International Women’s Day 2023: A Q&A Series with WorkFusion’s Women Leaders

In celebration of International Women’s Day (March 8), we are proud to spotlight some of the outstanding women leaders of WorkFusion — their insights, advice, accomplishments, and more. Below, get to know WorkFusion’s Chief Marketing Officer Mariann McDonagh, Chief Human Resources Officer Leslie Linsner, Chief Revenue Officer Wendy Petty, and Lead Solutions Consultant Alexandra Korbalevich.

Mariann McDonagh, Chief Marketing Officer, WorkFusion

WorkFusion: Can you tell us about your role at WorkFusion as Chief Marketing Officer?

Mariann McDonagh: I’m responsible for brand and demand and product marketing. That’s the simplest way to put it. But what makes my job most interesting to me is I like to think of my primary responsibility as helping the company identify, leverage, and maximize growth opportunities. Marketing is about growth. Yes, it’s about demand and building a brand that’s recognizable. But at the end of the day, we do all that in the service of growth.

WF: International Women’s Day can mean a lot of different things depending on who you ask: celebrating women in our everyday lives, women who have inspired us, women we aim to inspire; reflecting on barriers women have broken, on biases that remain. What is IWD about for you?

MM: In this late stage of my career where I’ve been around the block a few times, I have started to think about what my legacy might be, how I’ll be remembered in the places I’ve worked and by my teams. When I think about International Women’s Day in that context of legacy, for me it’s a mindful moment to consider how much progress has been made, how much still needs to be done, and where I am on that journey. It should inspire us to reflect on our own journey and the journey of the women around us — both the people we know and the ones we don’t.

WF: Are there women who have inspired, influenced, and/or mentored you in your career development?

MM: I have not had many mentors in my career, which makes me passionate about mentoring others. I grew up in an environment dominated by men, and I didn’t have much awareness of that at the time. It’s just the way it was. It wasn’t until my youngest daughter was entering the workplace that I started to think about role models and mentorship. There are a lot of people I admire from afar, but I can’t zero in on anybody in particular that was super helpful in raising me up. It was more just me and my bootstraps. But, I think that’s what made me want to be a force for change for other women.

WF: This year’s IWD theme is “Embrace Equity,” which calls into question whether the goal of “equality” or “equal opportunity” is enough to affect change. Instead, embracing equity acknowledges that “people don’t begin life in the same place, and that circumstances can make it more difficult for people to achieve the same goals.” Does this idea resonate with you, that there is more to do beyond equality? If so, how?

MM: It does. My perspective on equity and equality has been shaped by — like all of us — my personal experience. I know I am privileged because I am a white woman in America. I’m still coming to terms with understanding what that privilege really means, because I didn’t spend a lot of time thinking about it until recently. I’m also the mother of two queer young adults. So these days, the idea of equity and trying to shape opportunities for people from a variety of backgrounds makes sense to me on a gut level as a mother. I can see in my own children that their journey as queer people in the world is completely influenced not only by who they are, what they’ve come from, what their experience has been, but also what laws there are to protect them or not, what equity and diversity programs businesses have, etc.

At the end of the day, it’s about seeing people for the sum of their experiences. Here at WorkFusion, I encourage my team to bring our whole selves to work. And real equity and equality happens when we start to elevate folks to their highest potential based on their background, their journey, their whole selves.

WF: What barriers have you faced in becoming successful in in your field, and how did you overcome them?

MM: It was always just sort of expected that I was one woman at a table full of men, especially as I worked my way to management and senior management. I never thought twice about it because it just was the reality of it. I didn’t feel like there was a glass ceiling holding me back. But I also think that was my own perseverance and optimism, not necessarily the right way to look at it. Again, not until my daughter joined the workforce and I started to mentor her through her early career did I realize my job is to create more opportunity around that table —and not just to accept the fact that I’m the only one.

WF: How would you say the professional landscape has changed for women in leadership through your career so far, and where would you like to see change or improvements?

MM: I think there’s definitely more opportunity for women. But as I say that, I think the answer is there’s probably more opportunity for white women. When I think about where the change needs to happen, I think we need more diversity among women in executive roles. And we need opportunities for women in the areas where they are not traditionally seen to lead. Like when you think about girls and STEM: how many female CTOs are there? Probably not that many compared to female CMOs. I think the opportunity for women in aggregate is greater, but I don’t think that’s true for a diversified population of women or in certain traditionally male-dominated roles.

WF: What advice would you give to women considering pursuing a career in the C-Suite?

MM: The first piece of advice is very specifically about Marketing. Often Marketing gets painted with this “wrapped in a pretty bow” brush, right? And I always say that great Marketing leaders are business leaders, period. They specialize in Marketing, but they’re business leaders. So don’t feel like you need to stick to a traditional lane, because women can be effective in any role they choose. So go for it.

At the end of the day, having women in leadership makes financial sense. It’s not just doing good — it’s actually doing good business.

Mariann McDonagh, Chief Marketing Officer, WorkFusion

Then there’s the often-quoted statistic about the confidence gap — that women will only apply to a job if they meet 100% of the listed qualifications, while men apply when they meet only 60% of them. Those questions, Am I good enough? Do I know enough? Do I have enough experience? The answer is yes, yes, and yes. And still, we don’t stick our hand up until we feel completely prepared. I think it’s time to start sticking your hand up. That’s how I’ve had the career I’ve had. I saw areas of the business that weren’t being run well and I said, Hey, you know what? I think I can do that. So, my advice is to not focus solely on stereotypical roles where people are comfortable with women in business, but shattering that mold. And then not waiting to stick your hand up for the next opportunity. Be brave and don’t second-guess yourself.

WF: You’ve spoken about your passion for developing the talent pipeline and volunteering with organizations that support girls interested in STEM careers. What inspires you to go above and beyond in this way?

MM: I have 6 different mentees right now. The people I’m attracted to help are the ones who have a certain quality: a sense of urgency, ability to see around corners, hunger maybe. You can see that in people when they’re still pretty young. I work with younger people, helping them with everything from college applications to the interview process. As my mentees grow, I see that continued thirst for improvement, for making a bigger contribution. And you can’t teach somebody those things. You can teach them the skills, but you can’t teach them the temperament to lead. I can recognize that innate character in somebody, and my efforts as a mentor are to then increase their opportunities and confidence, to broaden their worldview.

WF: Why do we need more women in leadership?

MM: At the end of the day, having women in leadership makes financial sense. It’s not just doing good — it’s actually doing good business. When I look at the world and where we are, I think, Hand us the baton for a while and let’s see if we can fix some things! I think female leaders who are most successful typically lead with a great deal of empathy. And that’s one of the things that differentiates them from some of their male counterparts. We need empathy; and empathy is not softness. Empathy is not weakness. Empathy is back to what we were talking about before — understanding someone’s journey and figuring out How do I maximize their impact? Business can be more empathetic. Politics can be more empathetic. So many areas can benefit from a female intuitive wisdom. I think it’s our turn.

WF: In the IWD spirit of unabashedly celebrating women, could you share some of your proudest accomplishments — at WorkFusion and/or even outside of WorkFusion?

MM: In the crazy 14 weeks it took to come in, reposition the company, and give birth to the Digital Workers, I don’t know that I was conscious it would be some of the best work I ever did. I’m relatively humble, so I say that based on what’s happened since then. It’s a year later, and the Digital Workers have done exactly what I hoped they would: capture the market’s imagination, make it easier for us to describe what we do, make it easier for people to buy. It was also a way of giving back. We were smack in the middle of Covid, and there were a lot of unemployed actors. I had a lot of unemployed actors in my life and in my world. So this was also an opportunity to give eight people a project. The benefits were sort of 360. It reinvigorated the brand and had a really satisfying outcome. I’m proud of that work and what we did in a really short period of time to take this idea and do something revolutionary with it. Most of the time, the work we do is evolutionary. But this was the first step in a revolution.


Leslie Linsner, Chief Human Resources Officer, WorkFusion

WorkFusion: Can you tell us about your role at WorkFusion as Chief Human Resources Officer?

Leslie Linsner: My role as CHRO of WorkFusion has a broad scope, is never dull, and thankfully every day is filled with variety, new opportunities, and challenges! I am responsible for managing the global human resources needs of the organization. To be effective and impactful, I collaborate closely with other senior leaders to develop a strategy that will help grow the company and maintain its competitiveness by optimizing organizational structure, employee engagement, retention, and recruitment practices.

WF: International Women’s Day (IWD) can mean a lot of different things depending on who you ask: celebrating women in our everyday lives, women who have inspired us, women we aim to inspire; reflecting on barriers women have broken on biases that remain. What is IWD about for you?

LL: It’s a day to acknowledge the importance of women across all cultures and the amazing impact we have on the world in every aspect — socially, politically, economically, emotionally. It also serves as a reminder we always have more work to do to raise awareness. Being the mother of two teenagers, I need them to know they are capable of achieving whatever they set their minds to — but the landscape has an extra layer of complexity and pre-disposed mindsets to overcome simply because they are women.

WF: Are there women who have inspired, influenced, and/or mentored you in your career development?

LL: Absolutely. Here at WorkFusion, I am lucky enough to work with two women I’ve worked with before at another company who continue to inspire me with their tenacity and strategic approach to business. Early on in my career, I worked at a company founded by a husband-and-wife team who immigrated to the U.S. and built a company with a culture unmatched by any other company I have worked for since. The wife was a fierce advocate and activist for inclusion, diversity, and women’s equity. I strive to incorporate those guiding principles in every organization I am a part of.

WF: This year’s IWD theme is “Embrace Equity,” which calls into question whether the goal of “equality” or “equal opportunity” is enough to affect change. Instead, embracing equity acknowledges that “people don’t begin life in the same place, and that circumstances can make it more difficult for people to achieve the same goals.” Does this idea resonate with you, that there is more to do beyond equality? If so, how?

LL: The concept of equity is at the core of my being. In fact, I believe most HR professionals have an advantage in embracing this concept of equity vs. equality because we’re hard-wired to understand that each human being’s luggage is packed with their own competencies, history, and unique circumstances. Each interaction we have with an individual must factor in their background and experiences, in and out of the workplace. That being said, in the workplace our task is to continuously educate and evangelize this concept with leaders and employees. Of course, this is a broader issue in the world outside the workplace as well.

WF: What barriers have you faced in becoming successful in your field, and how did you overcome them?

LL: The world of HR is predominantly women, unlike other functions within corporate America. That doesn’t make it any less competitive! The real value of HR is aligning with leaders to have a voice and impact on company strategy from the people perspective, and yet, the overriding challenge in HR is to prove its critical role. The secret is to go deep into the business by understanding Finance, Sales, and Operations. Know the product or service your company sells and be able to speak about it fluently. Research the market to understand trends. Leverage those HR people skills to develop deep relationships with all key constituents in the business and listen to what is being said. Stop and consider that what you hear is true for that individual or group, and then develop strategies to address or act.

The concept of equity is at the core of my being. In fact, I believe most HR professionals have an advantage in embracing this concept of equity vs. equality because we’re hard-wired to understand that each human being’s luggage is packed with their own competencies, history, and unique circumstances.

Leslie Linsner, Chief Human Resources Officer, WorkFusion

WF: How would you say the professional landscape has changed for women in leadership/HR leadership through your career so far, and where would you like to see change or improvements?

LL: I’ve seen very positive evolution in the world of HR, from being a support or operations function to a key part of the business. That’s why I don’t much like the term that has become fashionable, “People Operations.” Although there is much operational process within an HR function, our role is not operational. Most every CEO says that the people are what make the organization great. Smart CEOs know that HR leaders are their eyes and ears, and will lean on their HR team to gain insight to make critical strategic decisions. I’d like to see HR be considered just as critical on the C-level as all other C-suite roles.

WF: What advice would you give to women considering pursuing a career in leadership/HR leadership?

LL: Fantastic! There are three nuggets of advice I have picked up along my career that ring true to this day: 1) Master the job you have before you move on; 2) Act as if you have the job you want, not the job you have; 3) If something is not working, change the strategy. Simple, timeless, and effective. I’d add another, which sometimes women struggle with: Be confident. I think women tend to doubt themselves sometimes.

WF: In your time as an HR professional, how have you seen the candidate landscape change in terms of women, especially in women in tech?

LL: Thankfully, I have seen the number of strong, smart, powerful women in tech boom! I do believe there is more room to grow for women as managers of tech teams. I do see many individual contributors.

WF: Why do we need more women in HR leadership/leadership in general?

LL: Actually, I’d say we need more men in HR leadership! Unfortunately, since the HR function has typically been more women leaders, we need to be more diverse. I’m thrilled to see many more women leaders in CEO and COO roles, and having a blend at the executive level can only improve a well-rounded perspective. It’s also important for our growing girls to see women in executive level roles. Girls need to know it’s just as normal to want to be an executive leading a company as another more typical role in an organization.

WF: In the IWD spirit of unabashedly celebrating women, could you share some of your proudest accomplishments — at WorkFusion and/or even outside of WorkFusion?

LL: It’s been quite a year at WorkFusion. Since I joined, we have restructured the entire HR function and turned over the global team. We instituted an HRIS system where none existed before. We moved over 80 families to safety when the war broke out in Ukraine. We established our main hubs in India, Ireland, Poland, and the U.S., growing our company by almost 40%. 60% of all our employees are new.

I’m proud of the career I have made for myself. I wasn’t always in HR, I started in Sales. But my superpower is connecting with people, and I just gravitated towards HR. Through drive and determination, I have been able to maximize my natural inclinations and have it manifest into a rewarding and extremely satisfying career. Outside of WorkFusion on a personal level, I have two beautiful teenage daughters I managed to have much later in life than the average person. And, I married someone 15 years my junior. Two big accomplishments in my book!


Wendy Petty, Chief Revenue Officer, WorkFusion

WorkFusion: Can you tell us about your role at WorkFusion as Chief Revenue Officer?

Wendy Petty: My role as CRO at WorkFusion is to deliver rapid revenue growth. To achieve that, I ensure we have the right sales strategies, processes, sales channels, account strategy, and territory strategy in place and develop strategies that do not exist. Key to the role is partnering internally with the leadership team across Marketing, Engineering, Customer Success, Professional Services and Sales Operations, and the Sales leadership team. In addition, I work closely with the Sales team to ensure they have the support they need internally and externally in order to execute and sell without having to worry about the internal operations.

WF: International Women’s Day (IWD) can mean a lot of different things depending on who you ask: celebrating women in our everyday lives, women who have inspired us, women we aim to inspire; reflecting on barriers women have broken, on biases that remain. What is IWD about for you?

WP: IWD to me is a day to recognize the achievements of women around the world, and to reflect on what I have accomplished over my career. To embrace everything that women have accomplished throughout our history and overcoming the challenges we face every day.

WF: Are there women who have inspired, influenced, and/or mentored you in your career development?

WP: I have been in technology my whole career, where there have been very few women who have made a career in this industry. The first person who hired me was a woman…She took me under her wing and taught me everything she knew about technology and business. Over the years, I have built special relationships with other women in technology, and we have mentored each other. As for respect, Serena Williams, without a doubt!

WF: This year’s IWD theme is “Embrace Equity,” which calls into question whether the goal of “equality” or “equal opportunity” is enough to affect change. Instead, embracing equity acknowledges that “people don’t begin life in the same place, and that circumstances can make it more difficult for people to achieve the same goals.” Does this idea resonate with you, that there is more to do beyond equality? If so, how?

WP: We need equity and equal opportunity. Not one or the other, but both — everything we are entitled to.

WF: What barriers have you faced in becoming successful in your field, and how did you overcome them?

WP: I have faced just about every barrier in building my career. The only way to overcome barriers is very simple: hard work, proving yourself every day, never giving up, and believing in yourself. In doing so, you will build the right relationships, find the right people that will support you in your career, embrace them, and execute. Learn from your mistakes. Do not dwell on them and move on.

WF: How would you say the professional landscape has changed for women in leadership through your career so far, and where would you like to see change or improvements?

WP: I do not see a lot of change; the only real change is the recognition of work that women have been doing for years. We are not different. What is different is the recognition of our success; women standing up for themselves and for each other, showing the world how powerful, strong, and smart women really are.

I have faced just about every barrier in building my career. The only way to overcome barriers is very simple: hard work, proving yourself every day, never giving up, and believing in yourself. In doing so, you will build the right relationships, find the right people that will support you in your career, embrace them, and execute.

Wendy Petty, Chief Revenue Officer, WorkFusion

WF: What advice would you give to women considering pursuing a career in the C-suite?

WP: If you really want to be in the C-suite, create a path to the place you want to be. Identify the right people who can mentor you and help you get there. Do not ‘go it alone.’ I believe everything happens for a reason, and if you want to be in the C-suite, then you will be. But keep in mind that you do not have to be in the C-suite to make a difference in the world or in your career.

WF: Why do we need more women in leadership?

WP: I believe we need more women in leadership in order to bring fresh ideas, different viewpoints, and role models for other women. We need women in leadership that can even out the pay gap and lead both men and women in creating an equal environment. Without more women in leadership, the needs of other women will go unheard.

WF: In the IWD spirit of unabashedly celebrating women, could you share some of your proudest accomplishments — at WorkFusion and/or even outside of WorkFusion?

WP: My proudest accomplishment has been the ability to raise a family and still manage to be part of building seven successful global software companies. In addition, watching the salespeople I have mentored and led over my 35+ year career become wildly successful in their careers.


Alexandra Korbalevich, Lead Solutions Consultant, WorkFusion

WorkFusion: Can you tell us about your role at WorkFusion as Lead Solutions Consultant?

Alexandra Korbalevich: It’s a demanding role that requires thinking outside the box. Just the way I like it! As a Lead Solutions Consultant, I own all the technical aspects of the sales process. I spend my days working closely with global banks and financial institutions on their problem statements, advising on how to do “more with less,” and how to best apply technology to KYC and AML processes within the bank. I conduct software demonstrations, deep-dive workshops, and pilots.

WF: International Women’s Day (IWD) can mean a lot of different things depending on who you ask: celebrating women in our everyday lives, women who have inspired us, women we aim to inspire; reflecting on barriers women have broken, on biases that remain. What is IWD about for you?

AK: I do a lot of self-reflection about what I do personally to break barriers and inspire other women. I am the kind of person who leads by example, and throughout my years of studies and work, I have heard from my friends, peers, and co-workers the same yearning. They would all tell me that during challenging times, they need to hear exactly how someone else has persevered through a similar situation. The full, true story, from the good: achievements and recognition, but also the difficult: struggles, self-doubt, effort, or even sacrifice. And I want to keep telling their stories and my own as well. I want to be that motivation for other women, helping them pursue their dream, and make bold choices. We don’t have a say in where we are born, but we can use the circumstances in our favor.

WF: Are there women who have inspired, influenced, and/or mentored you in your career development?

AK: When it comes to inspiration and influence, it was never about one person for me. Partially, that may be defined by the constant change of scenery in my upbringing. I have been raised in two countries, Belarus and the Netherlands; both of which had a great impact on me. Being multilingual and always exposed to cultural diversity shaped me into the person I am today. I never really stop traveling and immersing myself in different cultures. I took it even a step further with my studies. My first degree was fully focused on cross-cultural communication.

The people who inspire me are the ones I meet in my day-to-day life. Their names are not written in the history books, they didn’t win the Nobel prize. And you’ve probably never heard about them because their stories haven’t been told. Yet their stories are so inspiring. They are about life, making difficult choices, and staying strong. And that is what most inspires me. Inspiration works both ways for the mentor and the mentee. I truly believe the only way we can really grow is by mutual inspiration and recognition of small achievements.

WF: This year’s IWD theme is “Embrace Equity,” which calls into question whether the goal of “equality” or “equal opportunity” is enough to affect change. Instead, embracing equity acknowledges that “people don’t begin life in the same place, and that circumstances can make it more difficult for people to achieve the same goals.” Does this idea resonate with you, that there is more to do beyond equality? If so, how?

AK: It’s true that people don’t begin life in the same place. My life motto is “Amor fati” which in Latin means “love of fate.” In other words, I take life as it is with its good and bad moments. When trying to reach something that seems so far away, you just need to start walking toward it. You will get there eventually even if the road is bumpy. And this journey will likely change you.

For me personally, embracing equality is a process for society and humankind in general, a process just like walking. And we human beings first learn how to crawl before we begin to walk. The only way to solve a large complex problem is by breaking it down into smaller pieces and solving each one. Step one: you don’t turn a blind eye and you are conscious that the problem exists. Step two: you take responsibility, and as an individual do something about it. It doesn’t have to be a grand public gesture, even better a small deed that likely no one will notice at first but yourself. I think the only way we can make a change is to be that change. As vanilla as it sounds, I truly believe in it.

The people who inspire me are the ones I meet in my day-to-day life. Their names are not written in the history books, they didn’t win the Nobel prize. And you’ve probably never heard about them because their stories haven’t been told. Yet their stories are so inspiring. They are about life, making difficult choices, and staying strong. And that is what most inspires me.

Alexandra Korbalevich, Lead Solutions Consultant, WorkFusion

WF: What barriers have you faced in becoming successful in your field, and how did you overcome them?

AK: The most challenging part of my career was finding my voice. I am a big fan of idiomatic expressions in different languages, and at school I did some scientific work on “Slavic idiomatic expressions and their presence in our daily life.” There is one saying specifically that I like which translates into English “A spoken word is not a sparrow. Once it flies out, you can’t catch it.” It’s basically an equivalent of “think twice” before saying something. I am the kind of person who thinks twice before saying anything, really! And as much as it sounds like a wise idea, in real life sometimes you just have to say it as-is, even if it’s not your best or final say. We are doing many things in technology that have never been done before by humanity, so you likely won’t ever be sure that what you say is final. Basically, the tech industry is like scientific work, someone will likely come after you and prove you wrong.

WF: How would you say the professional landscape has changed for women in tech through your career so far, and where would you like to see change or improvements?

AK: It’s an uphill battle for sure, but we are getting there. There is definitely a positive trend with more and more women earning STEM degrees and continuing their studies, obtaining masters and PhDs. However, when it comes to the work environment, the latest data from the National Science Foundation show that 78% of women in tech report that they “feel they have to work harder than their male co-workers to prove their worth,” and with the pandemic, 44% of women in tech report “taking on extra responsibilities at work” for the same pay. As a woman, I would like us to take action. I would like to see more women’s solidarity in the work environment. Helping each other to bring out the inner confidence we all have to make bold moves: taking on a challenging yet rewarding assignment, asking for a promotion, or speaking your mind. Actions speak louder than words.

WF: What advice would you give to women considering pursuing a career in tech?

AK: Go for it without hesitation! And if you are hesitating, reach out to me.

WF: You’re a member of a women-focused organization named Women in AI. Can you tell us a little bit about the org, and what drew you to them?

AK: My interest in Women in AI was sparked by my move to Dublin. As a newbie on the block, the question I posed to myself was: “What would be the best way to meet new people with the same interests but also make a difference?” One of my good friends and a very inspiring woman, who works as a Managing Consultant at IBM, was nominated as a Responsible AI Leader by Women in AI. This was how I first came across the organization and the good work they do. I didn’t spend too much time thinking about it and applied immediately to be a member and a mentor. I am very much looking forward to meeting my mentee very soon. Overall, once I joined Women In AI, I learned there are so many great organizations in Dublin supporting women in their careers. I was recently invited to a panel at the end of March to join some of the most outstanding and incredible women working in tech. We will talk about challenges in our careers, experiences moving from abroad, and women working in an international environment in tech.

WF: Why do we need more women in tech?

AK: I actually think it’s the other way around: the tech industry needs women. Tech needs more people and all the new bold ideas they bring with them.

WF: In the IWD spirit of unabashedly celebrating women, could you share some of your proudest accomplishments — at WorkFusion and/or even outside of WorkFusion?

AK: I think the fact that I was invited to this interview along with a group of such amazing and outstanding women is already a big win. And I will take it! To tell you the truth, I have accomplishments daily and I am proud of all of them. How is that possible, you ask? It’s much easier than you think. Every morning before getting out of bed, I assign myself a task. This task can be work-related or non-work related, it doesn’t matter. The key is no matter how boring and/or difficult this task is, you have to follow it through. Start with easier and smaller tasks and gradually make them more challenging. That way, you have a sense of accomplishment every day at the end of the day.

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