Diane Robinette is President and CEO at Incisive Software, a company helping the most influential organizations in the world achieve the visibility and control required to manage the risks associated with business-critical spreadsheets and empower better decision making.
Prior to Incisive Software, Diane served in executive and senior level positions at companies including BroadVision, Contivo (acquired by Liaison Technologies), Covigna (acquired by ProQuest/Snap-on), Perfect Commerce and Proximex (acquired by Tyco). She also held management positions at KPMG and EY.
Diane holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science from San Francisco State University. She has been invited to speak on various topics for a variety of organizations including The Lester Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the Haas School of Business, Technology Ventures Corporation (TVC), and the Institute for Internal Auditors (IIA).
Q: What would you like to see your team accomplish in 2019?
Spreadsheets continue to be prevalent in every aspect of business-critical processes. Moreover, they are growing in size and complexity. Currently, the priority in the market is to put controls around spreadsheets: what changed, who made the change, when it was changed, and why it changed – the basics. This year, we will continue to encourage organizations to raise their standards on what they should expect from their spreadsheet risk management programs. As a software provider, we have only just scratched the surface of how we can support our customers’ programs. In 2019 you will see some differentiating capabilities coming from us that our customers are excited about. These new capabilities will further increase their visibility into how they are using spreadsheets, as well as reduce accuracy and consistency risk.
Q: Who is your role model or hero?
My mom! What has always impressed me about my mom is how she approaches everything she does. Whether that be the hours of volunteering in the classroom, helping my Girl Scout troop earn our badges, driving me to my activities, sewing Halloween costumes when I was young, or cooking our favorite meals. When I was in high school, she went back to work, something she took great pride in. My mom taught me -- through her actions -- what a strong work ethic looks like. I learned why it was important to pay attention to detail in everything you do, if you are going to do something do it well, and how to be a good employee and an even better teammate. Not only is she my role model, but she is also my hero.
Q: What is your favorite book?
No one, in particular, I enjoy all kinds.
Q: Do you use any specific method or system to run daily operations?
Most definitely, automation and standardization are key to repeatability and scalability. Visibility into the multitude of moving parts is crucial to keeping the organization operating efficiently and helps validate that we’re doing the right things.
And because our customers represent some of the largest and most sophisticated companies in the world, they have stringent third-party risk standards we must adhere to around quality, security, service, and controls. In order to meet these high standards, we use a number of different systems and methods. It also allows us to run lean and for our employees to focus on higher value activities. We also benchmark against industry best practices in every aspect of the business.
In addition to our accounting and payroll systems, within engineering, we use a variety of software tools and methodologies to help ensure we deliver a quality product. These tools also give us the ability to respond to customers in a timely and transparent manner. In marketing, marketing automation software gives us a significant multiplier on our marketing team. In sales, we use a CRM system to track activities on the revenue side of the organization. For overall operations, we use a centralized project management solution that allows us to manage the numerous projects we have going on at any given time. It also allows us to shift resources as necessary with minimal impact. And, as with every other organization, we also rely on spreadsheets to fill the gaps, act as integration points between our systems, and for reporting to our board. So, of course, we depend on Incisive software to ensure our spreadsheets are accurate and consistent.
Q: Why did you choose your present industry at this time?
I grew up in Cupertino. It’s remarkable that I no longer have to specify more than that because when I was a child, no one knew where Cupertino was. I was surrounded by orchards, and yes, Fairchild and HP also called this Valley home. When I was 15, my dad signed me up for a WYLBUR class at Stanford University. I was quite petite for my age and probably looked like I was 10. I sat front and center with the curious eyes of my classmates upon me. But I did not care, I was so excited to be in my first college computer class. Software development (computer programming) was something I had been exposed to my whole life. My dad, a COBOL programmer and instructor, gave me access to a Tymshare account as a child and taught me a little BASIC, an Apple II as a middle schooler (it was for him as much as it was for my siblings and me), and an Osborne 1 when I studied Computer Science in college. I also enrolled in a FORTRAN night class when I was still in high school.. on punch cards! My first job in high school was as a lab assistant at the Institute of Computer Technology. I loved it all and could not get enough of it... I did not choose what I wanted to be, it chose me.
There is nothing more empowering than feeling confident because that is when you are going to do your best work.
~ Diane Robinette
Q: What is the best/worst moment you can remember in your career?
The best moment in my career is when I realized that I felt comfortable in my own skin. There is nothing more empowering than feeling confident because that is when you are going to do your best work. The worst moment? I don’t see them that way. The worst moments – when you lose a deal, or a project fails, or you make the wrong choice, is when you have the opportunity to learn and grow – to get better, to be better.
Q: Looking back - if you could advise a younger version of yourself to do something different - what would it be? *
Embrace your quirkiness. It’s ok to let people know you are smart and capable. Always be kind and respectful, but don’t be afraid to speak your mind. Some people will love you and others won’t, and it’s actually better to find out sooner than later who you should spend your precious time with.