3 Adobe women talk advice, support and challenges

Mar 29, 2021

Kristine Hamlett, Enterprise Editorial; Managing Editor, Adobe
29th March 2021

The past year has been, in a word, challenging. We’ve been at home, somewhat isolated, and more in need than ever for inspiration, motivation and — with the added work of homeschooling, children, family life, keeping up with household responsibilities — a few extra hours in the day.

We asked three women on very different Adobe teams to reflect on advice received, what support looks like, and the things that both motivate and challenge them.

Here’s what we learned.

Sarah Saber
Software Engineer, Adobe Sensei & Search

What was the best advice you ever received?

Write down your thoughts, not to share them, but to understand them. The process of reflecting on what’s going on inside your head and challenging those thoughts allows you to learn more about yourself and your personality. If you complement that knowledge with continuously pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone, you’ll eventually find your own voice. Since high school, I’ve been applying that mindset in my life by paying close attention to interesting opportunities that scare me, but don’t go against my values – and I take up those challenges.

What I’ve learned is that you cannot get rid of your comfort zone; it develops with you over the years. It is the difference between what you fear now and what you feared before that makes it all worthwhile.

At the end of the day, it’s not about finding your voice and stopping once you do; that’s just step one in the journey. You need to regularly use your voice, improve it, and most importantly celebrate it.

How do you encourage and support other women – in your field and beyond?

I’m very passionate about intersectional spaces that empower women, whether that’s events and conferences like the Grace Hopper Celebration or local women support groups in the community both in tech and otherwise. I like to get involved in those spaces by organizing, planning or attending events, to meet amazing women and build community. When I was a student, I was heavily involved in a professional engineering sorority where we collaborated with companies and industry professionals to put on events, organize regional conferences, and volunteer with local schools. Now, that I am at Adobe, I am part of the Women at Adobe Employee Network, where I got to meet and learn from some great women who inspire me every day. Apart from that, as a recent grad, I’ve been taking opportunities to give back and talk with college students to share my journey as well as any tips on how to navigate student struggles and the transition to industry.

What gets you up in the morning? What keeps you up at night?

My main motivations are curiosity and using the multiple interests that I have to make a positive impact on those around me. I remember when I was a kid, my mom used to enroll me every year in all those craft, computer, and science courses/camps in the summer and I looked forward to each and every one of them. Growing up, that love for continuous learning stayed with me as I was encouraged to try different hobbies that interest me and grow myself in them. That’s how I ended up majoring in Computer Science at school because I was really drawn to the fact that you can take an idea to implementation once you learn the right technologies using only your laptop and Wi-Fi all while impacting numerous people. Not to mention it provided ample opportunities for satisfying my curiosity. In my free time, I’m always exploring online courses and books to grow my knowledge. Apart from that, I love getting creative with ways to connect those multiple interests of mine together (like knitting code-related pieces or writing blog posts to help others or hosting events) as well as discovering new ones.

Heather Devine
Director of Engineering, Document Cloud Mobile & Data Science

What was the best advice you ever received that helped you find your voice?

I think the best advice I received, and that I pass on, is to think, “What’s the worst that could happen?” If I speak up or if I try something, and it doesn’t work out, but I’m okay with what could happen, then why wouldn’t I try it? I realize that might look different for someone who is just starting out in their career compared with someone who is further along, and it might look different for someone depending on how comfortable they are with their team and their manager. For me, it’s helpful to think through what the impact might be – both on myself, and others. If I have a question or an observation, it’s likely someone else does as well, and so in using my voice I hope to support others as well.

How do you encourage and support other women – in your field and beyond?

I think one of the most important ways is by being open and available. I try to make sure my team and my mentees and other women know I’m here for them, so they feel like they can reach out. I’m a pretty informal person and so I hope that helps people feel comfortable asking me about anything, no matter how big or small. I’m so grateful for the people who make themselves available to me, and I want to pass that on and be available to others.

What gets you up in the morning? What keeps you up at night?

What gets me up in the morning is quite literally my young son, since he wakes up pretty early. That’s also when he’s in the best mood, so my favorite part of the day is spending the morning with him. That means sometimes I get to the start of my workday and feel like I’ve already had a day go by because he has so much energy. From a career perspective, what gets me up in the morning is our upcoming Adobe Tech Summit. I’m one of the co-chairs for it, and we have the challenge of making it happen virtually. I’m having such a great time working with the other co-chairs for the event – and while there’s a lot going on, it is really fun and interesting work.

What keeps me up at night these days is time for myself – between work and family, it’s hard to find time to wind down. I’ve been staying up too late studying for my Shawnee language class, reading, or just enjoying a glass of wine and a TV show with my husband.

Misha LeClair
Software Development Engineer, Digital Experience

What was the best advice you ever received that helped you find your voice?

Finding your voice means embracing what you have to say is worthy of being heard. It took me far too long to do this in my personal life. Women are often told the opposite: to stay silent and endure. I didn’t understand the impact of this until someone said it is like death by a thousand cuts. Healing and wholeness were found when I found my voice.

How do you encourage and support other women – in your field and beyond?

Here at Adobe, I serve as the lead for the Women at Adobe San Francisco Policy Input Committee. I’ve spent the past three years partnering with internal teams to identify and collaborate to remove blockers for women as they grow and advance their careers. On a personal level, I try to empower women to ask for what they want and identify and discard the societal and internal voices that tell them they can’t or shouldn’t.

What gets you up in the morning? What keeps you up at night?

My love for my daughter propels me forward on a daily basis. I want to model strength, empathy, vulnerability, and growth so she can enjoy the same. Right now, my thoughts are consumed with racial justice. We are in the midst of a great reckoning as each one of us self-reflects on how the world around us impacts our neighbors and the role we play in that.