Girls in Tech’s flagship event is making its way to London on March 28! The one-day event will be packed full of authentic presentations from some of the most revered female leaders in the world. Hear revolutionary speakers tell the story of their journey to the top, share career advice, tell you how they make tough decisions—and, most important—pass on sage advice to you, the next generation of women in tech. Grab your ticket while you can.
In the meantime, meet Ariane Gorin, President, Expedia Partner Solutions. She is just one speaker in our dazzling lineup.
What’s a typical day for you?
I run Expedia’s global partnership business and am based in London. My team is located all around the world and covers functions from technology to sales to finance to marketing. I travel quite a bit for work, meeting with partners and teams, so I don’t really have a “typical day”. Most weeks are a combination of team meetings, 1:1 meetings with direct reports, partner and industry events, product and technology reviews and mentorship meetings. Recently, my CTO has been giving me lessons on coding. I usually block off 8 to 9 a.m. in the office as my “thinking time” and when I am in London I try to get home by 6:30 to have time with my 12 and 13-year-old boys, though as they reach their teenage years they are less interested in spending time with their parents!
What has been the top career highlight or achievement for you to date?
My top career highlight to date was my recent promotion to President of the Expedia Partner Solutions group. Not because of the title or scope (though I am incredibly excited by the business challenge ahead), but because it comes at the end of a very difficult year for me personally, in which I made important work / life trade-offs. My oldest sister was diagnosed with advanced lung cancer in the summer of 2016. She lived in Texas and I lived in London. At the time, I was travelling often for work, and I knew that I wanted to support her in any way I could during her fight. Over the following year I drastically reduced my work travel and spent weeks by her side. Expedia completely supported my decision, and I leaned a lot on my incredible team. The fact that my promotion came on the heels of a period in which I significantly pulled back on work travel makes me very proud of my company, my team and myself.
What do you feel have been the top things that have helped to get you to where you are in your career?
The two things that have helped me most in my career are the variety of professional experiences I’ve had and my strong support network.
On professional experiences I’ve held roles ranging from strategy to marketing to sales and even product management. With each new role I grew my skillset, honed my abilities as a manager and developed my leadership style. Each time I took a new job I started at the bottom of the learning curve, I made mistakes and I learned from them. Today, as the General Manager of a technology business, I use lessons every day from at least one of my previous roles.
I’ve also been incredibly fortunate to have a strong support network – from mentors to friends to my spouse. One mentor pushed me to take the leap from marketing to sales, convincing me that if I ever wanted to run a business, I needed sales experience. I didn’t have confidence that I’d succeed, and he helped me get comfortable with the risk and stuck with me as I learned this new trade. My spouse has also supported me every step of my professional career. In the early years of motherhood, I was worried that I couldn’t be a great mom and a professional at the same time. He helped me reconcile the two and understand that I had an inner desire to do both, and that we could make it work as a family.
What qualities do you feel are critical in a leader?
Great leaders know how to build strong, diverse teams and create environments in which the team members solve problems together. Great leaders know that they don’t have all the answers, and they have the confidence that their team, given time, will come up with the best solutions possible. I’ve seen leaders build talented teams only to micro-manage and put themselves in the middle of all decisions, effectively preventing the team itself from performing well.
Leaders must also be optimists and create energy for their team. I love the Colin Powell quote “perpetual optimism is a force multiplier”. By having a compelling vision, radiating positive energy, and listening well, leaders attract talented people to their team or their cause. At the end of the day, people want to follow people they believe in and be part of an environment where they can do their best work.
What’s one fear that you’ve had to overcome in your career; how did you do it?
What I’ve had to overcome is that voice in my head that plants seeds of doubt and that keeps me from speaking up for fear of being wrong. When I was the most junior person in the room I was intimidated by others, and I thought that my lack of experience meant that my perspective was less valuable. Then as I became more experienced I often found myself to be one of the few (or the only) women in the room. I now realize that being in the minority makes it even more important that I speak up, as I’ll likely have a different perspective from others and that by bringing this diverse perspective I can help the whole team make better decisions. I’ve also become much more comfortable with debate and challenge, having confidence that healthy debates lead to better solutions.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Go where there is growth – that is where there will always be opportunity to move up, to take new challenges, etc. Whether it is choosing an industry or a team, it is always easier to accelerate if you are in a fast-growing environment.
How can women support other women in STEM careers?
Women can support other women in STEM by being visible role models and by mentoring younger women. I remember my first day at UC Berkeley. As a 17-year old freshman, I walked into my Chemistry 1A lecture hall and saw a 500-person classroom full of men, where I was one of only a handful of women. I felt out of place and soon decided to drop the class. The lack of women in STEM – from schools to the workplace – is a big part of the problem. At the recent World Economic Forum in Davos, the catchphrase written in many conference rooms was ‘You can’t be what you can’t see’. Simply put, we need girls to see more examples of women thriving in STEM, so they can feel that dream is attainable for them as well.