Kristen Robinson and Elissa Murphy Highlight the Value of Community at Women in Tech’s 2013 Kickoff

Elissa Murphy speaks to the audience at WIT's kickoff event
Women in Tech was thrilled to have Kristen Robinson, SVP of Human Resources, as the keynote speaker at our 2013 kickoff event. We were also excited to hear from our executive sponsor Elissa Murphy, VP of Engineering Cloud Engineering Group, who joined forces with Kristen for a fun, informal Q&A session that attendees found very engaging.

The event began with over 50 women settling in with delicious catered snacks and getting to know those sharing the tables with them. Co-presidents Kim Capps-Tanaka and Tabitha Paturi kicked things off by giving a brief overview of Women in Tech, took a look back at WIT’S 2012 successes, and looked forward at what WIT has in store for 2013. Events to look forward to include more Let’s Do Lunch‘s, speed mentoring, a wine and chocolate social, and the annual Grace Hopper Conference.

Next we heard from our executive sponsor Elissa Murphy. She’s been an enthusiastic, always present supporter and we are always thrilled to have her attend events. She started off reminding people of the importance and value of having a mentor, and then brought Kristen up to join her for an informal Q&A which covered a variety of topics.

  • “Reverse mentoring” – Elissa pointed out that mentoring partnerships are just as valuable for the mentors as they are for the mentees, and she has learned a lot from being a mentor. It’s important to remember that a mentor doesn’t always have to be someone older or higher in rank than you – learning from younger generations can provide fresh perspectives in times where you’re moving very quickly, as Yahoo! strives to do.
  • How do I find a mentor? – Find someone you already have a rapport with and ask if they would like to give you some of their time to mentor you. It’s important to be sensitive to workload and schedules, but overall people are very willing and generous with their time.
  • Having a “Lean in Circle” at Yahoo! – Regina Wallace-Jones and Cindy OwYoung are working on getting one going here at Yahoo! so stay tuned for more information.
  • Work From Home – Kristen was asked to share her insights on the topic of working from home, and she echoed Marissa’s statements about this decision being the best move for Yahoo! right now, and for teams to continue using their best judgment when it comes to WFH needs. It’s important to be visible and be part of the conversations and collaborations that go on here on campus, especially when we want to move fast and iterate quickly.

Kristen Robinson was up next to discuss the value of working in a great environment and having a community that you feel a part of.

  • Kristen described Yahoo! as a special place, and it was the excitement, vibe and friendliness that drew her here from the beginning.
  • Yahoo! already has an amazing community, and Women in Tech is an opportunity to make that community more personal and tangible as we are a smaller community that is there for each other, but still a part of the larger Yahoo! dynamic.
  • “Ment-working” – think about a network of mentors rather than just a 1-on-1 relationship. This allows us to build on a variety of skillsets and learn from a wide array of people.
  • “You get so much more if you give”
    • Try to be interested and not just interesting
    • Think about the strengths that you can bring to the table
    • Keith Ferrazzi – author best known for his books Never Eat Alone andWho’s Got Your Back – focuses on the importance of building relationships to power growth.
    • Building relationships is a skill you can take anywhere in both your career and personal life.

Kristen’s inspiring talk about the importance of “ment-working” and relationship building was the perfect segue into our networking activity. Groups of three got together to meet each other and brainstorm steps they could take towards their own career visions and creating a personal mission statement.

The event concluded with a raffle that included fun prizes such as mouse pads, travel mugs, and yodel buttons. Attendees were thrilled to receive purple swag!

Our annual kick-off event was a huge success and we are excited to continue to provide fun, inspiring events all year long. We enjoy watching our community grow each year as we strive to make Yahoo! the absolute best place to work.