By Suzette Norris
In early December, Fortune magazine hosted a new event for women who are perceived as “rising stars” in the tech sector and beyond. Most of the 200 or so women attending Fortune’s Most Powerful Women Next Gen Summit in San Francisco were nominated by their CEOs – Xerox’s Tonya Love was no exception.
An engineer by trade, Tonya has held a number of different positions within the Xerox Innovation Group, and currently is working at our research center in Grenoble, France. (Read her bio at the end of this article.),
We caught up with Tonya recently to ask her about the Fortune summit and what she learned there:
Q: It’s said that the “next gen” of women in business are inventing entirely new models for leadership. What did you hear or see at the summit?
A: I saw this in lots of different forms. One related to the word “no.” Younger women see this as a starting point of negotiation – not the end of a deal. I heard lots of the panelists describe how they used social media and other methods to get their voices heard. In many cases, the same people that said no ended up supporting their idea.
Q: Who did you meet or hear speak that was most interesting?
A: One of the speakers was Debbie Sterling, who invented a toy designed to get girls excited about engineering. Initially told “no” by potential investors, her work went from a Kickstarter crowdfunding project to the shelves of Toys ‘R’ Us in less than nine months. She’s 31 years old and is a good example of how younger women are savvy marketers with a lot of expertise in social media. This is changing how business is conducted. The women attending the summit were different ages, but they all seemed to view the world in a new way.
Q: What is your view of the future after spending time at the summit?
A: I am very optimistic! The group of women at the summit came from many different backgrounds and nationalities — one CEO was the first Iranian astronaut in space! — but one common thread was this drive to share ideas and help each other. It was all about forming connections and exchanging information. Sitting in those talks, it was evident how these approaches to networking generate ideas for success.
Meet Tonya Love
Tonya Love manages the Business Relations and Marketing Group at Xerox Research Centre Europe, where she oversees business development, communications and the Xerox Executive Experience Center. She also supports Xerox’s co-creating with customers initiative, which makes it possible for Xerox and its global customers to work on new technology innovations together.
Tonya previously served in a number of different positions within the Xerox Innovation Group, most recently as manager of the Parsing & Semantics Group at the Xerox Research Centre Europe, which conducts research in natural language processing and text analytics. She was program manager for two Xerox Services programs: Human Resource Services and the Financial Services Group. She also has served as executive assistant to Xerox’s chief technology officer, Sophie Vandebroek, and as a program manager responsible for overseeing Xerox’s investment portfolio of environmentally friendly innovations.
Tonya holds a Master of Science in Electrical Engineering from Clarkson University, an MBA from the University of Rochester and an Ascent Certification of Mastering Management from Dartmouth College and the University of California Los Angeles. She holds 18 U.S. patents.
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