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Penny Herscher
Penny is a serial entrepreneur and second time CEO. Her CEO was job with Simplex Solutions – a software provider in the electronic design automation space - which she took public in 2001 and sold to Cadence Design Systems in 2002. Her current company is FirstRain which is growing fast and which provides enterprise customer intelligence to the world's largest companies.

Originally a mathematician from Cambridge University in England, Penny worked in software engineering, marketing, business development and general management on her path to CEO. She’s a big believer in diversity – both in building careers paths and in building teams – to bring richer experience into leadership and decision making.

Penny serves on the boards of FirstRain, JDSU and Rambus and the non-profit Anita Borg Institute for Women in Technology. She speaks on entrepreneurship, career management and technology challenges and has taught at the Haas Business School at Berkeley, Stanford, Boston University and Santa Clara business schools as well as for numerous industry organizations and women's career development organizations.

Entries by Penny Herscher

Men Play a Key Role in Helping Women in Tech

(4) Comments | Posted October 6, 2014 | 2:18 PM

It's well understood now that Silicon Valley, and the technology industry, has gender issues. Women are in the dramatic minority in leadership and in technology positions in most tech companies. There are very few tech leaders who are women, and harassment continues to be a serious...

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Dating at Work Is a Dangerous Sport

(4) Comments | Posted July 1, 2014 | 5:34 PM

As the current fashion of writing about women in tech surges it's not surprising that tales of sexual harassment are emerging. Men in power, women climbing into power, money, ambition, attraction, alcohol -- what could go wrong?

Consider today's latest -- the suit filed...

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How Smith College Turned Christine Lagarde's Cancellation Into a Win for Women's Voices

(17) Comments | Posted May 20, 2014 | 3:03 PM

Ruth Simmons gave a brilliant, beautiful and moving commencement address at Smith College, MA on Sunday. Emotional to be back at Smith where she was previously president, she spoke to the students about free speech, about the importance of "tak[ing] good care of your voice" and the power...

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How Your CEO Is Part of Your Brand Marketing Whether You Like It or Not

(0) Comments | Posted May 14, 2014 | 5:34 PM

We're living in a transparent world today. Everything your write or share online is public and you cannot hide. Anything you say outside (or in) the privacy of your home can be recorded. Anything you do can be video taped and posted on YouTube.

But somehow executives can forget this--and...

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3 Ways You Can Hire Women and Change Your Company Forever

(1) Comments | Posted February 18, 2014 | 7:12 PM

Our world is changing very fast, and the role of women is changing fast with it -- and, mostly, for the positive. We have more women in power, more women in the workforce, more women in control of their lives but there still aren't representative numbers of women at the...

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Top 10 Revenue-Driving Tips Salespeople Can Learn from the Winter Games

(0) Comments | Posted February 11, 2014 | 3:12 PM

A recent David Williams Forbes article, "Why You Should Fill Your Company With Athletes, highlighted seven traits to look for when hiring. David didn't mean that you should hire only real athletes, but rather, try to hire employees that have "athlete traits that make any individual an exceptional...

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The Biggest Little Industry You've Never Heard of Turns Fifty

(8) Comments | Posted October 15, 2013 | 9:50 PM

Chips touch every aspect of our lives. You use chips in your car, in your phone, in your TV, in your fridge, when you play a video game, when you text, Skype or blog, in the bar code reader at the grocery checkout, when you take a photo, as your...

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Why the Debate About Twitter's Board and Women at the Top in Silicon Valley Is a Healthy One

(4) Comments | Posted October 7, 2013 | 8:13 AM

Is the fact that Twitter has filed for its IPO with no women on the board, and only one (new) woman in management a question of supply or demand? Is it the "arrogance of the Silicon Valley mafia," as Vivek Wadhwa believes, or "difficult" due to...

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Why Some Stress Is Good for Sales People

(2) Comments | Posted July 19, 2013 | 2:57 PM

With so much riding on closing the sale, making quota and generating revenue, sales reps are some of the most stressed out members of the workforce. Yet some stress may actually improve your performance. Recent research found short bursts of intense stress can improve your cognitive functions and make you...

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Why Insight Is Urgent for Today's Sales Team

(1) Comments | Posted June 14, 2013 | 1:24 PM

A year ago I wrote about the economy's gradual turn out of a recession, and the pressure that the recovery put on sales teams to understand not just their customers -- but their customers' customers. Fortunately, the economic recovery has continued and many sales teams within our economy's...

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Wonder Where the Women in Power Are? Look to Silicon Valley

(4) Comments | Posted March 13, 2013 | 3:12 PM

There is a tectonic shift happening and we're living the future right now here in technologyland. Women are gaining and holding power at a rate we have never seen before and finally they are openly talking about it.

Sheryl Sandberg's well-marketed new book Lean In, is stirring up the timely...

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Women Computer Scientists -- Yes, They Exist!

(9) Comments | Posted October 4, 2012 | 2:02 PM

Women are doing some amazing work in Computer Science and Engineering, how come we don't know about them? We all know the about the stereotypical hot start-up out of Silicon Valley led by some twenty-something white guy but we don't hear much about women entrepreneurs, computer scientists, researchers and business...

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Birth Control Battles and Women in Tech

(576) Comments | Posted August 23, 2012 | 11:47 AM

Would I have the career I have today without having had easy access to birth control? I doubt it. Tech women are like any other women. Most of us 'successful' technical women were uninsured or low-income at the beginning of our careers, including those of us in Silicon Valley. We...

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Why the Activist Investors in Yahoo! and Chesapeake Travel in Packs

(0) Comments | Posted June 13, 2012 | 7:25 PM

Have you ever wondered why activist shareholders travel in packs? It's because they are significantly less effective alone -- just like any other minority on a board.

Activists (often hedge funds) accumulate a position in a stock because they want to make change happen at a company and, by making...

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Golf Not Required to Get Ahead in Silicon Valley

(2) Comments | Posted June 6, 2012 | 5:21 PM

It's different here. Yes it's not perfect, but it is so different. We don't care if Mark Zuckerberg wears a hoodie -- men don't wear ties here -- and the last point in Julie Steinberg's recent Wall Street Journal article on the "Nine Rules Women Must Follow To...

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Top 5 Reasons to Understand Your Customer's Customer

(1) Comments | Posted May 10, 2012 | 5:14 PM

The world is slowly climbing out of the great recession as companies around the world begin to increase investment and hiring. But for B2B sales teams looking to recapture growth during these early days, it's critical to understand who's really paying their bills and keeping the lights on -- and...

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Girl, Stop Crying and Talk Like a Man

(146) Comments | Posted April 20, 2012 | 4:26 PM

The same issue comes up every time I mentor technical women:

"I offer an idea at a meeting, no one listens to me and then a man says the same thing and everyone listens."

Often the woman is the only woman on a team and so the only woman in...

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Engineering Is the Way to Bring Jobs Back to America

(213) Comments | Posted October 25, 2011 | 7:57 PM

We are facing an ongoing threat to America's global economic leadership and increasing the number of engineers in our workforce is one powerful way we can change our destiny as a country.

In Silicon Valley we have one engineering job open for every two engineers that are employed -- this...

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How to Fire a CEO

(17) Comments | Posted September 22, 2011 | 9:25 PM

Let's face it, CEOs get fired all the time.

CEOs with less than 5 years of experience are more likely than long-standing ones to be fired, so it's going to happen all the time but there are ways to do it, and ways not to.


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Five Keys to Leadership for Women in Technology

(8) Comments | Posted September 18, 2011 | 5:25 PM

Do women lead differently than men? Yes, usually. Do women face more barriers than men? Frequently. But do women sometimes hold themselves back ? Yes.

Tech companies are competitive and dominated by men. Fact. So how, as a woman, do you adapt and learn how to lead in that environment?...

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