was kind of quiet, and I’m like, What mom?
She goes, not the mom that was, you know,
didn’t need to be there at every dance, every chaperone,
I just wanted some space from you.
And I’m like, oh, thank God.
Thank God that worked out well.
But I like the realistic advice versus the,
you have to be in every exactly practice.
We have people in the audience I have to pay attention to.
I’m sorry, because I could just talk to her forever.
Who has questions, and there are, there’s at least one mic.
Right, there’s a mic right there in the middle.
So who would like to, and if you just,
before you ask a question, tell us your name,
and you know, who you are.
There’s a mic right back there if you can walk to the mic.
- HI I’m Simran.
I’m a full-time MBA student and it’s great to hear from you,
especially as an Indian woman.
I wanted to, I know you touched a little bit about it.
Was there ever a time when you found it difficult
to strike a work/life balance,
and as you moved across different roles,
especially when you became a VP or a manager
from an IC role?
How did you like strike that balance?
Was there a time when personal life
was more important than corporate?
So if you could talk a little bit more about it.
- Yeah, I think this is a fantastic question,
and certainly, it’s hard.
I won’t say, come here and say, Hey, it’s been an easy ride.
And I think it’s really hard.
There are especially times in your life where, you know,
you’re deciding to expand your family, and you have like,
you know, kids under five, it’s crazy.
But it’s a very short lived phase.
That’s what I found.
Like when you go through, it’s like, oh my God,
will the day ever end and will my list
of to-do items ever end?
And you know what, again, it’s a very short period of time
and you are able to get through it.
The thing that I would say, you know,
this is a story I’ll give you like, you know, I had,
I thought I was balancing everything really well,
and I went to a field trip when my kid was in second grade.
And that was the period that was exceptionally difficult,
trying to manage work as well as everything.
And you know, this was many years ago,
and I was doing a beautiful job.
It was the end of the quarter.
I had my phone, I was driving the kids on the field trip
and I was like, oh, I’m balancing everything.
And I was on the phone the whole time.
And I like closed my, you know, cell phone
with a little of like my hair and everything,
and I came back in the evening, I was like,
wasn’t that great, mom was there with you the whole time?
Isn’t that fantastic?
And my son looks at me and says,
you were on the phone the whole time.
And that was such a gut-wrenching, you know,
moment where I’m like, I am not balancing it.
I think I’m doing a great job balancing,
I’m not balancing it.
And so since then, I’ve kind of really thought about,
instead of work/life balance, work/life presence,
you know, what does it take for me to be present, you know,
either at work fully or at home fully and how can I do that?
I think that’s been key, and I set expectations
with my kids on that, I set expectations with my spouse,
and that has been really helpful.
I think the second part of it is to know that, especially,
you know, my husband also works in a very, you know,
crazy job where he doesn’t have control of his time,
and we find that we have like an annual conversation
of when are, you know, going for your promotion,
when am I going for the promotion, and what is, you know,
what are we doing in terms of balancing all of those
and having a open conversation with your partner
and making sure it all works, that’s important.
And having the same conversation at work.
I’ve tried to set very clear boundaries with, you know,
everybody that I work with.
On certain days, I’m just not going to be there,
I’m not going to respond.
But you know, other days, I am available and I’m available,
you know, when I’m there at work.
And so it is hard.
The hardest parts are, you know,
early on in your career when you feel
like you have no control.
But that tends to be fairly short,
and then you are able to get to a place where you
can have presence and integrate, you know,
both family and life.
And you just have to stay true to the commitments
and look at how much you’re taking on in a given year
and balance it with everybody around you.
[Simran] Thank you.
So my name is Isabella.
I’m a second year undergraduate student,
studying computer science and business starting next year.
So thank you first off for being here.
This is one of my first instances of taking advantage
of what Haas has to offer,
so I think this is an excellent start.
My question, namely being a part of gen Z
and being a part of both the computer science
and the business community, I’ve become more and more aware
of just how critical and focused and active people
of my generation are when it comes to civil liberties
and different issues that they are in fact passionate about,
and given the past two years and the rise
of employee activism within workspaces,
I’m curious about how you in particular
or HubSpot in general is able to facilitate
these more individual, not just a general culture,
but individual conversations, where you’re able
to straddle and hold space for difficult conversations
and allow this whole new workforce to truly bring
their full selves to the table.
- Yeah, first off, you’re in a great place.
I think you have a long road ahead, which is fun, exciting.
So that’s fun.
And honestly, I do think that this is a challenge
that not every company and the industry has fully embraced.
We love, you know, what the next generation,
gen Z as well as millennials bring,
and we want to create the space,
but it is not like an easy, you know, path.
And I’d say that especially the last three years
have shown us that, you know,
there is not this pure way in which a company
can just be focused on its objectives
without being part of the community
that we serve and the community that we are part of.
At HubSpot, we try to look at it in a couple
of different ways.
One is, you know, we are a very, very transparent culture,
and so we make space for managers and, you know,
the groups to have conversations
around whatever is happening,
and we really pay attention to that.
We have a number of ERGs, employee resource groups,
that also provide that kind of space.
And then when we think about the voice
that companies can have, there is a little bit of, you know,
what is happening in the world,
what makes really sense for HubSpot’s customers,
and what makes sense for, you know,
the community that we operate in?
And there is an intersection of, you know,
what’s good for the world,
what’s good for the community that we operate in,
and what’s good for our customers?
And if there is a really good intersection there,
then we actually spent a lot more time driving initiatives,
talking about it, and having a conversation about it.
And I’ll give you an example, you know,
George Floyd and what, you know,
the black lives movement actually caused,
that was a really big thing that was happening
in our community, and our customers were absolutely impacted
and the world was impacted.
And because we care a lot about diversity,
we spoke about it, we put a plan and we, you know,
really accelerated our ability to hire black employees
and provide a space for them.
That was that intersection.
Now there’s a lot of things that our happening in the world.
There is environmental costs you can take,
there is war that is happening,
there is a whole bunch of laws that get passed,
voter rights that are happening.
And again, we look at, is it in that intersection
of what’s good for customers, what’s good for the company,
what’s good for the community?
And if it’s not, then we choose to provide a space,
but not really take a stance.
So that’s how we think about it.
I don’t think it’s perfect,
but that’s how we look at the world.
[Isabelle] Perfect, thank you so much.
Hi, my name is Ethan and I’m in the undergraduate program,
and I was wondering specifically,
it sounds like when you were tasked with stepping up,
following the accident, that it seemed like a very,
I guess sudden transition for,
and I think you were talking about in like your career,
how you like, I guess, like were able to reflect,
I guess, before you kind of made big transitions,
but this transition perhaps seemed to have
come out of nowhere, and I was wondering, number one,
like how did you navigate through that transition
that was like so sudden.
And also, I guess, just like what are some like lessons
and ways that you were able to make it like
a smooth process and you were able
to convey confidence in that process?
[Kelly] Good questions, wow.
That’s great, thank you for the question.
You’re definitely making me reflect a lot.
And you know, it is.
Every transition is different.
This one is certainly sudden.
And I’d say, look, I think we’ve lived now in a year,
you know, probably two or three years of constant change,
constant crisis, constant need for adaptability.
And there’s a model of leadership that
is happening right now which is very different from before.
The first thing for me to recognize
is that this is not something that I can control
or use power or authority to, you know, drive through that.
And so the first principle for me was not
about control or power,
but about humility and vulnerability,
and that was an important, you know,
part of that transition, is to say, look, you know,
I know what I know, I’m going to do
my very best every single day,
but this is a period of a lot of change.
And so really, humility and vulnerability instead
of kind of power and control,
which could have been a model that you,
you know, would’ve adopted.
I think the second thing is really leaning in
on the leadership team.
This was not, and almost every transition,
you can look at who’s around you and who’s there to help.
And in this case of a very specific sudden transition,
you know, leaning around people, I don’t need to become,
you know, a legal expert.
I can lean in on the general council.
I don’t need to become a product expert.
I can lean in on our chief product officer.
And so knowing that there is a fantastic team
and making sure that we are, you know,
having conversations as a leadership team
rather than a team of leaders.
That’s one thing that I’ve really spent a lot of time,
is how do you make sure that you get the most out
of a leadership team and help them not think
about themselves as a team of leaders.
And that has actually helped a lot during the transition.
And then, you know, mentally, it’s almost like the first,
when it was an interim case, the transition was like,
oh, I am a caretaker here.
I need to make sure that everything runs on rails
and the strategy that we have set is going to get executed.
But then when I became like a permanent CEO,
then I’m like, I’m no longer a caretaker,
even though my job was exactly the same.
I was like no longer a caretaker.
I’m the architect.
I’m, you know, really going to have to take this
to the next level.
And so there is a mental transition to make.
And so the reflection points are really helpful,
whether it is sudden or whether it is planned.
And you do need to, you know,
think about the pivots that you have to make
and think about what has gotten you there
and what will get you to the next level.
That’s a wonderful question.
[Ethan] Thank you.
Great to see you.
I am for Farmina Phillips, MBA class of 2003.
Number one, congratulations on all of your career success.
It’s been amazing.
Congratulations also to HubSpot for its, you know,
its positive progress in improving its diversity,
equity and inclusion metrics.
So in a room of leaders and future leaders,
I’m just curious what advice you have for us
to improve diversity, equity, inclusion numbers
in our own organizations and future careers.
- Yeah, Farmina, so nice to see you.
We both joined and we were, we were in the first cohort,
so it’s just incredible to be back here.
Thank you for the question.
Look, I think, you know, it’s a long journey
and every one of us, you know,
we really need to walk the walk.
A lot of organizations and companies, you know,
either look at diversity in a very short timeframe,
you know, they’ll look at it
when you’re promoting people and say,
do I have enough diversity right now?
And the answer is like, probably not.
If you didn’t do things, you know,
two years back as you were bringing new leaders
and you’re helping them really develop
and coach and, you know, promote them,
then the results in terms of your promotion
is not going to look great.
And so I’d say like long term rather than just short term
in terms of diversity, building it into kind of the core
of everything that we all do within the organization,
that’s critical, and really, you know,
identifying where you’re seeing progress
and where you’re not seeing progress.
I’m a big fan of numbers.
And I know, Kelly, you love data.
I think, you know, more we can actually bring data
into diversity initiatives to look at where are we today
in terms of hiring, where are we today
in terms of developing skillsets,
where are we in terms of promotion,
and how much have we retained and looking at it
at the team level and having some accountability metrics
that then, you know, drive behavior is really the way.
And then you have to recognize that it’s going
to take a little while and we have to keep, you know,
doing all of that.
And I think, you know, I’d love to have
a longer conversation on this, of course.
[Farmina] Thank you.
So would we, we have a lot of wonderful resources.
So Genevieve will be happy to tell you about those.
Can I just do one follow up and then I’m gonna go back
to you because I do love data,
and when consult with companies, you know,
I just say I have a couple of conditions
or I’m not interested in consulting.
One is collect the data, two, share the data.
Let me ask you a slightly different database question.
I’m really thinking I’m becoming part of the problem
by going in and continuously talking to companies about,
your company did not ask me to do this,
but many do, when I came to talk to your group,
give me the business case for investing in diversity.
Because nobody’s ever asked me to come in
and give the business case for investing in white men.
So why am I doing that?
- Yeah, I mean we’re past that, we’re past that.
I think, you know, there is actually a time
we may actually pass the data as well to say
we don’t need an ROI for diversity, you know,
and we should not be having conversations
about a business case for doing what needs to happen.
You know, we all have products or services
that we offer and those products and services
actually represent, you know, diverse perspectives.
And so if you don’t have product leaders that are diverse,
how are you gonna serve customers that belong
in a very diverse community?
I don’t think like we need data for that at all.
I hope that fewer people ask you, Kelly,
for a business case on diversity.
It’s just past that.
- That depends.
But I remember when you, Yamini asked,
not only is Yamini an investor in EE-GOW,
which we’re so grateful for,
I know my team is right in the front,
you’re also an investor in me and believe in my work.
And when you brought me in to speak to your leadership team
and we were going through what to, I said,
do you want me to focus on the business failure?
Like no, just get to the strategies.
And I love, that was just, that’s sort of,
I do still get asked to give.
And I generally start with the white man
and then they’re like, oh, we’re sorry we asked you
to do this.
But I will give you, is this the case?
Like also make sure you gimme, ask me the business case
for investing in white men,
because that seems like they have a part of the–
- Yes, the conversation is all about the playbooks,
which is why I’m glad what you’re doing,
is like it’s, in our case, it’s not even
the playbook for hiring.
It’s the playbook for belonging and retention and inclusion.
How do we make sure that we have great playbooks
and all of the leaders are really, you know, trained.
They have the vocabulary, they have the fluency
to be able to do it.
And I find that the manager level is really important,
and that’s where there is least enablement in organizations.
The frozen middle.
Yes, and because, you know, at the company level,
like we have diversity goals, we’ve published those goals.
And then we have started doing something
like stay interviews.
So instant of exit interviews, when people leave,
you ask them, why are you leaving,
and then we find things–
And they’re gone.
And they’re gone.
And they’re like, yeah, I’m out of the door.
We do stay interviews actually for BIPOC leaders.
We do them every six months and we ask them, what,
why would you continue to stay,
and hopefully you stay, and what would make you leave?
And we find a lot from those stay interviews.
And one of the things that I found is that
it really comes down to the managers.
And they’ll say, well, I like the fact that HubSpot
talks about culture and diversity,
and my everyday experience really depends on my manager.
If that manager is not able to create
an inclusive environment, then I’m not going to be here.
And so it really comes to that.
So how do you enable that level of the organization
to be able to carry what your culture
and diversity really needs, you know, from the org.
- That’s one of my lines:
People leave people, not companies.
That’s absolutely true.
And it’s just hard for people to hear.
I’m like, no, no, they’re not, they’re not leaving HubSpot.
[Yamini] Absolutely true.
So I like that.
- Thank you, no, actually actually on the topic of people,
it’s a good segue to my question.
Thank you so much for this.
My name is NEH-DAH.
I’m actually a master’s student at the policy school.
And I also work in tech policy.
My question, especially from maybe
an entrepreneurial standpoint,
how do you keep your employees happy and motivated
to go the extra mile, you know,
especially during the early stages of a startup
and when times get rough.
- Yeah, I mean, it’s a challenge and it’s been more
of a challenge in the last two years than before.
How do you keep them happy, motivated,
and maybe productive, right, or, you know, driving impact?
And to us, it really comes down to culture.
And lot of times culture, you know,
gets talked about, values get talked about,
and I’ve now been in, you know,
different organizations all the way from startups
to very large organizations.
And in fact like most organizations will say,
Hey, we have a cultural code or we have a set of values.
Now the difference between organizations that really thrive
and maybe not is how much you live those cultural values,
it’s the lived experience of the culture
that creates the right environment.
In the case of HubSpot, we have a cultural code
and it’s basically heart.
Heart is humility, empathy, adaptability,
remarkability and transparency.
Those are the five values.
Now I don’t think there is anything special
about any of those five values,
but I do think what is different in what we try to do
is we try to live it.
And when you try to live it, it means that,
you know, at the top, you know, we have to be transparent.
And you know, if we talk about transparency as a value,
then we live that transparency as a value.
We share almost every detail,
every board meeting notes to our entire company,
and we expect them to uphold that.
So it’s at the top, but it’s also celebrating everybody
within the organization that stand up for being empathetic
or are completely, you know, humble or adaptable,
and we celebrate that.
So you really need to be able to do that.
Now that doesn’t, you know, ensure that you have happy,
So there’s a whole making sure that when you hire,
you hire for the ability for someone to come
and live in your culture and add to your culture.
You know, we used to say culture fit.
We think it’s culture add.
We wanna be able to have someone come and add to our culture
instead of fit within our culture,
and that’s really important.
And so if you identify with the cultural values
of an organization, then you’ll be happy, because if you’re,
if you feel unnatural, then you’re kind of like not happy.
And I think that’s an important part.
Motivation really comes down to impact.
What I’ve found is that people are motivated
when they know their work in a given week
or a given month or a given year directly impacts
where the organization is going.
And so to have really motivated employees,
you have to have clarity of strategy
and you have to have clarity of work
that really impacts that strategy.
And so in order to do that,
you really have to spend time as leaders.
And, you know, I said this at the beginning,
I do think that leadership job is to consume
a lot of uncertainty and transmit clarity.
And part of creating environment for impact is providing
that direct connection between work and, you know,
the strategic priorities of the company.
So thank you.
- We have time for one more.
I can’t, I think you’re in line.
Yep, we have one time for one more.
- Hi, my name is Vanessa and I’m a first year student
in the undergraduate program.
And thank you so much for coming to speak with us today
and sharing such valuable advice and insights.
My question is, I was wondering,
what does a day in the life look like for you?
- Thank you for asking.
Thank you for asking me.
I mean, you know, it really depends.
You know, I do start early.
I was not, when I was in Berkeley and I was a student,
I was a night owl, never, you know, a morning person,
but I’ve had to like shift,
especially because I’m working for a company
that’s based in the east coast
. And so it starts pretty early and, you know,
unfortunately starts with my cell phone.
I wish I had like a better, you know,
answer for how I wake up and get, you know,
back into things.
But I’m like waking up with, you know,
stock market and, you know,
Wall Street Journal and New York Times
and really catching up there.
I do spend a lot of time data.
So, you know, I stay very, very close to the data
within the organization.
So typically we’ll start with a whole bunch of, you know,
all the key important metrics for the organization.
And, you know, it really varies.
I do have somewhat of a rhythm of the business.
So Mondays is typically management days.
Tuesdays is customer days.
Thursdays is, you know, partner days.
So there’s like, you know, some method to how
I spend the time.
And Fridays are thinking days, which is actually great.
My favorite is Friday because I don’t
have meetings back to back.
And so it really depends on the kind of day.
And it’s really very, very much of a context switching
that needs to happen.
So it’s important to, you know,
not let one meeting really spoil your entire day.
It could be a great meeting or it could
be a terrible meeting,
but you have to like context switch
and make sure that that does not, you know,
transfer to every single meeting within the day.
But mostly it’s a long day of meetings
and making decisions and helping others make decisions
within that context of work.
And then evening, you know, is really with,
with my family.
I, you know, definitely, I think COVID
has actually made this easier,
but we are continuing this even
after the pandemic, sit down and have,
you know, conversation with the family.
And then I spend a lot of time reading,
you know, after that.
And so it’s a lot of context switching,
but it’s good when you have some method
to the madness there.
Thanks for asking.
I like the context, switching.
I just wanna stay here for another couple hours,
but actually are a CEO and so you have probably
some stuff to do.
But just a few things.
I mean, I wrote down so much and I can’t wait
to go home and write it where I can actually read it.
But I really like the advice about being mindful
specifically when you’re in transitions in careers.
I love your description of an individual contributor
as a sprinter’s mindset and how you need to shift
that when you become a manager, a cross country coach.
I mean, I love analogies and visuals.
I really like individual contributors
trying to always have the answers,
whereas when you get into a management position,
it’s to ask questions,
I absolutely love great leaders, our great learners,
and I’m gonna, it’s just perfect.
Will you take a picture of us?
I can put it on Instagram.
I will attribute it to you, but it’s such an awesome,
to go from being a know-all, because I think academia
can get a little bit into the know-it-all mentality,
to being a learn-it-all.
And so I’m gonna also talk to my faculty colleagues,
but I’m gonna blame you.
And then finally I really like this concept
of work/life presence.
So Yamini, thank you.
I just feel like you’re this beautiful beacon
of leadership light.
And I really appreciate that.
Thanks for investing EGA, and personally,
and for being what we’re out here doing.
This is an equity fluent leader right here.
So just so beautiful to see what we talk about
actually personified in your leadership.
- Oh thank you for having me.
Such a pleasure.
Thank you so much.
I have Defining Principles wine for you.
This is for your students always,.
and just thank you for everything.
(speaking faintly off mic)
- So thanks for being here
and we’ll see you at the next EGA event.
We really appreciate you showing up
and I know you don’t wanna talk to me,
so I’m gonna move and let you wanna talk to her.