How the invasion of Kuwait helped shape the leadership style of Uplevel CTO Ravs Kaur

In August 1990, 9-year-old Ravs Kaur and her household fled Kuwait Metropolis because it was invaded by Iraq, rapidly resulting in U.S. involvement and the Gulf Conflict.

Her father led his household of 4 to India the place they took refuge for about two years earlier than returning to Kuwait. Her father’s actions throughout the harrowing expertise confirmed Kaur sides of leadership from which she has drawn all through her profession, together with her present position as chief expertise officer for Uplevel, a Seattle tech startup.

“His actions made us consider it will be OK,” Kaur mentioned. As the household was fleeing and her dad was targeted on assembly their fundamental wants, he acknowledged that for his daughter, that included the consolation of favourite dolls and toys, and he introduced them alongside, too.

“You consider that empathy as a frontrunner. He was capable of be in my footwear. He might get my worry and nervousness,” she mentioned. “Not solely did he acknowledge it, however he helped me by means of it.”

Along with empathy and a perception in long-term success, Kaur internalized her dad’s willingness to take dangers, handle uncertainty and act boldly.

“It’s not very totally different from the way you lead groups,” she mentioned. They usually’re leadership expertise which might be coming in helpful as a feminine CTO — a task not typically held by ladies — at a startup throughout a worldwide pandemic in a time of social upheaval.

Kaur is a co-founder at Uplevel, a platform to boost productivity for engineering and a Madrona Enterprise Labs spinout. The 16-person startup has raised $7.5 million and got here out of stealth mode in January. Kaur was beforehand in director and senior roles at Tableau, the place she labored almost six years, and greater than a decade at Microsoft. She got here to the U.S. in 1999 to attend school, incomes a level in laptop engineering from the College of Michigan.

Over time, she has heard individuals’s slights, as they ponder whether she has landed leadership roles to satisfy range targets or as a result of she earned them. Kaur has been advised that she must be “extra seen” in conferences. Initially, she took the feedback personally, however ultimately realized that she wasn’t alone.

“These challenges will not be simply particular person, they’re half of a giant sample of what ladies face,” she mentioned, and added that different struggles for ladies embody lagging self-confidence, networking difficulties, managing private {and professional} lives, and societal expectations of ladies being a household’s main caregiver.

Kaur has discovered to navigate the hurdles, ignoring the digs and letting her expertise communicate for itself. She’s discovered her genuine voice, and advises different ladies that they don’t must at all times share dazzling insights, that colleagues merely need their opinions and means that they will additionally observe up by e-mail.

She’s flipped her minority standing on its head, making it a energy as an alternative of a weak spot.

“There are benefits,” she mentioned, “since you deliver a singular perspective that nobody else has.”

We caught up with Kaur for this installment of Working Geek, a daily GeekWire function. Proceed studying for her solutions to our questionnaire.

Present location: Sammamish, Wash.

Pc varieties: Floor Laptop computer 2

Cellular units: Pixel 3

Favourite apps, cloud providers and software program instruments: For work: G Suite, Miro for distant brainstorming. For private: Google Photographs, Amazon, Alexa, Kindle, Google podcasts

Describe your workspace. Why does it be just right for you? I transformed a bed room in my home into an workplace. We’ve got a bookshelf with all of our household board video games. I’ve a sitting/stand desk. I’ve an enormous monitor. And I at all times have music in the background. I really like how a lot mild is in the room and that my youngsters can pop into my conferences. They’ll be sure that they acknowledge my colleagues earlier than they interrupt. If it’s somebody they don’t acknowledge, they’ll keep away till the finish of the assembly.

Your greatest recommendation for managing on a regular basis work and life? As I’m penning this, my daughter is attempting to sit down on my lap. For me, there’s a recognition that everybody’s work and life are very mingled proper now. I’m attempting to embrace this as a lot as I can. I ensure that once I’m “finished” with work that I’ve some kind of transition. Sometimes I’ll take a stroll into our cul-de-sac and check-in on my youngsters and compensate for their day.

Your most popular social community? How do you utilize it for enterprise/work? I’m not an enormous fan of social media. I do use Fb and LinkedIn, however I’m extra only a lurker vs. a poster. I used LinkedIn to communicate with outdated colleagues and recruit for brand new open roles. My Fb is admittedly full of Prompt Pot recipes and I exploit that for dinner inspiration.

Present quantity of unanswered emails in your inbox? 1,768 unread… however in my protection rather a lot of these are calendar invitations and spam.

Quantity of appointments/conferences in your calendar this week? 40 conferences. Too many! Quite a bit of my time is spent in 1:1s, leadership conferences, dash ceremonies, buyer conferences, and advert hoc conferences that come up.

How do you run conferences? I sometimes like to begin with context and targets of why we’re there. I like to offer house for open dialogue and brainstorms, however attempt to maintain to a sure time restrict and use a car parking zone for points that want extra time. After we are doing dash retros, I like to make use of instruments like Miro to do digital sticky notice discussions so that everybody’s voice is heard — even when they don’t really feel comfy speaking in entrance of the group. My greatest conferences are these the place I give time again to individuals.

On a regular basis work uniform? T-shirts on the high and athletic bottoms. After I should be extra presentable, I’ll swap in a pleasant shirt.

How do you find time for household? I attempt to be actually current with the time I’ve and maintain my telephone away. After work or on weekends, we attempt to get outdoors or do an exercise collectively — or simply hang around and speak. We’re all evening owls in our household, so our most fascinating conversations occur late at evening. Quite a bit of occasions we’re discussing cul-de-sac politics and resolving battle between the youngsters.

Greatest stress reliever? How do you unplug? In the summer time, it’s been going for a stroll or chatting with mates. Like to unwind at evening whereas binge watching TV exhibits. (Not so nice ones nowadays since I’m all out of the good ones — at all times welcome suggestions.)

What are you listening to? Sometimes Bollywood songs, outdated and new.

Day by day reads? Favourite websites and newsletters? GeekWire, of course. I like native information and worldwide information. I sustain with information in India and Kuwait the place my dad and mom reside. I like Medium and the host of articles that Google figures out that I need to learn.

Guide in your nightstand (or e-reader)? I just lately completed an excellent straightforward and quick one: “Monday Morning Leadership” by David Cottrell. “The Energy of Behavior” by Charles Duhigg is up subsequent. Each are books that I’m studying to get impressed for our personal product at Uplevel.

Night time owl or early riser? Undoubtedly an evening owl.

The place do you get your greatest concepts? In the bathe, driving, strolling and typically once I’m doing dishes. The most effective concepts at all times come once I’m not at a display screen and am doing an exercise on my own. I’m old skool and prefer to jot down concepts with paper and a pen.

Whose work style would you need to study extra about or emulate? I’m undecided there may be one specific particular person. I prefer to learn extra about how totally different individuals method their work, equivalent to Invoice Gates and Jeff Bezos. I get impressed by totally different habits.

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