Q&A with Teresa Dietrich, Chief Product and Community Officer @ Stack Overflow

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Thanks so much for taking the time to speak with us, Teresa! Firstly, please introduce yourself!

I am currently the Chief Product and Community Officer at Stack Overflow and have spent 20+ years in the internet industry in a variety of technology leadership roles. I am passionate about innovation, people development, and optimizing for delivering impact to users and customers. As an engineer at heart, I am invigorated through problem

At Stack Overflow, I am responsible for defining, evolving and executing our overall product strategy – and taking us down the path from collective knowledge to collective learning and innovation. It’s an interesting evolution, because Stack Overflow is widely known as a repository of knowledge. In fact, over 100 million people visit our site each month to find the answers they need. Now, we have begun the journey beyond Q&A to allow technical communities to learn, share, and grow together. Our goal is for Stack Overflow to become the world’s most valuable destination for the current and next generation of technologists.

I am one of these technologists myself. Before joining Stack Overflow, I served as the Global Head of Product and Engineering for McKinsey New Ventures where I focused on creating and scaling their B2B SaaS products and building and leading product development teams across the globe. I was previously the Chief Technology Officer at Namely and have held leadership roles at WebMD and AOL. Outside of work, I am a Board Member for the Oklahoma School of Science and Math Foundation, a technical magnet high school that first ignited my passion for learning and technology. I am also an avid traveler, having visited 90 countries and all 7 continents.

What are you looking forward to at Women of Silicon Valley?

I am always excited by the opportunity to meet women in leadership roles to build relationships, share stories and challenges and expand my network. Being able to do this in person, at Women of Silicon Valley, I believe will be even more fulfilling at so many years of remote and fewer in person events.

What can attendees expect from your session?

Over the past several years, the pace of change has been exceptional and exhausting for leaders. One of a leader’s most important responsibilities is leading their teams through uncertainty, trying to support them in feeling informed and focused on what they can impact.. How to do so is the focus of my session, ‘Building the Future of Work without Burning Out Your Workforce.’ I’ve learned over many years leading large technology and product teams, leading through change is easier said than done. It’s part art, part science, and entirely dependent on effective, authentic communication. You need to provide your employees with psychological safety, which means striking just the right balance between transparency and information overload. That balance is difficult to get right, but it’s imperative that leaders have a strategy and framework through which to approach bringing their organization along on the journey. If there’s one thing I’m certain about, it’s that change is not stopping. With increasing economic volatility, widening geopolitical uncertainty, and the advent of new technologies, it’s only speeding up.

When you think about our theme for 2023, The New Frontier, what excites you about the future in tech, business and/or leadership?

New Frontiers makes me think of new challenges and new opportunities. An influx of new challenges and opportunities can often feel chaotic and complex, but I believe the most interesting innovations come from seemingly complex situations. I really enjoy finding patterns in what can appear to be chaos and connecting seemingly disparate data. I believe leaders that can thrive and find innovative opportunities in the new frontier will be able to lead their organizations most successfully.

What would you say to your younger self about pursuing a career in tech and the future of women in tech?

I would say to keep going and stay true to your instincts and internal compass. The challenges you will face are worth it because you will have the chance to create opportunities for more women and pave the way so their journey is smoother than it was for you.

What would be your one piece of advice to our attendees who might be feeling anxious about the insecurities of today?

In my career, I have seen products and technologies come-and-go, markets boom-and-bust, and companies rise-and-fall. This is natural, and as a leader, there will always be things about which to worry. My advice is to focus on the challenges within your control, have a clear strategy to address those challenges, and the execution to deliver impact and then measure that success. An important part of that is managing the expectations of your employees and other stakeholders. Keeping expectations realistic is critical amidst change and volatility; there is only so much within our control and it’s imperative your employees and stakeholders understand that.

Women of Silicon Valley is built on community; what advice would you give to our attendees on building your network and furthering your presence?

As you progress through the leadership ranks, you tend to have fewer colleagues within your company who face similar challenges. Building your core network through professional groups and personal relationships becomes more important to find peers to support you and whom you can support along their journey. I tend to focus on quality vs quantity because I believe deeply in authentic connections and communications.

Register for your place at Women of Silicon Valley now and join Teresa for her session, “Building the Future of Work without Burning Out Your Workforce” on May 25!

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