"Women at Work" will introduce you to a carefully curated selection of working women discussing, of course, their professional lives. They'll also explore the impact these women are making - through an audacious blend of professional and personal passions - on the world around us.
First Up ... Pathbrite Founder, Heather Hiles
I was first "introduced" to Heather at the first Lesbians Who Tech Conference in San Francisco. We didn't actually meet. I was dizzied by a round of curious and provoking pitches from powerful women committed to diversifying tech, then sobered by Heather's discussion of her (much newer then) company, Pathbrite.
As an English Ph.D., my interest was peaked - though admittedly, more in Pathbrite than Heather. But I don't always know what's good for me.
Some two years later, watching Heather open the Capital Connections Conference in Oakland, the universe brought me to my senses.
At Capital Connections, Heather revealed that, launched in 2012, Pathbrite (the world’s first Portfolio Learning Platform) has since raised over $12,000,000, and been acquired by Cengage Learning. The company currently supports more than 500 schools, colleges, universities, and companies, and -- with Heather still serving as CEO -- "Pathbrite’s Portfolio Learning Platform is transforming learning, teaching, and assessment across the globe."
Moved by Heather's discussion of what she calls "overt inclusion" -- a commitment to not only inviting diverse representatives to the tech table, but providing them with access to equal would-be victuals when they arrive -- I decided, "We need to talk."
In my pre-call prep (Internet stalking), I was reminded that Heather is a serial entrepreneur, one who's held founding and leadership positions in multiple private and public sector organizations. For instance, she's served as Board of Directors Member of Liberty & Justice (Africa’s leading Fair Trade Certified™ apparel manufacturing company, based in Monrovia Liberia), Commissioner for the San Francisco Unified School District; Executive Director of Silicon Valley Social Venture Fund (SV2); co-founder of EARN; and CEO of SFWorks, a nonprofit that transitioned women from welfare into careers.
Heather has also previously been named as one of the Top 100 coolest people in Silicon Valley by Business Insider.
Below, you can check out some of the highlights from my chat with Heather Hiles.
On Pathbrite's ideal audience ...
Pathbrite is a modern version of the e-portfolio with the power to improve meta-cognition through learning, and mastering ... content. [It's] helping all lifelong learners [and] built for all human beings … not just [people working] in education.
On intuition ...
[When making the decision to separate from my co-founder and transition Ripple to Pathbrite,] it was definitely a gut decision. Intuition happened earlier than action. It was like any relationship, you just know when it's time.
[A lot of women believe they need a co-founder, but] trust yourself. You need one leader. You need to trust you can lead. It has never served me wrong, believing in me.
[You have to] get to your core. You know what you need to do. Sometimes you’re afraid of the answer, but you’re there already. Ask yourself, "What is the honest truth about the situation?"
On overt inclusion ...
It’s fulfilling. There’s not a tremendous amount of gratification in being the first of something if you can't do something meaningful with it and share that. [There's something about being there] to just share access - not pitching, just helping.
On choosing to share information and resources ...
It's about creating more opportunities for people to be in a place of growth and transformation. I'm invested in the creation of organizations, the experience of building and growing with other people. So, sharing is not a decision. It's what I have to do. It's who I am. There is a calculated decision about what and who [I give my time to] … but then it’s pure instinct.
But then, it's pure instinct.