Culture

8 Women Inspiring Change at Prove

Post by:
Prove
March 29, 2022
8 Women Inspiring Change at Prove

Our Provers have voted and here are some of the amazing and fearless women doing extraordinary things every day at Prove in our various offices in Chennai, Denver, New York, and all around the globe. Check out these eight trailblazers nominated this year by the Provers that inspire change in our organization.

Allison Lemaster

Sr. Director, Customer Success

Who inspires you every day as a woman, professional, and leader? 

Looking around the Prove organization and seeing women getting things done at such a high level is extremely inspiring. It encourages me to do my part and create a team that fosters that level of dedication and support. This team definitely leads by example. 

What advice would you give your younger self?

If you aren't able to be authentic at work, you aren't in the right place. It took me a long time to feel comfortable being myself in a work environment. It creates unnecessary stress and exhaustion when you have to step into a different personality for 8+ hours a day. 

How you do define success?

My definition of success is all about balance. Balance might look different every week but if I don't have time to enjoy my family, my personal time, and my hobbies, I am not successful. AND part of being a successful leader is helping my team find the same balance. I want to show up for my team, get the work done, and then head out on a hiking trip. That's success. 

How do you empower others in your life, at work, or in your community?

My goal is to bring people together for constructive conversations, even in difficult moments. To build a bridge rather than a wall and mentor my team to do the same. I also show up, whether that is for my family, my community, or my team. If I gave you my word, you can trust it. 

What would you like to see in the future for the women of tomorrow?

I want to see women entering the workforce with their own voice. I didn't start trusting mine until I was mentored by female leaders and empowered to stand up for my convictions with actions. While I am focused on providing that same support for other women, I'd love to see girls learning that from day one. We are at a pivotal point where lasting change can be made if we create the right structure and support systems at a much younger age. 

Crystal Santistevan

Director, Technical Product Management

Who inspires you every day as a woman, professional, and leader? 

My daughter inspires me every day. As a mother you want the best for your children, you want them to "do better" than you have. For my daughter and the folks on my team, I hope I am an example for them. I want to mentor them so that they can be an inspiration for other colleagues while exceeding their career goals.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Just turning 50 this question sure does hit home... ;) I would tell my younger self to be confident, to know that I can accomplish anything that I set my mind to. Also, that life is not fair, is not equitable, but do not let that stop you. Ask for help, be diligent, and do not settle because it is the easier road. Do take time though to enjoy life and be proud of your accomplishments. 

How you do define success?

Success can be defined in many ways. Happiness, fulfillment, respect, value as well as professional and personal goals. My family teases me because they think I make career changes often. I counter that I take on new opportunities for career growth, personal growth, as well as financial growth. My definition of success is to be able to bring value and be respected by the company and colleagues I work with. Personally, it is the beautiful family I have. My husband of 29 years, my 3 children, and my 2 daughters-in-law.

How do you empower others in your life, at work, or in your community?

The best way to empower folks is to set them up for success. Provide them with the knowledge, resources, and mentorship so that they succeed. This includes collaborating with them to define their goals, trusting them to execute duties, providing feedback, and making yourself available to them when needed.

What would you like to see in the future for the women of tomorrow?

I would like to see women continue to be able to excel in the workforce as well as at home like our male counterparts. Women are beautiful, intelligent, articulate creatures who deserve to be treated with respect and be provided the same opportunities and equality as others.

Melody Sian

Director, People Operations and Compensation

Who inspires you every day as a woman, professional, and leader? 

I am often amazed at anyone who is a parent and is able to navigate the challenges of juggling work and other family obligations at the same time.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Continue to learn, try new things, and travel as often as possible.  Spend time with mom and show your love more.  There is magic in all of the moments - just take time to enjoy them.

How you do define success?

Success is the personal feeling of joy, confidence, and being truly engaged while maintaining a strong ethical character. Success also needs to be earned through perseverance, courage, or a willingness to try. (I don't think success can be handed out or based on luck.)

How do you empower others in your life, at work, or in your community?

I continue to encourage all voices to be heard and inclusion of everyone.  

What would you like to see in the future for the women of tomorrow?

In the future, I would like to see women valued for their worth. However, I do not believe the path to this is entitlement, but rather demonstrating worthwhile not allowing anyone to dim your light. Women need to be raised / taught / treated to not accept something less because they don't give themselves enough credit.  

Lesley O'Neill

Chief Compliance Officer

Who inspires you every day as a woman, professional, and leader? 

Without a doubt, the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg is at the top of my list. She believed that reading opened up your imagination and enabled dreams. And RBG had dreams, but she encountered gender discrimination in law school and post-graduation despite graduating first in her class at Columbia Law. Later in her career, as only one of two female law professors at Rutgers, she was forced to fight for equal pay.

Due to her experiences, RBG began taking on sex discrimination complaints to help other women and then co-founded the ACLU's Women’s Rights Project. Eventually, RBG was given the highly coveted opportunity of joining the U.S. Supreme Court as the second female justice and first Jewish female justice. RBG’s career and impact are as legendary as her quote: “Women belong in all places where decisions are being made. It shouldn't be that women are the exception."

Her perseverance was remarkable and she inspires me every day.

What advice would you give your younger self?

There are quite a few pieces of advice I would give my younger self, but here are three:

1. Never forget the power of kindness. You don’t have to be a leader to show empathy, listen to others, be open to change, and leverage connections.

2. Vulnerability is not a weakness. Embrace the unexpected, challenges, and mistakes you will undoubtedly make along the way and learn from them. Share what you learn with others, and listen when others share their experiences with you. 

3. Take risks. You’re not an imposter, you deserve what you work hard for, and don’t let the judgment of others prevent you from being yourself or doing what’s right for you. 

How you do define success?

To me, whether personal or professional, success is achieving a goal or adding value while also gaining or maintaining the respect of others. Achievement alone is not success, especially if it’s at the expense of others or your values. Balance is also key to being successful, including having a work-life balance. Meaningful relationships in and outside of the workplace are extremely important to me. I am mindful about how I spend my time and who I spend my time with. When I look back at my life, I want to be proud of the value I added (in and outside of work) and the choices I made with how I spent my time. That’s how I measure success.

How do you empower others in your life, at work, or in your community?

If a person doesn’t feel empowered on my team, the odds are they aren’t feeling heard to begin with, so my first priority would be to listen. Once I understand the issue from the perspective of the person, I’m better able to leverage the various resources at hand to address it. For example, I can give the person a voice or a platform that they didn’t have before to increase visibility. Knowledge is also very powerful, so providing the person with training or educational resources may help the person feel more confident.

What would you like to see in the future for the women of tomorrow?

Less competition and more support. I very much enjoy watching reality competition shows where the competitors have to form alliances with each other to be successful in the game (e.g., Survivor, Big Brother, etc.). Over the last 20+ years and hundreds of seasons, there have been less than a handful of successful all-female alliances on these shows because the female contests are threatened by each other and/or innately don’t trust each other. And while it's insanely frustrating to watch on television, it's truly disheartening to see it play out similarly in real life. Women are more successful when they align and support each other - despite and because of their differences - so that’s what I’d like to see more of in the future.

Kat Bardash

Data Science Manager

Who inspires you every day as a woman, professional, and leader? 

The dedicated Data Science team as well as all the hard-working people at Prove inspire me to lead better.

What advice would you give your younger self?

In high school, I thought I wasn't smart enough to be a doctor or engineer. I would encourage my younger self to move past those doubts and explore any field was I curious about. 

How you do define success?

In general, success to me is feeling financially stable while having freedom and flexibility to enjoy life to the fullest. 

At work, success is how successful my team is. If they feel motivated, inspired, and happy to solve Prove's DS problems, then I'm doing my job. 

How do you empower others in your life, at work, or in your community?

In life, I am a pretty good cheerleader for friends and family by exposing doubts through discussion and talking through them to allow people to see that a lot of what we fear is in our heads. At work, I do similar things and strive for everyone's voices to be heard, especially those that may be ignored. 

What would you like to see in the future for the women of tomorrow?

I want more women to feel empowered to say something and make changes. 

Jenn Berg

Senior Director of Growth Marketing

Who inspires you every day as a woman, professional, and leader? 

My mom continues to be a huge inspiration in my life. I find that a lot of my internal drive as a business professional, my prioritization of children and family, and my overall compassion for all life, stems from examples set forth by my mom. I had a “working mom” throughout my life, in a time when this was a minority group. I truly appreciate the physical and mental strength my mom displayed while growing up, and as a working mother today, I now realize just how hard this balancing act is. Moments my mom shared with me as a youngster, inspired my future and inspires me every day. 

What advice would you give your younger self?

If I were to give advice to my younger self, I would say… nothing lasts forever. Embrace and learn from each moment. Don’t stress too much when you stumble and fall, we all do. And don’t cloud your core values when you taste success. Again, nothing lasts forever.

How you do define success?

I define success as a progression of events in life, not a snapshot in time. I feel most successful when timing and balance of priorities fall into place. For me, success includes laughter with family, alone time for myself, and a Zen-like focus on work that I plan to accomplish. Over the years, I have noticed that humbling experiences tend to be the biggest driver of success.  That is… as-long-as you are willing to get up, learn from, and try again.

How do you empower others in your life, at work, or in your community?

I am dedicated to empowering others around me. Empowerment, trust and building confidence is baked into my leadership style at work, on the soccer field and track as a coach, and most importantly as a mother. I believe in providing guardrails to try new things and even fall, but also highlighting steps, attributes, and work ethic necessary for achieving specific goals. Communication runs side-by-side with empowerment.    

What would you like to see in the future for the women of tomorrow?

For all the women of tomorrow, I would love to see you walk with your head high, your voice bold, and believing that you belong anywhere and everywhere you choose to be. This world needs you and ladies just like you are the mold that forms our futures. Go get it! Dream BIG!!   

Yuka Yoneda

Senior Director of Marketing

Who inspires you every day as a woman, professional, and leader? 

I'm inspired by Prove's many knowledgeable leaders who lead by doing, not just by telling. I'm also inspired by my colleagues, through whom I uplevel myself every day via osmosis. Just being in meetings with them and hearing them spit knowledge is like a free daily master class for me. Prove's culture of positivity and being solution-oriented also inspires me to do better by thinking about how I can be better going forward. This might come off as self-centered but I also inspire myself every day when I realize that the stuff I'm doing is really, really hard. I'm almost shocked that I'm able to juggle all of these things! I'm inspired by all the other mothers and women and parents doing the nearly impossible every day - many in much more dire circumstances than mine. I think Tina Fey expressed it best when she said, “I think every working mom probably feels the same thing: You go through big chunks of time where you’re just thinking, ‘This is impossible — oh, this is impossible.’ And then you just keep going and keep going, and you sort of do the impossible.”

What advice would you give your younger self?

1. It's ok to say no. In fact, it's often necessary to say no. Saying no can open a lot of doors for you. 

2. Understand your audience - you can talk all you want but there's no point if the other party doesn't understand or care. 

3. Something that's helped me with my fear of public speaking is the realization that speaking is for the audience, not for the speaker. It's not about you or how your hair looks or how your voice sounds. You're there to teach or present something to others so they can derive value. That's helped me to not be so self-conscious.

4. Customer service is the ultimate differentiator. Truly understanding your customer and providing value with a smile can set you apart from the rest of the pack. 

5. Invest and save! 

6. Rely on data, not emotions

How you do define success?

Success is feeling good about what you're doing and also being able to provide for yourself and your family. 

How do you empower others in your life, at work, or in your community?

1. Spread positive energy, whether it's via compliments or just smiling and having a good attitude. 

2. Lead by doing but also teach. I have a tendency to want to help and do everything but doing everything for everyone can actually have the opposite effect of empowerment. Now, I've learned to let go and to lead by example, giving people the tools they need to feel confident and get stuff done themselves. 

3. Show people that it's ok to not be satisfied and to want more. There's a way to ask for more that isn't just complaining - it's showing data about why the current state is not enough and making a logical argument for why a change would be positive. You don't have to just accept what's given.

What would you like to see in the future for the women of tomorrow?

I would like to see a world where women and men are paid the same. That's the bare minimum. I'd like to see a world where women know that they can be anything they want to be. And I'd like to see a world where women are not afraid to walk around alone on the street  whether it's day or night.

Jennifer Risdon

Engineering Manager

Who inspires you every day as a woman, professional, and leader? 

One of my dearest friends is the single mom of a special needs daughter. In addition, she is a successful business owner and she somehow finds time to fight the school board to advocate for her daughter's needs and the needs of others like her. She has also started a local support group for parents of special needs kids. She's my hero.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Believe in yourself.  Don't shy away from roles you don't feel fully qualified for. Oh, and buy stock in Apple. :)

How you do define success?

Learning from failure, adapting, improving.  I don't know any successful person who hasn't gone through each of these steps, repeatedly (lather, rinse, repeat).

How do you empower others in your life, at work, or in your community?

By being an active listener, expressing appreciation for other's efforts, and inviting them to lead.

What would you like to see in the future for the women of tomorrow?

I'd like to see more female representation at higher levels - founders, C-levels, board members, etc.  

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