Author Spotlight: Kelley Steven-Waiss

Transform Author Spotlight Series

Introducing our new Q&A Author Spotlight Series on the Transform blog, where we feature insightful authors who are redefining people and culture, work, leadership, and technology. Join us to gain fresh perspectives and practical knowledge from those at the forefront of today’s evolving professional landscape.

About The Author

Kelley Steven-Waiss, the Chief Transformation Officer at ServiceNow, and prior, Founder & CEO, of Hitch Works, Inc., (a VC-backed startup acquired by ServiceNow). She founded & commercialized Hitch, an internal talent mobility platform that uses AI & machine learning to match project-based work to internal employee skills, while CIO & CHRO at HERE Technologies. With 13+ years as a CHRO in technology, she is a thought leader & frequent speaker in the future of work. She is a board director of FormFactor, Inc. (NASDAQ: FORM), a member of the USF MSOD Advisory board, and author of “The Inside Gig” and “Valley Girls: Lessons from Female Founders in the Silicon Valley and Beyond”.

About The Book and the Inspiration Behind It

Q: Share with us the story behind the moment(s) that inspired you to write your book, Valley Girls: Lessons from Female Founders in the Silicon Valley and Beyond?

A: I think the impetus to write this book came when I was on the other side of the acquisition of my company and I was thinking about the myriad of experiences and how valuable it would have been to have had another female founder as a mentor. I felt that no one had written a book specifically for prospective female entrepreneurs that laid out some of the lessons and advice or story-telling that could be so valuable before embarking on the journey. 

Q: Can you share a brief overview of your book, Valley Girls: Lessons from Female Founders in the Silicon Valley and Beyond?

A: In my book, Valley Girls, I’m paying it forward by giving inspiration and insight to others pursuing a big idea while female. I provide readers with a roadmap of how I and a dozen other women like me beat the odds. With clear eyes and hard-won insight, I present their exhilarating and sometimes disappointing experiences alongside my own, demonstrating the unique obstacles that await women founders and showing that there is hope.

I offer inspiration, role models, and a clear path to empower women to get into the game. Each founder’s story provides a guiding light for a different element of the female entrepreneur’s journey including from the whiteboard to the exit.

Valley Girls speaks to women at every stage of their entrepreneurial or intrapreneurial journey and to every C-suite executive and venture capitalist, male or female, who wants to find the next big thing. As I demonstrate, the winners of the next decades will be those able to tap into the best ideas no matter who brings them to the table. This impassioned call-to-action and clear-eyed guide shows the way to that better future.

Q: What are the key points or thoughts you want to have the most impact on readers?

A:

  1. We need to inspire more female intrapreneurs and entrepreneurs to get in the game and ensure their solutions help change the world.
  2. We need to ensure more funding gets to female founders – we can’t accept the status quo. 
  3. We must find ways to support other women with daily actions – make introductions, coach, or counsel on an issue, advocate, or sponsor

Q: As an author, what was the most rewarding part of researching and writing Valley Girls: Lessons from Female Founders in the Silicon Valley and Beyond?

A: One of the most rewarding elements of writing this book was the realization that there were so many other women just like me trying to do extraordinary things and with the same challenges. I learned so much from hearing their stories and it only made me want to be a part of the solution going forward. 

Q: Describe the target audience for your book, Valley Girls: Lessons from Female Founders in the Silicon Valley and Beyond.

A:

• Aspiring founders/innovators

• Venture capitalists/investors

• Corporate Innovation leaders

• Private Equity

• Executive leadership 

Q: Who would get the most value from reading your book, Valley Girls: Lessons from Female Founders in the Silicon Valley and Beyond?

A: Female innovators who think the hurdle might be too high to put their idea into the world and investors who want to better understand the true value of investing in female-founded companies.

Q: What unique experience do you as the author bring to Valley Girls: Lessons from Female Founders in the Silicon Valley and Beyond and its subject matter?

A: I was a C-Suite 50-something female executive who took a chance to take an idea from a whiteboard to a commercial product because I saw a problem that needed to be solved. Without all the obvious credentials or prior experience, I built a technology product from the inside, spun it out to a venture-back company, and exited it successfully to one of the largest and most successful software companies in the world. I am honest and raw about the challenges and the victories and hope that any woman no matter how old or how young will be able to relate to and enjoy this book. 

Q: Are there any new projects or upcoming books you’re working on that you’d like to share a sneak peek of with our readers?

A: No new books, but I am looking to build a community of female innovators (Valley Girls) who are passionate about changing the numbers and encouraging more women to become entrepreneurs as well as more women to have successful outcomes. 

About the Reader

Q: Describe what a leader/organization looks like one year after reading your book, Valley Girls: Lessons from Female Founders in the Silicon Valley and Beyond, and committing to its teachings. 

A: Not sure applicable, but I would hope to have inspired more women to get innovations to market and more investors to increase the number of investments in female founders.

Q: Considering a reader who just finished your book, Valley Girls: Lessons from Female Founders in the Silicon Valley and Beyond, and is processing all the great insights, what is the first step they should like to operationalize their learning?

A: Think Big and take the first step to whiteboard their idea with no constraints

Q: Share three takeaways from Valley Girls: Lessons from Female Founders in the Silicon Valley and Beyond that the reader should walk away with. 

A:

  1. Although the bar is high for female founders, anyone with passion, perseverance and an innovative solution that solves an important problem can be an innovator/entrepreneur.
  2. Ensure that you build a personal board of directors to fill gaps in your experience or knowledge and advise you at critical junctures in the journey
  3. Believe in yourself and live the growth mindset and help other women do the same.

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