Lessons from Hillary Clinton, and how you can gain power and influence (videos)

25 Jun 2015

Shelly Porges speaking during her Power and Influence keynote. Photo: Conor McCabe Photography

Some of the most talked about keynotes at Inspirefest 2015 took place on the Thursday morning, when three powerful business leaders — who just happen to be women — took to the stage to deliver their keynotes on the subjects of Power and Influence.

Plan your future

The first up was US-based Cork native Margaret Burgraff, vice president of Intel’s Software and Services Group and co-general manager of the Intel Services Division, who started her technology career with Apple in Cork in the 1990s.

Burgraff highlighted the importance of self-awareness for leaders, saying that if leaders do not have the capacity to make changes within themselves, they will never inspire others to change.

She also advised everyone in the audience to write themselves a 10-year plan.

“Not necessarily a plan — write, ‘Where am I going to be in 10 years’ time’,” said Burgraff. “Take a good two hours, and sit down and write the most glorious essay about yourself… Dream the greatest dream for yourself and have the guts to just write it down.”

She then advised everyone to take it back to a five-year plan, then a two-year plan, before finally taking it back to what you need to do tomorrow to get where you want to be.

Authenticity in a Silicon world

Burgraff was followed by Bethany Mayer, the CEO and president of network-testing and security company IXIA.

Mayer has been in the technology industry for 32 years, in a career that has included stints at Apple, Cisco and HP. She spoke at the conference about not being afraid of failing and also not being afraid to take a step back and work part-time at points in your life when that might be necessary, such as when you have small children.

She centred her keynote around 15 tips for navigating what she described as the “glass maze”.

“It is a maze that you have to go through on your journey in life to lead you to where you want to go. And, in a way, it’s glass because there are people watching you,” she said.

Among her many words of advice, a key lesson from the soft-spoken Mayer was to be authentic and be yourself.

Political power player

The final keynote speaker on the subjects of Power and Influence was Shelly Porges, serial entrepreneur and ex-adviser to former first lady and secretary of state, and current candidate for the Democratic nomination for US president, Hillary Clinton.

She spoke about the things that differentiate those at the top of their fields from those who don’t rise that high, and spoke about how “some leaders are born women”.

“Secretary Clinton always says that talent is universal, but opportunity is not,” said Porges, after wondering whether, if Mark Zuckerberg, Steve Jobs or Bill Gates had an equally talented sister, they would have had the same opportunity to succeed.

Porges also went through the four things she learned about leadership from Hillary Clinton: leaders have vision, leaders take risks, leaders adapt and leaders elevate others.

Inspirefest is Silicon Republic’s international event connecting sci-tech professionals passionate about the future of STEM with fresh perspectives on leadership, innovation and diversity.

Brigid O Gorman is a former sub-editor of Silicon Republic.