LIFECHAT WITH PATTY HATTER – KEY TAKEAWAYS:
On being a woman in a male-dominated industry:
- Don’t let yourself get into a place where you’re never moving because you’re never quite ready. You must have confidence and an “I can figure this out, I’ll adapt” mentality.
- Be confident in explaining why you are the best possible candidate for something.
- Build relationships with the rest of the leadership team, relate to what their challenges are, provide value to the organization, and have strong opinions.
On leadership and building a culture of innovation:
- It’s easiest to make the biggest change when the organization has the mentality that real change is necessary.
- Nothing lasts forever, and the only way to drive that kind of culture in an organization is if the leader is willing to accept and drive that themselves.
- Having diverse teams, from different backgrounds, with different functional experiences, will sustain innovation.
LIFECHAT WITH PATTY HATTER:
The title of your keynote address at the 2015 IEEE Women in Engineering Conference was, Life Begins at the End of Your Comfort Zone. What does this mean to you, and how do you encourage people on your team to push past their comfort zone?
I think that, for the most part, males and females react differently when managing new opportunities and challenges at work. Many women look at the required skills of a new role, and, if there is even one skill out of ten that they don’t feel qualified for, most women will self-select out of that opportunity. They are not even considering, “this is what I can bring to the table” or “this is what I do have that makes me highly qualified for this position”. It is a very analytical process, and for the average technical female in this field, it can get highly labor intensive. What I see women doing much more than men is thinking that they need go out and get another degree or another certification and then, in a year or two, they’d be the perfect candidate with all ten of those required skills. At that point, the world has moved on and the opportunity is missed. With this way of thinking, you risk getting into a very circular, “I’m never moving because I’m never quite ready” situation which you have created yourself. Whereas with most men – and mind you, this is just the average, there are exceptions – if a man looked at the same list of ten qualifications and he had only two, he most likely would think, “I’m in! I have two of ten, and I am the perfect candidate.” The difference between the two is a certain level of confidence and a “let’s give it a try and I’ll adapt – I can figure it out” mentality.
My main encouragement for women to push past their comfort zone is to make them aware that they have to be flexible in their thought process. They need to have confidence that they have the necessary qualifications to take risks and embrace new opportunities. They have the competency to figure things out and to learn as they go, without constant second guessing. Women must be willing to take risks and know that they are smart. I say to them, “You wouldn’t have gotten through the schooling that you did or the companies which you’ve succeeded in without being smart. Have that faith and keep pushing forward. See the glass-half-full instead of half-empty; focus on your strengths. Ask for different roles so that you can flex different muscles with your skills. You have to be willing to take that plunge. Ask for those roles. Be confident in explaining why you are the best possible candidate.”
You are one to make spur of the moment, big decisions, versus thinking too much about an opportunity. An example is when you accepted another job opportunity in London within 10 minutes of meeting with a senior executive in Brussels. What type of questions do you ask yourself during these moments?
I feel that I can assess people and situations rather quickly. Within the first few minutes of conversation with him, I certainly knew that this particular senior executive was a successful man with a good reputation and that the opportunity he presented most definitely made good business sense to me. I simply knew it.
I also have a good sense about knowing which business situations are a good stretch for me. I ask myself if someone is saying “this is what I see”, and are they walking down a path similar to my view of how the pieces should fit together in a given business situation? If what they’re saying syncs with what I think, and trust to be true, it makes me comfortable in making those decisions very quickly. This synergy and trust gives me confidence when making what otherwise would seem to be very hasty career decisions.
Thinking through how I fit into the evolving business which I’m in is also a huge factor. In making decisions I need to think through the bigger picture. How is the market moving? What are others doing that is working and not working within this area? How is this organization evolving? Since I come from a place of having a pretty strong world view of the business that I’m in, I feel pretty confident that I can think through this process rather quickly. This makes for an easier place to think through or to weigh the pros and cons of any given opportunity. I think it’s good not just for females but for everybody, in every role, and every situation, to think about how they fit that into the bigger picture. It changes your perception and makes you much more accessible for new opportunities.
So your career has taken a non-traditional path. Is there a common leadership trait that you think helped you succeed?
I think that the core thing for me is to be able to work from a blank sheet of paper and to figure something out. What makes business sense and how am I going to get there? Every role that I’ve had has either been a blank sheet of paper or a major transformation – there was something there, but also something very broken. Either way, it was up to me to figure it out.
I would say those are two key skills of mine: knowing how to assess a situation – the resource needs and people needs – and then to find a way to just get on with it. Figure it out. Willingly jump into an opportunity and make the best of it – knowing that I have what it takes and I will learn and adapt along the way. I have to get rid of the fear and just keep going.
Does the culture of an organization make it easier to work from a blank sheet of paper?
I think if you’re doing something from a blank sheet of paper which an organization has handed you, the organization is trying to start something brand new. That would imply that they must be supportive of change. But, shifting organizational culture can be tricky. You want to assess the level of support before deciding and going into the change process. Not every organization feels comfortable starting new businesses and doing new things.
I find it easiest to make the biggest change when the organization has the mentality that real change is necessary. If their consensus or view is that it’s just a little broken, it’s going to be hard to be successful at creating a really big change program. Human nature is strong and if people don’t believe there’s enough of an issue, they’re not going to want to put in the energy and effort to create something truly different.
You’ve been identified as a game-changer. What does it take to build and sustain a culture of innovation and how do you encourage your team to innovate and keep driving new ideas?
A culture of change is challenging to create especially if you’ve done it already. After the first four years at McAfee, prior to our integration with Intel, we had gotten to a really good place. Operations had grown much stronger, IT had become an enabler for the business and not something that’s holding the business back, so we had some basic building blocks in place. Driving employee engagement was one of the first things we did that was key to the improvement within operations and IT. One of the first things that we did was have the belief that you’re not going to have a great organization if your employees don’t want to be there. We had worked out a great program with HR that engaged employees at all levels. It allowed them to provide their input and drive their solutions forward such that they really felt they were driving how the organization was shaped. That made a world of a difference. These were programs I had personally driven into the organization and I had seen them work well. But even after three and a half years of a good idea, the good idea gets old. And it was a personal epiphany of, okay, even in driving an ongoing transformation, I have to be the first one willing to admit that we have got to blow up some of the programs that we have that helped get us here to begin with. Nothing lasts forever, and the only way to drive that kind of culture in an organization is if the leader is willing to accept and drive that themselves. Having diverse teams, from different backgrounds, with different functional experiences, those are going to be the teams that can sustain innovation because they’re inherently coming to the table with different points of view, different past experiences, and that is a necessary catalyst in keeping transformation going in an organization longer term.
Was there a time in your career when you felt marginalized, and if so, how did you build your credibility as a woman in an industry that is predominantly male?
There’s definitely fewer women in technology. You get used to dealing with it because that’s actually the norm that you’ve lived with. When I first got to McAfee, it was very male oriented. It didn’t strike me as strange because that’s just what I’ve been used to. You have to find a way to build relationships with the rest of the leadership team, find ways to relate to what their challenges are, find ways to provide value to the organization, and have strong opinions. No matter what’s going on in the senior leadership meetings, you have to have a point of view, and be confident. You have to state your opinion.
Where I sit with IT within Intel, I’ve seen this strong trend around Cloud for the past few years and how it’s fundamentally changing the enterprise architecture of our companies. And from a security point of view, we have to deal with that reality, because it’s fundamentally different from how companies were architected five years ago. I started talking about this at our President’s leadership meetings; I wanted to make sure we were adapting and not missing this fast-moving train. However, it wasn’t the most popular topic because it was different than what we had done in the past. Other females may have been dissuaded from continuing to bring this up when there wasn’t any agreement about it, but since I’m wildly persistent, I kept talking about it and eventually garnered a reputation for being able to move any conversation toward it. It became the running joke that “here we go again, Patty’s going to talk about Cloud”. Over time, the leadership team came around. This really boosted my personal credibility, because I really believed in what I was advocating for. The power of conviction is very important. You may have to highlight the importance of your view over and over until everybody gets it. You need to have your view and if you feel you belong at the boardroom table, you need to have a point of view worthy of that group.
What other leadership mantras do you live by?
Transparency. You can say the words but if your actions don’t line up there’s no point. If you bring a challenge, if you know something is wrong and you do not say anything, that’s when you’ll see my wrath. That’s when it becomes harder to fix and it becomes a bigger issue.
What would you tell your 20-something year old self, graduating from Carnegie Mellon University today?
I was very fortunate because I grew up with my mom telling me that I could do anything. So, for others that didn’t have that luxury, I would tell them: “You can do anything”. So, take every opportunity, learn everything that you can, and don’t be afraid.
FULL BIOGRAPHY OF PATTY HATTER:
Patty Hatter is responsible for innovating and executing a sustainable transformation of Intel Security’s operational processes and infrastructure across the global organization. As CIO, Hatter is responsible for driving cross-functional partnerships to accelerate delivery of strategic business priorities that impact bottom line profitability. Focused on driving world-class operational effectiveness and scalability, Hatter leads all facets of Intel Security’s ongoing transactional business and shared services, as well as IT, risk and compliance, and M&A integration.
Hatter joined the company with more than 20 years of experience leading a wide range of operations at Fortune 500 companies in the high tech, telecommunications, financial services, and healthcare industries. She was previously vice president of business operations at Cisco where she dually reported to the heads of operations and channels, responsible for driving tighter integration and improved productivity and performance between Cisco and the channel partners. Hatter was cited as a “game-changer” by partners and industry analysts alike. As vice president of quote to cash at Cisco, Hatter also led a renowned transformation of their global processes and systems infrastructure. Overall, her team’s efforts helped to enable and support Cisco’s growth and scalability as net sales grew from $22 billion in 2004 to $40 billion in 2010 during her tenure. Prior to Cisco, Hatter spent more than 15 years at AT&T where she held many executive positions in strategic planning, business development, and managing the professional services business unit within the United States and Europe.
Hatter holds both a master of science, as well as a bachelor of science in mechanical engineering from Carnegie-Mellon University. She has also attended executive education programs at Columbia University and Northwestern University. She lives in Northern California with her husband and son.