Sasha Casas: Sasha Casas here with Holly Grey, our vice president of Finance, talking Women in Tech Leadership. Holly, in your perspective, what are the benefits of having a diverse team and workforce?
Holly Grey: There are many benefits to having a diverse workforce. I think diversity can come in many forms. It can come in gender, it can come in your personal background, it can come in subject matter/area of expertise. For instance, I bring in a finance view to the table. Someone else is going to bring in engineering, R&D. Even within my own group, depending on what your subject matter expertise is, you’re bringing in that different, more focused view. The more diversity you have around the table, the more different points of view you’re going to have, and that helps you come up with the best collective answer. I’ll provide my insights and someone else will say, “Yes but did you think about it from this perspective?” You can have great dialogue and will inevitably come out with an answer that’s a blend where everybody has a little bit of influence. The more points of view you can have, the better off you are.
Sasha: What communication advice would you give?
Holly: The best communication advice I’ve gotten in my career is know your audience. In my role, I speak to a wide spectrum of people. It could be the board, it could be executive staff, peers and other functions. If your audience has some background knowledge, you don’t have to explain to them in detail: just give the answer. And if there’s something that causes them to pause, you can always add more context. If you’ve already gone on for a while, it’s hard to retract. Put yourself in the person’s seat that you’re speaking to. What would they want to know, is your detailed PowerPoint necessary? It can be hard because a lot of times we’re moving so fast, you just want to give the information, but definitely take that pause to say, “Hang on, is this too much to articulate?” Knowing your audience helps you get your point across in the most efficient way possible.
Sasha: What’s your take on the importance of corporate culture?
Holly: It’s super important. Sadly, and I mean this in a positive way, we spend more time at work than we do at home. My personal view, and I say this to my team as well, if you’re not happy coming to work or you don’t think you can laugh once a day, please come see me. That’s a sad state of reality if you feel like you’re getting out of bed Monday through Friday and just dread going to work. What’s important to me is building personal relationships. I don’t mean going out for beers every night; it’s generally caring about your team. Inevitably, you’re going to go through different life ventures. People get sick, parents, relatives pass away, etc. And I’ve found multiple times in my career that when you build those personal relationships and something important happens, you don’t even have to ask, everybody just rallies because everybody has each other’s backs. It doesn’t have to be a life-changing event. Even for us here at ForeScout, we’re a high-tech company so quarter end tends to be a little chaotic. I’ve found with our peers across the organizations, they absolutely come and rally with us. We get a bunch of people who fly in, help coordinate, and it’s throughout those last couple days when the heat’s really on. People are asking “what can I do to take this off your plate, how can we get things going faster?” A big part of that is the positive culture and the camaraderie that we’ve built across the company enables that team approach.
Sasha: You’ve also mentioned giving accolades in the quiet hum of standard business.
Holly: Unfortunately, in business, we tend to highlight things that go wrong. That’s hard because, generally speaking, 99% is going right. So, the focus on the 1% that’s going wrong can be really demoralizing.
Sasha: It’s like cybersecurity, you only hear about it when there’s a breach.
Holly: Exactly! So, if 99% of the time, we’re stopping breaches, that’s awesome. You have those big events that get notoriety. For us, specifically to my function, an IPO or something like that. It’s easy to recognize team members who go above and beyond in those circumstances. But it’s the simpler things: like twice a month looking at your bank account and payroll’s deposited again! That’s something hugely impactful for everybody but something, candidly, I don’t want to be talking about. Because if I’m not talking about it, that means it’s going smoothly. But that doesn’t mean that that team shouldn’t get accolades. I try to do it, I probably don’t do as good of a job, so payroll: awesome job! People who are behind-the-scenes, in every function, need to hear they’re crushing it. As a manager it’s important to call that out and say, “Guys, great job doing your job.”
Sasha: You and your wife have an adorable 19-month-old, Samantha. How do you balance it all?
Holly: It is hard at times. Pedro Abreu, our CSO here, one time said to me, “It’s like juggling. Make sure you know what the glass balls are and what the plastic balls are. The glass ones you can’t drop.” That, honestly, is what life as a working parent feels like. I’ve had really hard jobs and hands down being a parent is the hardest job. It’s the most rewarding job, but it’s really hard. When I’m at work, I try to be focused on work. I’ve made some changes in my schedule because it’s important to me that I do see her every day. There’s been a handful of times when I’ve left in the morning and I’ve come home and she’s already in bed, and that mom guilt just eats at me. But I’ve tried to adapt my schedule, and I recognize that I’m fortunate that I can do that. And when I’m home and with her, I try really hard to focus on her. Let’s play, let’s have some dinner, and then she goes down, and we joke that’s when professional Holly will come back out and I’ll get my work done. The best advice I can give to a working parent is to try not to let the guilt eat at you. You make your decision to focus on X and be all in, and then focus on Y and be all in. Does it sometimes blend where I have the laptop on the sofa with Sesame Street in the background? Absolutely. But you have to say, I’m doing the best I can and I’m not going to be able to satisfy everybody 100% of the time. So whatever decision I’ve made, full speed ahead and don’t look back. You can’t change the past, all you can focus on is the present and the future, and do the best job that you can.
Sasha: That’s great advice. Thank you so much for joining us today.