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Nora DenzelAnita Borg

1 What was your first job in the tech industry?

2 Who inspired you as you were growing up?

3 Are men intimidated by you? How do you deal with that?

4 What has been the most important factor in your success?

5 What are the most difficult challenges you face in the high-tech arena?

6 How do you stay so positive?

7 What kind of experience/education do you have?

8 Do you network with other high-tech women?

9 How do other countries differ from the U.S. as far as women in technology?

10 Why did you choose this particular field?

11 Did you have a normal childhood?

12 What's your next career step?

13 What's been the hardest part of your career?

14 Can you tell us about the side projects you've started?

15 Who is your role model?

16 What's the biggest obstacle you've overcome?

17 How can women sabotage their career success?

18 What is your family life like?

19 How did you come to accept criticism of your work?

20 Do you do any public speaking?

21 Can a positive attitude conceal resentment?

22 What is W.O.M.E.N. Unlimited and what is your role in it?

23 How did you become so credible? Any pitfalls you know to avoid?

24 What's your management philosophy/style?

25 What is your best quality?

26 How do you stay so enthusiastic?

27 Any last bit of advice?

Nora Denzel VP and General Manager of Storage Organization, Hewlett Packard; Former Sr. VP and a corporate officer of Legato Systems

Our special guest today is Nora Denzel, Nora is the Senior Vice President and a corporate officer of Legato Systems Inc , a $143 million market and technology leader in the enterprise storage management software market. She currently heads all of Legato's engineering, product management and technical support organizations reporting directly to the company's CEO.

Moderator: Welcome Nora, we're glad you could be with us today!

Nora: Hello everyone, I am so happy to be here.

guest-Sabrina says: What was your first job in the tech industry?

Nora: My first job was when I was in college. I worked as a programmer for our college registrar, assigning people to classes and such.

guest-Andace asks: Who were the people/heroes who inspired you when you were growing up?

Nora: When I was growing up I had several people who inspired me; first and foremost, my mother. She had 6 children, worked fulltime and had a college degree when it wasn't fashionable! She was amazing! I also liked Billy Jean King and Sally Ride.

guest-Bonnie says: I was wondering if men feel more intimidated by you and how do you deal with it?

Nora: Great question Bonnie... It is difficult to tell what men feel when they meet me, many are surprised! When I was younger, ( I am 37 now), but in my early 20s, I felt that both men and women were surprised that I could know as much as I did about computer storage. I got a lot of strange looks when I was the only woman at a conference or the only woman in the department... but I just keep my mind on my work and ignore the reaction of others. I always felt that my accomplishments, not my gender or looks, would set me apart.

guest-Katreena says: What do you feel has been the most important factor in your success?

Nora: Most important factor in success.... I'd have to say HARD WORK. You just never, ever, ever, give up. It takes a long time to be an overnight success! I've seen much more talented people than me, but they didn't believe that they could do something, or they gave up too quickly. I am living proof that if you want something bad enough, and are willing to sacrifice and work hard, you can get it.

Moderator: What are some of the most difficult challenges you've faced as a woman in the hi-tech arena?

Nora: I am not sure my gender contributed to the challenges that are out there, or maybe it did and I was blind to it. Sometimes, not often, I'd meet people who had something on their mind other than work... I think they were just so surprised to see a woman in my position, that they wanted to get to know me better, shall we say.. I am not sure that was such a big challenge, I was always very work oriented so it didn't bother me much! I honestly don't think my gender helped or hurt me moving up the ladder, results did.

Moderator: How do you get motivated to stay so positive Nora?

Nora: I don't know. I do believe that you control your attitude. Misery in life is optional!

guest-Terri says: How did you prepare for what you are doing now... schooling, jobs, etc?

Nora: I got a computer science degree for my undergraduate work and then went back to school at night for three years for a Masters In Business Administration. If you really want to run a technology company one day, I think it is important to have a balance between technical ability and business acumen. The other things that were helpful were internships and opportunities to program while I was in college. For example, I got a summer job programming for IBM that did wonders for my confidence and marketability when I graduated.

guest-Netta says: Do you network with other hi-tech women leaders? What's the relationship like?

Nora: As I said before, credentials open a lot of doors. It is also the case that education teaches you fundamentals that apply to many different problems you will have to address. It teaches you ways of thinking and dealing with many problems and situations. However, it can sometimes be a bit too abstract -- though we are trying to change that. I was glad to have had some experience in the real world when I went back to school. I had a bit of an understanding of why I was doing all the studying. So both are really important. I know computer science Ph.D.s who couldn't program their way out a paper bag. But I also know people who are frustrated at their limited advancement because they didn't get a degree.

guest-Netta says: What are your hopes for the future of the Women in Technology Institute?

Nora: Great question Netta! I think the best networking is done naturally. I play golf on Thursdays, am active in my community and genuinely like meeting and talking with people. I've never done things that were supposed to be good for my career. I have met other high tech leaders at events around the valley and struck up relationships with them the old fashioned way-- by being a friend to them. So I guess I am not a good role model for networking, because I don't think I do it particularly well!

Moderator: Do you travel out of the country often Nora? If so, how do you see the other countries as we have here different.

Nora: I've pretty much traveled the world. Most of my travel has been for business. I spent 13 years at IBM where I did most of my traveling. I found it very eye opening! If you think that women are treated poorly in America--- try visiting some other countries! You'd be amazed! For example, I was so surprised in Japan to be talking with a corporate executive while he had a nude picture of a woman on a calendar! Right in plain view on his desk! In the US you'd be fired for that, but it is perfectly acceptable in Japan! Also in Asia, they had the concept of "office girls" who served the men coffee, cakes and put slippers on their feet...again, I don't think you'd find that in the US. Women execs are very, very rare in most European and Asian countries. So, for my informal survey... the US is very far ahead in women leaders. I think that Margaret Thatcher in the UK and Ms. Robinson in Ireland as their country's respective leaders have helped a bit, but for the most part, I do think that the US treats women more equal and clearly women are farther ahead in the work force in the US.

guest-Netta says: Why did you choose the storage industry? What about the dot-coms and Internet?

Nora: The storage industry is fascinating !! I can't believe you'd ask that! Just kidding! Storage is really fun, I love it! The best part about it is that EVERYONE needs it! While I think that some of the dot-coms will come and go there is always a need to manage computer storage. I guess I think of it as I work for a pain relief company meaning, our software solves a very basic need-- the need to protect computer data and keep servers up and running. Most other companies, serve needs that not every one has, so they are more of a luxury item-- like a vitamin pill vs. a pain reliever. So that is why I love storage--- a huge market! And continuing to grow!

guest-Sillyside says: Did you ever feel "different" growing up? Did you have a normal childhood do you think?

Nora: I am not sure anyone thinks they have a normal childhood! I grew up on a farm, with 4 sisters and one brother. We had beef cattle, so we did a lot with 4-H and such. It was fun... the only thing about being so isolated is that I trusted everyone, never locked my doors, wasn't afraid of strangers, etc. There are good parts to that, for example, I didn't know women weren't supposed to be in high tech companies... The bad parts of that is that I was so sheltered, I had a lot of real life learning to do once I went away to college... But I caught up quickly though!

guest-Netta says: What's your next career step?

I don't think about my next career step very often. I love what I am doing. We're in a 1200 person company, which is a great size. I also have a dream job! I manage all of engineering, but also have Product Management (those that decide what to build) and Product Marketing as well (those that decide how to sell the products). It is fun! I learn so much everyday that I don't even return head hunter calls....I suppose one day I'll get the itch to be the CEO of a software company, but I don't want to move until it stops being fun. I'd also like to write a book in my spare time and have been promising myself that I will one day, just to know how to do it!

guest-Jarrod says: What has been the hardest part of your career so far?

Nora: The hardest part is that I get out of balance very often... I like what I do so much, I find myself sacrificing the other parts of life. So I have been working now to get back in balance by having hobbies, traveling, writing a book, etc. Work is something that I love, but I have to continue to remind myself to GET A LIFE!!

Moderator: Nora, speaking of books, have you started on anything you would care to share with us today?

Nora: Sure, I started on two books actually, one on my love --- computer storage. I don't think it'll have broad appeal, but it is something that I like. I also started one on how Women Shoot Themselves in the Workplace.

guest-MLCQUEEN says: Who do you consider your role model?

Nora: Role models for me now would be Carly Fiorina, the CEO of HP.... She is amazing if you do any reading about her background. Very smart, very sharp, and she got to be the first CEO of a Fortune 10 company!

guest-PCrosby says: What was the biggest obstacle you've overcome, one that almost stopped you?

Nora: The biggest obstacle... let me see... I can't think of one thing in particular, but I guess it'd have to be me... There was a time that I refused to accept any criticism of what I was doing. That almost derailed me very early. Once I learned to accept other people's thoughts and that criticism was my friend, I soared up the ladder. I try to think that everyone I meet can teach me something... sometimes the lessons have been tough to take... but when I truly embraced what they were saying, and faced my faults and worked to correct them, my career took off. So my biggest obstacle was clearly me!

guest-Netta says: How do women shoot themselves in the workplace? By joining the planning committees?

Nora: Right on Netta! Many people will try to stick women with traditional female duties such as the planning committee, or the corporate bake sale, or the site beautification committee..... DON'T DO IT! I remember having to tell one of my managers a football analogy to get him to understand... I told him.... Look--- if we were a football team, I want to be the quarterback, not the water boy! I think he got the point, early on, everyone was telling me to go into Human Resources--- the group in a company that handles job descriptions, and hiring, and benefits and the like. I don't have anything against Human Resources--- but I wanted to RUN the company-- not be on the sidelines. After my football talk...they never asked me again to join a committee!! Don't try to please everyone at work by accepting all that is thrown your way...if you can't figure out how the committee will help your career-- don't do it!

guest-Sillyside says: Do you have children and a family of your own now? How do they feel about you and your career?

Nora: Remember when I talked about trying to find balance?

guest-KatCCC: Yes...

Nora: Well I am 37 and the other day realized I forgot something...I forgot to get married and have children! Whoops.... So I do not have children of my own... yet... there is still hope though

guest-Carey says: Hello Nora, what made you decide to accept criticism? a certain event?

Nora: I read a book--- called "The Critical Edge". Did you ever read something that changed you? That book did. I actually saw the author speaking on the subject and a light went off.... Sometimes I think we all try to be perfect....Once I gave that up... my career went into overdrive! Can't tell you how much accepting criticism helped me.

guest-IloveMYpc says: Have you ever thought about doing any public speaking? I think you would be great for young women in schools!

Nora: I do speak around town a bit, but it is hard with my hectic schedule. I talk to groups, such as WITI, Women in Technology International, or SWE, the Society of Women Engineers about how women Shoot Themselves in the Foot in the Workplace. It is a lot of fun...

guest-PCrosby says: Love your up attitude, but can't Positive Mental Attitude plaster over real feelings and fester resentments at work?

Nora: It is hard to tell. I am genuinely optimistic, but I do have bad days once in a while. I do my venting to a great group of friends and family. I think as a leader it is important to project a positive attitude... and if you don't like what you're doing at work-- GET OUT! You can't fake being positive. If you aren't, people will discover it. I love computer storage and working at Legato, it is hard to fake that. So I don't think that people resent that attitude, I hope they find it inspiring to find the thing that they love to do and do it... life is too short to hate where you work.

Moderator: Nora, what is "Women Unlimited"? Can you tell us your role in this?

Nora: W.O.M.E.N. Unlimited is a mentoring organization across the US. I serve as a mentor in this program. It brings together young women from all over the valley and puts them through an intensive class on all aspects of corporate life. Part of the program entails assigning the young women to an executive female from the valley. Most women pick someone who isn't in their industry or company so they can be assured of confidentiality. I love it, it's great!

Moderator: What do the initials stand for?

Nora: I think it is Woman's Organization for Mentoring and NetWorking... but don't quote me... you can find it on the web!

guest-TahoeMoe says: how did you succeed in achieving such high credibility? any pitfalls you can make us aware of?

Nora: Know your stuff! I can't not stress enough how much competence in a field is important, and if you don't know what you're talking about... don't fake it... just say "I don't know". Some pitfalls are focusing so far ahead you never master the job you have now.... BIG MISTAKE... Work in the job you are in until you feel there is nothing else to learn... People can spot a job hopper from miles off and don't really want to work with them... Do great at your current job, learn all you can, and then move on... but don't move on or even think about the next job until you have this one down.

guest-Netta says: What's your management style/philosophy?

Nora:I guess it'd be-- Hire people who are better than you are and then get out of the way!

guest-Carey says: I am trying to cope with accepting criticism right now, and it's difficult. But I will overcome this and read "The Critical Edge". Thanxs for the recommendation.

Nora: You are welcome... some advice on criticism... Resist the urge to interrupt when you are receiving it... the only acceptable things to say are "Thank you" and "Is there more?" Sometimes I have to sit on my hands during especially painful sessions just to remind me to button up!

guest-G8er8 says: What would you say is your best quality?

Nora: I think my best quality is that I don't think I have one... What I mean by that is that I am still "under construction", and don't focus on what I do well... I obsess on what I haven't mastered yet. I am not sure I recommend this way of thinking.... but that is what I do.. I guess people would say that I am down to earth and self-effacing... I am not sure if that is good or not, I don't work on that, I just am that way because I am not convinced I have a best quality! I hope that makes sense to you.

guest-TahoeMoe says: How do you manage to maintain your level of enthusiasm for your work?

Nora: I really love what I do... That is the big secret--- Do what you love and good things will follow! It is so easy to stay up reading when you love the book. It is hard to read a book on a topic you hate. That is the simple truth. You may have to try out a lot of things before you truly find what makes you excited, but I've always been fascinated with computer storage.

Moderator: Thank you so much for chatting with us today Nora! Is there anything you would like to say before we close for today?

Nora: I've really enjoyed talking with all of you and wanted to say thank you for taking the time to join us today! Remember-- do what you love and the rewards will follow, I promise.

 
 
 
 


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