My first piece of advice to other female leaders would be to focus on making diverse hires. As leaders, we have a moral obligation to build a pipeline for the future, and being mindful about diverse hiring is essential to that. Outside of recruiting efforts, it is important that a leader have an open style of management. I’ll regularly hold open mic sessions with no fixed agenda so I can hear and answer the questions that are top-of-mind for folks on my team. I also regularly hold “skip meetings” with my staff. These are meetings in which I speak with team members of all levels — i.e., not just my direct reports — to allow me to hear everyone’s perspective. When I’m on the road, I’ll also make a point to have coffee sessions with team members in different regions.
As a part of my series about strong female leaders, I had the pleasure of interviewing Marie Myers, CFO of UiPath, the leading robotic process automation (RPA) software provider. Marie joined NYC-based UiPath in January 2019 after spending a majority of her career as a financial executive at HP. While at HP, Marie spearheaded the company’s “Finance of the Future” initiative, guiding the organization to adopt emerging, disruptive technologies — such as RPA and AI — to modernize and digitize financial operations. After experiencing great success using UiPath’s RPA platform, Marie decided to join the company to help others achieve the same operational efficiencies, cost reductions and increased employee satisfaction rates, just as HP was able to. Today, Marie is responsible for supporting UiPath’s growth and cementing its status as one of the fastest-growing enterprise software companies in history.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
My path to the RPA and AI space is perhaps a bit atypical. I am first and foremost a finance person, rather than a tech person. While at HP, however, I was forced to identify solutions to offset resource cuts. I had heard about RPA and the productivity and financial opportunities it afforded, so I decided to implement it to solve for the challenges my team was facing. Almost immediately, we saw a significant return on the investment, and I quickly became a champion of RPA and AI. I just had to become part of the movement.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?
Shortly after joining UiPath, we created a Slack channel called Women in Robotics. Within 24 hours, more than 800 women from the company signed up for the channel. It was exciting to see the power of women in the software business world — which has been historically male-dominated. Women bring an important voice to the market, and to our company, and I’m proud of the efforts we’ve made to ensure those voices are heard.
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?
Honestly, coming to a smaller organization from a large enterprise has presented a lot of funny moments for me. When I first started, we were just launching our Houston office and it was kind of an “all hands on deck” mentality. For instance, there were many times when I had to move furniture to set up for meetings and change toilet paper rolls — things that I hadn’t dealt with in my past roles. This was a great lesson about making do with the resources you have available and working as a team to get things done.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
UiPath stands out in its unique, comprehensive approach to RPA. At UiPath, we encourage our customers to not think of RPA as a one-off software solution, but rather a path to the AI-driven enterprise. We have a vision of rebooting work by arming every employee with one robot. In anticipation of these changes, we provide extensive training to help the workers of today and tomorrow understand how to apply and manage these solutions. It is our view that RPA can be the catalyst for transformational shifts — both within organizations and the larger economy and society. To prepare for these changes, we offer training programs — including UiPath Academy and the Academic Alliance — to help employees take advantage of technology solutions and use them to their advantage to thrive in the AI-driven enterprise.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
Currently, I am working on a book about digital transformation in the enterprise. Based on my experience introducing RPA at HP, the book offers lessons learned and best practices when implementing new automation solutions and insights I wish someone had told me. Hopefully, the book empowers readers to drive enterprise transformation as seamlessly as possible using RPA and other AI technologies.
What advice would you give to other female leaders to help their team to thrive?
I would encourage other females leaders to become confident in technology. Technology is driving the future of work, and female leaders should take advantage of STEM opportunities available to them. Female leaders should develop these technology skills so they feel empowered to not only use innovative solutions, but also advocate for smart, tech-based strategies.
What advice would you give to other female leaders about the best way to manage a large team?
My first piece of advice to other female leaders would be to focus on making diverse hires. As leaders, we have a moral obligation to build a pipeline for the future, and being mindful about diverse hiring is essential to that.
Outside of recruiting efforts, it is important that a leader have an open style of management. I’ll regularly hold open mic sessions with no fixed agenda so I can hear and answer the questions that are top-of-mind for folks on my team. I also regularly hold “skip meetings” with my staff. These are meetings in which I speak with team members of all levels — i.e., not just my direct reports — to allow me to hear everyone’s perspective. When I’m on the road, I’ll also make a point to have coffee sessions with team members in different regions.
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?
Jon Flaxman, former COO at HP, was an incredible mentor for me when I worked at the company. For the better part of two decades, Jon was a loyal mentor and friend. He always had my best interests at heart and took me under his wing, sharing advice for me through the highs and lows. In particular, I remember when I had my children, he encouraged me to take time off to do what was right for my life. Jon passed away last year, but his legacy and impact on my life — both personally and professionally — has led me to be a true champion of mentorship and I hope to honor him by serving as a mentor to others.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
I’m passionate about helping other women seize opportunities, both personally and professionally. As much as I can be involved, I enjoy using my voice to encourage other women, from the time they are young up until joining the C-suite, to get involved in the digital world and voice their opinions.
As a mother of two young girls, I want women to feel confident pursuing their passions and conquering the fear of not knowing the necessary skills, because they can always be learned. I work with organizations including the Diversity Council in Texas, and am spearheading an initiative called the Women in Digital Alliance to help those around me and grow a strong community of women. My hope is that this group will directly support the development of female leaders in technology.
11. What are your “5 Leadership Lessons I Learned From My Experience” and why. (Please share a story or example for each.)
1. Be confident: As a women in male-dominated fields, I’ve always had to put myself out there and voice my opinions. Confidence has helped me succeed in my role, but I’ve also always aimed to instill confidence in the team members around me.
2. Think about your people first: To be a successful leader, it is necessary to dedicate time and energy toward your team’s needs. When I was at HP, I found the single most important part of implementing RPA — just like any other team-changing initiative — was ensuring that I wasn’t underestimating the impact a business decision would have on my employees. It was critical that my team understood the way automation would redesign the way they worked before expecting them to use it. People want to be part of something that is game changing, but it is necessary to provide the tools and understanding to make it work.
3. Take an innovative approach: The tech industry is evolving rapidly. To meet the changing workforce needs, I’ve found it invaluable as a leader to embrace technology and encourage employees to leverage available, intuitive technologies in their day-to-day work to enhance performance.
4. Be adaptable: As a leader, it is always important to be able to roll with the punches and remain collected in times of change. At HP, the resources at my disposal were drastically reduced. By being adaptable and finding a workaround solution in RPA, I was able to ensure we didn’t miss a beat in what we were trying to achieve from a business perspective.
5. Have fun: Find time to do the things that bring you passion because it shows in your work. For me, it is spending time with my family, exercising and a good cappuccino. Get to know your coworkers, learn about their strengths and spread positive energy.
You are a person of great 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.
Along with the rest of the UiPath team, I’m striving to create a better, more productive and more gratifying workforce where there is one robot per person. By democratizing RPA, workers from around the globe will be able to enjoy more fulfilling work while accelerating productivity. This could pave tremendous shifts in the ways in which we balance work and play.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“GSD” — get stuff done! I am a big believer in getting things done without the fluff. I used to think you needed to have all these fancy degrees to be successful but over the course of my career, I’ve learned it’s really just about executing. I focus on delivering tasks efficiently and effectively.
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 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’d love to spend time with Amal Clooney. She is a great role model for women — including me and my daughters. Amal is smart and successful; she leans in on tough issues in terms of what she does from a legal profession and gives back by teaching. On top of that, she does it all with a great sense of style!
Thank you for joining us!