Today is International Women’s Day and the theme this year is “choose to challenge.” This is really a call around making a conscious choice to speak up and challenge not just gender bias, but also racial and economic inequality. From challenge comes change and a path to a fairer, better world.
We met up with one of Cayuse’s many outstanding women, Senior Product Manager, Erica Beffert for conversation about challenges and staying focused on outcomes.
Sr Product Manager
Tell us a bit about your background and when you’ve been faced with situations where you had to challenge either yourself or existing preconceptions?
My background is in computer science. I chose it because it was hard and interesting and a male-dominated profession, frankly. In high school I took wood shop and auto shop specifically because there were no girls and I wanted to prove that a girl could do those things and be really good at them. I chose computer science because there weren’t a lot of women in the profession. Along the way the thing that I learned is that it is sometimes hard to be heard, but the first step is being courageous and speaking up and saying something. If you sit back and don’t say anything because you’re afraid of making a mistake, then you absolutely won’t be heard.
How has your experience at Cayuse been as far as speaking up and finding opportunity for growth?
It’s been really good and basically is a testament as to why I’ve been here for almost nine years! I started out at Cayuse as an application engineer on our implementation team. Immediately I began asking questions about where we were going with the products and how I could make a bigger impact in the company. I never shied away from asking questions and making suggestions and showing my commitment to the company. I got promoted into product management and was given a role focused on actually driving the vision of a product and this is what I’m doing today. I always felt Cayuse was open and committed to promoting people who are actively involved and believe in the mission of the company.
Cayuse is equally committed to empowering customers. Is there any best practice you think research leaders could be mindful of to maximize their success and meet their challenges in 2021?
Yes, I think if the pandemic has taught us anything it’s that we’re never going to stop encountering unexpected challenges. I always think about how I apply product management to my life and how you can apply product management to research administration and it comes down to two things. One is to recognize and be clear about the problem that needs to be solved and the other is to allow for flexibility in the solution. So, it’s actually a combination of identifying the heart of an issue or challenge, being open and flexible about the solution, and really just staying focused on the outcome.