Seven Questions with Webex’s Lorrissa Horton
We are pleased to publish yet another blog in our 2020 Women In Technology series, which highlights the 2019 Aragon Women In Tech award recipients!
Our blog series is meant to teach you about the success, obstacles, and advice that these talented women have to offer.
Today, we hear from Lorrissa Horton, VP/GM Webex Strategy and Online Business at Webex, a leading enterprise solution for video conferencing, online meetings, screen share, and webinars. Lorrissa was the 2019 recipient of the Aragon Research Women in Technology Award for Operations.
Read on to learn more about Lorrissa, and her perspective on very important topics related to women in technology.
1. Please describe yourself in three words.
Innovator, efficient, and working mom.
2. What do you find most interesting about the technology field in which you work?
Working for Cisco and specifically across our Webex Collaboration portfolio, it is incredibly interesting to see how our technology has empowered people to work anywhere and anytime and especially in times of need like the recent pandemic. What’s even more interesting and exciting is to think about what the world of work is going to look like next year or even 5 years from now. Technology changes at a much faster rate and innovation is constant, so new possibilities are endless.
3. How do you find work-life balance, or what do you enjoy outside of work?
Work-life balance for me is about creating a life where I get the best of both worlds: I get to do what I love for work and I get to spend time with the people and the things I love. For example, I work remotely from my home in Seattle while my two children, ages 3 and 6, are literally outside of my office door. Balance is no longer about just working in a fixed amount of time like 9-5. It’s interweaving work and life throughout my day so that I can deliver impactful work and love the life I’m living outside of work, like being a good mom. This could look different every day–I try to take inventory weekly and ask myself how do I feel about this last week, did I split my time well across all of my responsibilities?
4. What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced in your career and how did you overcome it?
As a woman of color in an executive role, I have faced challenges of racial and sexual discrimination. Many underestimate my ability to deliver when they first meet me due to unconscious bias. I try not focus on that, and instead focus on delivering on my goals and driving impact.
5. Are there enough opportunities for women in tech? How would you assess the progress women have made in the tech industry?
Tech has a wealth of opportunities, more of which are being made available to women every year. We still aren’t at the numbers that fully level the playing field, but even over my 15-year career, I've seen immense progress. Being in a leadership role at Cisco, I see growing opportunities for women across the business and specifically in engineering. I am also seeing more female leaders in the industry like YouTube’s Susan Wojcicki and Lisa Su for AMD, which tells me that women in tech are finding power across the C-suite and progress is underway. It’s exciting to see how many women are embracing tech at such a young age–the next generation will do an even better job, getting started so early.
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?
On a macro-level, I think women need to continue to lean into higher risk leadership roles so we can have a seat at the table on life changing topics that are shaping our world. On a peer-level, I think we need to do some introspection and question how we lead. Historically, women believed that they had to be more aggressive and considered a “mean girl” to run and compete with the boys. However, we’re entering this new era of being able to be human and compassionate–it is an opportunity for more women to show up as their true and authentic self as opposed to what’s been expected historically. On an educational level, I think women need to continue to do what they’re doing. Today, 56 percent of college graduates are women and we need to continue that path and beyond. I’m a huge fan of STEM programs for women and having more female engineers to help shape our future with AI/machine learning.
7. Please provide a WIT call to action.
To grow in your tech career, you should visualize where you want to go–and document the steps needed to get there. Be bold, think big, and don’t be afraid. Find people and mentors who can support you in your journey. In the end, you have the power to own your career and to create your own story in life.
Want to be part of the WIT action at Transform 2020? Register to join our WIT Panel session and watch the 2020 Women In Tech Award winners accept their awards!