EWA Case Study: Zoe and Spacenet

(NOTE: Fictitious names are used for our women leaders)

Zoe is a physicist with a PhD and 20 years of experience in R&D working for companies in the Aerospace arena. She is now with a startup and although not the founder, has entered the company very early in its development. The company, Spacenet, values Zoe as a great contributor and acknowledges that she is the one in the company who has the most domain expertise about the scientific area of their research.

Partnerships are being developed with large Aerospace companies and in those presentations, Zoe is often the only one who knows what the company’s competitive advantage is scientifically, and so she takes the lead. Her impressive presentations, simplifying complex ideas, impresses potential partners and so when the founder goes out to raise capital, it is Zoe’s successes that are enabling him to close on $20 million in funding.

Zoe has never seen herself as a CEO or indeed a chief anything. She loves science and is quite happy fiddling around in the lab. She joined EWA thinking that it would enable her to find other women leaders in technology and science as well as business and other arenas and that would help her settle into her new environment, having moved alone from another part of the USA. It was quite lonely adjusting to a new company, new area, new home having no real friends. She reckoned that EWA would achieve both of her goals – help her learn new skills, find a sisterhood of likeminded leaders who were not intimidated by her smarts and successes, and a support network for her future.

Zoe was not disappointed. She is a naturally shy person. Her mentor immediately started to enable her to have a different life vision for herself – one as CEO. It had never occurred to her that the company she was now part of was depending on her excellence for its success – and that should be recognized and rewarded. Through months of mentoring with support from her mentor liaison and other women in her cohort, she realized that she needed to speak up about what she was doing, what her impact was, the value of the company and her contribution to it and so much more. Over the next few months she did exactly that, using her instincts as well as the tools she learned in EWA and frequent updates with her Mentor Liaison, to position her for THE conversation ( which ended up being multiple good conversations) with the company founder.

It worked! Within the first 7 months of the program she was promoted to President and joined the Board of Directors. Her success was celebrated with her cohort and the rest of the network – and now she is thinking forward to the future strategic positioning of the company, being involved in the business operations as well as the science of the organization. She is finding new areas of excitement while well supported by the EWA Mentors and network.

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