Being a successful entrepreneur is not a destination; it’s a journey of risk-taking and learning experiences comprised of facing and overcoming challenges. Being an entrepreneur is often nerve-racking and scary. Still, a consistent effort, talent, and a strong desire to contribute meaningfully to the world will ultimately lead to success and satisfaction. Cathy Light is a serial entrepreneur. Her journey through corporate America garnered her a great deal of experience and shaped her entrepreneurial spirit. Cathy is the Founder and CEO of Liderança Group, the parent of four strategic brands: Assessment Leaders, Leadership Balance®, Be Well Perform Well, and Diversity, Equity & Inclusion. Cathy has long recognized that it is an organization’s people that are responsible for its success. That’s why all four of Liderança Group’s brands are people-focused and thrive by helping clients worldwide exceed their goals by transforming their workplace culture.
Driving Meaningful and Substantive DEI in the Workplace
Cathy is a distinguished thought leader and a dynamic speaker with an engaging personality, who is widely known for the passion and rigor she brings to her work. She has built a team of people committed to helping organizations reach their full potential. The multi-faceted Liderança Group helps corporate leaders develop and manage internal teams dedicated to achieving exceptional results. Her company recently introduced a unique, metrics-driven program for driving meaningful and substantive diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in the workplace. It does so by helping leaders identify opportunities for improvement, elevate conversations around diversity, and inspire change.
In 2017, Liderança Group was engaged with several top Fortune clients who asked if she had a way to measure diversity and inclusion. They didn’t, but that became the inciting event for their newest project. Cathy’s team found that nothing existed that would measure what matters in the DEI-Belonging space. Knowing that in a data-driven world, what gets measured gets done, Cathy and her team created DEInamics®.
DEInamics is a software platform that measures an organization’s DEI health in seven key dimensions and provides ongoing data collection and benchmark reporting. By identifying people, process, power, and belonging gaps, DEInamics’ colorful charts and graphs, along with emotion-gauging images, help to prioritize action plans to create more equitable and inclusive workplaces. For its advancement of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goal of Gender Equality, DEInamics was named as part of Microsoft’s #BuildFor2030 Campaign
Helping Clients Navigate Organizational Transformation
Change brings incredible opportunity. Stagnation in business is not an option for future-facing companies and individuals with a growth mindset. Liderança Group’s business model focuses on helping transform the disrupters of today into the thought leaders of tomorrow. Liderança Group’s expertise lies in identifying areas of sustainable growth and providing actionable strategies that ignite change. Its key objective is to build long-term, successful relationships with its clients to help them navigate organizational transformation.
Delivering Substantial Value to Clients
Liderança Group is committed to improving behaviors, developing people, and changing workplaces to help organizations reach the next level of growth and performance. Liderança Group is built on the values of balance, generosity, innovation, learning, communication, and trust.
Cathy believes in connecting with all levels of people to create market-driven change, empowering innovation, and To do that, Liderança Group invests time in understanding clients’ cultures, processes and people to ensure it can deliver value.
Ensuring Organizations Remain Competitive in an Ever – Changing Landscape
Liderança Group delivers faster, better, and more cost – effective solutions that have a profound company – wide impact. She states that her vision is “to do the right things to make our world a brighter and fairer place to live and work.” Highly experienced and having helped guide transformations in Fortune companies worldwide, Liderança Group offers consultative services that identify areas for sustainable growth with actionable strategies that ignite change.
Appreciation for the Lessons Learned from the WIC Program
Since Cathy began as an entrepreneur in 2003, she has always made it a point to surround herself with people who augment her skillset. She states that the brilliant people she’s met through the Women in Cloud (WIC) Microsoft Accelerator Program, through Microsoft, and through the International Association of Microsoft Channel Partners (IAMCP) have taught her so much. Theresa Linson, VP of Innovation at Crayon, and her team, in collaboration with our product management technology team, are doing incredible development work.
Whenever Cathy and her team would stumble, someone in this vast ecosystem of support filled with talented resources would lend them a hand. Many doors opened to Cathy from the Microsoft community; supporters who want to see a woman-owned technology company succeed (especially for this much-needed data analytics tool). This fantastic group of people, especially Cathy notes, Chaitra Vedullapalli and Karen Fassio, are selfless and committed to creating economic access for women. Currently, less than 2% of funding goes to women-led companies – a statistic that needs to change.
Making Personal Sacrifices to Get Product to Market
Since graduating from the Women in Cloud Microsoft Cloud Accelerator on January 23, 2020, Cathy tested the product in beta and entered into a Development Partnership with Crayon.com – Microsoft’s 2019 #1 Global AI Partner. The goal with Crayon.com is to advance DEInamics from a Minimal Viable Product (MVP) to a Minimal Loveable Product (MLP).
The development and marketing of DEInamics have been self-funded by Cathy. She alludes that while it hasn’t been easy to make the personal sacrifices to get this much-needed product into the marketplace, it is worth it as Liderança Group is now ready to scale. “I believe in the power of this product,” says Cathy. “It can be used as a force for good and help companies make informed decisions that will have a profound impact.” Thus far, Cathy has not applied for any grants but will be pursuing growth options.
Support for Women to Pursue Technology Ideas
Cathy believes that creating economic access for women should be a priority as there is a long way to go toward gender parity and equity in technology. Research shows that COVID set women back with many more women than men leaving the workforce to care for children and elders and support remote learning. Cathy would like to see VCs and PEs fund womenowned ventures by committing to a collective dollar amount, so women can go from the current 2% in funding to 10% by the end of 2021 and keep focused on growing that percentage. Cathy states that it is essential to help more women pursue their technology ideas to close the industry equality gap. With the Accelerator Program, Microsoft and WIC have created an amazing opportunity to accelerate and refine ideas and make them viable for the marketplace. Cathy believes that women need more success stories to inspire other women to pursue their dreams. She says, “It’s easy to let fear of failure or lack of tech knowledge hold you back. But don’t. Seek out what you need. There are support networks to guide you along the way: Women in Cloud, The WIT Network, IAMCP, and of course, Microsoft.”
Cathy’s advice to upcoming women entrepreneurs, “A good idea is not enough. You need to have an external go-to-market strategy and internal plans to support those strategies where you align people skills with processes that drive to an execution plan. The ability to consistently generate repeatable revenue is key. Compose an Advisory Board where industry leaders can contribute their expertise and help you to avoid pitfalls. Finally, timing and a little luck will play a role. While it may seem daunting, know that you and your team can make it happen!”