When I was in second grade one of my classmates, a little girl named Katherine, said that she wanted to be President of the United States when she grew up. I remember thinking how silly that was that she had such an impossible dream. Our country had been led by 41 Presidents at that point. Presidents never looked like us.
Looking back on this memory as an adult, it hurts more than a little. I was only seven — too young to understand the weight of the term representation. But I knew that no leader had looked like me.
As we mark Women’s Equality Day on August 26, this memory comes back to me, maybe somewhat surprisingly, for the first time. Women’s Equality Day is a commemoration of the hard-fought battle for women’s right to vote — something we have yet to see a full 100 years of as the 19th Amendment only initially protected some women — and the recognition that there’s still work to do before we’re all treated as equals.
It seems fitting to remember this moment from my elementary school days right now.
And while I haven’t become a paleontologist like I planned in the second grade, I’m certain I have one of the best jobs in the world. At Cloud Giants, I get to share the incredible work my colleagues do: their successes, their abilities to problem solve, and how they help others reach their professional goals every day.
They’re the unsung heroes working diligently behind the scenes in Salesforce to make other people's professional lives better and I get to do their singing.
Part of what drew me to Cloud Giants and makes my work so fulfilling is that we live out our Core Values in our day-to-day interactions. I saw that as a new hire attending my first company-wide meeting a little over a month ago. The meeting began — not with a financial or status update — but with a shared moment of gratitude.
Before getting down to business, my new team took a couple of minutes to share the things they were grateful for from the previous week, whether that meant getting over a bout of food poisoning or a successful rollout of a new feature that will make someone’s work day a little smoother. It was a profound exercise to share as a group.
The other major factor that drew me to Cloud Giants was that we’re a woman-founded, woman-led tech startup. That’s pretty rare. And something I knew I wanted to help build and champion.
In the spirit of gratitude, Women’s Equality Day seems like the right time to shout out all the women who’ve helped me along my own journey. The professor who’s warmth got me through the growing pains of college, my mother and sisters who always have my back, my previous director who knew I was ready for the next big challenge and, knowing it would mean I left her organization, actively supported my search.
They’ve all helped put cracks in the glass ceiling and made it possible for me to envision women as leaders in any field and game changers in any industry.
I’m grateful I get to add to that list the CEO and Founder of Cloud Giants, Kelly Pfrommer. Kelly epitomizes a woman who has taken risks, done the hard work, and wants to help others succeed (whether that’s becoming a world-renowned fossil hunter or the most awesome Salesforce Admin there is). She raises everyone up and sets the tone for our culture of giving before we get.
I’m so inspired by all of these women who’ve shaped my life in simple yet extraordinary ways and I’m resolved to help others on their journey up the ladder too.
Whatever Katherine has pursued in her professional and personal life, I hope it’s as fulfilling as she dreamed it would be when she was seven. And I hope, like me, she finds inspiration, strength, and support in the people who surround her.
Second grade thankfully wasn’t the peak for Shelbi, but all told it was a pretty good year. Her teacher brought a lot of fun to the classroom and would often host Michael Jackson dance parties on the playground during recess. Shelbi’s dreams changed as she got older, but she brings the same level of enthusiasm for her role at Cloud Giants that she had as a seven-year-old digging in the dirt for fossils. You can share your favorite dinosaur with Shelbi on LinkedIn or email her your favorite Michael Jackson song. Hers is Man in the Mirror.