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What do disruption, serendipity, championing and agility have in common? At first, it may not seem like much, but for four of Utah’s tech company leaders, these themes are what made their careers the successes they are today.
These tech leaders, including Carine Clark, president and CEO of Allegiance; David Bradford, executive chairman at HireVue; Heather Zynczak, CMO of Domo; and Sarah Lehman, CEO of Enve Composites, shared the themes that defined their careers during the Women Tech Council’s annual spring networking event Tuesday at Adobe in Lehi. Each spoke about specific moments that made them the leaders they are today through short, eight-minute TED-style keynote addresses.
Disruption is the theme that made Clark’s career path successful.
“Everyone has disruption. None of us can avoid it,” she said. “Everybody fights this and wants it out of our lives, but when you have disruption in your life, you should say thank you to the universe, because disruption is a positive gift. It’s a gift that will transform your life forever and will give you experiences, opportunities and success you could never have imagined.”
Clark spoke about losing her job after a 14-year career at Novell.
“It was terrifying to go home and tell my family that I was no longer employed,” she said.
Fortunately, people started calling her after hearing she was unemployed and she received several job offers. The offer she took provided her just a third of her previous pay, but there she was able to work her way up the corporate ladder and eventually made her way to Allegiance as CEO.
“If I hadn’t lost my job in 2002, I would never have had these exciting opportunities I’ve had,” she said. “Don’t ever let fear determine your fate.”
For Bradford, serendipity has played a major role in his professional life.
“Serendipity only happens through connections with people and it only happens if you work hard at it,” he said. “You will find that the harder you work, the more serendipitous your life will be.”
A major serendipitous moment for Bradford was when he flew to Utah in the mid-1980s after his father passed away to take care of his estate. As he was driving from the Salt Lake airport to Provo, he saw a billboard for Novell. He said a voice spoke to him and told him to get off the freeway—and he did. He found himself at Novell’s office where he told the receptionist he was there to speak with the company president.
While he was waiting in the lobby, he saw a job board where a corporate legal counsel position was open. He was a practicing attorney at the time, so when the president came out to meet him, he told him he was there to apply for the position. Two weeks later, he moved his family to Provo.
“Serendipity, you say,” he said. “It was, but it was because I got off my rear end and did something. I took a dismal situation and turned it into a positive one.”
When it comes to Zynczak’s career, championing has been an asset.
“I have been my own biggest champion. I have championed my career,” she said. “You have to be your biggest champion, your best advocate, because if you think you can’t, you won’t. If you don’t believe in yourself, no one else will.”
Zynczak learned the importance of championing herself while attending Wharton Business School. She was one of the youngest people in her class and was very intimidated by her classmates. One day during a career fair, she noticed booths had been set up for four top consulting firms. She mentioned to a friend that she’d love to work for one of the firms, but didn’t think she had a chance of landing an internship because she didn’t have any experience or an Ivy League undergrad degree. Her friend told her that if she walked into the interview and acted like she didn’t belong and wasn’t good enough, the consulting firms would think that too.
“So I worked my little rear off for three months to make sure I had confidence and I knew I belonged,” she said. “I was the only person in my class that got offers from all four firms.”