There exist tens of thousands of leadership stories in the contemporary business world, but few stories prove to be unusual. Among those few stories, one such exceptional story is of Kiva Allgood, a unique and rare intersection of proficiency and leadership.
As Head of IoT & Automotive at Ericsson, Kiva is responsible for scaling Ericsson’s IoT offerings and building strategic partnerships for connectivity across industries. Wearing several hats of a mom, wife, and sister, Kiva is also a tech lover, an innovator, and an award-winning entrepreneur. With more than 20 years of experience in IoT, scaling connectivity, smart cities, and startups, she brings a strong track record from supporting high-growth organizations in innovation and digital transformation.
A Learner’s attitude
The single most important part of Kiva’s journey has been the fact that she has had the opportunity to sit in the messes she has created. Having held so many different roles has provided her with a tremendous amount of perspective. As a young and eager product manager, she would launch a new global product, integrate it into the production plan, and not think too much about the operational or supply chain impact. Then, she became a master black belt in the supply chain. Now, she had to clean up and delist all the products she created. Finding homes for the excess inventory was no easy task, but it saved millions and taught her to have an appreciation for the full lifecycle of a product. This was a new perspective.
“I was taught that the way of progress was neither swift nor easy.” – Marie Curie
Kiva has lead quality, software, sales, operational, supply chain, product, and business development teams to success and learned more from most of these teams than she has shared. Humbly admitting when she doesn’t know, and ensuring she is listening to learn, were two of the most critical success factors in her journey. Bringing all these disciplines and perspectives together by empowering an organization to work effectively is one of the most satisfying parts of Kiva’s career.
According to Kiva, Feedback is a gift, especially when it is candid and perhaps something one may know but haven’t heard. She learns daily from the people around her. She firmly believes in saying that states, “listen to learn, not to respond.”
Helping Business Models Emerge through Connectivity
Today, Kiva leads a team of intrapreneurs within Ericsson that are working to bring the power of 5G and cellular connectivity to “things” securely and reliably. Kiva states that helping new business models emerge through connectivity is exciting. For example, think about telemedicine and the transformation we have seen with COVID in just that one industry. Another great example is the impact connectivity is having on sustainability. One such example, already live in the field, is the Stanley Earth’s farming project in India – the NADI Smart Solar Pump – that is enabling farmers there to increase productivity and lower costs while offering a more sustainable alternative to an inefficient power grid or diesel-dependent water pumps for irrigation.
Women Inspiring Women
In women entrepreneurship fraternity, the enchanting part is that one successful woman encourages other upcoming women leaders to step up. Kiva draws her inspiration from various women entrepreneurs, such as from Padmasree Warrior for teaching her to own our differences and lead in a technology role, as the only woman, from Peggy Johnson that there is always a win-win when you partner, from Laurie Yoler for the art of the possible and unyielding passion for technology.
It’s all about Priorities
When asked about work-life balance, Kiva opines that work-life balance is an oxymoron. According to her, one has to wake up every day and make a choice on what to prioritize. There will be days when one’s family must come first, and there will be days when one’s community, education, or exercise will win. Everyone needs to find the rhythm that brings the balance. What brings happiness and balance to one person may not work for the next.
Kiva also encourages women she mentors to seek their own path and not apologize when they prioritize themselves. Kiva is truly blessed to have two grown-up sons and a husband, who dedicated part of his life to be the primary caregiver. She asserts that without this, she would not have found the balance she needed to take a sales job that required her to travel the globe.
Can Technology be leveraged to Save Money?
Talking about technology, Kiva mentions that there is always a new technological trend that everyone is talking about. She asserts that “Typically, you start to see technological trends in early-stage startups. One year everyone is talking about AI, AR/VR, Edge, autonomy, etc. These buzz words are in every VC pitch. Yet, technology has to solve a problem to be relevant. How can you leverage the technology to help save money, make money, or deliver a new service? If it can’t do one of those is it important?”
Currently, Kiva is working from home in Sweden and embracing a new normal. This new normal has required her to challenge herself as a leader. How can she keep an organization moving to deliver its products and delight customers in new ways? This has made it imperative for one to learn new tools and ways of collaboration that requires a business to be connected. It is important to learn how one can build comradery from afar.
In her advice to budding women entrepreneurs, Kiva says, “Be your own advocate. Find a mentor willing to be candid. Be honest and kind to yourself. You are never stuck, there are always options.”