MSIS Women in Tech Brunch: Pioneering Disruptive Innovation

Last Saturday the MSIS Women in Tech Brunch welcomed intergenerational leaders from the Seattle tech community to build genuine relationships and be a part of the conversation leading disruptive innovation!

Uttara Madurai Ananthakrishnan, Assistant Professor of Information Systems, kicked off the event with a passionate speech about what disruptive innovation means. With the crowd feeling energetic to learn more, we welcomed our featured speakers, two pioneers of disruptive innovation: Keela Robison , VP of Product Innovation at Netflix, and Sandy Carter, VP of Windows and Enterprise Workloads at AWS.

Keela Robison: Leading Decisions to Disrupt & Innovate

Being intentional in your decision-making process can make all the difference when envisioning disruptive innovation, and Keela connected with the audience about this critical process by asking them to reflect on their own decision making.

Keela spoke about how critical a process is for disruptive innovation, and how analysis and process complement each other in making decisions. There were a few takeaways for me: no decision is also a decision, I should use multiple viable options to reduce confirmation bias, I must anticipate objections, get people to disagree, and get everyone committed on a decision despite agreements.”
– Zeba Azfar, MSIS Class of 2020

Robison summed up the conversation with her own recipe for effective and thoughtful decision making:

  1. Set the context for why it is important to connect and make this decision.
  2. Outline goals, tenants, and priorities that serve as a rubric for this decision.
  3. Present multiple options, evidence, pros & cons. Reduce confirmation bias and farm for dissent.
  4. End with a recommendation for which decision to execute.

“The ability to effectively make decisions is one of the most important capabilities of high performing teams.”

–Keela Robison, Netflix, VP of Product and Innovation


Sandy Carter: Customer Obsession Drives Innovation

With the audience primed to think critically, we transitioned to welcome Sandy Carter and a second school of thought: innovation as empathy.

Sandy Carter was a captivating storyteller and diagrammed innovation as empathy. Innovative product managers have the empathy to see their product through their customer’s eyes and feel it in their hearts. Empathy is not a feature you can outsource.” – Patrick Gutierrez, MSIS Class of 2019

Focusing on empathy as the heart of innovation, Sandy expanded upon her three secrets to disrupting the status quo: customer obsession, culture, and curiosity. Carter believes that leaders must create a culture of innovation in order to recognize customer needs and define the problems they may experience.

“Innovation is about the way we think about solving a problem…If your culture is not supporting innovation and customer obsession, then you really can’t move forward.” Before wrapping up her talk, Sandy left the audience with a powerful statement.

“People say knowledge is power, but I say sharing your knowledge is the real power.”

–Sandy Carter,VP of AWS

Lead. Empower. Disrupt!

With this in mind, the community connected over brunch to share their own knowledge as women and allies in tech, ultimately leaving the event stronger as a community and ready to disrupt, empower, and lead!

The Master of Science in Information Systems Women in Tech Leadership Series aims to cultivate a network of women leaders, empower and support women in the tech community, offer resources, and redefine the future of upward mobility for women in tech. 

Join our passionate community. Apply to the MSIS program today!