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Women Leading Digital Transformation

Join us for an inspiring panel discussion on Women Leading Digital Transformation! Our panelists come from diverse industries, but share a common mission to drive digital innovation and transformation in their respective organizations. From industrial distribution, high tech manufacturing and the travel industry, our panelists will share their experiences, insights, and best practices on navigating the rapidly changing digital landscape and leading their teams through transformative change.

Full Transcript

Lyndsey Valin: Good morning everybody. I hope you all have enjoyed Outperform so far. I don't know about you, but it's been so much energy, I'm so excited. And I'm super excited about the conversation that we're gonna have here. We have five amazing women leaders, and we're gonna dig into some of the topics that we've talked about already, disruptive technologies, transformation, but we're gonna take it at a different angle. We wanna talk about how do we do this successfully? What are some insights that we can bring from the varied experience we have from this panelists so that we can pass on to you, again, how to navigate your digital transformation successfully. So......

Terra Davies: All right, let's bring out our panel.



Terra Davies: All right, we'll kick it off with Anu, we'll have the panel introduce themselves, tell us a little bit about their organization, and then we'll dive into the questions.

Anu Varma: Anu Varma, I'm the CIO for our communications segment at TE Connectivity, and we're a manufacturing company that makes connectors, high speed cables and sensors for 10 different vertical markets. Everything from automotive to space to medical and data centers.

Angela Vargo: Hi, I'm Angela Vargo. I'm the Vice President of Marketing, Communications and Product Development for Breeze Airways. Breeze is a low cost carrier that launched actually two years ago this week. We started flying on May 27th, two years ago. And we now serve nearly 40 cities across the US in 150 routes. And this week we coined the term NLCC, which is Nice Low-Cost Carrier. So, [laughter] we're carving out our own category with Niceness. [chuckle]

Sara Vidal Walter: Hello. Good morning everyone. It's really nice to be here. And thank you for the invitation and for being, I'm Sara Freitas, I'm the Director for E-commerce and Digital in Tap Air Portugal. It's a 78 years old legacy airline, working globally over 60 markets. And we are coming out from a deep crisis, not only the one that we all know that COVID cost, but also a financial and political one, but we are coming out really good. We have presented historical results in 2022, and we are making it. And in digital we are also innovating. We are growing the share of the direct channel, which is something that we all want in this ecosystem, and it's great to be here and sharing a lot of ideas about digital transformation.

Julie Shainock: Good morning everyone. My name is Julie Shainock. I'm the Global Leader for Travel, Transport, Logistics and Hospitality at Microsoft. I think everyone knows Microsoft. I sit on what we call the enterprise commercial side, and I deal with where all the industries within Microsoft sit. And I'm part of what we call the manufacturing and sit on the mobility side and think about... Our theme is really around the movement of people and goods. So thank you for having me today.

Amanda Kirchner-Bulatek: Morning everyone. Amanda Kirchner-Bulatek. I am the Director of Pricing Solutions at Wesco. Wesco is a leading distributor supporting the global market. We distribute into three main verticals, the utility and broadband solution space, Datacom communications and security, as well as an electrical and lighting market, many verticals below that. Wesco just last year celebrated our hundredth year in the industry. Through that you can imagine transformation all along the way. Very notable with Outperform with PROS, one of our taglines is Ingenuity Delivered, so we are always striving to innovate and kind of re-perform and outperform our direction of our organization. So happy to be here and thank you PROS for having me.

Lyndsey Valin: Yeah, thanks ladies. Super excited for this conversation. So let's kick off. Anu, I wanna start with you. I know you shared a little bit about your transformation with us yesterday on the main stage. And as we talk about how to navigate change, how to navigate this digital transformation, vision is so important. So tell us a little bit about your why and your vision at TE Connectivity.

Anu Varma: Yeah, as we talked yesterday, things have been so volatile and they will continue to be. This may be the new normal. I think everybody keeps talking about when things normalize. I'm like, we may be here, and maybe we need to accept this, and as we look at what's ahead of us and the agility and the flexibility with which we need to respond, we can't do it the way that we have been doing it. With people powered, and it's just incredible to me that as a $16 billion company, we have been as successful as we have been. And it's a comment about our people because they have brought us this far, without really the tools that they need. And so this is our time, but we're not looking at this just as an implementation of a tool. We're looking at this as an opportunity for transformation.

Anu Varma: So as we look at bringing in new tools, we've just implemented guidance, some of the transactional work is gone, and we really will need to uplift and upgrade our talent, upskill our talent on really understanding the best pricing methodologies, the best practices and processes. So we have a very holistic approach of people, process and technology. And I know that everybody says that, but we are actually doing it. We have a community of pricing council leaders. One of them is sitting right here who is designing a pricing transformation training. And we've got the beginner, the kind of the apprentice work and then the experts and different levels of training that we're doing. And that's going in parallel to us taking on a technology product implementation. And so when it comes together, we're really gonna be looking at a full transformation. So it's very exciting and I think our pricing leaders and our community is excited about the ability to be more responsive and the ability to make better decisions, right? So we're thrilled. It's... From a CIO perspective, this is what we want. It's not about the delivering of the technology. That's not the answer. The answer is the transformation. It's people, process, data and technology. Yep.

Lyndsey Valin: I love that. Anu and I work quite closely together, we have for a little more than a year now. But one thing you talk about is how IT needs to be a business leader, right?

Anu Varma: Mm-hmm.

Lyndsey Valin: This really needs to be a intersection between IT and the business, and I think that's very powerful.

Anu Varma: Yeah, absolutely. I think, you know, I always say that just like the finance, CFO sits at the table, they're business leaders with finance expertise, we have the opportunity to sit at the table and be business leaders with IT expertise.

Lyndsey Valin: Awesome. So I'm gonna change directions a bit and go to Julie here. So for Microsoft, your transformation kind of exposure, experience is a little bit different because I'm sure there's transformation inside Microsoft, but your role is really helping other customers navigate that transformation. So what are some of the other themes that you're seeing from the customers about their why? Why is digital transformation so important to customers today?

Julie Shainock: And you're absolutely correct, there is a lot of transformation taking place within Microsoft, and we look at it as a journey. So it's led by Satya and entire leadership team there. But all the customers today are talking to us about... When we look at digital transformation, they're talking about data. And there's lots of silos of data out there. How do you use both first party, third party data integrated together? And then also it's all around customer experience. And as you look at the travel industry, it's not just one touchpoint, but it's the entire... All the different touchpoints of the journey itself. So it's knitting the data together so that you can then draw the right insights. And then looking at how do you monetize and create that true experience? And we look at... As you're looking to monetize data, we're looking at gamification, macro and micro transformation with gamification. So certainly think about, we have a gaming group. And so we look at that because you're looking at every single gamer in that environment. And then we're utilizing that kind of data and transforming that into the overall end-to-end customer experience.

Julie Shainock: The other piece that we start to look at is... Certainly, the pandemic taught us a lot of different things, especially as you look at the travel industry. And I was traveling during the pandemic as well. Going over to Europe and making sure I had all the right... My vaccination card and all the different things that you had to fill out. So I think the other piece is also looking at this whole decentralized digital identity and how do you opt in with yourself and your own data into other areas, whether it's an airline, a hotel, but the various touchpoints along the journey as well. And then the other... The last thing would be really around the sharing of data. So look at the various ecosystems that you have out there, and it's sharing the data amongst the different ecosystems, drawing the insights in a very responsible way. Obviously, GDPR compliant. So those are the things that we're talking to customers about around not only data, but the whole customer experience area.

Lyndsey Valin: I love that. And I love that you mentioned gamification. I think maybe we'll talk about that a bit later when we talk about adoption, 'cause that's something that's super powerful when you think about how you get your employees to adopt new technologies.

Terra Davies: Great. So we'll move to Angela. First, let me congratulate you on your second birthday for Breeze Airways. I would love for you to just talk to the audience and tell us what it was like to start an airline during the pandemic and...

Angela Vargo: Great.

Terra Davies: And how you have sort of overcome a lot of the established airline process. I think I've used the word antiquated, but we'll call it established airline process and have implemented your digital first strategy?

Angela Vargo: Yeah. It was a total breeze. Just kidding.


Angela Vargo: It was chaos, complete chaos, and has been for two years. And I think because of that Breeze is actually pretty uniquely positioned to survive and thrive in a post pandemic world because we built this thing largely over Microsoft Teams. I didn't meet a lot of my team in person until we were actually going for sale. And we started selling tickets on the 21st, we started flying six days later, so it was the shortest sales window in the history of ever.


Angela Vargo: And then we launched 16 markets in six weeks, and we haven't stopped since. And so... Then you layer on supply chain challenges. We're taking on 80 Airbuses, and you take on pilot shortages, and you take on Omicron, you take on Hurricane Ida, and you take on a lot of the challenges that hit this industry. And there's never a dull moment, as we all know. But the one thing that Breeze has really been focused on from the very beginning is, you don't get an opportunity to do a clean sheet airline very often. And so when you do, you have to really be mindful and very, very picky about who you partner with and what you build your strategy on top of. Ours has been very technology first, we do not have a call center. You cannot pick up a phone and call Breeze. And we got some backlash for that. But I'll tell you, the pandemic actually helped us out there because where a lot of people may have been a little bit hesitant on technology, we all became digital natives, even our grandparents because we were forced to order groceries online. So it really accelerated the adoption across every generation. And so, although we do see people who wanna pick up the phone and call us, and I don't know why you wanna sit on hold for four hours, but maybe you guys should put together hold music so they can like listen to it online.


Angela Vargo: I don't know. But we have people that sit in their homes in Provo, Utah, and they chat with them. So these aren't bots, these are people, and we handle their situations then, but the whole purpose of Breeze isn't even to use that. The whole purpose of Breeze is for the airline to be in the palm of your hand. So everything, 99% of what you need to do is right there. And you don't have to deal with the person. The only reason that the person's there is to help make sure you have a great experience. So it doesn't eliminate the need for people, it gives people a purpose. And so we are really leaning into this whole idea of our tagline, Seriously Nice. And what that means for technology in our business practices, at Breeze you don't have change your cancellation fees after 15 minutes prior to departure, you retain your credits for 24 months. We have free family seating, we have affordable fares. We fly nonstop between underserved markets, so you're not connecting through a hub. And we have really slick, really fast, but very simple technology. We are not in this game to give you the world, we are in this game to give you just what you need to get you on your way and to give you a great experience. And the technology is a heavy lift part of that.

Terra Davies: Great, thank you. If I could just ask a follow-up question to Angela. When we first met, we talked about how Breeze was changing some of the things we're used to seeing in the airline industry and you have a catchphrase that I can't get out of my head, and I've told anybody who'll talk to me about it. It's you have a dysfunctional relationship with your airline, and can you just walk us through what that means?

Angela Vargo: Yeah. No, you're all in a dysfunctional relationship.


Angela Vargo: So, they'll come to you and say, we really love you and, you know, if you'll just fly one more time. We're gonna give you all of this stuff. And you're like, oh, I don't know. And then you do it because you're just... It's hard to turn away from it. And then you're like number 17 on the upgrade list, right?


Angela Vargo: And somehow you just keep coming back for more. We have not built a loyalty program yet because we are being very deliberate about how we think about it. We are thinking about it in reverse. So where airlines have made you tether yourself to them, we wanna tether ourselves to the person. So that comes with personalization, that comes with data. And that comes with not creating frequent flyers, but frequent DIYers and frequent hikers and going where they are in their life, and when they're not flying with us. And so we're really thinking about it all in reverse. We are thinking about currency and the future of currency. And by the way, it's not NFTs, it's digital collectibles. Just so you know, NFTs are a bad word. And we are throwing it all in there 'cause at this point, why not, right? I mean, again, if you were given an airline and just said, go build it, you would probably do things very different than they've been done in the past.

Lyndsey Valin: Thank you. Awesome. Super exciting stuff, Amanda.

Amanda Kirchner-Bulatek: Yeah.

Lyndsey Valin: I'm learning so much about...

Amanda Kirchner-Bulatek: Reevaluating all your relationships.

Lyndsey Valin: Yeah that's a lot.

Angela Vargo: Yeah. Reevaluate relationships. That's right.


Angela Vargo: Without the negativity.

Lyndsey Valin: I'd like to talk to Amanda a bit. So Amanda from Wesco has really led multiple transformations with PROS, from moving to the cloud to the adoption of AI and guidance. And you've done that over multiple years, right? Multiple phases, and what are some of the challenges you faced during that journey and what are some of the ways that you've really overcome, again, getting people excited about those transformations, comfortable with those transformations?

Amanda Kirchner-Bulatek: Comfortable is a good word. So I didn't solely lead it, right? I have an IT counterpart who's in the crowd today, right? We've been in a relationship with PROS and a partnership with PROS for over almost eight years, like seven, eight. We're trying to decide what the number is. And it is just that, it's a partnership, but within our organization, it was one of our first cloud migrations. And so within that, you have a whole element of change from the integration standpoint, right? It was new to our organization data, right? How do you ingest and feed that data and build off of it? But moving to PROS AI really positioned us with guidance in a manner to scale. And we've heard that a lot in the sessions is how do you scale and leverage that opportunity?

Amanda Kirchner-Bulatek: But with PROS AI, I think we've touched on it, there's a feeling of displacement. So for our organization from the sales perspective, it says, well, what is this? Or how does this replace me? And with PROS AI and with that adoption mindset, it's really, it's not about that replacement or that dispellment. It's about how do you add a tool into our sales organization's arsenal to help arm them to deliver that best price for our customer base and the best solution in order for us to win that business. And that's really what we always continually shift the mindset. And it is that culture shift as an organization. So it starts with our leaders to help drive that down the chain, but then you really have to sell the value, which is what we would do as an airline, as a b2b, distributor, manufacturer, you have to inherently bring that value to your customer, And our sales organization is that catalyst to drive that change.

Lyndsey Valin: Yeah. And I know we've talked about that there was some time in your organization where people were a bit comfortable with the status quo or maybe a fear of too much change. And so you talked a little bit about changing that culture and how it's an ongoing exercise. So tell us a little bit about that and what are some of the things that Wesco is really doing to drive that culture change and really make it sticky, right? And make sure people are again, comfortable.

Amanda Kirchner-Bulatek: Yep. That sticky value, right? And when you go to buy something, you wanna feel that stickiness, it has to mean something to you. And so it's ongoing, Anu touched on how they're doing some pricing trainings within the organization. And we strive to do that. You wanna create that transparency, especially with AI or any sort of digital transformation. It has to be transparent to a degree for your organization. Otherwise, it's not transparent and they're uncertain and it's unclear and so you'll lose that traction of adoption. So just ongoing trainings, leaderships have to kind of walk the walk with you. And that's an ongoing exercise always.

Lyndsey Valin: Yeah. And I think we all saw hopefully yesterday the power of Gen 4 guidance and the transparency that that's bringing, right? Exciting stuff. Awesome. So I think we wanna go back to you, Julie. We've talked a lot about AI here. We've talked a lot about ChatGPT. We had some great kind of informational sessions with Michael Wu and Linda from Microsoft. And this is a technology as we've heard is disruptive. We've heard that there are people that are maybe a little bit hesitant about these types of technologies, right? And so how at Microsoft are you kind of handling that, right? And again, how do you recommend that other companies out there can, again, bring that sense of comfort when there is something that is some kind of cutting edge, so new, so, again, scary for people? Change is scary, and so how are you navigating that?

Julie Shainock: Well, there's a lot of different ways that we're navigating that. And I think it is sort of scary. And Brad Smith, who's the President of Microsoft, did a 60 Minutes exposé. And he talked about, yes, it is scary. And the one thing that they are doing is it's monitored very closely and there was one incident, I can't remember the exact issues, but everything was changed within four hours. So I think if you ask ChatGPT, how can you make a bomb? You can't ask that. It's not gonna respond to those kinds of things. There are some guardrails built into it. And I think that you have to build awareness. You have to educate people, and then you have to, in some cases, reskill people. So you've got some skills today, and maybe some of those you're gonna utilize with OpenAI, ChatGPT, and then you're gonna reskill people into other areas. The objective is not to get rid of people, but to reskill them into other areas so they're more productive, those kinds of things.

Julie Shainock: I think the other piece is this whole area around governance. I look at it as the guardrails. Microsoft does have an exclusive relationship with OpenAI, ChatGPT, and I'm gonna do an analogy around bowling. I'm terrible at bowling. So I have to use the guardrails next to me in order so I don't hit the gutter. But I like to bowl. But anyway, the point is, is that we've got guardrails built into the system and we've got responsible AI. We've got governance models. It's Aether, Aura, Rays. And so these are all different governance models that we're using within Microsoft. We've got six different tenets that are equated to those as well. So there's a lot of, I would tell you... And I think governance is very important and so there's a lot of governance built in there so that we do have the guardrails for everyone else.

Julie Shainock: And at Microsoft, so then all of this, and security. So think of that as a foundational piece from a cloud standpoint. We're definitely really... That's a very important area. So we take and integrate that into the overall platforms that we have. And then we're not using anyone's data, we're not using anyone's code. We're just doing REST API calls into the environment. And then the other thing that happens is, think every couple of months, you're gonna have 10x improvement in the overall OpenAI ChatGPT space on Azure itself. So you've got a constant, consistent improvement in the overall model, security, governance, and everything that's happening within the industry itself. So I think those are the really important things that we are looking at in order to make sure that people are comfortable with OpenAI and ChatGPT.

Lyndsey Valin: Right. And you touched on this a bit, and I think Anu and I have talked about this, and I talked with many of you yesterday, just the importance of bringing awareness to our employees, right? You all have gotten a lot of awareness around RAI, Gen 4, ChatGPT and so we have to continue to spread the information, to build the confidence and the comfort that, again, this isn't here to replace your job. It's here to give you a tool to enhance your job. Right?

Julie Shainock: Yeah, and I can give you an example of that. Just with our Copilot in Teams, you can actually attend two different meetings. You hit a follow button. So ChatGPT is gonna follow that meeting. It's gonna deliver the notes. It'll deliver tasks if you need to know what you needed to do or other people needed to do. And then if it brings up one of your customers, it can also even go into more details around the customers, and you can dive deeper into that. So just another example of how you can be in two places at once and have that information. So I think it only can help us all be more productive as we start to move forward.

Lyndsey Valin: None of us have certainly never double booked for meetings.

Julie Shainock: Oh, that's right. We're sitting on one conference call or another.

Terra Davies: Will it go to the PTA meeting?

Julie Shainock: It might, it might.

Terra Davies: Good.

Anu Varma: May I add something to this, Lyndsey?

Lyndsey Valin: Yeah.

Anu Varma: This is a lesson actually we learned from Microsoft recently. We spoke to one of your digital transformation leaders on your supply chain side, on your devices business, because we're going through our supply chain transformation as well just to learn. And I understand that you won an award recently for that, so congratulations.

Julie Shainock: Yes, we did.

Anu Varma: But one of the things that they did in their transformation was education around AI and digital. And it was a light bulb that went off in my head that this is the future. We keep talking about it. This is the future. What are we doing to educate our workforce around that? And sitting through Michael Wu's sessions the last couple of days, I've been talking about, as we're putting our training curriculum together, there is a space in there to talk about what is AI, like open up the black box so you understand it and in a way that you can trust it. It isn't a black box that we're coming in and saying, "Just trust it. Trust me, this will be good for you." Right?

Julie Shainock: Right.

Anu Varma: So I do think there's a lot about educating our workforce on this stuff.

Julie Shainock: Absolutely.

Anu Varma: And not assuming that they won't understand it. Think about the sessions that we just had with Michael Wu. You can make it so that it is consumable by all levels of audience. And now you're building up their core foundational, and then you bring in a Gen 4 and say, "Okay, remember this? This is what it is." So I think that was really good advice that we learned that we're trying to incorporate as well.

Lyndsey Valin: Absolutely. Just demystifying it, right? And again, making sure, like you said, it's not a black box for people. And that's definitely the first step in building awareness and understanding and ultimately confidence when you think about adoption.

Anu Varma: Yeah.

Terra Davies: I think AI is not just a technical transformation, but a cultural one.

Anu Varma: Absolutely.

Terra Davies: So we'll segue into Sara on that note.

Sara Vidal Walter: Oh.

Terra Davies: So...


Terra Davies: So Sara is basically a newcomer to our travel industry, so around a year. So I would love for you to talk to our group here today about the cultural change necessary in your organization, sorry. I'm very excited about this piece.


Terra Davies: Where you have to have a mind shift from selling seats to really putting the customer first. And I know you and TAP have made huge strides here, so could you walk us through some of your thinking there?

Sara Vidal Walter: Yeah. I'm the new girl on the block, or at least one of the new people on the block in this industry. I'm just completing one year with TP, but I've been working in digital for 22 years. So it's very, very interesting to see that back in early 2000s, these kind of events across industries were about, oh my god, digital will kill everything else. Digital will kill books, will kill paper, will kill meetings, everything. And there was still nothing really digitally transforming the world besides Amazon. And no one was really believing in ecommerce or in digital, but I did, and I fell in love. So my background is in marketing and management, but I fell in love with digital back then, and I've been so-called a digital transformer since then from tobacco, to publishing, to big pharma, and now travel. And it's really, really interesting to see also that this disruption started with websites, and then ecommerce, and then nothing because everything went through a big disaster and digital was almost killed. And then it came out from... Or it came up from the dust, and we've been non-stopping still since then. And now we're talking about AI and I've seen it all.


Sara Vidal Walter: So digital transformation is much more, in my opinion and from my experience, is much more about people than about technology. Technology is a need of course, it's the enabler. But what really makes all these transformation happen decade after decade and from now onwards are human beings.

Terra Davies: That's right.

Sara Vidal Walter: It's the fact that we need to take hard decisions, we need to be more efficient, we need to be truly customer centered, and that we have a consumer that is more and more demanding and digital is there, or technology is there to support all these needs. But in a company, the so-called digital transformation must start with people. So I was listening to all of you saying something that I will also mention here. That is, we need to start with education inside out, cultural transformation inside out, governance inside out. And something that I've seen that it's critical to make the change really happen in the most efficient, productive and amazing way, which is top-down support and bottom-up commitment. If there's no commitment from all of us to really drive this efficiency and this better customer service using technology, it'll never happen. So what I will always do is I ensure that me as a digital transformer, I will have for everyone involved in any sort of projects that I will be leading, that we have the support of the board or directors or whatever, then I make sure that everyone understands the why. Why are we doing this?

Terra Davies: Absolutely.

Sara Vidal Walter: Why do we need a website? Back in the early 2000, it's was all that. "Oh, we need a website." "Why?" "Because everyone has." "Okay. But why?" And I don't... You know the rule of five whys?

Terra Davies: Mm-hmm.

Sara Vidal Walter: I take it to 10 or 20.


Sara Vidal Walter: Until I get the why and everyone understanding that why and committed with that why, we won't move forward. And believe me, I have blocked a few projects because of that. But again, after that, we will be successful for sure. We may take six months or one year or two years, with two years I don't comply. I don't like... Because it's digital. So yes, we have legacy systems and all that, and this is what I've been hearing for a year. "Oh, sorry. You can't do that in six months. This is legacy." I really don't care. Because if I do, the transformation will never happen. So in many, many occasions I must act like a blocker because being a blocker is also being a driver in this situation. So the transformation needs to come inside out, and we really need to focus on what consumers, passengers, customers, whatever we want to call it, what they really expect from us. It's not about what the business needs, yes, at the end of the tunnel, we want to sell, of course. But if we don't start with a why and with what our customers really need and expect from us, that big figure will not show up.

Lyndsey Valin: Yep. I love that. I love the inside out theme there.

Terra Davies: Alignment through five whys or 15 whys. Whatever the why can put it.

[overlapping conversation]

Terra Davies: I'm a big fan of the five whys. It's...

Sara Vidal Walter: I don't care about that figure, I care about the figure at the end of the tunnel.


Sara Vidal Walter: Let me be very clear on that. I'm completely result-driven, but being obsessed with the customer makes a whole difference.

Lyndsey Valin: Yeah. Yeah. And Amanda, I think you have a similar perspective, right? I'd love for you to tell the audience a bit of advice as they kick off transformation programs with PROS, right? Again, how do you lean into the leadership, the vision, and all that kind of things and what are some of the, again, tips that you have from all that?

Amanda Kirchner-Bulatek: Absolutely. So, I mean, Sara and I we're in the same wavelengths. So I think before you can solution the how, you have to ask yourself the why and the what. What are you trying to solve, who are you solving it for and why? What is that value you're looking to drive for your organization? Yes, we're all results driven. All of us in this room, we have a goal line to hit. But you have to be able to execute to that. And so if you can't solution the why, if you can't build that vision up front, then you won't hit that goal line. You'll pivot, you'll get delayed, you'll go over budget, right? All these things come into that consideration, and I think that's really, you know, start small in that endeavor. Maybe you're looking to leverage Gen 4 as you look to grow in a post pandemic world. Maybe it's as simple as just creating an RPA bot to save clicks for your organization. What's the why? What are you trying to solve? Create that stickiness, as I said, for your organization and that helps you drive towards the results you wanna achieve.

Amanda Kirchner-Bulatek: And within that vision, that's when you engage with your leadership. That's essential. Top-down, bottom-up, the leaders have to help you walk the walk, but then your reps, your... Who's ever in the airline industry, who's ever buying those seats, that's your customer. So they have to be engaged and that you have to help them. From the B2B space, we have to be able to help our sales teams execute. And that's ultimately the best advice I could give, is really think of that always in the manner of what you're seeking to transform, to build, to buy, whatever that looks like for your organization. Keep that in mind as you're kind of structuring your forward progress.

Lyndsey Valin: Yep. I love that. I love that. So I'm gonna take it into a different direction. We've talked a lot about the technology aspect here, but how much of this is a people aspect? But we have a panel here of strong female leaders. And so I wanna go back to Anu because I know you are very much passionate about women in leadership. And I'm interested to hear, why are having female perspectives in leadership capacities when you're dealing with these digital transformations, why is that so impactful and why is it so important?

Anu Varma: Yeah. What I wanted you to share really quickly. I read a report a few years ago. There are less girls going into tech now than there were in the '80s when I got my computer science degree. And Melinda Gates actually started a foundation to try to understand that. When I walk into a room now compared to 10, 20... And we were having a very interesting conversation backstage on this, we're no longer the one-off. When we walk into a room, there is a few others. I'm very fortunate to be part of leadership teams where I have a lot of diversity on our leadership teams, which is fantastic. But still walking into a room, you are often the one-off or the two-off. And there is this sense of am I here as a diversity person? Am I the token, a woman of color sitting at this room? And it's too easy to let that get into your head. You're there because you have a business expertise. You're there because you have a technology expertise. You have to own that and not let that imposter syndrome really get to you and sort of deter you from the expertise that you bring to that table.

Anu Varma: And I do believe that there are... All of us, we tend to think, okay, women are better multitaskers, we bring more empathy to this, that may be true and that may not be true. I think it's important really to just own your strengths as a leader and walk up to that table. When you're invited to the table, show up. Don't let that imposter syndrome or anybody else define why you're there. And be the leader, be a business leader. That would be my biggest thing. It's still unusual, right? It's not unusual, I should say, to walk into a room where you're one-off and it's too easy to let that get into your head.

Lyndsey Valin: Yeah. And I think you've talked to me a little bit about when you're thinking of your transformation decision making and how do you put people in roles that you're really aware of diversity and the importance that that can bring to your team, the significance it brings to your team.

Anu Varma: Yeah. Yeah, and our global CIO, he challenges us. As we're having discussions about succession and planning that next promotion, are we being risk averse? Are we thinking about our female talent and going, "Oh, are they really ready? Maybe we're trying to be protective of them. We don't wanna set them up for failure. Let's not take these chances, let's let them build up until they're ready." And I don't think you have to do that. And he really encourages us to take that risk, promote that talent, and give them the shot at it. We're all sitting here because somebody gave us the shot at it. And give people... Take the risk. Don't get too protective. Take the chances. Yeah.

Lyndsey Valin: And I'd love to kind of just open it up to others on this topic too of, what are some important things your companies are doing to help, again, promote females in diverse talent when we think of digital transformation?

Amanda Kirchner-Bulatek: Yeah. I think, within Wesco we really try to promote within and really try to drive mentoring... Mentorship programs across our organization. And that... I mean, that's male, female, however you identify. Really reaching out and really trying to foster an environment where people wanna speak up as Anu said. That's sometimes when you get the best feedback. You're hearing either from your user base or from your teams. And if you don't create that kind of fostering environment within your organization, I think it's a detriment to your success in general.

Lyndsey Valin: Yeah.

Angela Vargo: I would say at Breeze we're doing something, you know, the airline industry, especially for career-wise has been very male heavy. And so we have to prepare for the future and fill that pipeline. And we're doing that in a lot of interesting ways, specifically in targeting females and even supporting female sports as sponsorships. And where they are currently in their lives so that they are aware of the opportunities that will await them within this industry. And even the brand itself, we're building a brand that is, I would say, very female, not overly female but one of our colours is hot pink. So we do have a more feminine brand. We're a leisure based airline, but we want to really be good storytellers and I think women by nature are drawn to great brands and great stories and great purpose.

Angela Vargo: And if you are able to drive them towards purpose then that obviously will set you apart. And I would say also, going back to this clean sheet thing, create programs that create that work-life balance, not just for females but for everyone. And everyone's just in a singular role in their life anymore. No female is just this 'standalone.' So, you have to work with families, you have to work with raising children and communities and allowing your people to be part of that, and giving them that empowerment to do that so that you're a part of their life in a very positive way. And so we are looking at starting... We have a values committee, we call it values committee because we have five values, and we wanna live those values through a lot of various ways. So we don't really talk about it just as diversity or inclusion or women. We talk about it at large in terms of just what the DNA of Breeze is, and bringing everyone into that conversation.

Angela Vargo: And I would say too, just going back to the earlier conversations about digital first, it really actually starts with your people first. If you give them the technology to be able to do the things they need to do especially in this industry, then they're gonna take care of your customer. Because I think where a lot of airlines kind of have gone wrong in the past is, they spent so much time and investment on the customer and on getting butts in seats. And they have neglected actually giving their people the technology. And we have 1400 team members today and potentially every single one of them could be their own digital channel for Breeze to sell tickets or to sell credit cards. I don't really want you to get on a plane and hear a long in-flight credit card announcement.

Lyndsey Valin: [chuckle] True.

Angela Vargo: So, I wanna find other ways to do that. And I have a sales force of 1400 people, and thank goodness the QR code found its day, I mean, it's just a big blessing. Thank you pandemic. And so I think there's ways for us to really focus on, not just the customer, but really focus on the people in your organization. Give them the tools they need to go do the thing that you need them to do and you'll expand your workforce and your salesforce quadruple, triple it.

Terra Davies: Great, thank you. Well, we're close to... Oh, sorry Julie, we're close to wrapping up. Any other bits of advice? Let's do the lightning round.

Julie Shainock: Microsoft diversity and inclusion is extremely important. It's led from the top-down. We all have training around it as well. And just being a person who's come through the ranks and worked for a really long time, and I've had a lot of opportunities and taking advantage of those opportunities. So the one thing I would tell people is, be passionate. I'm very passionate about what I do. Be agile, with the speed to market today it's just a huge thing you have to be able to adopt to. Be true to yourself, trust your instincts, and really be a business leader with an IT lens. And I just have enjoyed all the opportunities. I'm very thankful for all the opportunities that I've been given. And I have three daughters and give advice to my three daughters all the time about business. Only one of them is in tech and the other two are not. So it's just an amazing opportunity to be able to do all these different things and be surrounded by all these wonderful women on the panel as well as in the room itself. And I truly think Microsoft is working very hard at promoting all the diversity and inclusion, and instills it in their people, and then we in turn hopefully instill it within all of you all and our customers as well.

Terra Davies: I don't think it's opportunities you've been given, I think it's the opportunities you earned.

Julie Shainock: Yeah, right.

Terra Davies: Thank you, well said. Sara, any last bits of advice for us?

Sara Vidal Walter: Well, first of all, I've been an advocate for diversity and inclusion, mainly when I was working for Big Pharma, which was also an industry in which the manhood was prevalent for many, many years. But personally, I never felt that I was seen or given different opportunities because I'm a woman. Maybe because I never got myself into that bias. And I think it starts with that, it starts with ourselves. Obviously, that the opportunities, the chances that you have, the people that you meet, the managers, the leaders that you are lucky enough to work with throughout your life also support, or really disables the ability to think about yourself as a person and not as a woman or a man or a non-gender thing.

Sara Vidal Walter: So if I would give an advice, it was first of all to think about ourselves as a person, independently of what gender we have. And foremost, I think that for digital transformation, it's really about giving the best of us and thinking that we are consumers too. So we can add a lot of value if we see ourselves not only as professionals, as employees, but also as consumers. And we bring those insights this time outside, inside, [chuckle] from the outside to the inside. And an advice is just, follow your heart, follow your passion. I did it and I'm so happy to be here after all these years following through this digital transformation. Follow your heart, try your best, be a risk taker because we must be risk takers if we want to grab those opportunities. Sometimes they are there but the buyers and... What is restraining us is really ourselves. So be a risk taker as much as you can and enjoy life.

Terra Davies: Thank you.

Sara Vidal Walter: And I would ask a big round of applause for all the men and women in this room.


Terra Davies: And it has been a joy to meet all of you and work with you and learn from you. And I know we're heading into a break. I think they'll all be around. There's so much more to learn from this group and it's really been a gift. So thank you so much, we appreciate it.

S?: Thanks for having us.

Lyndsey Valin: Thank you ladies.

S?: And thank you PROS for having us.

S?: Thank you.

S?: Thank you.



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