Berkeley Haas - Dean's Speaker Series/AmpEquity Speaker Series | Yamini Rangan, MBA 03, CEO, HubSpot

  • 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–


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.

Thanks everyone.

(audience applauding)

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.

  • [Yamini] Yes.

  • And what are you doing?

What are you, what’s like, Hey, what’s up?

Can you be the CEO?

(overlapping discussion)


  • 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.

  • Wow.

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.


(overlapping discussion)

Thank you.

  • 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.

  • [Yamini] Yes.

  • 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.

  • Yep.

  • 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.

  • [Yamini] Yes.

  • Both men and women have it,

but the research shows that imposter syndrome

is often highest when you just get a promotion

or recognition.

  • Yes.

  • 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.

  • Yes.

  • But what did your son say?

  • Oh, he was like, go for it, mommy.


(overlapping discussion)

  • How old is he, I have a daughter.

  • 15.

  • 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.

  • Yes.

  • 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.

  • [Yamini] Yeah.

  • 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.

  • [Yamini] Yes.

  • 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.

  • That’s right.

  • 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,

(overlapping discussion)

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.

  • Absolutely.

  • Yes, hello.

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?

  • Yeah.

  • [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.

  • Hi, Yamini.

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.

  • [Yamini] Yeah.

  • 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.

  • [Yamini] Yeah.

  • 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.

  • [Yamini] Yes.

  • 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?


(overlapping discussion)

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.

They’re leaving–

  • [Yamini] Absolutely true.

  • So I like that.

Sorry, sorry.

  • 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,

motivated employees.

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?

(speaking faintly)

  • 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.

Thank you.

  • I like the context, switching.

  • Yeah.

  • 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.

  • Thank you.

  • 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.

  • Oh, wonderful.

(speaking faintly)

Thank you.

This is for your students always,.

and just thank you for everything.

Appreciate it.

(audience applauding)

(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.

(ambient chatter)

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