Kira Dales has spent the last two decades honing her technology and leadership experience at companies like Google, eBay, PayPal and HP. And now she’s ready to make her mark at Adobe.
Kira joins Adobe as our new Vice President of Strategy and Operations in Cloud Technology and will be critical to the organization where she will lead strategic planning and business operations, and our Service Life Cycle (SLC) focus across the company.
I sat down with Kira to learn about her unique civil engineering background, what surprises her most about Adobe and, among other things, what crayon color she considers herself.
You studied civil & environmental engineering while you were at Cornell and Stanford. How did you end up pursuing a career in strategy and business planning?
I actually worked as a civil engineer for the first 4 years of my career, and I’m a licensed professional engineer in California. But when I started graduate school at Stanford, I took a global management class, which was co-taught by the business school and it got me really interested in the business side of things. My graduate program research team then started a software business and I joined them. The company failed but I realized I had a real appetite and excitement for business, so after I graduated, I started working in tech.
What attracted you to Adobe?
It’s such an interesting time to be at Adobe because there’s a lot of opportunity here. With Adobe’s position in the market and all the assets we have, and the rapid changes in customer behavior and preferences, Adobe feels like a perfect storm. On top of that, the culture and talent here are amazing. The company has employees who bring years of expertise, and Adobe has an incredible appetite for change. This combination of elements is what makes me feel like I can make an impact for customers and to the business. That’s what really drew me to Adobe.
During your interview process what did you think was Adobe’s best kept secret?
I knew this was a company sitting on a solid foundation, but what I was most surprised to see were all the assets we’ve yet to unveil to our customers. With our great technology and solutions, we have a lot to offer. Seeing the power of what we can do is so amazing. Adobe’s thoughtfulness towards customers also really surprised me—all the employees here want to deliver the best customer experience.
What will success look like to you after the first year?
I want to figure out the “One Adobe” roadmap and how we’re going to achieve it. Adobe is a company that loves detail, but sometimes it’s hard to tell that story. I want to put this in simple language and put the right processes in place. There’s a saying that goes, if you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there. I want to make sure we know where we’re going and how to get there.
Okay, now for some fun facts…What’s one thing people will be surprised to learn about you?
I’m a real Martha Stewart type of person. I spend a lot of time on Houzz, because I love keeping a beautiful house and I appreciate beautiful design and architecture. I also love to cook—just this weekend I made brownies, an apple pie, banana bread, and hosted a dinner party—all while juggling my kids’ soccer tournament and my teenager’s first high school dance!
You’re a new addition to the crayon box, what color would you be and why?
This is hard! On the one hand, I really want to be sparkly and fun—I want to be gold or glitter, because I want to be that one color that can go on top of everything and add to it. That’s where my background and experience stems from.
But the other side of me is very practical, so the other color is black. Part of me is very structured and wants to figure out how all the pieces fit together and lead the way.
So maybe metallic black?
Yes, that sounds perfect!
What’s the best career advice you ever received?
I’ve had so much great career advice—I wish I could thank all my mentors. But there are two that stand out. When I was working with Bob Swan at PayPal, he said to me, “always do the hardest thing in the company that other people shy away from.” I love the challenge and those hard jobs are the most rewarding.
And the second one is, “trust your instincts.” A previous manager of mine used to tell me this after every meeting. Don’t second guess yourself. If your intent is pure, just do it.
PHOTO CREDIT: JACK NGO