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“Never be afraid to lose sight of the shore and discover new lands” with Catherine Wong and Chaya Weiner

One of best pieces of advice I’ve received came from my immigrant parents. Through their examples, they taught me that never being afraid to “lose sight of the shore and discover new lands” could powerfully change lives. It’s a mantra I live by and pass on to anyone looking to grow in their personal or […]


One of best pieces of advice I’ve received came from my immigrant parents. Through their examples, they taught me that never being afraid to “lose sight of the shore and discover new lands” could powerfully change lives. It’s a mantra I live by and pass on to anyone looking to grow in their personal or professional life.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Catherine Wong, the chief product officer and EVP of engineering at Domo. She joined Domo in 2013 from Adobe and Omniture, where she ascended through the ranks to lead global teams of more than 500 people. Catherine has decades of engineering management experience and holds patents in data segmentation, data visualization, and SaaS data collection.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory”?

Growing up in New Mexico as the daughter of immigrant parents, I had four career choices: doctor, lawyer, engineer or concert pianist. As I got older, fashion became a passion for me but my father was an aerospace engineer so a career in STEM never left the forefront of my mind. It wasn’t until I wrote my first simple computer game in a computer science class at Brigham Young University that I knew I wanted to work in technology/engineering. I enjoyed that process and the people I got to work with so much that I immediately began pursuing a career in tech. That project flipped a switch, where I knew that the world of software was where I wanted to be. I wasn’t exactly sure whether I wanted to be a developer, product manager, quality engineer, or architect, but I knew it was something with building products. After graduating, I sought to join a company that would support fast growth and the ability to try different engineering and product roles, and have been fortunate to work my way through all of those different roles and more.

I learned early on that the only thing stopping my success was me. I’m quite different from the typical demographic in tech and engineering, but the great equalizer for me wasn’t how I looked or where I came from, but rather how hard I worked. I started raising my hand for every opportunity, even if it meant I moved laterally or even “backwards” for a period of time. Over the course of my career I’ve worked as a developer, in product management, technical architecture, production integration, technical writing, and engineering management. What I didn’t realize at the time was that this “jungle gym” career was accelerating and preparing me for senior engineering and product roles. When Omniture was acquired by Adobe, I was one of the youngest VPs at the table — but my experience across a variety of product development and engineering disciplines gave me the confidence and skill to operate successfully. By taking on those opportunities, I was able to amass a wealth of experience in a very compressed amount of time which I use every day at Domo.

Why did you choose to work at your company?

I had the opportunity to work alongside Josh James at Omniture, and with Domo I was excited about the potential that data had to make a real difference in all industries. It was an opportunity to design a platform that not only served data scientists but would be easy enough to use that everyone from the CEO to the frontline worker could have real-time access to the data they needed. I knew it would be an exciting challenge to make that a reality but with this full platform we’re seeing its impact. With the real-time data Domo provides, nonprofits using Domo are making great strides in eliminating poverty, school districts have drastically increased academic achievement and college acceptance, and companies across the globe are increasing revenues, efficiency and finding new ways to innovate. I knew the potential that Domo had from the beginning and it’s been fun to see all that our customers can do when we put the data they need right in the palm of their hand on their phone, precisely when they need it.

What is it about the work you’re doing that’s disruptive?

At his previous company, our CEO, Josh James, felt largely disconnected from his company’s data which made it difficult to get the insight he needed to make business decisions in a timely manner. Each department had their own way of tracking data and it could take weeks or months for reports to get into the right decision maker’s hands. By that time the data was old, and part of the problem was typically data scientists were the ones that had access and the skills needed to get the insights. It’s been my opportunity and passion to build a solution to that problem which simplifies the process of gathering and analyzing data so that anyone in the organization can access the data they need at any time from their phones.

At Domo, we’ve created a massive cloud-scale platform that helps companies manage their business and make real-time decisions, all from their phone. Domo connects to more than 500 different data sources, on-premise and in the cloud, to bring all the important information into one place, in a matter of minutes rather than months. Because of its deep functionality, Domo is like seven startups in one, and we rapidly innovate and release new capabilities with each one. Some of my favorites are:

● Mr. Roboto which uses machine learning and AI to scan all incoming data and detect trends.

● Buzz, our integrated collaboration engine and productivity suite, allows people across the organization to collaborate around data right in the platform so real action can take place quickly when insights are realized.

● Explorer, our suite of analytic discovery capabilities.

● Appstore, an extension of Domo’s ecosystem of apps, dashboards and connector algorithms.

We all need a little help along the journey — who have been some of your mentors?

Several mentors have been instrumental in my career, including Kevin Lynch, VP of technology at Apple and former Adobe CTO; Josh James, Omniture co-founder and Domo CEO; and Brett Error, former Omniture CTO. Although they each have different leadership styles, I’m inspired by their collective passion for enabling customer success, building innovative products, and doing good for our world. Their influence has absolutely shaped my leadership style and set a long-term commitment to my growth, lasting long after our years working together.

How are you going to shake things up next?

Continuing to support STEM and diversity efforts in the community, company and personally is really an ongoing passion where I’m excited to see progress.

Can you share 3 of the best words of advice you’ve gotten along your journey? Please give a story or example for each.

Dare to make mistakes. Earlier in my career I felt that I needed to be formally trained and experienced before attempting to be successful in a new role or project, which caused me to hold myself back. One of my mentors saw that pattern, and challenged me to change that mindset and dare to be ok with stretching and possibly failing. It resulted in me accepting a role that was outside of my comfort zone, relocating to London, England and focusing on technical and organization integration of an acquisition. That experience was one of the most challenging as well as rewarding roles of my career.

People will remember how you made them feel long after they remember what you said. A friend once told me this in the context of public speaking, and I think it applies broadly and universally to daily interactions we have with people. As leaders we have so many opportunities to encourage and enable others, in small interactions as well as more formal ways. Achieving goals and outcomes is important of course, but recognizing that much in life is a team sport, and being mindful of how we achieve success is just as important in the long run.

One of best pieces of advice I’ve received came from my immigrant parents. Through their examples, they taught me that never being afraid to “lose sight of the shore and discover new lands” could powerfully change lives. It’s a mantra I live by and pass on to anyone looking to grow in their personal or professional life.

What’s a book/podcast/talk that’s had a deep impact on your thinking? Share a story with us.

Daring Greatly, by Brene Brown is a book that I still love. The courage to be vulnerable can be so transformative.

Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might see this. 🙂

If I could sit down with one person in the world right now it would be Ed Catmull, president of Walt Disney and Pixar Animation Studios.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/catherinejwong/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/catherinewong

Thank you for all of these great insights!

— –

About the author:

Chaya Weiner is the Director of branding and photography at Authority Magazine’s Thought Leader Incubator. TLI is a thought leadership program that helps leaders establish a brand as a trusted authority in their field. Please click HERE to learn more about Thought Leader Incubator.

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