Emerging Leader Spotlight: Diana Olin

Every month we ask an emerging leader we admire to share what she is doing to take the lead in her career. We invite her to share how she achieved her current position, what obstacles she encountered on her climb, as well as tips for how to be a rising woman of influence.

Diana OlinThis month we shine the Emerging Leader Spotlight on Diana Olin, Product and Sales Legal Counsel with Box, Inc.

Favorite leadership quote:

“My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.” – Maya Angelou

Why did you choose your current career path?

Having grown up in the Bay Area immersed in innovation, I knew that I wanted to contribute directly in tech where the frontier constantly stretches forward with insatiable curiosity. While I coded in middle and high school, I found myself drawn to researching, writing, mentoring, and brainstorming.

Serving as an in-house lawyer at a software-as-a-service company permits me to blend the tech-driven geek in me with my social science roots. Presently, I partner with the Product and Engineering teams from alphas to commercialization of new products – as well as negotiate licensing and sales deals. I derive energy from delving into the tech behind the offerings and one-on-one conversations, so collaborating with (and learning from) the spectrum of business partners suits my personality well.

Here at Box, I greatly appreciate how we center around treating each person with dignity (which creates the trust for real discussions and recognition of the humanity in us all) and afford non-profits the opportunity to benefit from our service with Box for Good. Because at the end of the day, it’s the people the matter. Jobs can be fungible. The people and the impact are not.

What is one of the most important lessons you have learned that has been critical to your professional success?

When I first started practicing law, generally others viewed a sociology and Spanish literature background as an anomaly and somewhat misplaced; and mentoring as a tangential. Now, a liberal arts background and mentorship sets up people for success in navigating not only law but tech as a whole. I’m fortunate to be living in an era of convergence – where industries, cultures, and frameworks are colliding and intersecting. Where empathy and logic are no longer viewed mutually exclusive (or independently sufficient) but rather as necessary factors in analysis – from user research to business strategy to operationalization. Where earning money is not inherently set up a dichotomy to doing good. Where mentoring isn’t relegated as an extracurricular but accepted as vital for cultivating an enriching, inclusive community.

I’m thoroughly intrigued with the points of intersection – where one discipline, one industry, one functional group, one language intersects with another. How law can no longer be cleanly segregated (if it ever was) from sales, since we live in an increasingly complex and regulated arena. I thrive off of synthesizing seemingly disparate perspectives and identifying the parallel, if not overlapping, concepts/goals (as well as key areas of divergence). Being steeped in the ever shifting and melding landscape of privacy, law, and tech, I’m constantly kept on my toes and invigorated. In sum, what others (and perhaps even I) perceived as a hurdle was in essence my gift, but it time and a new lens to value that which made me different.

What are some empowering tips that you can recommend to other individuals who want to be recognized as high-potential emerging leaders?

Know what success is and remember that stakeholders, competitors, employees, leaders are people. Success provides the context driving the stated (and unspoken) goals and your role is to make explicit the assumptions behind the definition and metrics. In doing so, you can link how one person’s, one’s teams, one organization’s success links with another person’s, team’s, organization’s, industry’s success and start to map out the motivations and roles of the ecosystem. I expressly call out the need to acknowledge that behind titles are people, because it’s a lot easier to act like a jerk (even if unintentionally) if you don’t mindfully contemplate the human impact. Your ultimate decision may not alter (simply the how), but with compassionate leadership you’re more likely to earn the respect and reciprocal compassion from those around you.

Connect with Diana on LinkedIn.

Angie Klein

As Operations and Marketing Manager, Angie Klein is responsible for maintaining the day to day operations of  Be Leaderly.com. Angie manages all aspects of training program logistics, registrations, SEO, financials,  monthly newsletter, social media engagement and customer service.

Follow @kleina2012 on Twitter.

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