Women In Tech Lose A High-Placed Warrior

By Michelle Quinn
San Jose Mercury News.

Padmasree Warrior is her own category in Silicon Valley.

“Well, there’s Padma at Cisco,” is what people say to each other when asked to point to a woman somewhere, anywhere, in a prominent technical and leadership role.

But Warrior won’t be part of the new leadership team put together by Chuck Robbins, Cisco Systems’ incoming CEO. In a blog post Wednesday, Robbins announced his new cabinet, adding two women. Warrior isn’t part of it but will stay until September to help with the transition.

Her departure comes at a time when the tech industry is going through a period of self-examination over its gender, racial and ethnic makeup. There are few women in technical roles or leadership roles.

Warrior has held both. And that makes her departure from a company that has at least professed a commitment to gender equity a bit of a blow.

Cisco declined to make Robbins or Warrior available to comment.

A longtime Motorola executive, Warrior came to Cisco seven years ago. She is known for driving Cisco’s acquisition strategy and promoting innovation internally.

Outside the firm, Warrior isn’t just a symbol for women aspiring to careers in technology. She effectively used her prominence at Cisco to talk about and advance the issues important to women in tech. She talked about her own fears and limitations as she navigated her way in the mostly male tech world.

With 1.6 million Twitter followers, Warrior is a sought-after speaker for women’s conferences. She has held an annual women’s development event at Cisco and contributes regularly to the Huffington Post. Forbes ranked her the 84th most powerful woman in the world. She sits on the boards of Gap and Box.

Writing in the Huffington Post, Warrior said she tells women that “the fact that you’re different and that you’re noticed, because there are few of us in the tech industry, is something you can leverage as an advantage.” She advises women to take opportunities as they arise, rather than second guess their abilities.

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