Jeff Willinger, MVP, JWILLE Partners interviews Heather Newman, MVP, Content Panda, USA
What a beautiful day here in Prague Czech Republic and I am super excited to be here on the floor of ESPC19 also known as the European SharePoint Office 365 and Azure Conference live from Czech Republic it’s Jeff and Heather. I am thrilled to have Heather Newman here Heather is my neighbour in California which is pretty cool beautiful Venice and Marina del Rey and I think we see each other we see each other more when we’re out of town than we are when we’re actually in town. That it’s kind of true yes, we do that’s alright we’re working on it. And Heather and I have go way back I would say about 10 years or so you were working at an AvePoint at the time actually what was the one before AvePoint well that was your first foray into the SharePoint. I spent the 10 years before that working for the SharePoint marketing team running logistics an event for Microsoft. Ok that’s right okay that’s where I met you then you went to AvePoint. Yeah absolutely. So, but you know nowadays Heather is known for more than putting on events, Heather having three daughters myself and I’ve known you for quite some time now I look at you as someone that would be a mentor for one of my daughters. I know you’ve got a number of different things that you’re working on but especially at this conference you and Karuana did a session on diversity and inclusion and I’ve always been not fascinated by it but a big proponent of it tell me why and I know the way you are you’re so passionate it why is this why you still passionate about diversity and inclusion? Uh it’s because it’s about humans and all of us and all the things that we bring to the table and diversity and inclusion plus belonging on the end of it making sure we all feel like we belong dibbs Karuana taught me that after we talked about diversity inclusion together for the first time and she’s like and belonging and I was like oh my goodness yes so that acronym of dibs. Um it’s important to me because I really want people to have a voice all of us to have a voice and to be respected and really engaged for all the different things that we are and I think that in our tech community over the last 18 years I’ve just seen such goodness around people wanting to give opportunities to folks and especially for women and for people of colour and looking at our LGBTQ communities and all of that and really understanding everybody’s story is different and everybody has something kind of behind their smiling eyes that they’re dealing with at any given moment and I think having these conversations that open us up and help us with what I like to call power skills some people call soft skills I call them Power skills so it’s communication and conflict resolution and leadership and networking and mentoring and all those sorts of things so I’m really passionate about one learning about those things all the time and also teaching about those things ESPC definitely has been a leader in bringing this kind of programming and many of our third party events have has as well you know and we started with women in tech lunch a few years ago I believe that was 2015 I was the first keynote for that and that was fantastic and I’ve done that twice and Karuana was a keynote and Donna Sakaar as well and we’ve got Miri coming in and now you know Tracy a couple of years ago we Oh Tracy’s first of all and Shane and all darling and you know all of the folks here at this event and Eamonn as well give him a shout out have always really put this sort of programming into the thought process and so a couple of years ago we said hey you know can we not only do the lunch but can we you know open up and the umbrella not just for women in tech which everybody has always been invited to that as well and you know Jeff came Jeff Teper came and you know men can come to it as well. I wondering about it because I know there’s a lunch today and I wasn’t sure. Absolutely everybody’s invited for your blue glasses slide right in. Well and so we’ve brought that programming into the main sessions and so like so Karuana Gatimu and I yesterday gave a session on leadership today we’re doing one on networking and then tomorrow we’re doing one on mentoring. So, every day at 2 o’clock there’s a session that’s awesome in that vein which is awesome. Yeah hats off to Tracy and her crew recognizing that again having three daughters yeah I think that we just don’t think about it, but you’re such an evangelist for you know equal rights is not the right thing I mean equal rights I wasn’t sure that was the right terminology or if that was old-school. It seems old but it’s really equal rights is old equal rights is something that we’ve been fighting for a hundred years equal rights in the US Constitution has not yet happened so. Equal pay yeah, I mean the US open finally ah and Wimbledon as well yeah or paying the same exact check the first place and second place same exact for the men and women sure it’s amazing. Yeah I mean I think that’s talking about I mean terminology sort of changes but it also is historical right so equal rights equal rights amendment those are things that are specific to say the US Constitution that we’re still wanting to have happen and we’re closer than ever actually with some new legislation and also the state of Illinois ratifying as well. So I could go into like a whole discussion about that but we won’t do that right now but the other thing is that the gender there is the gender pay gap and I think those things are changing because there’s a lot of movement that’s been happening on the shoulders of many giants of trying to move those needles forward and one of those needles is having these conversations during technical conferences where we allow people to dip into the other conversations on mental health and wellness and mindfulness and being a good leader and all of that stuff which is super important because we’re humans first humans of tech humans in tech and that’s really exciting time. I like that you know I never really thought about it in that vein when I think about women and technology, I think about you know to me a woman that is in technology actually has an advantage over a guy that’s in technology. Explain. Yeah people look at this crowd I would say it’s 80/90 percent men yeah men in general would prefer to do business depending upon what type of man the typical man I see the way the men are and they’d like to talk to women so I think that a woman that is in technology that could walk the talk has a great chance of being successful. I mean I think that there’s yeah I think the thing is though is that you know women don’t always and haven’t always been allowed to share ideas or be a part of a team or just because men like talking to women doesn’t mean they listen to them or take their you know their decisions as something that should be pushed forward so I feel like there’s a lot of struggle around that where you know there’s boys clubs and there’s they know a lot. Sure, that the bros culture I absolutely despise it. I mean what can we do you know the we work so the world the you know some of these other companies uber we’re aware of it okay it’s very public I mean it’s a never-ending battle and we just have to fight the good fight for equal.
I mean I think that here’s the thing to me being a good person starts with us as individuals you know and so it’s how it’s like the Golden Rule it’s like do unto others as they do unto you right and that and it shouldn’t matter gender religion you know race whatever you know it’s that we should treat each other with respect equality and all of that. So, the thing is that we live in a patriarchal grid and we have for a very long time and so there’s individual choices to be made by businesses and managers and people who have power to be an example. We talked about that yesterday in our leadership about leading by example meaning that what you do is watched by everybody on your team and they will mimic just like a child mimics it’s parent and their behaviour similarly that’s what happens in businesses and so when you have you know leadership that is toxic or isn’t doesn’t listen or those sorts of things the rest of the company will think that that behaviour is okay. So it to me it this is all on an individual basis of how do we treat people and how do we want to be treated and sometimes you need to push a little bit to say they wait a minute that is not okay and this is why and explain it and once you explain it sometimes people can go oh wait a minute I didn’t even realize that I was doing that right because we get ingrained with how it’s been done in the past it’s the story of the pot roast you know this the pot roast. No I don’t know okay so there’s a pot roast right and the gran of the mom and the daughter are there and they’re making a pot roast and they take the pot roast and they slice off an end of it and they stick one piece in one pan and one in another right and they put it in the oven and they’re like why do you the daughter is like why do we do it like that and the moms like I don’t know we’ve always done it like that and the grandma goes well my oven wasn’t big enough for the whole thing but the whole thing right and so instead of just cooking a pot roast because you got a bigger oven you’re still doing it like somebody did it in the old day right so we need to look at how we do things and say hey wait a minute maybe we should think differently you know. Right well the old adage if you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got same result same exact result.
Well thanks Heather you’re welcome this has been a little slice of heaven for me always great catching up with you we’re on the super bustling floor here of ESPC 19 the European SharePoint office 365 and Azure conference and this Jeff Willinger J Willie on Twitter signing off for right now. Bye everybody have a great day.