Libby Duane Adams is the Chief Advocacy Officer (CAO) and Co-Founder of Alteryx and one of only a handful of female founders to take a technology company public. Her vision and leadership in is a key factor in the company’s 24-year success. She is responsible for enabling a culture of analytics, scaling the presence of the Alteryx SparkED education program and furthering diversity and inclusion in the workplace. She talks to Intelligent CXO about these achievements, her impressive career and the future of Alteryx.
- Describe your current job role.
When Dean, Ned and I founded the company in 1997, we knew it would always be grounded in three things: Customer success, innovation and positive impact on our world through data and analytics. As Chief Advocacy Officer (CAO) and Co-Founder of Alteryx, I’m responsible for strengthening the upskilling and reskilling efforts for Alteryx customers to enable a culture of analytics, scaling the presence of Alteryx in academia through the recently launched Alteryx SparkED education program and furthering diversity and inclusion in the technology space.
- What would you describe as your most memorable achievement?
As one of only a handful of female founders to take a technology company public, my most memorable moment is taking Alteryx public in 2017, alongside my founding counterparts, Executive Chairman, Dean Stoecker, and Ned Harding, the company’s retired CTO. It was a huge career achievement that I feel fortunate to have been a part of.
As a champion of empowering women in tech – another of my proudest career achievements is founding the Women of Analytics initiative at Alteryx, which empowers and brings awareness to the significance of women in STEM, to help them develop career-altering data and leadership skills. Launched in 2017, the initiative continues to grow and now boasts multiple chapters across the globe.
- What style of management philosophy do you employ with your current position?
The ability to see solutions while working with your teams to define a strategy to solve, always with great spirit and passion are qualities that leaders must demonstrate. As an engaged executive, I believe you get the best results when you give everyone the voice to be part of the solution. My job is about solving problems and helping people break down silos. I connect teams, people and projects. By engaging with our customer base and employee base, that affords me the opportunity to hear what’s working, hear what’s not working and influence changes and improvements needed to make the part of their life better that we influence with our data analytics technology platform and our services.
- What do you currently identify as the major areas of investment in your industry?
I see two major areas of investment for every company. The first is upskilling. Every company is a data company. Upskilling all employees with data literacy skills is one of the most powerful tools at the disposal of every business adjusting to the new realities of operating in the 21st Century. Building and utilising data-first strategies is essential for better understanding customer actions and businesses that enable data driven insights well are streets ahead of the competition.
Secondly, I feel diversity and inclusion isn’t a choice for businesses anymore; it’s a necessity to drive innovation and success. Despite great efforts made over the past years to tackle the gender gap in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), there is still a lot to be done by all – governments, businesses, and individuals – to inspire and encourage a fairer and more diverse future across these sectors. Diversity in thinking creates enriched insights when creative, data driven thinkers are solving while bringing varying points of view to a solution that can be tested and validated. As leaders, diversity of thought is enabled with that diversity of talent across our teams.
- If you could go back and change one career decision, what would it be?
I would not change a career decision because I am in the right place now. If I changed something, I would not be where I am now with the opportunity to work with amazing co-workers while impacting the scaling of data analytics across all ages and education levels for learning.
- What advice would you offer somebody aspiring to obtain a C-level position in your industry?
I think from what I have seen, curiosity is a trait that I see in great executives. It’s about having the willingness to ask why – or willingness to ask why not – especially when you might not have the answers.
One of my personal philosophies is: I want to learn something new every day. Another one is the ‘how’ question – how are we going to do this? What would be the ideal outcome? As an executive, it’s not my job to have all the answers – curiosity factor is a great trait. As an executive and at Alteryx, we empower our global customer base to iterate on the next level of analytics and get answers rapidly.
My desire to be curious is also fed by the environment that I’ve worked in for 24 years. Technology has always been known for speed and flexibility in analytics. We are the biggest customer of our own platform. I’m not afraid to ask that next question – I know the team can iterate quickly on the data. Curiosity is enabled by our ability to iterate quickly.
- What behaviour or personality trait do you most attribute your success to, and why?
Having a curious nature has always helped me. Never being afraid to ask ‘why’ or ‘why not’ or ‘how’ has also been a critical factor in where I am now. Curiosity allows us to never stop learning. Especially in technology, where it is a game of trial and error. Don’t be afraid to fail or make mistakes. Identify what you learned, understand the error and be ready to move on.
I am incredibly passionate about my work and that in turn gives me the will to succeed, work hard, contribute and to make a real difference. Being lucky enough to work with people who want to be a part of something bigger than themselves continues to make work exciting.
- What’s your go-to productivity trick?
As a leader, one of the things that I know is you need to take care of yourself first. You’re always going to be more productive when you are in the best state of mind. Whether you’re a busy parent or a business leader or an up-and-coming business leader, you have to watch health and manage stress levels. For me it means exercising either in the gym, bike riding, skiing or walking the dog. It’s all those things for me that get me outside and keep me engaged in things that aren’t on your phone or in front of the computer. That helps when I’m getting ready for events – either a high stakes presentation in front of an audience or an important meeting or decision we are making as a team at Alteryx. Time is a currency. We’ll never get it back, so we need to ensure we make the most of those interactions and engagements.
- What changes to your job role have you seen in the last year and how do you see these developing in the next 12 months?
For the future, we must continue to bring awareness to data literacy and data analytics skills for all. My passion for education and upskilling stems from the fact that data is everywhere, but while it is now part of every human’s job and every company’s success, we are facing a skill drought. The Alteryx SparkED program, which provides free data analytics software and learning paths with free certifications to learners of all skill levels is one way to develop the analytics skills of the future. Already empowering thousands of students and job seekers with in-demand certifications that will set them up for success in their careers and beyond SparkED is creating data workers with the skills to drive data driven insights with confidence.Click below to share this article