Dr. Adriane Brown Smith
President and COO for Intellectual Ventures (IV)
Sustaining Member since 2010
“AWIS research underscores the need for strong, inclusive ecosystems that allow women in STEM to thrive.”
What are the most important lessons you’ve learned from your journey so far?
The “what I learned” in the early days of my career was that relationships matter. That comes from a belief that everyone deserves respect. By treating everyone, regardless of title or position, with dignity and respect, you earn it back. I’ve placed an emphasis on collaboration, communication, and results. When I’ve been asked, “What matters the most?,” I can tell you, one’s work has to speak the loudest. That requires being prepared for what it takes to get a result, but you have to do it the right way. Whatever your job, you have to understand your role in the organization and deliver results. I’ve also learned that a good leader has to find the right balance between her confidence and her ego. You have to keep your ego in check while being confident in yourself and building confidence in your team. The more you engage with your teams and motivate your teams, the more successful the organization will be.
What advice do you have for others looking to maximize their career potential?
You have to know what is important to you and have the courage to live your values. You also have to recognize the value of pushing yourself out of your comfort zone. My aunt taught me about the power of relationships. I thought about it recently because Aunt Edna just turned 100 years old. When I was 16 and volunteering at her office, she handed me a piece of paper that read, “Reach as you climb.” She asked me what I thought it meant. As I thought about it, I pictured reaching farther up the ladder, stretching, and pushing forward. But what she meant was, you should reach back and help others as you climb up. She gave me a very important visual of “it’s not just about you.” You have to bring teams along, people along, and bring energy and excitement. When you do that, the whole system thrives.
Can you talk a little about your perspectives on innovation and entrepreneurship?
It is critically important that we foster a robust invention economy. That means we have to have a strong USPTO and patent rights. We have to have STEM-based talent, and we have to have the fundamental belief that invention is valuable. It’s critical that there is an efficient marketplace that represents and rewards innovation and intellectual property rights. We need to raise the number of STEM degrees achieved in the
United States, especially for women. The field has long been dominated by men, but there have been a few pioneering women throughout history. Today, women only hold about 7.5% of all patents, 5.5% of commercialized patents. The reason for this disparity is the reality that fewer women are working in patent-related fields and jobs. Too few inventive teams around the country are achieving the benefits of a diverse workforce. At IV, we deeply appreciate the work of inventors and believe their ideas are valuable. We have amazing women who work on our teams.