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Sherry Hess
Sherry Hess
Sherry is vice president of marketing at AWR, bringing with her more than 15 years of EDA experience in domestic and international sales, marketing, support, and managerial expertise.

The Mechanics of Creativity

September 17th, 2012 by Sherry Hess

I was pleased to be invited to participate on the Women in Electronic Design panel at DAC 2012 this past June. The theme: “The Mechanics of Creativity—What does it take to be an idea machine?” Design is an inherently creative process, but how can we be creative on demand? How can we rise above mundane tasks with flashes of brilliance, discover secrets of technical and business creativity and calculated risk taking, and share stories of innovation?

The organizers, moderators and panelists included Karen Bartleson, Director of Community Marketing at Synopsys, Holly Stump, High Tech Marketing, Lillian Kvitko, Director of Data and Resource Management, Microelectronics Group at Oracle, Dee McCrorey, Chief Risk Guru and Innovation Catalyst at Risktaking for Success LLC, and myself.

Creativity is not a topic electronic engineers talk about very often, so I worked through a number of questions beforehand to prepare…

Read the rest of The Mechanics of Creativity

Road to Where?

August 6th, 2012 by Sherry Hess

Earlier this year, I posted a blog, Are You a Do’er?, which was inspired from my participation at the Business of Software Conference late in 2011.  There was a wealth of content presented at that conference and of course it inspired another thought thread that now lends itself to a blog topic.

The theme… Road to Where?  Are you, or I, or perhaps both of us, on a road to nowhere? Are we caught up in the innovation race to add more features and functionality to our software/hardware/whatever product that we lose sight of what’s important to the user base?  This was the talk of a few folks at the conference, but one person in particular, Harvard Professor Clayton Christensen, argued in his talk (here is the video) that we need to shift our focus away from adding more and more features into what is already a well-functioning product and keeping up the innovation race with our competition, and instead figure out how to bridge the divide between consumption and non-consumption. Prof. Christensen, who is also quoted in the book, Mastering the Complex Sale by Jeff Thule, asks what can you do to pull in new users/customers that for whatever reason have not found their way to your offering (product/service)?

Now I imagine I have a few of you interested in debating this with me and thinking, “Hold on a minute Sherry, are you saying to forget about your current customers and simply focus on the ‘haves’ vs. the ‘have nots’?”  Well, not at all! Prof. Christiansen goes on to explain that most customers today are bombarded with so much information about a product and service that we, by human nature, simplify it for sanity sake so that when it comes to a comparison of features/functionality, we are able – in a timely fashion – to reach a decision.

Read the rest of Road to Where?

Stop waiting. Start surfing. – Part 2

April 14th, 2011 by Sherry Hess

So did you?  Stop waiting and start (fill in the blank) ?  The reason this part 2 blog took so long to write is that it took me this long to actually start surfing.  While I had great intentions to get going with this new adventure, I must confess that it took me much longer than I would have liked before I actually jumped in and did it.  Yes, I surfed.  I stopped waiting and started surfing.  (See my photo here for proof 🙂 Sherry Hess Surfing)

Enough about me, now what about you?  Have you challenged yourself in 2011 yet?  I mean started something that you never thought you would ever try? For me, it was surfing. For some, it is skydiving, running a marathon, or climbing a mountain.

How about this for a collective challenge? AWR’s new ad campaign, “Stop waiting and start designing,” entices you to try our software or share your design successes with us. We even sweeten the deal with an incentive to win an Apple iPad 2…1 of 12 being given away during AWR’s fiscal year 2012 that starts April 1st.

So, let’s make 2011 not only known as the year I actually surfed, or you ran that marathon, but let’s make it the year we all stop waiting to try AWR software and start designing with it. From April 2011 through March 2012, we will be giving away an iPad each month to one of you who take up our challenge.

Stop waiting and start designing. Get ready to jump in and visit

DesignCon 2011 – Engineering Curiosity a Buzz!

March 25th, 2011 by Sherry Hess

DesignCon 2011 just ended, and it was the first year for AWR to exhibit. While a number of you use our software for high-speed SI design work, we have not allocated a significant portion of our tradeshow budget to this segment in the past. This year, however, we’ve changed it. We’ve expanded our presence at this show from largely tutorial in nature– thank you Dr. John Dunn for 3 years of top-notch talks on EM at this conference – to one that also incorporates a booth, partner demonstrations and on-line EDA Café interviews. (thanks Graham!)

Working a tradeshow booth is not usually a highlight for most people, but I can sincerely say that DesignCon was a real pleasure. This show was jam-packed with curious design engineers, and many proactively stopped by our booth and said, “I know AWR. What are you showing here?” The curiosity of the engineering community is contagious and the camaraderie extends to the aisles where questions and answers flowed freely. It was hard not to get excited by the buzz in the atmosphere and dynamics of all the attendees.

http://www.awr-startdesigning.comThe show in many ways made me realize why AWR’s next ad campaign, “Stop Waiting and Start Designing” makes perfect sense. Our collective curiosity as engineers, designers, marketers, and managers keeps us pushing the limit of what’s possible. In the same way that AWR software makes designing the next big “GHz & beyond” wireless system or gadget possible, isn’t it time you got curious too and found out how and why?  Go ahead. Get curious. Learn more about AWR and how are software solutions are advancing the wireless revolution:

Let’s do lunch!

January 18th, 2011 by Sherry Hess

Working Mothers magazine(Aka grab a coffee, have a chat, ah heck, let’s just meet face to face!)

Now that I have your attention…. Yeah. Let’s do lunch.  I was reading a past issue of my “Working Mothers” magazine the other day – their ‘100 Best Companies to Work For’ issue –and came across a factoid that said taking a lunch break is a great way to reenergize yourself.  Step out of the office, stretch your body and mind, and recharge your spirit.

I agree.  I am not one to eat at my desk. I need to get out of the office even if it is eating out with co-workers.  The few minutes of walking out the door and into the sunshine/rain/cold/heat – whatever it may be – wakes up the mind, body and spirit.  And it is definitely a much better way to get that jolt of energy for the afternoon rather than relying solely on the lovely vice of caffeine.

So why am I talking about lunch?  Going out for lunch and the upside it brings in the way of fresh ideas and new connections with people is the exact same benefit that tradeshows and conferences give us.  So, let’s step out of the office, stretch our bodies and minds and recharge our spirits at DesignCon 2011.

How can you make the most out of DesignCon? Get out and meet people. Talk, exchange ideas, and fuel one another’s creative and technical psyche.  That’s what a business lunch or a well-organized conference can do for us.

This year at DesignCon, AWR will be a first time exhibitor but on top of the usual booth duty, I’ve set up quite a few meetings, lunches, breakfasts and dinners to make this event a worthy place to conduct business. Going to the show and spending time “just standing” at your exhibit or spending your free time “by yourself” is the same as eating lunch at your desk.

So here’s my challenge to you:

  • Take advantage of the close proximity of the venue and the many colleagues gathered together.
  • Challenge yourself to “do lunch” with at least one other partner, customer or friend at the show.
  • Maybe even visit with the publications and hear what others in the industry are saying.

I know you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the ideas that flow. And if for some reason, you can’t locate a willing participant for lunch… come find me. I’ll be at AWR Booth #423

Stop Waiting and Start Surfing

September 20th, 2010 by Sherry Hess

I met a friend of a friend of a friend in early July at my friend’s husband’s garage band debut. Long story short, my new friend is a surfer and offered to teach me when I said that one of the things on my bucket list is to try to surf.


Sherry Hess Learning to Surf

But then I stopped myself and said, ok….enough with the negatives. Look at the positives of trying to learn to surf. It is something new, different, very LA. Exercise, social, looks peaceful in a crazy sort of way. Why not embrace life and be willing to stretch myself out of my usual comfort zone? Nothing ventured, nothing gained comes to mind!

And then it hit me. This activity is risky. And the reward is completely unknown. That’s the real dilemma…fear of the unknown. Wow. Am I admitting this to all of you? Fear stops us from doing a lot of things. Sometimes for the better…sometimes not.

Well, for those of you who know me, I’m not usually known for being one to pass up a chance to live life outside my comfort zone so—yes, you guessed it—I am going to go for it!  Now the question for you my reader is this…. would you stop waiting and start surfing? (to be continued)… In the meantime check out AWR.TV for new channels and videos…

The New Company Culture—Play vs. Pay

July 19th, 2010 by Sherry Hess

Well, another IMS has come and gone, and once again we survived the chaos of getting ready and then pulled off a fantastic show. While wandering the show floor and perusing other exhibitors’ booths, I couldn’t help but notice a clear divide between booth personnel who looked happy and excited and those who looked a bit disconnected, and yes, even bored. Then after I returned to the office I coincidentally viewed two interesting videos, one on YouTube and one on 60 Minutes –thank you Mom & Dad for making me watch this over the years- that gave me one possible answer.

The first clip on YouTube was from Innovation Daily: RSA Animate — Drive: Dan Pink and the Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us. A very clever animated cartoon presentation that was indeed surprising, it discussed irrefutable evidence that workers are motivated not, as you would think, by more money or pay, but instead by the sheer pleasure of creating or working on something meaningful that receives positive feedback. The typical motivation scheme within organizations is to reward performance with a monetary incentive. Tests have found that once cognitive skill/ conceptual creative thinking comes into play, a larger reward led to poorer performance! Studies have found that if you pay people enough so that money is not an issue, three factors lead to better performance and personal satisfaction: autonomy or desire to be self-directed, mastery—the urge to get better at stuff, and sense of purpose.

Read the rest of The New Company Culture—Play vs. Pay

Seeds of Change

June 21st, 2010 by Sherry Hess

AWR’s current ad, “Ideas Grow Faster in the Right Environment” graces the front of our 2010 AWR Magazine (6mb PDF) this month. There are many interpretations stemming from this visual (pun intended) that can be explored. But for now and for the purpose of this blog, the sprout portrays AWR’s corporate culture: innovation, spawning new ideas, the right environment for creativity, growth into new markets, seeds of change…

Rather than recreate that cover story here, I invite you to download the magazine online and read it for yourself. Instead, in this blog I’m going to sprout out in another direction. .. academia and university outreach.

AWR recently gave root to a new growth opportunity for our software in the academic community. At the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department Heads Association (ECEDHA) Annual Conference in Florida this past March, I announced in my ECEDHA Perspectives interview AWR’s Graduate Gift Initiative, which provides qualified* 2010 graduates a free, fully-functional, one-year term license of Microwave Office and Visual System Simulator (VSS) software suites – inclusive of AXIEM 3D planar EM software. The goal of the initiative is to give graduating electrical engineering students a career head start by providing hands-on exposure to AWR’s high-frequency design software.

This initiative is a follow on to our Preferred University Program, which works with universities worldwide to provide students with access to RF/microwave software tools. These programs have been launched in direct response to industry and academia expressing the need for students to have hands-on experience with these tools prior to graduating and entering the job market.

And, most recently, AWR has announced the donation of free licenses of our software as the prize award to the winners of the IMS/MTT 2010 Power Amplifier Student Design Contest.

What better way to sow seeds of change and spawn the growth of new ideas, new engineers, new technologies, etc. than to enrich the academic environment by providing the software engineering students need to learn and grow from the classroom and into their first job? Our students of today are the future of the industry—we need to empower them with the best and latest tools so they are prepared to flourish.

How to Be a Good Blogger

April 29th, 2010 by Sherry Hess

Blogging: My first experience at blogging came with an invitation from editor David Vye to contribute a guest blog on the Microwave Journal website. It was like a jump into the deep end of the pool!

I had never blogged prior and certainly not imagined such a prominent place on the MWJ site, but knowing David for many years, if he was willing to ask me to try it, I was willing to give it a go.

Now that I am a self-anointed expert blogger after six months of contributions to Microwave Journal and a recently-launched blog on our own AWR website, I thought I would share some insights I’ve gained from my experience.

First, I think you must possess at least three traits in order to be a good blogger:

1) You need to be outspoken (geesh, I guess I am not afraid to have an opinion or share my thoughts/views/perspectives on things).

2) You need to be entertaining (a VC friend told me he likes that I do not take myself too seriously on these things—that has never been me and so my own personality worked well here—I am a bit goofy on occasion or so I am told ).

3) Be relevant. This was the hardest one. Week in and week out how do you try to convey something that will be relevant and interesting to hopefully more than a handful of readers? Pulling from friends, colleagues and life experiences was key. I like to have a lot going on in my life and this has helped me to find inspiration on more than one occasion.

In the end, I started to blog about technology life, or rather, living in the career world of technology, if I have to give it a catch all. I was surprised by the response. The first month on the MWJ site, my blog was the most read. The trend continued as I continued blogging. People would comment, e-mail me, stop by at an event to say hello. What a great feeling! To find out that you have connected with people in the same career field as yourself and that you are able to meet new people and make new connections as a result. I was also amazed to realize that I was not only presenting myself in a multi-dimensional way, but that I was conveying a personality for AWR, too.

Blogging has turned out to be both fun and functional. So much so that I have taken the blog to AWR and have gotten others to join in and blog along side me. For those of you like me who have uncovered that work life is not a separate life of its own, but rather a life that blends, merges with our own personal lives, social lives, etc., blogging was one of the first ways (and albeit interesting too) to convey this complexity and connectivity.

All of you out there who are nodding their heads as they read this, start blogging…you’ll find it rewarding on many levels!

Is Your Business Socially Useless?

March 8th, 2010 by Sherry Hess

Dane Collins, our CEO, recently sent me a link to a thought-provoking blog by Umair Haque on the Harvard Business Review website. The headline boldly asks, “Is Your Business Useless?”

Before I read the first word, I knew I’d likely smile as I read through it. Having spent nearly my entire career in high-frequency (HF) EDA, I was already willing to admit that this industry isn’t overtly socially friendly. I mean, we are largely a group of engineers whose typical stereotype is introverted, so stepping out into the spotlight to draw attention to ourselves, and, on top of that, to make a point of being “socially useful”…. this was going to be good.

Nonetheless, I read it. Interesting points:

* Socially useless business has a cost – just in the last five years – $12 trillion in bailout packages for socially useless banks alone
* Socially useless business is what has created a global economy on life support
* Socially useless business is what has created a jobless “recovery” and is why we don’t have a better education, healthcare, finance, energy, transportation, or media industry

Okay Mr. Haque, how do you really feel?

He continues, “How is it that socially useless business is to blame for this adverse affect on our society? Socially useless business is the status quo — and the status quo says: ‘You don’t matter. Our bottom line is the only thing that matters.’ ”

This is a tough dose of his reality to swallow, but does it have merit in HF EDA–or high-tech in general for that matter? If we look at recent technology products that have succeeded, Apple’s iPhone/iPod, Nintendo Wii, and Google Search all come to my mind. Somewhere in here, these technologies and tools tapped into the value of being socially useful to the population at large. By using these appliances, we find ourselves more productive in life or enjoying our free time more, or even using them as ways to be more social?

I doubt this is a winning strategy in and of itself (build a better mousetrap) but the way a product or service can connect with a user or consumer and make the experience personal or emotional is timeless. Maybe today the “socially useless” tagline makes the HBR post seem more hip or current but the emotional appeal has worked for many years to build brand loyalty, from Walt Disney to Coke and Pepsi and hundreds more examples I’m not listing here.

In my own experiences within the world of EDA, I have to say that AWR is one of the few places I’ve worked that encourages its employees to have a sense of self and personality that isn’t constrained by the corporate logo but actually defines the brand. Starting the blog on MWJ site was a step into the e-social fabric for me and for AWR… and an experiment that I believe has been a success for the company by enabling us to connect more with our customers and with the larger community of users out there, and to open up a dialogue to figure out how our company and its tools can improve society (our society of users).

AWR has always been customer focused. It’s the reason Joe Pekarek founded the company in the first place. Since the economy began shrinking nearly two years ago now, everyone at AWR has stepped up their commitment to the corporate mission of improving the productivity of our HF customer base –if there’s one thing we understand, its that in order for AWR to be successful, our customers have to be successful. AWR’s philosophy is the polar opposite of the socially useless business. Our culture is focused on ensuring that customers know they DO matter, and that we fully understand that our bottom line depends on their success.

Haque says that socially useless business is built on shoddy, poor economics, and like most things too good to be true, it rarely lasts for long. Socially useless businesses are living on borrowed time. The new order is “constructive capitalism.” Constructive Capitalists are better businesses. They’ve learned how to create value that’s socially useful. They are doing things that matter to people, communities, and society.

So, the question big business and small start-ups alike should be asking themselves these days is, “How useless is my business?”

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