"I don't want to sound clichéd, but a lot of what I do involves overlaying keen listening and observation skills with intuition," says Angela Shen-Hsieh, 43, president and CEO of Visual i|o, an interactive visualization software company in Newton, Massachusetts, that expects $5 million in revenue this year."These are often skills associated with women." Shen-Hsieh says her company's software creates "better connections between warm, thinking, human decision-makers and cold, raw, dispassionate data." Making better connections and considering how the end-user will experience her products are often seen as feminine sensibilities, she adds.
"The feminine perspective and sensibility comes from natural feminine instincts of caring," says Kanchana Raman, the fortysomething president and CEO of Avion Systems Inc., a multimillion-dollar tech firm in Atlanta specializing in converging communications. Raman says her business needs 24/7 care, and by being available and responsive to clients, her company goes beyond just delivering a quality product.
"Being a woman has served me well in moving from right-brain to left-brain activities, such as going from creative concept to implementation," says Kirsten Mangers, 44, co-founder and CEO of WebVisible, an Irvine, California-based online advertising software company that projects $30 million in sales this year. Mangers says her patience and leadership style come from being a working mom. "Working mothers embrace the art of multitasking: running a company and supporting customers and business partners without losing an eye for innovation," she says.
"Women clearly behave differently in business and on teams than men do," says I. Elaine Allen, research director at the Arthur M. Blank Center for Entrepreneurship at Babson College. "In designing software [in clinical trials], they bring a more intuitive aspect to the final product. The women are much more attuned to the user interface than building a faster and sleeker product. They may be equally capable of designing an identically fast, sleek product, but they want to step back and understand the user."
Adds Allen, "We're succeeding in teaching both genders how to leverage their personal styles in leading and participating on team projects. The change has to come from both sides of the gender divide."
Want more information for and about women entrepreneurs? Go to womenentrepreneur.com.
—By Aliza Sherman, who is a web pioneer, e-entrepreneur and author of eight books, including PowerTools for Women in Business. Her work can be found at mediaegg.com.
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