“Be genuine” With Penny Bauder & Calista Redmond

My advice is to be genuine. When you show up with authentic passion, vision and discipline you become the role model others want to work with. Many individuals, including myself, have left jobs based purely on the people they work with. When you create a culture of authenticity and passion for the mission, you have […]

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My advice is to be genuine. When you show up with authentic passion, vision and discipline you become the role model others want to work with. Many individuals, including myself, have left jobs based purely on the people they work with. When you create a culture of authenticity and passion for the mission, you have the capability to inspire and progress in ways that may otherwise appear impossible.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Calista Redmond the CEO of RISC-V International.

Prior to RISC-V International, Calista held a variety of roles at IBM, including Vice President of IBM Z Ecosystem where she led strategic relationships across software vendors, system integrators, business partners, developer communities, and broader engagement across the industry. Focus areas included execution of commercialization strategies, technical and business support for partners, and matchmaker to opportunities across the IBM Z and LinuxOne community. Calista’s background includes building and leading strategic business models within IBM’s Systems Group through open source initiatives including OpenPOWER, OpenDaylight, and Open Mainframe Project. For OpenPOWER, Calista was a leader in drafting the strategy, cultivating the foundation of partners, and nurturing strategic relationships to grow the org from zero to 300+ members. While at IBM, she also drove numerous acquisition and divestiture missions, and several strategic alliances. Prior to IBM, she was an entrepreneur in four successful start-ups in the IT industry. Calista holds degrees from the University of Michigan and Northwestern University.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

Ihave invested my career in identifying and pursuing relationships between hardware companies and other stakeholders for mutual, strategic benefit. The relationships have ranged wildly from acquisition and divestiture, to innovation and supply partners, to leveraging for broader industry adoption. I have been most energized in roles that engage all stakeholders, from university students to large multi-nationals, for the broader benefit of the industry. This brought me to several leadership roles bringing open source to hardware and cultivating communities of like-minded organizations.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began at RISC-V?

The appetite of our community for open collaboration and cultivation of open building blocks for innovation is incredible. Every day has brought out more opportunities and interest in the RISC-V community than I’ve witnessed across the last two decades of technology progress. Our community has sprung up 30 local and regional groups around the world, attracting thousands of engineers. Last September, I had the honor of joining the RISC-V Tokyo day for 10 straight hours of talks, including three from me which focused on advances in RISC-V. At the close of the event, we had a packed networking event with so many discussions that nearly three hours went by, the food and beverages were all consumed, and we were still standing in the same spot planning future collaborations together with companies large and small, engineering students, executives and more. The excitement about the progress and future of RISC-V kept me surrounded in discussions even through a 30 minute walk to the train station. I literally lost my voice in one packed day.

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

I think it would be great to have a list of funniest moments in RISC-V history, perhaps a bloopers real. I think my challenge here is the approach of humility that we all take in our pursuit of RISC-V. While I’m sure there’s been a gaff along the way, I truly can’t think of a time I’d consider it a mistake. I do always wish I had a stronger talent for remembering names for those otherwise awkward introductions.

What do you think makes RISC-V stand out? Can you share a story?

RISC-V has had a tremendous impact on our industry, from students to multi-nationals, as we usher in an era where custom processors with no barriers to entry are possible for the first time in history. The approach of both modular technology and an open license model means that an entrepreneur may build a new business as easily as our colleagues in open source software. I spoke at an event in Estonia last year and the room was packed with engineers striving to launch and build new businesses with new innovations and a broad set of partners around the world across technical disciplines.

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

RISC-V is taking a member first approach in everything we do. We’ve engaged with stakeholders around the community to focus our programs on the value and strategic needs our members need to build long-term success. We’ve launched six specific programs to enable this and our community is already reflecting their support through engagement and growth. The six programs include:

  • Technical deliverables: We’re aligning our working groups and committees on key technical elements needed to build and innovate solutions for industry applications, from embedded to enterprise, from micro-controller to cloud servers.
  • Compliance: We’ve launched our first compliance suite and are building our first compliance test to ensure solutions are compliant to the base RISC-V Instruction Set Architecture (ISA).
  • Visibility: We’re focused on amplifying the progress of our members as well as the momentum of RISC-V International through our relationships with press and analysts, events, social media, blogs and original content.
  • Academia and learning: Our programs are connecting universities, infusing RISC-V into common curriculum as well as enabling and supporting professional training providers to engage all levels of learning.
  • Developer advocacy: We’re supporting more than 3,600 members of our 30 local and regional RISC-V groups. We partner closely with geographic groups as well as industry and domain experts ranging from HPC to security. We have also launched the RISC-V Ambassador program to connect RISC-V technical experts with their peers around the world.
  • Marketplace exchange: We’re building a scalable platform to host not only RISC-V innovations available to the community, but also to enable and support the many technical forums that surround cores, SoCs, developer boards, software stacks, design tools and more.

Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview. 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?

We’ve come a long way in recognizing and growing the number of women in STEM careers, although we still have more work to do. As technology now underpins nearly every career, we have an opportunity to illustrate how passion in any field may connect and build on a career infused with STEM. This is something that may be done across university programs, not only in the computer science or other STEM programs, but also across the liberal arts. Let’s amplify and build on the intersection of technology and all courses of study.

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?

Women in STEM often need to prove themselves prior to being heard. While many are very good at presenting their perspective with authority and credibility, many women face a longer road than some of their male counterparts. I believe all voices must be heard, whether someone is new to the team or a seasoned expert. I suggest all women own their voice and approach opportunity with authority and credibility, regardless of position. Listen, engage and assert your view. While you’re at it, be sure to lift others up and invite engagements and perspectives that may not immediately contribute. It’s up to everyone to challenge and change the dialogue to invite and encourage all points of view.

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

The myth that an engineering degree required. Our industry benefits most with a diversity of perspective, expertise and experience. This is cultivated early in career paths that begin in a wide variety of disciplines. The biggest shift we must take toward engaging women in STEM careers is to accept and honor the many starting points and paths to success. An engineering degree may be a traditional path, but it is far from the only path. The industry would be well-served to embrace careers that initiated in other areas such as liberal arts or without a degree at all. The passion to incorporate technology across all facets of life has never been stronger and when you bring passion to your career, you’re able to progress in meaningful and profound ways.

What are your “5 Leadership Lessons I Learned From My Experience as a Woman in STEM or Tech” and why. (Please share a story or example for each.)

1. Make the call. Making decisions in informal or formal teams is often challenging when we analyze the situation for too long. Step up, make the call and invite the team to engage in the decision.
2. Use your authority. Once you have a firm understanding of your authority to solve issues, own the challenge and make decisions to move forward rather than sending the issue to someone else to solve.
3. Reach beyond your boundaries. If you see an opportunity to improve processes, better serve a stakeholder or automate the mundane go ahead and do it! You’ll find appreciation and recognition for your efforts that may easily lead to your next career move.
4. Propose a solution. When you surface a challenge beyond your role, consider what solutions you can propose. If you merely complain about a situation, you may not get to participate in designing the solution.
5. Be a team player. No leader exists in isolation. The best leaders engage their teams, communities and stakeholders in meaningful ways. Identify the perspectives, skills and dependencies that are crucial to the success you’re aiming for. Engage deeply with those who can support your mission to demonstrate mutual support for mutual win. When you lift up those around you, it will reflect back in the support they offer you.

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

My advice is to be genuine. When you show up with authentic passion, vision and discipline you become the role model others want to work with. Many individuals, including myself, have left jobs based purely on the people they work with. When you create a culture of authenticity and passion for the mission, you have the capability to inspire and progress in ways that may otherwise appear impossible.

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

Large teams present a challenge to both listening and leading. Cultivate leadership and authority at all levels and across all areas of a team to allow for all voices and perspectives to participate and be recognized. Reach out often to all levels, not just the leaders. Seek out solutions and opportunities to help individuals grow to ensure you’re recognizing and appreciating the many people contributing to the organization’s success. In large organizations, it’s particularly important to cultivate the next generation of leaders through challenging assignments, public recognition and individual opportunities for meaningful visibility with more senior leadership.

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?

My father built his career in public school administration. As a school district superintendent, he was attuned to the needs of the community, students, families, teachers and the school board while laying the foundation for the future of each graduating class. I admire his ability to connect with the many stakeholders he served, leveraging his strengths as a leader with humility, passion, confidence and discipline. His commitment and success brought him admiration, recognition and scores of people who wanted to work with him, talk to him, gain his perspective and more. He fixed problems, elevated families and inspired students. As I pursue my own career, I think about his outreach to all corners of his community as I serve the open source hardware community. There is so much we can do when we pursue it together!

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

I have spent much of my career fostering relationships between organizations to further their technical missions and commercial success. Across the last 10 years, I’ve taken a stronger approach in bringing open source ideology together with global standards practices for hardware. The momentum we’re building has fostered open collaboration around the world and within many industries. I’m proud of the work we’re doing to level the playing field for companies big and small to participate in the next generation of technology innovation.

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

We all have a different starting point and different passions. I would like to inspire a platform across universities and public schools to infuse technology into all areas of study. There are organizations like Discovery Education that have been instrumental in bringing high caliber learning and meaningful experiences to the classroom to inspire the next generation of leaders. At local levels, organizations have initiated technical on-the-job training together with universities to bring skill and career development programs via apprenticeships to underserved populations. I would love to see a movement to grow technical programs for students at scale.

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

I do not have a specific quote I hold onto, but rather believe that we can all have the greatest impact when we foster the success of others. This is true when leading a team, participating in a group, engaging with a stakeholder and in the many relationships we cultivate personally and professionally.

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 🙂

President Barrack Obama has been the most important modern leader of our time. He continues to inspire us all to be the best versions of ourselves while lifting one another up. I would be honored to have time together with him to share ideas on engaging young people in pursuit of STEM careers.

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