mParticle Women in Leadership: Karen Gallantry
For the first installment of mParticle's Women in Leadership series, we speak with mParticle Chief Revenue Officer Karen Gallantry. Karen discusses the habits that help her allocate time efficiently, the best advice she's received, book recommendations, and more.
The tech industry has an equality problem. Well, several of them. One of them is the inequality between men and women in the workplace.
A May 2021 study from BuiltIn reported that just 26% of computing-related jobs are held by women, and in 2016, women only received about 2% of total investor funding, with women-led businesses making up just 4.9% of all VC deals. Women also face unfair adversity as they progress through their careers, with McKinsey reporting that for every 100 men promoted to manager, only 86 women are promoted (and only 85 women of color are promoted for every 100 males). Inequality in management positions makes it nearly impossible for companies to lay a foundation for sustained progress at more senior levels.
Although female representation in leadership positions has increased in the last year and a half, the COVID-19 pandemic has had an impact on women in the workplace–women are reporting burnout significantly more than men, with many mothers experiencing clinical-level burnout due to the complexities of managing their children, work, as well as their own health and safety.
McKinsey notes, however, that despite this added difficulty of the pandemic, women are stronger leaders and taking on the extra work that comes with this: “compared with men at the same level, women are doing more to support their teams and advance diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts. They are also more likely to be allies to women of color.”
At mParticle, we are lucky to have a number of strong women leaders. Some have been at the company for years and have influenced the way the team has evolved, while some joined the company more recently and have already elevated our trajectory with their incomparable energy and experience.
To ensure we continue building an open, inclusive workplace, it’s important for us to celebrate our women in leadership, tell their stories, and influence others to follow in their footsteps.
For the first installment of our Women in Leadership series, I had the privilege of speaking with Karen Gallantry, Chief Revenue Officer (CRO) of mParticle.
Karen joined mParticle in 2019 as the General Manager of EMEA, and is also the executive sponsor for rainbow gravity, mParticle’s Employee Resource Group (ERG) for the LGBTQ community. In October, 2021, Karen was promoted to Chief Revenue Officer of mParticle.
Karen has built her career through roles in operations, sales and GTM at Okta, VMWare, and Sun Microsystems. During her career in tech, Karen also spent 9 months in the British Armed Forces as a Reserve Army Captain stationed in Basra, Iraq.
See our conversation below:
Question: From where do you draw inspiration?
Karen: I draw inspiration from multiple sources. People I've worked with, played sports with, follow on social media and the people I’ve journeyed through life with all have given me inspiration to think about things differently, try different approaches, or just put myself out there.
The person I talk to most about work-related challenges is my partner, Alison. She really complements me and helps me think about things in different ways.
Question: Who has been your most influential mentor?
Karen: Over the course of time I’ve had a variety of mentors, and been fortunate to have worked for some inspiring people who have given me opportunities based on the potential they saw in me (not necessarily something I saw myself). A pivotal time in my more recent career came some 6 years ago when I actually invested both time and money to seek counsel from a career development professional. I spent some hard hours working with them, reflecting internally on what a great place to work would be, and what my role would be within it. I realised beyond fancy company names and job titles that what I wanted to do was find a great cultural fit for me in a company who was not only innovating in a technological sense but who also resonated with my values. One where I could have the opportunity to add value whilst being uncomfortably comfortable out of my comfort zone. The work I did with that consultant effectively led me to work at Okta and more lately at mParticle.
Question: One of our core values at mParticle is to "find your flow." What are the things that you do to set yourself up for success in doing your best work?
Karen: For the past few years, I’ve done an end-of-week review. It’s the most important thing I do, as it helps me make sure I'm thinking about the most critical things from week to week which fit with my quarterly and annual goals.
We all have our annual targets. When those are broken down into quarterly, monthly, and weekly objectives, they become more approachable.
I begin by asking: What were my biggest wins this past week? What worked, and what didn't work? What do I want to start doing, stop doing, and get better at? What's the big three that I want to get done next week?
The process is particularly valuable because it helps me stay focused on the important, but not urgent, objectives, and make time for them (the big 3). These are the objectives that will have the biggest impact on a monthly, quarterly, or annual goals, but without dedicating time to them they can easily become deprioritized by urgent (but not as important) needs in the day-to-day. The weekly review needn’t take too long but is always worth it. I take that concept and extend it to monthly and quarterly review as well. Now I’ll be honest, whilst I may not get this done each and every week I know it does make a difference and helps me feel valued in what I’m doing and reflect on the right things (course correcting when needed).
Question: What’s the best advice you’ve ever received and who gave you that advice?
Karen: On a personal level, the best I’ve received was from my mother: People will love you for who you are. And if they don't, don't worry about it as long as you live my good values. I was fortunate to have parents who gave me the confidence to just try things and not worry about failure. Learning from your mistakes is something we have the opportunity to do throughout life, whether at work or in our personal life.
Question: What guidance would you give to women just starting out in their careers?
Karen: If someone signals that they believe in you, maybe to do a new job that you are fearful of (for whatever reason), try to trust in their belief in you that you can do the job. Don't dismiss the opportunity (not ready, don’t have the right perfect skills etc), give it a go — what’s the worst that can happen?
Question: You have your own late night talk show, who do you invite as your first guest?
Karen: Graham Norton!