Diane Bryant has spent most of her career working for some of the best companies in the world – Intel and Google – often as one of the few women in the room.
When she first joined Intel in 1985, Bryant, now 60, told CNBC Make It that in order to “fit in” with the office, she had to quickly adopt the same habits as her male colleagues, like drinking Scotch and swearing.
“I realized that the only way I can get them to work with me and thrive on this team is to make these men more comfortable by embracing their direct, aggressive style,” she says . “I thought, ‘You either adapt or you die.'”
A native of California, he spent 32 years at Intel in a variety of roles including chief information officer and group president of the Intel Data Center Group. After leaving Intel, Bryant spent a year as Google Cloud’s Chief Operations Officer and served as an advisor and board member for several smaller startups before joining NovaSignal, a medical device startup, as Chairman and CEO in 2020 .
Many of those opportunities, she adds, have come from the mentors who rooted for her and invested in her success: A client at the restaurant where Diane worked throughout college recommended her for her first internship at Aerojet, and when a colleague saw that she was struggling with being a tough manager at Intel, he recruited her for a better role on another team.
Below, Bryant shares the best business advice she’s ever received and her biggest regret of her career.
“There are no emotions in business”
When you love what you do, you can be more productive and creative at work — but Bryant warns that letting your emotions guide your decisions can quickly backfire.
Andy Bryant, Intel’s former chairman, gave this advice to Bryant when she was still an executive at the tech company, conducting high-level negotiations with customers.
“He told me, ‘there’s no emotion in business,'” she says. “This applies to both positive and negative emotions: Whether you’re ecstatic or angry, they will make you make a wrong decision.”
Bryant explains, “If you’re overly engaged or overly excited, you’re likely to make more compromises, like “
The next time you’re in a heated, emotional situation at work — whether it’s a tense conversation with a manager or a passive-aggressive chain of emails with a client — Bryant recommends “getting up from your desk, walk around the room leave and take a few, take a deep breath and find your composure.”
Whether it’s just getting a glass of water from your kitchen or taking a 15-minute walk outside, stepping back can help you clear your mind and better control your emotions.
“You can’t win everyone over”
There’s only so much you can do to cope with a job you can’t stand. However, a toxic work environment can be mentally and physically taxing, so don’t ignore the signs that it’s time to move on.
Bryant learned this the hard way: Her biggest regret in her career is not going fast enough when she found herself in an organization that was “not conducive to women” (she didn’t name the company).
“The vast majority of my supervisors have been motivational and supportive over the decades, but there were a few who were clearly more comfortable working with people who were their own: male,” she says.
In this situation, Bryant’s determination became a detriment to her success — she thought her passion and persistence would win over her manager, but he continued to offer better opportunities and higher compensation to her male peers at the same level.
Looking back, Bryant wishes she had “realized that the barrier was impenetrable and left the organization sooner.”
However, the CEO says her new role as head of NovaSignal is “extremely fulfilling”. NovaSignal uses artificial intelligence (AI), ultrasound and robotics to measure blood flow to the brain, which can help detect blood clots and other neurological abnormalities like stroke or dementia. According to Crunchbase, the company has raised more than $120 million in funding.
“It’s great to have a job where you not only continuously increase sales and profits, but also do something for the good of society,” she says. “It feels incredibly rewarding to me.”
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