Q: Sabine – tell us about your background, before you joined Panzura?
A: I’ve always struggled a bit with the question “what do you want to be when you grow up” so my background is somewhat diverse and spans multiple countries. Since I’ve come to the US though it’s been in the high-tech industry and that probably speaks to my inner nerdiness. Before coming to Panzura I worked for CloudShield, a CyberSecurity company that was acquired by SAIC.
Q: When did you join Panzura and what was the one thing that told you this company was for you?
A: I joined Panzura a very long time ago, Valentine’s Day 2013 to be exact. I’m not sure, does that make me a dinosaur or a fossil in the Silicon Valley startup context? We were early, very early, to the market with our solution. Today Cloud is in everybody’s vocabulary, back then not so much. I loved the technology and the potential that came with it, and I feel like we’re finally going to realize that full potential. I’m a bit of a techy, or maybe nerd would be more accurate, so technology always gets me excited and I prefer to work for a company where I can believe in what we’re selling and stand behind it. Where I’m comfortable and proud to tell people who I work for and what we do.
Q: What is your philosophy behind managing a team?
A: For one I believe nobody is limited by what they’ve already learned or achieved. If there is interest and passion in a person for a particular area of the business, that, in my mind, trumps a specific previously attained skill. I try to be open with my team and make sure that when, once in a while, something goes wrong, that it is an opportunity to learn and grow. One thing that I am big on is context, it doesn’t matter if it’s asking or answering a question. In today’s environment of rapid communication, people sometimes forget that a one-liner in an email doesn’t always give the context that is needed to get you a good answer. I’d much rather have one email vs. ten if possible as we just get too many of those every day. If it takes more than a couple of emails, pick up the phone (usually I would say, get off your chair and walk down to the other side of the office to talk to the person, unfortunately in the current environment I’m not sure when that will be possible again)
Q: What advice would you give to other aspiring women in technology?
A: Be honest, be confident, be relevant, have integrity, and be yourself. Success does not happen when you cannot be your authentic self. That does not mean you have to be abrasive, but stand up for what you believe. If you think a course of action does not make sense, speak up, give your reasoning but also be prepared to provide a better solution. When you come across a problem, don’t just bring the problem to your manager, tell them how to solve it at the same time. When you’re given a task or an assignment, think about the next question that hasn’t been asked yet or maybe the question that should have been asked and answer it anyway. Always learn more. If you don’t know the answer, go figure it out. When you talk, do it to contribute, not because you think it’s needed to “be important”. If you contribute value, you will matter. Oh, and you do not need to be an engineer to gain an understanding of technology all that is needed is curiosity …. Google is your friend, chances are somebody has written about it at various skill levels, but as I always tell my kids mind your sources;-)
Q: What achievement are you most proud of in your time here so far?
A: That’s a tough one. We’ve done a lot in the last seven years and my role has changed and evolved over that time period. I’m probably most proud of how we were able to transition from a hardware heavy appliance perpetual model to a software-defined subscription company. That is not an easy change to make and looking back at our two/three-step approach, while challenging, it was able to get us to the finish line. We have great customers that see the value in the solution we provide and have been incredibly supportive in this transition.
Q: What’s your superpower?
A: Different people will have different opinions on that one I’m sure. Bridging the gap between technology and business is part of what’s driving my recent change in role and is probably my superpower. My background includes an understanding of all different aspects of a business while I’m technical enough to understand what’s possible … imagination and then figure out how to make it happen.
Q: Do you have a morning or evening routine that you swear by?
A: Unfortunately I’m not really a morning person and I have yet to find a routine that inherently changes that. If somebody has the magic solution for that I’m all ears. In general, the first cup of coffee in the morning is probably the most important one. If I get a call in the early morning and I’m not quite done with that one, the call will typically start with a warning along the lines of “haven’t quite finished my first cup yet… what challenges can I help you solve?” Let’s face it nobody calls you early unless there is something to solve;-)
Q: Tell us a bit about Sabine Stafford the person.
Born and raised in Germany, married to a Canadian, moved to the US in 2002. Two fabulous children Sophia and Sean. Between the 4 of us, we have 3 passport colors;-) Now that my kids are older I picked up riding a motorcycle again. Started with a Harley Sportster, moved to an Indian Dark Horse, and most recently to a Triumph Tiger 1200. Riding a motorcycle is one of those activities where you just have to focus, where you can banish all those pesky to-dos and problems to solve from your head for a while.