Future-Focused Leader – From Team Work to Tech Innovations
Today we’re delighted to welcome Elisa Hebert, VP of Engineering Operations at Fairwinds. Fairwinds is a rapidly growing startup in the Kubernetes space, and one of the key executives behind its success is Elisa Hebert. With an extensive background in building and managing teams in technical companies, Elisa’s leadership has been instrumental in driving the company’s growth and success.
Elisa joined Fairwinds because of her interest in Kubernetes and the personality type of the engineers in the front-edge technology industry. In the interview, she discussed her experience stepping directly into a leadership role and the importance of building relationships in a hierarchical organization. She also emphasized the value of understanding what motivates people and getting to know them individually. Hebert looks for people who want to be part of a team, have a growth mindset, and bring a breadth of experience to the organization.
VP of Operations Technology at Fairwinds
Hebert’s experience of stepping directly into a leadership role was not an easy one. She did not have the credibility that comes with being promoted from a lower management or individual contributor role. As a result, she had to build relationships in a different way. Hebert emphasized the importance of being authentic and caring about people as whole humans to establish trust and credibility. She also advised against relying on cold authority or power based on headcount or budget, which can alienate people and make them less willing to work with you.
To establish authority within an organization, Hebert emphasized the importance of building relationships based on understanding what motivates people. She advised getting to know people individually, and understanding the value proposition of the organization for each person. She said, “the better those relationships are, the more likely they are to do it if they know you, and they trust where your motivations are.”
When hiring, Hebert looks for people who want to be part of a team, have a growth mindset, and bring a breadth of experience to the organization. She avoids hiring people who just look like her or operate the way she does because that would limit the organization’s experience and creativity. She emphasized the importance of avoiding pattern matching and instead looking for people who think about their experiences as team experiences and who have a growth mindset.
Hebert also emphasized the importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) in the workplace. “From DE&I perspective, I talk about the fact that I’m queer,” she said. “I think it’s important to model the things that you want to see in your organization. You want to model acceptance and tolerance and understanding of other people’s experiences.” By creating a culture of inclusivity and respect, organizations can attract a wider range of talent and build a stronger, more resilient team.
According to a report by Harvard Business Review, “diversity unlocks innovation and drives market growth.” Companies with diverse teams are more innovative and creative, better able to solve complex problems and make better decisions. Diversity also makes companies more attractive to customers who are looking for products and services that reflect their own values and experiences.
In conclusion, Elisa Hebert’s experience at Fairwinds has taught her the importance of building relationships and understanding what motivates people to establish trust, credibility, and authority within an organization. When hiring, she looks for people who bring a breadth of experience, have a growth mindset, and want to be part of a team. Her approach to leadership emphasizes authenticity and caring about people as whole humans.
Stay tuned for more great interviews coming your way!
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