Executives Unpacked Episode 30: Simply Dream, Then Try with Gianna Driver

This post was written by: John Clifton

On Episode 30 of the Executives Unpacked podcast we sat down with Gianna Driver, the Chief Human Resources Officer at Exabeam, to talk about her experience in the HR industry. Her role covers everything from strategy, people processes and EDI to creating and driving corporate cultures. She brings a wealth of experience in executive human resource management, and has worked for a variety of companies in both private and public global companies. Growing up Gianna wanted to be a paediatric neurosurgeon, her biggest extravagance is travel and negativity is her pet peeve. Read on to hear her insights! 

What is the biggest lesson that you’ve learned over the course of your career?

There’s a quote that says, “If you could do anything in the world, without fear of failure, that’s what you should do.” That’s one of many lessons that I’ve learned, because I think that the younger version of me was often making fear-induced decisions. As I’ve journeyed, I’ve learned that there’s a lot of greatness out there that can be accomplished if we let ourselves simply dream and then try.

What’s the best bit of advice someone’s given you? 

There’s another quote that says, “It’s not about being right, it’s about getting it right.” I think that that applies to life, but especially to leadership, because a lot of leaders love to lead from the front. I think a more sustainable and frankly more innovative and effective long term approach is to lead by empowering others. That means letting go of this binary idea of right vs wrong, but creating a dynamic of getting it right together.

What common thread has contributed to your career’s rapid progression and success?

I think there’s been a confluence of a lot of different things. When you don’t know any better, you just strive for it, and your ignorance allows the norms of society to no longer be limiting. Out here in Silicon Valley, that was a beautiful byproduct of the tech world and the environment here, because in the early 2000s you’d have CEOs who were 22 year old kids at the head of multimillion dollar enterprises. I cut my teeth in an environment that wasn’t limited by time or fear or tenure, and that’s where I go back to. If you can allow yourself to think expansively and not be constrained by societal norms, then you can really flourish and achieve a lot in a relatively short amount of time. 

I also like to think that I worked really hard and was able to rise rather quickly because of that. 

What one bit of advice do you always give others?

I’m a big quote person. The first one that comes to mind touches on what we talked about, which is that ‘the fear of failure has killed more dreams than failure ever will’. I do think about that a lot. Another one is that the happiest animal alive is a goldfish because it has a three second memory – and the takeaway is to get on with it, to not allow negative emotions and thoughts and feelings and stuff to stick with you. We’re allowed to make mistakes and to have kerfuffles and things like that. 

To learn more about Gianna’s career and her insights from the cyber security industry, tune into Episode 30 of Executives Unpacked here

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