Marian Cook: Tell me about your current position and responsibilities and how you got there.
I am a mediaX distinguished visiting scholar at Stanford University. I took early retirement from Hewlett Packard Labs, and soon after, Stanford invited me to participate in a research initiative to advance the use of digital technologies for social good.
Through this research, I helped reduce the cost and increased the accessibility of education and healthcare. I am uniquely positioned to research this area of social entrepreneurship as I am experienced in launching new technology businesses and am well positioned with my experience in developing imaging technologies.
MC: Did any particular event or experience change your career trajectory? What did you learn?
I made three major career changes—which, by the way, was average for a woman in my day. One change was a move from a technologist to a manager. This change was probably the most difficult one, but I felt I could increase my impact on product development and technology innovation. Managing a research team seemed like a better way to make a difference than being an individual contributor because of the decisions you get to make as a research manager.
The second change was the move to researching social entrepreneurship at Stanford University. I have just published my first fiction book. Until now, I have written technical papers and one non-fiction book, which was featured in the WITI technology expo in the category "Books That Empower Women" the year I was inducted into the Hall of Fame.
I also just published my second book (this one is fiction), which is about two strong women and how they deal with life in a fast-paced, globalized, cross-cultural world. The book is titled Moments in Transition: Stories of Maya and Jeena.
MC: What are you learning now? What do you recommend others learn?
I keep up with technological advances and new business models. The world is now global whether we like it or not. I encourage all of us to develop a global mindset.
MC: How do you determine if someone has leadership potential? What do you look for? How do you help them grow?
I look for someone with compassion, a willingness to learn, and an open mind. One has to be comfortable with rapid change. Whether we are talking about managing millennials, the impact of social media, or environmental change, the world is bigger than us.
Marian is currently an Artificial Intelligence Strategist for Ageos. Immediately prior, she was the Chief Strategy Officer for Innovation and Technology for the State of Illinois, having moved from the private sector to public service in 2015. She started as a systems engineer with IBM, re-engineering processes, implementing systems, and creating business and technology strategies. Moving to international consulting firms, she worked globally, developing business growth and turnaround strategies.
Neerja Raman is a distinguished Visiting Scholar at Stanford University. A speaker, author, technologist, and leadership coach, her interests are all aspects of business creation for social impact. She is a senior executive experienced in technical research, team-building and financial management, international team development, strategy, budgets, and new business creation.
Highly recognized for her work, she has received many awards, such as Women In Technology International Hall of Fame, Outstanding 50 Asian American in Business, and a Women of Influence in Silicon Valley.