After 30 years in the tech industry, most recently as Cisco’s chief strategy officer where she orchestrated deals like Cisco’s new partnership with Apple, Padmasree Warrior is the quintessential diplomatic.
She came up the ranks first as an engineer, then a CTO, and just landed the US CEO role at a highly watched electric vehicle startup NextEV.
Smart, articulate, and poised, Warrior rarely says anything that could be considered controversial or offensive.
But if you want to see her eyes glow and her tongue get sharp, just ask her about how women engineers are still struggling to find acceptance in the tech industry, particularly in the Valley.
That’s what happened when Bloomberg West’s Emily Chang asked her about the topic.
Chang told Warrior about a recent interview Chang did with Michael Moritz, chairman of the all-male partner VC firm Sequoia. (Sequoia is an investor in NextEV.) Morris said he’d like to hire more women but that Sequoia “wasn’t going to lower its standards.”
Warrior said that such a statement “bothers” her.
And she explained, “We have to be careful that we don’t think that women have to do more in order to be recognised.”
There’s a lot of focus these days on encouraging women to enter tech careers, and some recent focus (led by Salesforce) on taking on equal pay. But almost no one is talking about getting rid of the expectation that women have to work harder then men to achieve similar promotions, compensation, and choice assignments.
She points out that this attitude isn’t serving anybody.
“The data says that many women start their careers in the tech industry. They leave after a few years because they don’t find the environment is fostering or inclusive,” Warrior says.
She wants to see the tech industry hire and promote more women in technical roles.
“I think there are some kick-arse women out there,” she says but once those smart women start in tech,”We have to create an environment where talented women can accomplish what they want to accomplish.”
She says that’s the thing the Valley really needs to work on.
One trick she’s learned over the years is turn sexism on its head, “I think people notice that you are a woman,” she says.
“I tell woman to use that as a point of advantage instead of a point of disadvantage,” she says, adding. “Use the fact that they are noticing you to make your point and emphasis your expertise and your point of view.”
And now that she’s CEO of her own company, she is “absolutely going to go look for great women to come work with me and be my partner. So this is a message to all the women out there. Reach out to me.”
You can find her on Twitter at @Padmasree.
Here’s the full interview:
NOW WATCH: We drove the fastest Tesla you can buy
NOW WATCH: Tech Insider videos
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.