Spotlight on Leading Women in Telecoms | TelecomDrive.com
Having about two decades of experience, Donna Moore started her career as a nurse and then moved over to the business side of healthcare and then moved towards the technology industry. Today, she is highly regarded in the industry as a great catalyst and as an enabler for future-proof technology adoption. Her current work at LoRa Alliance is bringing to life new-age innovations with LoRaWAN use cases.
As part of Disruptive Telecoms July 2022 cover story on ‘Leading Women in Telecoms’ – Donna Moore, CEO and Chairwoman of the LoRa Alliance speaks with Zia Askari from TelecomDrive.com about her professional and personal journey.
How has been your professional journey so far? Please tell us about your various job profiles.
I am currently CEO and chairwoman of the LoRa Alliance®. In this role, I oversee the organization, its strategy, and its direction to drive the global adoption of the LoRaWAN® standard. I have nearly two decades of experience launching new companies and growing businesses across a variety of industries and competitive environments.
Before joining the LoRa Alliance, I was the CEO of SpireSpark International, a company that provides highly skilled technical and operational expertise to design and build certification, compliance, and conformance programs. That followed my role as executive director of the Digital Living Network Alliance (DLNA), where I successfully led DLNA to become the de facto internet of things (IoT) standard for streaming video, audio, and picture files to each other over a LAN. During my tenure there, DNLA achieved global market adoption with over 4 billion certified devices deployed worldwide. I have a Bachelor of Science degree from San Diego State University.
What is the meaning of success to you, how important it is for you? And what is your mantra to succeed in an organization?
I truly have a passion for using technology to help people and businesses reach their potential. So, success for me is fulfilling this passion and seeing LoRaWAN technology making a positive impact on the lives of people, the health of the planet, and ultimately the success of businesses in a sustainable manner.
In terms of a mantra that has been key to my success, I would say discipline, which is choosing between what you want now and what you want most. To succeed, you really must stay focused on what you want most and avoid getting distracted by things in the short term.
According to you what are some of the most critical factors that have helped you become a leader in your organisation?
To effectively drive the LoRa Alliance and achieve its goals, a major aspect of my role is to collaborate with stakeholders and board to align around a common vision – which means listening, learning, and persuasion are must-have skills. I developed these skills early in my career in sales and marketing positions, and they have been the most valuable to me as I moved into leadership positions.
The three leadership areas that I adhere to are autonomy, mastery, and purpose. Employees of any organization need to connect the outcome of their role to the higher purpose of the organization. Once that is achieved, employees need to be given autonomy that will allow them to achieve mastery of their work. These three factors consistently enable teams to achieve better performance and satisfaction in their roles. I believe everyone needs these to flourish and feel a sense of connection with their work towards a greater purpose.
When you look back in your career – what according to you can be termed as big turning points for you. How have these turning points helped you gain ground professionally?
I started my career as a nurse and then quickly moved over to the business side of healthcare, working my way up to become chief operating officer of a very large healthcare organization. However, I often felt frustrated as I saw technology implementations move other industries forward rapidly while healthcare moved slowly. I first entered the technology industry intending to strengthen my background and understanding of technology and bring that knowledge back to healthcare. Instead, I have been consistently energized by my work in tech and have stayed in the industry ever since. My current work for the LoRa Alliance really brings my career full circle, with LoRaWAN in use across a variety of use cases that support sustainability, environment, health, and community.
What are some of the challenges that you or your organization faced and overcome during your professional journey? How did you overcome these challenges?
As it did for everyone, COVID-19 created many challenges for the LoRa Alliance and our members. What was most fascinating – and inspiring – was how the LoRaWAN ecosystem responded, rallying to address the needs of a rapidly changing marketplace. If you go back in time to early 2020, it was clear that no one really knew what COVID-19 was or what was needed to get back to our “normal” pre-pandemic lives. Governments, cities, and businesses alike were seeking help – looking for technology innovation that could help them protect their citizens and employees. LoRa Alliance members saw that LoRaWAN, a low-power wide-area networking (LPWAN) technology for IoT, would be a perfect fit to solve these new challenges, and they began rapidly developing solutions to help mitigate the pandemic – for contact tracing, cleanliness and air quality monitoring, and social distancing, to name just a few.
COVID made the need for actionable information to improve the health, safety, and welfare of people around the world an urgent priority. It has been inspirational to watch our members rise to these challenges and collaborate to bring solutions to market faster than anyone thought possible. These solutions remain critical even today as the economy is starting to move forward, because they provide assurance that environments are safe.
Please share with us some of your positive learnings that you have gained over the past many years and how these learnings have helped you become a better person / professional?
One lesson that really stands out to me is that growth relies on getting out of your comfort zone. That – which doesn’t challenge you doesn’t change you. This has made me a stronger leader, because when I face hard or risky decisions, I remind myself that it’s okay to struggle in the short term, as growth and opportunities come from being uncomfortable.
With greater level of experience comes greater level of responsibility and often this also involves grooming others, passing on your legacy ahead. Keeping this in mind, how do you look at helping others in your organization towards achieving success?
I focus heavily on building trust, mentoring staff, and developing long-term relationships with my team. Having trust as the foundation allows for very frank and honest discussions, because my team knows I have their best interest at heart. Through these discussions and mentoring, I’ve been honored to help many of my colleagues advance in their careers. One person I mentored now runs her own company; another is running a startup to convert plastic into diesel fuel; and another is now running sales for a large technology company. I’ve continued to stay in touch over many years, and now we’re in positions where we can support each other. It’s truly rewarding.
What are some of your big goals that you have achieved in the recent past – and your goals that you want to achieve?
I find it very instructive to look at the organizational goals I’ve been able to impact during my time at the LoRa Alliance. I think these achievements are representative of how I align my goals with those of my company and drive to make them happen.
- LoRaWAN infrastructure and deployments have grown exponentially.
- LoRaWAN moved from one of many LPWAN technologies to the market leader and the only LPWAN to achieve deployments at a massive scale globally.
- The LoRa Alliance’s vision and open environment has enabled our members to deliver innovative solutions that are tied to the alliance’s strategy. This has led us to become the largest LPWAN ecosystem, with the most:
- Deployed networks
- Certified devices
- Global deployments
- End-to-end solutions to make deployments easier
- Network options: public, private, satellite, community, and hybrid
- Deployed multi-technology solutions
It was the combination of all these achievements that contributed to making LoRaWAN a mature technology and its recognition as an international standard by the independent standards organization ITU-T.
Donna Moore | Growing through Struggle, Resilience through Practice
How would you describe yourself as a person?
I am passionate and driven, and at the end of the day, I want to know I’ve made a difference to people and the world at large. I truly believe that it takes a village to enact change and have never doubted that even a small group of people collaborating can make a significant difference in the world.
My passion for making a difference impacts every decision I make. The kinds of projects I like to work on are often ones that may seem impossibly large, but staying committed to doing the right thing makes the path forward clear. Ultimately, this clarity helps me achieve the goal.
I also believe that life happens for you, not to you, meaning that everything happens at the right time, not too soon or too late. That’s been a guiding principle for me, especially when things have not worked out as planned. I’ve found that in retrospect everything happened when it did and how it did for a reason.
What are the three topmost important things for you in your professional life?
Growth through struggle: I believe that struggle is part of the process of growth. Struggle can be so frustrating, and we often use it as a reason to stop what we’re doing or change paths; but in my mind, if you are not challenged, you don’t evolve. Embrace the struggle and know that by getting through it you will progress to something greater and more fulfilling.
Resilience through practice: Hard work and practice are what will allow you to master a skill or your craft – and once it’s mastered, you are stronger, more agile, and resilient because you are able to look for different ways to solve any issues you may face.
Transformation through small actions: Simply put, nothing happens in big steps – progress is all about taking one step at a time or one action at a time. These actions become more significant as you go along and ultimately lead to change. Take IoT as an example. For people who are new to it, they see today that LoRaWAN is a great connectivity option, but they don’t see the years of small steps, small decisions, and small actions that built upon each other to get to the point where we are now. Just like the saying, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step,” nothing happens overnight; a series of small actions or thoughts bring big ideas to fruition.
What are your three qualities that have helped you grow as a person and a professional?
Grit is one of my defining qualities. No matter how hard something is, I dig deep, push, and see things through.
Passion is huge for me – I am very passionate about the things that I engage in and take on. My passion drives me, and hopefully those around me.
Focus is another key quality. I’m extremely good at focusing on what needs to be done and prioritizing to make sure I spend my time on the right things so I can achieve the outcomes I desire. Even during the day, I’ll stop what I’m doing and ask myself if my time is being spent in the most important and most effective way to achieve my goals. If it’s not, I reprioritize what I am doing. It is very easy to get distracted or pulled off course by spending time on things that are busy work but not the most important work.