“Speak to Impress: Elevator Pitch and Crafting Impact”: Hana Rasheed, Senior Engineering Program Manager, Office of CIO, Cloud and Software Optimization at Adobe (Video + Transcript)

December 27, 2023

In this ELEVATE session, Hana Rasheed (Senior Engineering Program Manager, Office of CIO, Cloud and Software Optimization at Adobe) encourages attendees to craft their professional impact. She makes her case for planning your 30-60 second elevator pitch to make an impression, such as impactful data and numbers.


In this session, Hana Rasheed discusses the importance of having an impactful elevator pitch and shares her own journey of finding her voice and career success. She emphasizes the need to tailor your elevator pitch based on the audience and situation, and highlights the importance of numbers and specific skills in making your pitch impactful. Rasheed also provides tips on building confidence, making eye contact, and practicing your elevator pitch.


Hana Rasheed: Thank you so much, Amanda. Happy to be here. And also thank you so much for everyone who have joined here and have believed in this platform that Girl Geek community have brought in. I’m a huge fan of Girl Geek community. I have been part of that since 2015. And this session is more for you. And I would love to know from you and your journey about why are you here, because I wanted to ask you guys about your journey, and why is this session, which is to carve your elevator pitch? Why is it important for you? And I would love to see a lot of your responses in the chat.

And I would love to share my journey. Just like Amanda shared about my experience, I would like to add why am I passionate and why am I here, because I myself have been an introvert early in my career and [inaudible 00:01:11] 15 years of experience, and I would say it’s only in last five years that I have found my voice thanks to the community. I have lived in San Francisco, recently transplanted in Texas. And in my career, I have been in Massachusetts for five years, in San Francisco Bay Area for eight years, one year in New York. And what I learned from all this transition and travel was, A, there are career transition, B, there can be a rollercoaster ride in your journey and, C, how would you communicate your journey to other people and make it more impactful? So you make a mark on people’s mind that, “Hey. I met this person at this place.” This is a great takeaway of finding your voice.

And my journey I would like to share, but please use the chat why is it important for you to have an impactful elevator pitch and why are you here. So my journey started, I graduated from graduate school, background in electrical engineering and computer engineering, network management. I had a job while I was graduating, but since I am an international student, my paperwork was not available. They did not come on time and my offer was rescinded. In 15 years, I have come into a plan of having a better immigration strategy and now I have a green card. However, I have been through a stage of being an immigrant, being on student visa, being on work visa, being on dependent visa, getting laid off. I had a rollercoaster ride with multiple reasons and multiple breakthroughs in the country.

And when I graduated, I was looking for a job and when I found my career path, it happened to be based on my networking skills. I landed a technical marketing engineer role at NetApp, Network Appliance Company, which was back in the day a competitor for EMC and now a competitor for Dell. And this is the place where I got the opportunity to travel across the world, present in front of 200 people. I was part of product management, but still an engineer which I started my career in. But also I learned from my reporting director, my manager who at that time was director of Product Management. And I learned by connecting with them that, “Hey. I would like to shadow. I would like to learn, I would like to explore,” because being an engineer, just sitting on the desk was not something I would want to do. I was in lab working with all the cables. I was in front of customers as sales, training them on technical pieces. I was working with marketing. I was working with engineers. It was very cross-functional role.

And this gave me an opportunity to dive into different areas, but what I went through was a rollercoaster ride where I got laid off, immigration things changed, and I got opportunity to connect with a lot of professionals in my industry. And guess what? Somebody from my friends hired me because I went on few trips or a reunion trip you can say and they saw me how I’m managing the skills of having a whole group together and making a plan to go somewhere, do the activities, and I got the role in a utility company in New York. But that helped me with it, it helped me in transitioning from an engineer role in analytics and going towards project and now program manager role.

It was not an easy ride. And as I say, why this workshop? Because I had been through multiple layoffs. I had been through multiple rounds of interviews and still have gotten rejected. I’ve been in video interviews even before pandemic started. I’ve been in the shoes of people who are struggling now or have never had a chance to go to the networking event and find their voice of like how can they articulate their journey based on the audience. And I am now in Texas living in a house, having a great husband in my life. Why would I need to do that? Because I know I want to give back to people in the community who look like me, that I did not have in my time.

So that’s why since 2018, I started helping people out on LinkedIn by making their LinkedIn profile optimization, helping people with salary negotiation. I started a podcast, Hire Talk. I started a community when I moved to Dallas Fort Worth area, because I did not have friends, but I did want to give back and contribute to the community because I felt the same thing, being the only woman in the room, being the only woman in leadership, being the only woman in the lab or in the workshops that you are conducting and going to the conferences. There were hardly 10 women among 100 men.

So here is the agenda. Please share your why because that’s where I would love to help out, make it more interactive, and let’s start to help each other out. Now one more thing I would like to say, if you are sharing your why, I would like to [inaudible 00:06:29], but also, this is your chance to connect with everyone in the chat too. Drop in your LinkedIn profile. Connect with each other. Send a personalized invite saying that, “Hey. I was in the same session as you on Elevate Career Conference and we attended the session of Elevator Pitch Articulation, and would love to connect.” This is how you will grow the network, and this is how I used to do. If I could not [inaudible 00:06:59] connect with the panelists, I would also connect with the people who are attending because guess what? They are in the same boat as I am. And you can find my LinkedIn profile in my session. It’s also on my page. Hana Rasheed is my name on LinkedIn as well.

Now your why. I [inaudible 00:07:21] quickly go through some of the why’s. It is so important to practice an elevator pitch. It feels so much more [inaudible 00:07:24] otherwise. Sometimes things you say, someone else needs to hear, and never [inaudible 00:07:30]. I love that. I just bought a house. So I’m terrified of even the idea of layoff. Absolutely. I [inaudible 00:07:39] support piece of community that just need little help. So far in my career, I have been software developer for only nonprofit. I’m here on the session, we’ll learn about it [inaudible 00:07:49] more effectively with my colleagues. I’m here to learn from each other and help each other out. Community is incredibly important. [inaudible 00:08:00] love to refresh and refocus on [inaudible 00:08:02] absolutely we all need to learn, even [inaudible 00:08:05] who’s the senior product manager. Highly experienced person, but every stage of life we need to learn because we are what? Millennials, or maybe not, and there is Gen Z who’s coming in. So we have just keep up with the new generation as well.

I do not [inaudible 00:08:25]. Absolutely. There are people who have told me, “Why don’t go open a business?” And I was like, “I have never thought about it.” And this is happening since last 10 years. And pandemic happened. I started exploding and things started exploding as well. Now, let’s go quickly on our session and I would [inaudible 00:08:47] click on this. Now, this is why I said community support is important. Just spam the chat with your LinkedIn profile. Click on all the tabs. You can send the Connect, Invite afterwards, but spam, spam, spam, spam. Because chat is what you would need. I’m sorry if it’s going on YouTube, but still. You have to learn to pay it forward. If you are going forward in your leadership role, put back the ladder and bring those other people up because we need more women in leadership role to build up more and more [inaudible 00:09:23] network. It’s amazing to see a room full of women leaders that you can connect with and you will also [inaudible 00:09:30].

And one thing I want to share if you want to… This is something a lot of people have said. If you want to get things done, hire a woman. If you want to get everything done, hire a mom. I’m not a mom yet, but I still vouch for a mom. So whoever is mom in this group, kudos to you of working in so many roles in your life, as well as in your career.

Here are a few tips and I would say there could be even more that come up. So what is elevator pitch? Can you guys share in the chat please? Elevator pitch is basically your introduction. It can change based on the audience, based on the place you are in. And introduction, we’re in an era of Instagram, Threads, Twitter, where everything is changing every day. Attention span is not more than 30 to 60 seconds. That is why the elevator pitch has to be less than a minute. In an interview, it can be two minutes when you have an interview or job interview, but otherwise, keep it brief, keep it simple. Know your audience. If you are in a networking event or a baby shower or in a housewarming party or in a kids play area, your elevator pitch would be different compared to if you are meeting somebody at a conference. If you are meeting somebody in a meeting or a customer meeting or in your work trip, your elevator pitch will change.

And I will still be amazed by guys. We have to learn a lot of things from men because there goes the confidence. I met a guy in one of the ice cream social and he was talking to me everything technical and I heard him same thing talking to someone else but marketing focus. I was like, “Hmm. What is this guy doing?” But that depends on your audience. Your audience is important. If you are in a job interview, you look for jobs. And I’ll talk about that example later in the slide too. You talk about the job. You talk about the job description. You do the research on the company. However, in the social environment, if you are in a happy hour, if you are in a conference or interested in networking even, your elevator pitch would be different. But how can you make it impactful?

And I would like to ask you guys in the chat, how would you make it impact? Because it does not matter if you are in a leadership role or if you deal with finances or not. But the number gives you the data and the data shows the impact of your work. And there are some examples I can give you, which is even before I started handling finances and stuff, is number of projects [inaudible 00:12:20] worked in. And start with number of years I have worked in. It does not matter which role you are in, but it does matter how many years of corporate experience do you have? And even if you have started working from the age 16, that’s something you can share in your personal life story too.

But when you start about your professional experience, number of years you work with, number of projects you worked with, if you have worked with different number of stakeholders. For example, I have worked with 25 stakeholders in 11 projects and the dollar amount of that project is $500 million. Even if it’s not $500 million, even if I’m working on 100K project but that is a dependent project for a $500 million project, that is impactful project for you. And that’s something you must say because it can become a risk for a bigger plan, bigger company vision. So that is why numbers are important. Now, if you have worked with different geographic location people, that’s a number. If you have traveled to number of places, if you have worked with X number of customers, that is a number you can talk about. If you have bring in savings of X dollars amount, that’s number you can talk about. If you have improved number of cycles or efficiencies or performance of any kind of software tool, that is a number you could talk about. But keep it simple.

Something that you must learn and explain what you do, what are your skills. If you are transitioning from a certain role, suppose journalism, to QA or journalism to any other role or from UX design to a product manager, talk about your transitional skills. For example, in my case, I’m an engineer with number of skills that I can translate to for project manager. I’m more of a people person. I like working with one-on-one. That’s your USP. Make [inaudible 00:14:23] about how you are different from others. Mention your goals specifically and bring a specific interesting hook, which is, “Oh, by the way, I love photography. Oh, I went to podcasting. I love to share these things with other people and love to help and give back to community. I love to do volunteer work.” Those are the things that you can be very specific and you can stand out.

And what you do is you quickly go over. On the confidence side, be more persuasive, make more eye contact and practice. Every time end your conversation with your LinkedIn profile QR code. That’s how the [inaudible 00:15:03] one round circle of connecting with people. And it’s okay if you have not talked to anyone and gone to a conference or in a networking session. Happened to me five times or more and I made a goal of, “Next time I go, I’ll talk to one person and come back.” That’s a goal I would have. And then I increase one by one. And that’s how I practice my elevator pitch.

Now what not to do. When I’m nervous, I ask or I ask or talk too fast. And a lot of time it’s taken as, “Oh, she’s an immigrant and she talks too fast. I don’t know of her lingo,” but that’s not the case. It happens to everybody. So what I would say, practice, practice with pause, because whenever we are nervous, we are verbose and we talk too fast. And you have to emphasize on the work that you want to emphasize in. For example, I have 15 years of experience working in five different companies in the cloud environment. Do you know? You have a pitch voice going up and down. That’s what you have to elevate and not restrict yourself in one pitch. [inaudible 00:16:12]-

Amanda Beaty: I’m so sorry. We’re out of time. And there’s so much interest in this topic. Thanks, everybody, for joining us. Thank you so much, Hana, for your time and for putting this together for us. And we will see everybody in the next session.

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