Carol Snell has a broad range of experience that includes venture financing, refining market direction for technology-focused businesses, building management teams, and establishing strategic alliances. Her career highlights include co-founder of Aspect Communications; Chairman of five early stage start-ups, CEO of four early-stage startups; EVP of global business systems for Octel Communications; Board Chairman for venture-backed startups include Voxify, Nuasis, Cignex, IVUS, and PlayVox; and Board Director for Salesportal, Siperian, RightPoint, Claria, WebFlow and Aristacom. CEO roles include Salesportal, Nusais, Webflow, and Aristacom. Carol brings deep domain expertise in contact center operations, as well as customer-facing, customer service and customer experience organizations. Carol received her Bachelors of Science in Business from the University of North Carolina and an Executive MBA from Stanford University.
How has your life experience made you the leader you are today?
My life, both personal and professional, has been filled with great mentors, starting with my parents. I also think some people are born with a natural ability to lead; you just have to find ways in your life to nurture and grow those skills. I aggressively sought opportunities to "lead" throughout my life, like being the captain of my high school basketball team, because it was natural to me and I loved it. Take chances, make mistakes, ask for help, be inquisitive and learn. Helping others grow has been one of the most fulfilling aspects of my career.
How has your previous employment experience aided your position at Push Technology?
I founded a high technology company in the mid-eighties, known as Aspect Software today. I have been an early-stage company CEO four times and a chairman five times. For the last 14 years, my sole mission has been to work with entrepreneurs to build and grow their companies - I've helped a total of 15 companies either as an advisor, CEO coach, board member, CEO, or executive chairman. I have seen companies go public, get acquired and fail. All of this experience helps me bring a lot of sage advice and experience to the Push Technology team.
What have the highlights and challenges been during your tenure at Push Technology?
So far, Push Technology has been filled with mostly highlights. The company is positioned in a very fast-paced, growing market with highly disruptive technology, which means the challenges end up being about managing that growth. We need to answer questions like: Can we hire, train and grow employees fast enough? Can we deliver products on time and on budget, with great features that are bug free? Our view is to make sure we are always very focused on exceeding customer satisfaction, which ripples all throughout our organization. This is the way it should be, and our job is to ensure we maintain that perspective at all times. Without happy customers, nothing else really matters.
How is Push Technology shaking up the Web industry?
We have a very disruptive technology that is on the forefront of mobility and the Internet of Things. App performance and data delivery become more critical each day as the demand for real-time, relevant information grows, even in the face of data overflow and unreliable network connectivity. By adding an intelligent data distribution ingredient technology into the mix, data remains fast, scalable, consistent and up-to-date due to smaller message packets being pushed through for greater throughput. So, in the face of impending massive data challenges, this type of technology helps deliver real-time data on any device, which will be crucial for Web technologies to advance.
What advice can you offer women who are seeking a career in the Web industry?
Never stop learning. Get a good education, develop a core competency in an area of interest and stand up for what you know is right. Don't try to be good at everything, even if you think that is the only way to be the best. Just get noticed and seek out opportunities to solve real problems. Know your stuff, gain respect, work hard and great outcomes will happen.
How do you maintain a work/life balance?
It's very hard, and I'm not going to kid anyone here. Over the years, I have not done a good job at this, because, in my career, women have had to work twice as hard to get half the credit. Today, in a lot of cases, industries are more focused on having a healthy, happy employee base. So, this shift in itself helps. However, we are such a "be on, all the time" society, and if we are not "on," we tend to feel guilty. But, my advice is to find some time every day to just be off. It is one of the healthiest career enhancing things someone can do for themselves. You end up being better at work if you are more balanced at home, so make sure to exercise and spend quality time with family and friends - and force yourself to do it.
What do you think is the biggest issue for women in the workplace?
Women are still not paid for performance like their male counterparts in a lot of work environments. In many cases, they have the skills (and are perhaps even more-skilled than their male counterparts in similar positions), but they need to speak up, take a position and thrive. Women are still outnumbered when it comes to senior executive positions. These are real issues that still need to have focused attention.
How has mentorship made a difference in your professional and personal life?
I could not be where I am today without having had good mentors in my life. People have different points of view, more experience in certain areas than you might, and so on, all of which can help expand how you work or see things. I have had many good mentors and they have truly enhanced my life in more ways than I can express. My advice? Be willing to listen.
Which other female leaders do you admire and why?
Sheryl Sandberg. Sheryl is very smart, yet such a real person. She's approachable and cares about the advancement of women in business. Mother Theresa is another woman who ran one of the most successful business in the world, even though many people don't actually see her cause that way. Lastly, Admiral Grace Hopper. Admiral Hopper invented the Cobalt Programming language, and really forged the way for women in computer science.
What do you want Push Technology to accomplish in the next year?
While it may be aggressive for a first year, I would like to see Push Technology become the market leader in the data distribution systems space, with 100 percent reference-able customers.