Contributed by Bianca Tesila, Computer Scientist
Being part of Adobe Romania, I have been mostly exposed to the Engineering World. But whenever I come to Adobe Summit, Adobe’s Digital Experience Conference, I feel empowered by having the opportunity to see how the vision and strategies, which drive our work, are born in the first place, and even more importantly, to see how our customers perceive them.
When I decided to sign-up for Adobe’s Women Executive Shadow Program (WESP), which matches up women to shadow executives, I wanted to understand how a person, coming from an Engineering background, like I do, has managed to transition to an executive leadership position.
When I started WESP, I was matched with Jean-Michael Pittet, our Vice President of Engineering for Adobe Experience Manager. And I have to say, the match with Jean-Michel was perfect – “you’ve got the real deal” (one of my colleague’s reaction when I mentioned the match). Throughout the day when I shadowed Jean-Michael, I was exposed to a variety of contexts, from 1:1s with his team members, to project meetings, team status meetings and strategy meetings. The whole experience was far from my daily job, witnessing discussions on confidential organisation topics, through business and deep down on technology tradeoffs and people.
While the context switching was at high speed throughout the day, I enjoyed the fact that, at the end, I could easily connect the dots and construct a story from everything I had been a part of. What I appreciated the most in my collaboration with Jean-Michel was the time he took after each meeting to answer my questions and make sure that I got the right messages and learnings. The highlight was the Q&A session he offered me at the end of the day, where I could put down every single thought and curiosity regarding an executive’s life at Adobe.
When I applied for WESP, I had to provide one word that could describe my perception of the program. That word was ENABLEMENT and this is exactly what I have taken away from this experience! Here are some of my key takeaways, which I hope will help anyone on their career journey.
1) No matter what role you play in your team/organisation, always try to answer to the following questions before making a decision or presenting an idea:
- How do you measure this?
- How do you validate this?
- Do you have an estimation?
- What customer problem are you addressing by doing this?
- What will be the impact for the customer?
This was the first pattern I could observe throughout all the meetings I attended. All these questions are part of the “executive language”, a language that anyone should learn to understand and speak, either as an individual contributor or a leader.
2) As a leader, not only do you need to get the big picture, but you also need to coach people into getting it as well. Regardless of what topic was being discussed, Jean-Michel always seemed to have information/advice to enable people moving forward. However, this does not mean that you need to know everything. Let the technical specialists take technical decisions, let the sales people assess the impact of strategy – just make sure you bring together the right people and enable them into building a cohesive path towards a common goal.
3) Stay curious. As Felix Meschberger, Principal Scientist for Adobe I/O (whom I gladly met during my shadowing day) stated – being connected with lots of people has a huge advantage: you learn just by reading a random e-mail, or trying to answer or even understand someone’s question. At the beginning, one may feel overwhelmed. On the long term, however, this is what actually helps you to broaden your outlook!
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