Being a business leader is a daunting task in today’s intensely-competitive marketplace. It becomes trickier if you are a woman leader, given the societal challenges along with the traditional ones. However, many women are breaking the stereotypical norms to come ahead and successfully lead their businesses toward growth. The increased percentage of women in business is a testament to this. Anna N Schlegel is a prime example of a woman leader making a mark in a typically male-dominant business world.
Embracing Cultures and Experiences
Anna N Schlegel was born in Olot, Catalunya, a beautiful corner of the world known for trade, visitors, entrepreneurs, artists, and hikers for a long time. Anna grew up in two countries, speaking four languages and spending summers surrounded by people from all over Europe. She studied her first two university degrees entirely in German and English—where she got to understand the world, the many points of view, diplomacy, how to work and speak, etc.
Enjoying different cultures fascinates Anna every day. For example, she has signed deals with an Argentinian and a Korean in China. She thinks she could not have done this without a completely open mind to cultures and many trials and errors along the way. Alongside having lived in different countries, being raised multilingual, and becoming a woman in tech, Anna has incredible parents who lead by values and a lot of clarity. She raised four kids who are now in their early 20s. One of her kids is a special needs kid and she has learned about autism for 20+ years, which has shaped her journey thus far.
At an early age, Anna was the spokesperson for her school to the parents. Moreover, she was the captain of the Volleyball team and occasionally the referee of the final games. “Someone saw something that I didn’t see. I just went with it. Maybe it started when I was young. I literally just connected all these dots recently when some journalist asked me,” she asserts. Anna N Schlegel further states that it is crucial to give young girls these opportunities. “Pick someone, try them out, show them how, mentor them closely, give them feedback,” she adds.
Helping Companies go global
As the founder of one agency and the GM for a large globalization vendor, Anna has worked on several technologies. Usually, she enters a company when it decides to go global and sees it through a good amount of expansion. Some prominent examples are online security “https” with VeriSign, VMware’s virtualization layer and all their products, NetApp’s operating system ONTAP and all their products, Xerox digital platform, and Google’s crowdsourcing linguistic process.
Anna N Schlegel has helped numerous globalization engineering processes advance with first internationalization patents and prior art that have helped many other companies. Besides this, Anna is also an advisor to a few technological companies, agencies, and non-profits.
Leading from the Front
Anna N Schlegel started her own company in San Francisco to localize content and internationalize code. From there, she was hired by Cisco Systems and consulted with many companies in Silicon Valley like Yahoo, Google, and Levi Strauss. She moved to several other high-tech companies where she did a severe rotation. Anna has led digital marketing, international market strategy, and product life cycles for multi-billion dollar businesses. Moreover, she has led globalization, enterprise content strategy, and global engineering.
All these experiences have helped Anna develop the ability to assist companies excel globally. Thinking back, she recalls being a QA Manager as an example, a translator, data, and artificial intelligence platform applications. All these roles are part of ensuring products and platforms, solutions, and companies can grow globally. Leveraging her experiences, Anna N Schlegel is helping her company go global.
“There are roses and there are thorns…”
“There are roses and there are thorns, it’s a back and forth. I get up the next day with HEY we are still here, alive, and ready to kick off a brand new day of challenges, joys, and learnings.”
Challenges are a part and parcel of the story of every successful business leader. Anna confronts these challenges with a positive approach. She believes in learning from and having fun with the challenges. “There are roses and there are thorns, it’s a back and forth. I get up the next day with HEY we are still here, alive, and ready to kick off a brand new day of challenges, joys, learnings,” she adds.
Having immigrated to other countries has helped Anna pivot and adapt fast. She faced challenges like being a woman in tech, raising kids while traveling a lot, being laid off, etc. However, she believes all of this is just part of life. Anna N Schlegel puts a lot of perspective into everything she does. She believes if a leader has fun and motivation to train, is constantly willing to learn, tries to stay healthy, and exhibits grit, they do not take things as challenges but as adventures and new areas of growth.
Anna mentions that a lot can be figured out or broken down into little steps. According to her, there is always someone to talk to about how you parent, how to learn a new area, how you should look at a problem, etc. “If you have blind spots, you have to make your own reality with optimism. Dancing while you are at it, and being open to other perspectives,” she asserts.
Attributes of Success
Anna N Schlegel attributes her success to the people she has associated herself with, rather than her degree or professional experience. The people she has worked with and learned from have been influential in her career. She has learned a lot from seeing, which she does even today. She has traveled to China and Japan with Diane Greene (ex-CEO of VMWare).
“We all start with one main career or focus. Eventually, choose your superpower and get really great at that, but before that study different things. Eventually, study areas that surround your passion to expand how you see things.”
Moreover, she has worked with Brian Anderson (GM of Dell) and Bob Pearse (Chief Strategy Officer of Netapp). The ability to do so has come from changing jobs, studying philology to engineering and strategy to how to run boards, and offering her support to help the C Suite.
Furthermore, Anna is a big believer in attitude and predisposition, how to run a business, empathy, and how to listen actively. Some of these things are not taught in a regular class setting, and she had to choose the type of leader she wanted to be. Anna N Schlegel learned and kept learning different models, for example, presenting, speaking, listening, making hard decisions, and having crucial conversations. “All these things you have to intentionally practice, learn, see what you are missing, and get feedback on,” she mentions.
Thirst for Innovation
Anna believes that entrepreneurship has changed significantly after the pandemic. She recalls always going to the office and even being strict about how many days people could telecommute. Presently, it is the opposite. Anna N Schlegel admits that working from home has its advantages, however, going to the office makes her feel more special and brings a camaraderie in a different way.
Anna further states that there is a lot of isolation happening, however, there are many hours to innovate. She adapted to being remote and still being able to visit offices in her global role. She believes that one has to keep on top of how teams are feeling and performing and for her, a lot of it is via Zoom or Google Meet. She still thinks that a ‘people first’ mentality and thirst for innovation have not stopped for her.
Continuing to bring others up the Ladder
In the near future, Anna plans to keep learning how to adjust, run global companies better around the world, and share those learnings. She loves bringing others along with her and is a huge advocate of giving back. Anna N Schlegel has also launched a book named Truly Global, which she plans to keep re-editing. She aims to keep speaking on behalf of Women in Technology.
Furthermore, Anna envisions herself championing her kids, the kids of the non-profits she supports. She also aims to keep developing her internationalization patent as well as learning with the newcomers and passing along some knowledge with them.
Words of Wisdom
Anna advises budding entrepreneurs to learn the opposite of what they know now. “We all start with one main career or focus. Eventually, choose your superpower and get really great at that, but before that study different things. Eventually, study areas that surround your passion to expand how you see things,” she asserts.
Anna is a big believer in superpower and mentions that it comes with a lot of studying, immersion, and different rotations at various companies or within a company. For example, at NetApp, Anna N Schlegel had worked with 10 different managers and each one showed her something different. She was able to help them be successful as well. “Help others be successful, often behind closed doors,” concludes Anna.