Meet Webscale Women leaders: Jennifer and Sara
Fostering a supportive community for women
By Melissa Sheehan
In 2020, Jennifer Rowland stepped up to lead the Nutanix Webscale Women employee resource group with Sara Steffen co-leading the following year. Webscale Women (WSW) was our first employee resource group at Nutanix, founded in 2014. They aim to increase the visibility of diverse employees and to provide career development and support by hosting events that involve small group coaching sessions, external guest speakers, and more. We spoke with Jennifer and Sara to learn about their experiences at Nutanix, leading Webscale Women, and the impact the group has had on them personally and professionally.
Q: What do you do at Nutanix?
Jennifer: I am a Senior Manager of Product Management for the AHV team at Nutanix.
Sara: I am the Senior Director of Customer Marketing at Nutanix. My team works with our amazing customers to bring their stories to life through case studies, press releases, videos, and speaking opportunities. We also work with our customers by managing Advisory Boards, User Groups, Nutanix University (certifications and training), and our Nutanix Community site.
Sara Steffen (center)
Q: Why did you join Nutanix?
S: I joined Nutanix because of the people. I am surrounded by caring, smart, passionate, and creative team members who care about their work and our customers.
J: I joined after a Nutanix hiring manager sought me out. They were adamant that I join and it was important to me to go somewhere where I knew I’d have sponsors.
Q: What do you enjoy most about your work?
J: I enjoy getting to work with a variety of people worldwide, across our products and our Nutanix LIFE groups, or our employee resource groups.
S: I love my job because it is never boring, always challenging and I get to interact with and hear feedback from our customers firsthand.
Q: What traits do you look for in a mentor or sponsor? How have you impacted people that you’ve mentored or sponsored?
S: Earlier in my career, I didn’t know that the mentors and sponsors I have today (and have had for many years) would be those people. I built authentic relationships with people I respected and wanted to learn from. Look for people you can trust 100%, who can be a neutral-sounding board, and who are good people.
I am passionate about mentoring and sponsoring talent because I was lucky enough to have wonderful and supportive mentors and sponsors throughout my career. I am a connector and I love connecting people. I always look out for my team and those that are in my network and advocate for them in any way I can.
A WSW event
J:It’s important to have a strong sponsor at work. I don’t work for anyone who is not begging me to join them. I look for someone who is direct and strong while also being empathetic and grounded in reality. The human engine is critical for forward progress.
When I mentor others, I tend to learn too. Wisdom comes from time, people, and the experiences you have - good and bad!
A WSW event with some of our team from across EMEA
Q: Can you share a few examples of Webscale Women initiatives or events?
S: WSW provides opportunities for our members to develop, connect and share, by fostering strong relationships and networking across our community.
We survey members to see what programs are of interest to them and plan events based on their feedback. We host a HER Story series where employees share their personal and professional stories. We have also had small group coaching sessions, and external guest speakers who discuss topics like wellness, stress management, how to pursue a seat on a board, and how to establish your leadership brand.
Some of our WSW in India
Q: How can employees get involved with WSW?
J: WSW is open to any global employees who want to participate. Come to our events and offer to volunteer by reaching out to me or Sara if there is a specific area you want to contribute.
S: We have an active internal WSW Slack channel that you can join and participate in. Employees can view recordings from past events on our Nutanix intranet page. We also welcome and encourage participation from male allies too.
Jennifer (on right) at a Nutanix holiday celebration
Q: How has your involvement with WSW impacted you personally and professionally?
S: In my first week at Nutanix in 2018, I attended a WSW event and knew immediately I wanted to be involved with the group. WSW has given me opportunities to present, network with employees outside of my function, and have visibility at the executive level.
J: I have the honor of getting to know executives through this forum and have been invited to speak at external conferences. It has also been rewarding to have opportunities to advise and support women seeking direct help on a variety of topics. It amazes me that if you give just a little to others how very much you actually get back!
Thanks to Jennifer and Sara for chatting with us and continuing to foster an inclusive and supportive community for women at Nutanix!
If you’re interested in a flexible, challenging career while finding your inclusive community at Nutanix, visit our Careers page to learn more about our team, culture, and open roles.
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