7 Questions With Five9’s Kimberly Lytikainen
Believe it or not, registration for Aragon Transform 2021 is already open–which means, it’s time to celebrate our Women In Technology community (I mean–when is it not?)! While our 2021 winners won’t be announced until the event on December 2nd, we always like to take the time to give some special appreciation to our winners from the previous year as we get closer to this year’s award ceremony.
To kick off our annual 7 Questions WIT blog series, we’ll hear from Kimberly Lytikainen, General Counsel, Chief Compliance Officer and Secretary at Five9. Kimberly won the Aragon Research 2020 WIT award for Legal. Read on to hear Kimberly’s answers to 7 questions we asked her!
1. Please list your 3 qualities or characteristics that you are most proud of.
Empathetic; Practical; Optimistic/”Can do” attitude.
2. What do you enjoy or find interesting about the technology field in which you work?
I love that the law in/around tech is always evolving along with new technology and environments. The continuous learning process makes being a General Counsel fun and exciting (in a challenging way) such as when there really is now law on point that applies to a new technology or service but we analogize and go back to first principles to make sure how we and the industry proceed is fair and logical.
3. What changes have you noticed in your work-life balance since the shift to remote work?
I’m outdoors a lot more during the workweek. I make time to spend part of my meeting day on our backyard picnic table which is very grounding for me and brings a slice of joy into the often back-to-back Zoom meetings and detailed drafting work.
4. What is a major challenge you’ve faced in your career and how did you overcome it?
When I was mid-career, about 15 years in, as a VP, it was challenging to learn to flex into different cultures at new companies. Once I became a General Counsel, I also had to learn how to move from manager to leader; setting a vision and driving a mission aligned to company priorities while influencing diverse team members with different levels of experience and goals. Leading versus managing and discovering what made me a HiPo employee as an individual contributor as well as manager was not going to be the same skills that would make me an impactful leader. I had to intentionally develop my leadership skills, and in many ways step out of my comfort zone.
5. Are there enough opportunities for women in tech? How would you assess the progress women have made in the tech industry?
I believe there are more opportunities today for women in tech than there ever have been. When I started there were just a few grizzled veterans who you saw at the upper ranks. Now, there are role models everywhere you look who are friendly, empathetic, and they want to help their sisters (and brothers) step up and get to the next level. Importantly, I see women being much more authentic and comfortable (or getting there!) talking about their kids, showing who they really are in daily life. It’s beautiful! Last March, I shared with one of my closest friends who is a hotshot women patent litigator, that “the pandemic is an authenticity accelerator!”
6. What are some things you think should be addressed on macro, peer, and educational levels to encourage women to feel empowered in the tech industry?
More support for dialing up and down a career. We’ve made tremendous strides through paternity leave. Now, we need to focus back on the child bearer and give them more specific benefits and educational support to enable them to dial down when they need to offramp for 3/6/12 mos to have and care for children, and dial back up as they onramp and re-fuel a career. I quit my job in 2004 and took 2 years off to have and care for 2 children in that time frame. It was very difficult to onramp back to my career even in just a 2-year hiatus at that time. I was looking at taking a lower position, but got very fortunate when a forward-looking GC saw something in me and hired me on at NVIDIA at even a more senior level than before I stepped away to have children. Companies should consider not just leave but also a on/offramp schedule and re-training if needed or desired.
7. What would you say to younger generations of girls or women that are interested in entering the technology industry?
Follow your passions, jump in, you’ve got all that you need right now to be amazing!
Stay tuned for more 7 Questions WIT blogs over the next few months. And, be sure to register for Aragon Transform 2021 so you can find out who our 2021 WIT winners are!