Lora Blum, Senior Vice President, General Counsel & Secretary of SurveyMonkey Inc., squeezed a lot into her first two quarters at the company, leading the creation of a law firm diversity questionnaire built into SurveyMonkey’s platform and quarterbacking two high-profile board appointments—tennis superstar Serena Williams and Intuit CEO Brad Smith.
What piece of advice do you have for young lawyers in tech?
Say yes to all different kinds of projects—figuring out what you like and what you don’t like about work will help you find a career path that makes you click.
After the events that have rocked Silicon Valley this year, are you more or less hopeful about the prospects for women in the tech industry?
It is beyond frustrating to realize how little progress we’ve made on gender issues—especially in a place like Silicon Valley, which prides itself on progressiveness. However, the events of the past year that have been highlighted, while continuing to frustrate me, also make me optimistic that people are shining a light on toxic and inappropriate behavior in ways we haven’t seen before. That gives me hope that things are changing and will continue to do so.
Who’s the best leader you’ve seen in action and why?
My gymnastics coach (from many years ago): Kelli Hill. Growing up, gymnastics was a huge part of my life. My coach, Kelli, went on to coach several Olympians (my former teammates [were] Dominique Dawes, Elise Ray, Courtney Kupets). I joined the team at age 8 not too long after Kelli bought the first gym she owned, and I was fortunate enough to work with her through my adolescent years (all the way through high school).
Kelli did not have formal training as a coach, so watching her learn to teach all of us and having her lead us into competition and help build up our confidence and skills is something that had a huge impact on my development. It may seem like a strange choice to talk about a sports coach from my childhood as the best leader I’ve seen in action, but her empathy, patience and ability to push my teammates and me to be our best selves are qualities I think any great leader would be very lucky to have!