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Betsy Sutter, VMware | Women Transforming Technology

Betsy Sutter
Executive Vice President and Chief People Officer at VMware
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Women Transforming Technology (WT2) 2020
May 5, 2020, Online, USA
Women Transforming Technology (WT2) 2020
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About the talk

Will we ever go back to how we worked before COVID-19?

The success of the virtual conference had Sutter wondering if the new way of connecting wasn’t an improvement on the physical.

“The diversity, the eclectic-ness of the women that were able to join from around the world … it just up-leveled everything,” she said.

As VMware’s Chief People Officer, Sutter has her finger on the pulse of the company’s workforce. “Yesterday alone, I think I did six town halls and two ask-me-anything’s just to make sure we know what’s on top of people’s minds, what’s important to them,” she said.

And the response to working remotely has been overwhelmingly positive. “Over 70% said they felt, if not the same amount of connection, more connection with each other working in a distributed fashion,” Sutter said. “COVID-19’s brought that to life … we’re going to work in a new way. It’s a new business model.”


00:20 Introduction of Betsy Sutter

01:11 The process of taking We Rise digital.

02:35 Interactive Community

04:30 "We Rise" Workshops were super fun.

07:15 About the culture of VMware?

10:20 We have really amped up our communications.

11:26 Difference between a mentor and a sponsor

12:42 And sponsorship is really a championship, right?

13:50 Conversations that came during the interactive sessions with WT2

16:00 Closing remarks

About speaker

Betsy Sutter
Executive Vice President and Chief People Officer at VMware

Culture is the single biggest competitive advantage to building sustainable companies and I am proud to realize that vision as Chief People Officer at VMware. Built the HR function as a start-up with 100 employees and now lead an HR organization for more than 20,000 employees worldwide. Build innovative platforms and programs that impact people, global communities, and the environment – which, in turn, contribute to employee engagement and company profitability. Passionate about creating diverse and inclusive work environments that lead to better business outcomes.

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From around the globe. It's the cue with digital coverage of women, transforming technology. Brought to you by VMware. Welcome to the cube. I'm Lisa Martin covering the 5th annual women's transforming Technologies, the first year at this event has gone completely digital. We're very pleased to welcome back to the cute. One of our favorite alumni, the chief officer of VMware Betsy's better this time of year. I've had the great opportunity and pleasure of

covering wpq4. The give the last few years. So I know walking into that that Courtyard area in Palo Alto via more, you feel the energy in the excitement, and it's really genuine, and knowing that you had to give it a couple weeks ago or more to convert. What is sucked and engaging in personal experience to Digital hard decision, the right decision, but huge and Friends of the number of attendees. Tell us a little bit about that process of taking We rise. Yeah, you know, it was a it was a pretty quick decision

at the end where we were starting to virtualize some other events. And so in real time. We said let's go ahead and virtualized women. Transforming technology 2020. And so when we immediately flip to that mode, who started to really open up the possibility is pretty interesting. And so, I want to see, we did not imagine, you know, the people attending would grow from roughly thousands to over 5,000. And that's what visualizing the event took place in the event did and so it was super fun and used technology to make it

so much more inclusive and accessible for people around the world. I'm sure you've heard that we had over five thousand people from over, 500 companies represented from 30 different countries. So that was amazing. Its own right? What are the things that I think was a great Advantage knowing that this was the fifth one, but that you'd had the opportunity to build the community and such a strong tight-knit community over the last few years. I think was probably a great facilitator of the event being so, so much bigger. Did you leave? But when I spoke with a number of your

speakers, everybody said and I saw the Twitter stream the engagement, it wasn't like they were watching a video. It was really interactive. And that is hard to achieve with digital. Yeah, you know what, I loved about the technology was that there were chat rooms and they're doing a room and said, there was a lot of back-and-forth in real-time. Even while the speakers were talking, you can sort of multitask and the speakers were really, really fun and interact with that way as well. And it's super fun to see people in their home environment, you know, it's it's it's just a little bit

more information about them and they stay. More relaxed new. So it was from Mendes watching, Laura Dern, who is an activist and obviously a very famous actress in her own home, talking to us about issues faced as a woman in her industry. And then moving to another woman named Katherine spinney, who is the CEO of digital and divided and her home with all the activity. She had a four-year-old sort of in the background was super fun and really landed their conversations with us, even even more solidly. It was it was a great day. I heard that

really felt that there was a personal connection lot of people talking about. I'm sitting here doing what are you doing today? And some of the things that she thought about you if you don't have to stay in your own lane. That resonates with me, I think with your community very well, The Eclectic notice of the women that were able to join from around the world and from many different Industries, but, no, technical women. Women in Tech was they just leveled everything and it is fit into the theme of the conference, which was We rise because,

you know, you're trying to rise as an individual. But there we were arising as a collective for a full day and the workshops were super fun. I mean, I participated in the number of them and I literally went through a workshop with, I don't know how many women but I was drawing on paper than engaging on the screen been chatting using the Q and A feature. It was it was a really Dynamic that I'm wondering. Now if we'll ever go back, honestly, right opportunity, right now. At

the same time, there is a lot of opportunities. When I was speaking with, show me in the ferry yesterday. It was amazing that she was talking about, you know, right now like the percentage increase in people actually reading email because they have more Condor. The new time is gone and so is her advice to be be really busy and making yourself visual in terms of how you communicate and evaluate your role and how you can add new value during that we do need to look at what opportunities, are we going to be able to uncover?

There will be certain things that will go away. Maybe we do digital because we can engage, we can interact and we can reach a bigger audience and learn some more people. Yeah, I think that spot on I couldn't have said that better and it really, you could really feel it that day and then the response from both the attendees, but even the keynote speakers, both, Laura and Kathleen reaching back to us and talking about the experience. They had, it was a pretty uplifting day. I'm still flying pretty high from it. And it was Cinco de Mayo, Margaritas

skinny, Margaritas movie, you know, virgin margaritas, with something there to celebrate, an accomplishment of doing something in a short. Of time, but taking that community and being able to, to push the energy through the screen is is awesome. I'd love to understand is Do challenging and every aspect of life. We often talk about disruption, you know, and technology is technology and the taxi service, but now the destruction is is an unseen Gary thing. And so the emotional impact it, people are talking and a number out of your folks. I spoke to, as well said, it's hard to to be

motivated, but it's important to acknowledge that. I don't feel so motivated today for managers to be able to have that check in with their employees. And their team, tell me a little bit about the culture of being where and how maybe that the We rise theme is really and pervasive across the weather right now. Yeah, you know, one of those things that I believe him and that I've seen my years of being in the people business is that more and more people, join communities companies, but they join communities. And communities come together based on, you know,

they're their actions, their ideas, their behaviors. And what I've seen in terms Bi-Mart response to covid-19 has been pretty remarkable. I think it first, you know, we were in crisis mode. So I'm going into triage mode about what we do to keep our people feeling safe and and healthy, but now we're sort of in a mode of. Okay, there's a lot of opportunity that this presents. Now, we are very, very fortunate, very blessed to be in the industry that were in and a lot of what we do and build and provide for our customers and

partners fits into this new. Test model of working distributed late. So there's there's been some highs and some lows this week navigated. First and foremost. We just put our own place first and their health and safety. Making sure that they're comfortable is just been top of mind for us. We just did a small sentiment survey fix questions because about 2 weeks ago. I realized I wonder if we really know how people are feeling about this and it. One of the things that

came through all those say this at 32,000 people within 24 hours, over 10,000 people responded to this 6 question survey. It wanted to tell us how they were doing. But over 70% said they felt if not at the same amount of connection but more connection with each other working in a distributed fashion, and I think covid-19 brought that fly that we're going to work in a new way. It's a new business model. And so we're doing it at VMware and then we're really pleased. We can offer that to our customers and partners around the globe. You know, I am glad that you talked about the

employee experience because obviously, with any business customers are critical to the lifeblood of that business, but equally important, if not more impactful to the revenue of an organization is the employee experience and and being productive day in and day out. And that if the employee experience is, I think, I don't know. You can't have a good experience customer experience without a good employee experience and deed that focus is chi is so it must have been really nice for the VMware employees to go there. They're wanting to know how I feel right

now. That's huge for people to know the executive team genuinely cares, really amped up our Communications. We have done more Town Halls, whether it's true or management Community, our leadership in it. So I can pay anywhere to the whole company yesterday alone. I think, I Town halls in to ask me anything just to make sure we know it's on top of people's minds, what's important to them? And that's kind of The New Normal. And it's so much easier, right? I'm not trying to get

the places. I'm just kind of cooking on a button and I'm all the sudden talking to the employees in India. And, you know, when I talk to my colleagues in other Industries, like Beth, Axelrod, or Tracy Ballard that are in the, you know, the Marriott and the Airbnb Industries, their challenges are so different and what they're facing in the short-term in the medium-term Beyond. Where is in a position where we can really help these businesses and at the quarter, that is really how well our employees were doing and said that's been our Focus. What are the things that I also talked about yesterday

with Joe Miller? The CEO of me lead early. What's the difference between a mentor and a sponsor? I have never even understood that. There were two different things until wt2. And so I thought, you know, we all know about members we talked about that all the time, but she was really important message for your audience and hours to understand the difference and she said people are often over mentored and under sponsored. And so I thought well I want to understand a b n. Where is Bulger of sponsorship? Tell me what's going on in that respect. Ya wear it well and I agree with everything

that you said on the mentorship. So I didn't. So what we've instituted on the mentorship side of them. Where is reverse mentorship. So every executive it VMware has a reverse meant for us so that they can learn something that they might not be thinking about and it, whether it's a reverse Mentor, who happens to be a few or a man. What happens to be a woman or if you want to engage with an underrepresented minority or if you just want to learn about a different aspect of the business, we're big on reverse mentoring on the sponsor for the side. We do do that. And that's a really important

aspect to any company's culture. If you're trying to cultivate Palin and sponsorship is really Championship. Right? And I know I Champion a lot of people, a lot of the talent around the company and it's very different than maybe poaching advising and interacting. Is it in that venue? It's, it's more about what's the right opportunity for this person when I'm in the boardroom or when I'm in the executive staff meeting actually advocating for that person. And I'm curious about that especially for women right now at VMware and it's

just important. A lot of people are starting to adopt that mindset because there's a lot more power and influence and having sponsorship behind you then having We often talk about the hard skills and in the soft skills, and I always think stopped is the wrong word, but I keep forgetting to look it up on her word because right now, I think more important than ever looking at someone who might have all of the hard skills to be on this, on this track to squeeze the sweet, the importance of authenticity and empathy. I think now are under a microscope. We talked

a lot about that too. With some of your gas. Tell me a little bit about those kinds of conversations that came up during the interactive session. Yeah, well, you know, this is one of the, the blessing of Suits come out of covid-19 in this pandemic, is that people are starting to see because everyone's impacted by this, and not just in one way, but in multiple ways, so there's really this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, at least as far as what I've seen in my lifetime to seize this, heightened level of compassion and empathy for all the people

around you, in terms of what we're doing at WT to, I saw it a lot in terms of the quality of the conversations that were hopping virtually and sometimes when they're with the Keynotes in the the guest speakers. When the audience, there was always a lead-in with compassion and empathy. In terms of all of us, all of us, no matter where you were in the world are no matter what you're doing, adjusting to what we're calling this new normal, and there's a new business. Normal, but the new normal on the personal side. I think it's going to take a little bit longer right in terms of what

people are managing, but in the business world, I think, you know, people are starting to rebound and rebuild their hunting those skills. And they're going to be wiser and better because of it, but at the heart of it all is, as you said a lot more compassion and empathy has never before, have we, all kind of gone through something quite so traumatic, as, as covid-19 Jimena, cancer real, and, you know, we are all in the same storm and I think there's a level of comfort there, but I know, I feel with knowing, okay? One is going to be

feeling this roller coaster at some point. Some days. You're here. Some days, you're here in this, whether you're in your role, or Pat gelsinger, or an individual contributor role or all in the same see Betsy. Congratulations. So glad that I was able to participate digitally, it's always one of my favorite bands every year and I look forward to seeing you again soon, which I assume we'll be. At least said, thank you so much and thanks for all of your sponsorship and mentorship with wt2 over the years to take care.

Alright, you two watching the coverage of women transforming technology to thanks for watching the end of time.

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