Seven Questions with Nintex’s Camden Hillas
by Patricia Lundy
We started our women in technology blog series as a way to showcase the wisdom of women who are making strides in their industry, their company, and their role. How did they achieve their current success? What were the obstacles they had to overcome to do so, and what are their best pieces of advice? This is what this blog series hopes to answer.
Today, we hear from Camden Hillas, Associate General Counsel at Nintex, a global process management and automation provider that helps companies accelerate progress on their digital transformation journeys by quickly and easily managing, automating and optimizing business processes. Camden was the 2018 recipient of the Aragon Research Women in Technology Award for Corporate Counsel.
Read on to learn how she views legal issues changing due to rapid advancements in technology, how she successfully changed industries, and what women in tech can do to amplify each other.
1. Please describe yourself in three words:
Connector, advocate, curious.
2. What do you find most interesting about the technology field in which you work?
How fast the legal practice in tech is moving and evolving. Legal issues related to technology are in the news and the public sphere constantly, meaning that we’re continually developing our position related to issues on the cutting edge of the tech industry. Also, technology is completely changing legal practice—being an early adopter not only creates efficiencies in our department but brings us closer to our customers and partners. Personally, I make it a priority to challenge the stereotype of a lawyer in a room surrounded by paper, whether that’s by driving internal use of our own platform or by getting involved with our product and sales teams beyond the typical service provider role.
3. How do you find work-life balance, or what do you enjoy outside of work?
Technology is a benefit and a curse when it comes to separating work from the rest of life. While it has created an immense amount of flexibility, I personally have noticed that the digital noise of notifications and constant communication makes it more difficult to concentrate deeply on complex work or even just reading for pleasure. I make a distinct effort to find times both in and out of work where I turn off notifications and put down devices—getting outside is a big opportunity for that, and so is time with my family.
4. What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced in your career and how did you overcome it?
In terms of concrete challenges, leaving private practice and an area of law I knew extremely well for an opportunity in a new industry across the country was a major stretch. Tech was a whole new vocabulary for me—I remember in my first week, I had a running list of acronyms that I would look up at the end of the day!
But my biggest challenge was learning to take myself seriously, and to invest in myself and my career to continue to do good work, move forward, and bring other people up with me. I think it’s easy when you’re a young woman to get discouraged that it’s hard or unfair in the world, regardless of your success or the advantages you’ve had. I’ve learned in those moments to acknowledge that there are still uniquely female challenges in the workplace, but then to ask two big questions of myself: first, if there was anything else I could have done to advocate for my point of view, my team, or myself; and second, if there was a way I can work to change that hardship or unfairness on a systemic level.
5. Are there enough opportunities for women in tech? How would you assess the progress women have made in the tech industry?
No. Like any good attorney, however, I’ll qualify it by saying there aren’t enough opportunities… yet. I think there’s increasing awareness and rhetoric around the topic, but there needs to be more concrete steps taken to create opportunities, especially in senior leadership roles.
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?
Promotion of female representation in technical roles and in leadership. There have been significant strides in recent years, but it is invaluable for all early stage professionals to see the different ways of being a professional, a manager, and a leader.
Beyond the inspirational aspect, having women as members of the team is simply good for business, and the more that message is championed by men and women in the tech industry, the more empowered women will be to step up and advocate for themselves and others. There’s a great principle from Bill Campbell, who was a major contributor at Apple, the CEO of Intuit, and the coach for, among others, Larry Page, Sergey Brin, Eric Schmidt, Jonathan Rosenberg, Steve Jobs, Marissa Mayer, and Sheryl Sandberg: he said, “Winning depends on having the best team, and best teams have more women.”
7. Please provide a WIT call to action:
Be relentlessly candid and straightforward in your role, in who you are, and with your leadership. I’ve never regretted a time I chose to speak the truth, even a hard truth.
And take your influence and use it to champion and support other women. I love the technique promoted by women in the Obama Administration, which they called “Amplification”: when a woman made a key point, other women would repeat it, giving credit to its author. Essentially, it allows everyone in the room to clearly understand and recognize the contribution.
Continue the women in tech conversation by joining Camden and Aragon Research at Transform 2019.