A Conversation with Dr. Jane Melia, Ph.D.
A Conversation with Dr. Jane Melia, Ph.D.
Vice President of Strategic Business Development
San Jose, CA
“QuintessenceLabs (commonly called QLabs) is the global leader in quantum cybersecurity. Australian headquartered, QLabs uses a combination of classical cybersecurity solutions to protect people's data enhanced by quantum techniques such as quantum random numbers and quantum key distribution.”
“QLabs is strengthening data protection but also working on very interesting problems to secure data for when we have quantum computers, which will be game-changing for cyber-security. The use of quantum computers be hugely beneficial in terms of things like medical research, chemical modeling, and solving weather problems because unlike most computers today, quantum computers have the almost magically property of being able to represent a zero and one at the same time in superposition. They also happen to have a big impact on security because these newer computers are going to break many of the encryption algorithms that we're currently using today. QuintessenceLabs is in the business of trying to solve this problem and protect people's data for the future.”
Startups Equal the Need to Excel in Many Areas
“QuintessenceLabs is a small company, a start-up. I've been working for start-ups for about the last decade. Before that, I was working for a large IT corporation. The thing about working in a start-up is you need to be a jack-of-all-trades. You can focus on marketing, business development, or engineering, but it's very important once you get to a certain level to collaborate with the executive team and help drive the direction of the company. That means knowing about finance, knowing about product management, and knowing about communications.”
“I was very interested in expanding my knowledge, refreshing some parts of my training, and expanding it broadly as part of my job in QuintessenceLabs and I decide the Berkeley Executive Certificate of Business Excellence (COBE) was a good match.”
Financial Understanding is Important at a Small Company
“The Berkeley Executive Education Financial Analysis for Leaders Program was the first program I took at Berkeley. It was excellent because, as a leader in a small company, you need to understand the consequences of decisions that are being made. The Financial Analysis Program gave me an excellent overview of some of the fundamentals of corporate finance while giving me the tools needed to understand the impacts of different decisions that we needed make in our company. I was able to convey my perspective in a data-driven way to the other stakeholders.”
“Of course, a lot of comes down to running the numbers and figuring out how to compare different strategies. This one-week course was not a full-blown financial degree by any means - we have our CFO onboard to do that, but it gave me a basis of communication and understanding that allowed me to contribute towards decisions.”
Gaining Clarity via the Product Management Program
“I found the Product Management Program extremely useful because we recently created the position of Product Manager within our company. QLabs had engineering development, marketing, and business development, but we didn't have product management. As we planned and developed that role within QuintessenceLabs, figuring out what those roles and responsibilities would be and how a product manager would fit into our organization was very important.”
“What I learned in the Product Management program also helped as I interact with our new Product Manager. It gave me clarity regarding our roles and responsibilities, mission, what I could expect and request from a Product Manager, and ideas on how to divvy up the roles that previously had been shared with an existing organization.”
A Deep Dive Into Communication Skills
“The Communications Excellence Program was very beneficial. We learned a lot about the delivery and preparation of verbal communications in the context of meetings such as team meetings or executive meetings and conference presentations. I liked that we went deep into this constrained area.”
“The Communications Excellence Program gave a lot of pointers, useful tools for preparing and structuring your thoughts, and in a quite easily accessible way, methods to figure out how to communicate to all levels of leadership and knowledge. We also learned how to think about the delivery and how to have an impact when sharing your perspective. While obviously, you need to practice and remember to implement the tools, the tools we gained in the Communications Excellence Program aren’t any that I've seen presented anywhere else. I liked that we were hands-on right from the beginning and had to get up in front of the group and present. It was both a safe environment and a challenging environment. You are presenting things in front of a group of strangers, and you have to put yourself out there. It was interesting to watch this affect other people in the class. I saw their presentation skills change from the morning of the first day to the end of the second day as they learned to implement their new tools and skills.”
“In terms of the overall delivery, the Communications Excellence Program put a lot of emphasis on techniques on how to deliver, use your voice, and show confidence in presenting. I gained some powerful tools for quite dramatically improving my presence impacting the way I speak, the way I stand, and the way I come across.”
“One technique that resonated well and that I use regularly is a technique for building a ladder of abstraction from the very top level right down to the very granular. Using that ladder of abstraction allows you to make sure you're meeting your audience's needs, and helps you improvise in conversations to meet the needs of the person you are addressing. Over the two days of Communications Excellence, I was able to think of real, practical presentations that I was going to have to give in the future and give a mock-up of that type of presentation during the program. I ended up delivering the presentation four or five times throughout those two days. That was great and was very helpful. After the program, as I gave presentations to my CEO and to the board, I found myself consciously and successfully applying some of the skills that I learned at the Berkeley Executive Education program. I was able to convey strong differences of opinion in a way that I feel was accepted and that allowed my views to be taken into account and implemented.”
Why Berkeley Executive Education?
“I was looking for a course that wouldn't take me away from my work too much. I needed something that would give me either new knowledge in certain areas or refresher knowledge in other areas. Additionally, I wanted to make sure that I could contribute to the development of QuintessenceLabs.” “As I researched a number of business programs, what I really liked about the Berkeley Executive Program was the modular way where you could pick and choose different courses in different pillars and bring that together to one Berkeley Executive Certificate of Business Excellence (COBE).” “I found it beneficial that you could do the different programs whenever you wanted over three years. That flexibility helped fit in with the constraints of working at a small company where you can't disappear for a month at a time. You need to be always on the job. That flexibility and the richness of the Berkeley Executive Education schedule with the different options available is what made the difference when I compared other programs and enrolled with Berkeley Executive Education.”