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“Why I’d Like To Inspire The ‘Teach Forward’ Movement”

As a way to pay it forward and implement my passion of supporting others to find their strengths, I would like to start something I call the ‘Teach Forward’ movement. ‘Teach Forward’ would be required as a corporate legal mandate for all companies (50 persons or larger) to expand studies and teach our youth (school […]

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As a way to pay it forward and implement my passion of supporting others to find their strengths, I would like to start something I call the ‘Teach Forward’ movement. ‘Teach Forward’ would be required as a corporate legal mandate for all companies (50 persons or larger) to expand studies and teach our youth (school grade through high school) practical life and business skills. These teachings should expand past the base curriculum into areas of STEM, targeting a minimum % of female student participation. These companies would need to select high performing employees to become volunteers in local community public and private schools to teach a minimum of 40 hours per year up to 120 hours per year, based on the size of the company. Companies would receive a corporate tax break based on the total number of employee volunteer hours. This program is designed to shift the female representation in STEM, generally gives back to the youth across all socio-economic categories and invests in the United States and global future.


I had the pleasure of interviewing Elizabeth Mye. Elizabeth is currently Global Senior Vice President of Human Resources at Intermedia.net, a Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) and business cloud email provider. Elizabeth has over 25 years’ Human resource leadership experience in high growth emerging companies as well as Fortune 100 national and international organizations in the technology, technology consulting services, biotechnology, healthcare and consumer products industries. Her focus and success has been in the ability to build scalable and practical corporate human resource solutions in high change, rapid growth start-up business environments. Elizabeth embodies her belief of speaking truth to power in her role leading Intermedia’s HR functions. In her approach, Elizabeth values authenticity and transparency. She suggests, “Don’t approach employees or potential hires with HR jargon, people want real words as it relates to them and their role. Be honest and clear on how you will operate together.” Elizabeth also has had a long professional music career as a classical singer, currently directs two choirs and is married with one daughter.


Thank you for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

Unlike some of my colleagues, human resource was actually not what I set out to do in my career. Instead, I spent my early career as a professional classical singer, and only found myself pursuing a path in HR after my husband and other important people in my life told me I had the qualities and drive that made me a perfect fit for the profession. My exposure to bleeding edge technology started in my first HR role at Thinking Machines Corporation over 25 years ago. There I was exposed to the early days of artificial intelligence and the ‘super human highway’ now known as the internet. I worked with brilliant engineers who were extremely forward thinking. I was lucky. This launched my career in the high technology field and beyond.

Can you share the most interesting story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

I hired a strong and competent woman to join my team when I first became a manager. I knew that she was bright and capable, which is why I decided to hire her. What I didn’t realize was how to manage someone like that. I tried to practice the ‘give away power to have power’ moto but didn’t do it very well. Instead, I started to feel challenged by her. I did the classic distancing and not sharing as much as I should have. One day I had a meeting with her and she asked me about part of a project we were working on and expressed that she didn’t agree with some of the steps that were being taken. My reaction was shock that she didn’t agree. I’ll never forget what she did next. She smiled at me. I realized then that she wasn’t trying to compete, rather help. I felt embarrassed that I had thought otherwise. This was a turning point for me in understanding how to include, empower and to understand the power of team!

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

The ability to transform. I’ve had the good fortune of working with innovative companies. Having the ability to sustain success goes beyond innovation, it takes focus, fortitude and the ability to evolve. Intermedia, by far, is the most agile, focused and transformational company I’ve had the pleasure to help build. We have evolved from a pure email hosted exchange provider to building communications and collaboration proprietary platforms and tools that have made us a leader in the unified communications space. Intelligence is core to our success, however agility, teamwork and focus is our winning core strength. United in focus, United we Win!

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

Absolutely! There are many exciting new projects that I’ve taken on at Intermedia.

We launched our Women of Intermedia (WoI) Forum (inclusive of women and men) where we invite prominent external and internal leaders and employees to speak on topics of women in leadership. Every year I have designed, developed and rolled out a new leadership and employee development training with a focus on building competencies, supporting Intermedia’s 20% average promotion track record. Agile Scrum was incorporated into one of our training methods to teach all employees, regardless of their discipline, how to effectively focus their initiatives in a way that empowers self-selected role contributions while driving high execution and productivity. As part of this initiative, we have created ‘War Rooms’ using the Agile Scrum method for specific business initiatives to support Intermedia’s growth objectives. This is helping us create one united voice across Intermedia, further promotes collaboration across teams and focus on meeting our corporate objectives.

Are you currently satisfied with the status quo regarding women in STEM? What specific changes do you think are needed to change the status quo?

No, I am not satisfied with the percentage of women in STEM. Exposure, opportunity and environment are core in increasing women in STEM statistics. Expanding elementary youth education programs beyond the standard math and science curriculum is fundamental in making the shift. Funding and support should come through government and corporate organizational subsidies. Corporations should require employees to serve as mentors to school age children as a part of their job. New standards like these will provide vision for our youth and an understanding of how they can apply their learning and find a passion for their future in STEM. Consistent efforts like this will inevitably equalize gender representation.

In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges faced by women in STEM or Tech that aren’t typically faced by their male counterparts? What would you suggest to address this?

It is human nature to live in what we have been taught within the exposures of our environments. Shifting perspectives and actions will take vigilance and awareness that girls are important in future STEM contributions and leadership. Supporting women authorship of STEM teaching curriculum will better represent how girls think and problem solve. If the government and our society believe it is important, then we should pro-actively seek out foundational ways to expand learning for young girls in STEM. Corporations have the power to influence and build a stream of consciousness, demonstrate inclusion and empowerment in the importance of expanding women STEM representation. These actions create a mirror neuron effect to iterate positively for change.

What are the “myths” that you would like to dispel about being a woman in Tech. Can you explain what you mean?

There are sustained myths that the workplace is too demanding for a woman. Often what is missed is understanding that women’s brains are wired for multi-tasking and collaboration making them natural innovators with high emotional intelligence and an agility to shift in changing business needs. This myth exists in STEM, technology or any profession.

What are your “5 Leadership Lessons I Learned From My Experience as a Woman in Tech” and why. (Story/example for each)

Courage: You can accomplish what you set out to do and overcome adversity if you are courageous, disciplined and willing to put in the work.

Inner Critic: Channel ways to overcome your inner critic. Challenge yourself regarding fears – is it really true or is it your opinion? Is this self-perception helpful? Confidence is built with positivity and truly believing in your own ability.

Create the ‘IT’ factor: People stop and look when you demonstrate confidence, you are dynamic, fearless and have competence and self-assurance in your own ability. Don’t be afraid to express true thoughts. This is essential in creating value.

Be an example: Having competence and confidence alone is not enough. As a women, it is imperative that you show what you can do to be successful. Don’t show just your success, be vulnerable and share your mistakes.

Create followership: There is nothing more powerful then when others follow as a result of their trust and confidence in your leadership. Showing and demonstrating leadership skill, competence and support for others success is the result of all the previous 4 leadership lessons.

I have been fortunate in my life to have the support of my husband, iterative encouragement from others who saw my capability before I saw it in myself. I’ve also had to face my fears of not being ‘enough’ and step into the tech world with no precedent of exposure growing up. Luckily education was highly valued in my family. I faced many moments where I have been questioned by some powerful leaders. Did I always put my best foot forward? No, but I persevered, took risk and kept going. Fortitude is a powerful attribute and an inner driver for me.

What advice would you give to other female leaders to help their team to thrive?

First, know the talent of your team. Support their strengths but challenge and stretch every single one of your team members to learn more and challenge their own status quo. Be encouraging and create a safe and trusting work environment to build confidence. Be transparent and share your vision, show your strengths and vulnerability. Reward them meaningfully both intrinsically and extrinsically. Drive hard to a high standard and keep challenging your own status quo, always expecting more. Ensure that individuals and the team wins.

What advice would you give to other female leaders about the best way to manage a large team?

In larger teams it becomes critical to build a foundation of structure, consistency and lots of communication so the teams feel connected and that their work is meaningful to the goals and outcome.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

There have been many people who have supported my success. My husband is number one. He has always shown me that I can do whatever I put my mind to and has had a larger vision of my leadership than I did for myself. I’ve had other leaders in my career who pushed me with amazing support and who I truly learned from. Those are the leaders that made a difference and the example that I make every effort to give back to my own teams.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

The inner critic in me says that I still have not done enough. I have had the moto since my early 40’s to give back and use my life and leadership experience to help others self-realize who they are and what they can do, just as others have done for me. I’ve done this through developing women’s forums for my company, leadership development and mentor programs. Through my own daughter we have expanded her learning and exposure in STEM through extra-curricular computer programming, robotics, advanced math and science coursework and, as a result she has been accepted into a specialized Bio-Tech program at her High School. Every day I seek actions of encouragement. I certainly want to do more!

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could in spire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?

As a way to pay it forward and implement my passion of supporting others to find their strengths, I would like to start something I call the ‘Teach Forward’ movement. ‘Teach Forward’ would be required as a corporate legal mandate for all companies (50 persons or larger) to expand studies and teach our youth (school grade through high school) practical life and business skills. These teachings should expand past the base curriculum into areas of STEM, targeting a minimum % of female student participation. These companies would need to select high performing employees to become volunteers in local community public and private schools to teach a minimum of 40 hours per year up to 120 hours per year, based on the size of the company. Companies would receive a corporate tax break based on the total number of employee volunteer hours. This program is designed to shift the female representation in STEM, generally gives back to the youth across all socio-economic categories and invests in the United States and global future.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

‘Assumptions are the mother of all screw ups’ …. As I’ve learned myself and as I continually watch people across all levels of the company, break-downs in understanding, communications and results stem from assumptions. Intellectual curiosity, and the ability to step outside of yourself and ask more questions without assuming that you know the right answer, always serves well to build trust and a better outcome.

We are very blessed that very prominent leaders read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them ☺

I would love to meet Michelle Obama. She is a strong woman who has persevered through an amazing life path and who just might be interested in helping me create the ‘Teach Forward’ movement.

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