10 Career Advice You Must Know Shared by Bay Area's Executive Women Leaders
Updated: Mar 27
“I get very concerned when we get so specific and define diversity as just gender...I believe there’s also a diversity of thought.” Tracy Lopes, Vice President of Service and Strategic Marketing at Varian Medical Systems, shared her thoughts with us for her previous experience as one of only three women in her graduating engineering class. Diversity and inclusion are crucial to leadership. We are the people who determine our own destinations. Such valuable insights are really essential and helpful for graduate students at their early stage of career development.
To expand access to influential leaders and to facilitate an enhanced supplemental learning experience for graduate business students at Santa Clara University, the student-run network Graduate Women in Business at Leavey School of Business proudly launched our Executive Panel Talk Series in Winner 2020.
Our Speakers and Moderators
On Feb. 19th, five outstanding women leaders from the top companies in the Bay Area came to the campus of Santa Clara University. They delivered an inspiring and informative presentation about “Leadership: Diversity and Inclusion”. Our panelists are as follows (listed by the last names):
Katty Coulson - VP of Product Team Information Technology at Oracle
Dr. Junling Hu - Founder and CTO at Question.ai, Chair of AI Frontiers Conference
Rebecca Lin - VP of Strategy and Global Business Development at Potrero Medical, Guest Lecturer at UCSF for Master of Translational Medicine
Tracy Lopes - VP of Service and Strategic Marketing at Varian Medical Systems
Meggie Lu - Senior Director of Finance at Enphase Energy
We were honored to have Professors Tanya Monsef and Francine Gordon, Ph.D. to be our event’s moderator and consultant. They have more than two decades of experience in coaching and consulting with a focus on strategy and leadership.
The Panel was a great success! Our panelists generously shared their personal stories, professional experience, and also career advice about several topics that students are most concerned about. We’ve selected ten shining quotes to share with you.
Clear Vision - Instead of “getting bored”, Junling Hu is always looking for something that can make a big impact. As a previous college professor, a researcher and tech leader in several multinational corporations, and now an author and entrepreneur of an Artificial Intelligence start-up, she is modeling the way of walking out of the comfort zone and willing to take the next challenge. She holds the goal to make an impact in AI; such a clear vision makes her so sharp for decision making.
Courage - As a mom of four boys, Tracy Lopes has demonstrated success in both work and life. One of her secrets was to take the initiative. Tracy is leading a global marketing team in the healthcare industry with her engineering background. She spent three years working in Shanghai, China and had one of her boys born over there. “Don’t worry about your titles; don’t worry about specific roles in the team, but to chase experience in front of you and try as much as you can.” Tracy wants to influence more people and help create a world without fear of Cancer.
Curiosity - Rebecca Lin is a passionate dream-chaser and rule-disrupter. She had given up two times for Ph.D. degrees because she didn’t want to follow the standard way of growth; she didn’t want to fit herself into a pre-built prototype. After many years, now she came back to college to teach graduate students because she wants to share the knowledge and experience with them and ignite them to chase their dream. The strong curiosity drives Rebecca to take more and more challenges and to break the mystery of “impossible.”
Commitment and Perseverance - While we are always looking for fast learners and advocating for “stay agile”, Katty Coulson shared the voice from the other side. She emphasized the importance of commitment and perseverance. With a business major, she came to the U.S. from Mexico to make the next impact. During her 13 years journey at Cisco, she had served multiple tech functions in leadership roles. “I’m not an engineer. If they are looking for an engineer, they will hire an engineer. But I can add the additional value to the table…I was a turtle. It took me longer than others. But I was willing to put in the time!”
Challenge Yourself - Meggie Lu shared her best practices for managing transitions. She got her first job in Motorola’s sales team from her English tutoring experience in China. With her strong passion for Finance and excellent business acumen, she came to the University of Maryland for her MBA education. After that, she worked for several industries such as semiconductors and clean energies from big corporations to start-ups. “Don’t wait for others to tap your shoulder and give you the assignment. Take the initiative and ask for what you want.”
“Why Not” Attitude - “People see things in you but you might not see those sometimes...At my early career stage, I hope that I have the courage to stay authentic to myself.” To conquer “Imposter Syndrome”, Tracy Lopes values a lot of self-awareness. Follow your passion, show your strength, and ask for the answers. “When you don’t know, just say it. Raise your hands and say ‘I don’t quite understand.’ ” One of the best ways to face challenges is to hold the mindset of “why not”. “You don’t have to get both feet down to the solid ground. Just give it a try. Why not?”
Engagement - one common question for women in business is how to engage with men colleagues while they have different types of hobbies and topics. Katty Coulson shared her experience about how to bridge the gender conversation gap. “Stay genuinely interested. There must be somewhere that you can find the connection. You don’t need to know everything about sports or politics. When people are talking, you can just ask, ‘why are you so interested in that?’, and then find the thread that you can get connected.” Don’t feel excluded. Most of the time, people are not meant to that.
Conflict Management - “Working in a supporting function like Finance, you can select your manager but you cannot select whom you support.” When being asked how to work with “toxic-like” managers, Meggie Lu pointed out the importance of conflict solving skills. “Go talk to them and ask - what’s your expectations and what you want me to do. If I can do, I will go forward to it; if I can’t, please come down a little bit so we could meet somewhere in the middle.”
Speaking up - “ I found some people would cut you off and jump into the conversation,” Junjing Hu recalled her previous experience when she was at the faculty’s meetings, “I was thinking about why people didn’t give me the time to talk! Then I realized that you have to be aggressive, to speak up and to take the initiative.”
Ask for help - All of our panelists shared their great stories about how people helped them and how they asked for help. Several years ago, like so many other international students, Rebecca Lin was facing the challenge of sponsorship. She failed to win the lottery of an H1B visa and she was prepared to go back to China at that time. However, she believed in miracles and she wanted to have one more try. She asked all the people she could ask. Fortunately, she successfully got the O-1 visa and turned that into a Green Card. “At least 20 people were helping me... When you ask, they will really help you out. The power of asking is amazing!”
Our Students’ Comments
Both our female and male graduate students were so impressed and energized! We received many comments about the panel and we were so glad to see our students learned a lot from the event.
“I’m really impressed by the speech of the five women leaders. They experienced the same problems which I face now. I appreciate it that they shared the way they used to solve these problems with us. They taught me a lot. Thanks again for having this opportunity to listen to the stories of the five brilliant women leaders.” -- Xiaoyu Guo, current MS Business Analytics student
“Last night’s Women in Business Executive Panel Talk hosted by Jessica and her team was such an amazing event. Five very accomplished women leaders came to the LSB and shared their personal stories with us. We not only learned about the successes they have achieved but also got to hear about the challenges they've encountered and how they embraced difficult situations and came out being even stronger. I'm looking forward to more incredible events like this in the future. ” -- Rachel Chang, current Evening MBA student
“I wanted to show my support for the women who are trying to get ahead, but to be honest, I wasn't sure whether I would benefit from the talk for women by women. As it turns out, most of the challenges discussed in the room were very relatable! Guys too suffer from the imposter syndrome but they don't talk about it, and not all guys are into sports--so to hear how each panelist tackles those problems is insightful, something I can bring with me going forward in my career. Please make sure you also send them our thanks for making the time to talk with us!” -- Harold Tran, Online MBA 2020
“Panelists inspiringly shared their career endeavors, personal stories, and principles that they were practicing during their daily work. Those industry insights would definitely help students to succeed at networking, interviews, and work. ” -- Elita Liu, Current MS student in School of Engineering
As Professor Barry Posner mentioned in the Book The Leadership Challenge, “It's about leading out of what is already in your soul. It's about liberating the leader within you. And it starts with looking inside. The better you know yourself, the better you can make sense of the often incomprehensible and conflicting messages you receive daily.” Listen to yourself, follow your passion, and respect your diversity. We hope our graduate students could carry that mindset through their journeys.
Special thanks again to our amazing panelists and role models: Tracy Lopes, Meggie Lu, Rebecca Lin, Katty Coulson, and Junling Hu. Your presence was the honor of Santa Clara University and your valuable insights made a sound contribution to the Bronco Community!