Growing Up Guidewire: COO Priscilla Hung Talks Innovation, Diversity & More
Give it up for one of the original Girls in Tech! After having the absolute privilege of working with Guidewire President and COO Priscilla Hung for 15 years and counting, I've learned to listen to every word she says. She has been a fantastic leader and role model to me, and she's the reason I am a Girls in Tech board member today. But most important of all, she's an inspiration to women throughout the industry. Which makes this recent podcast interview appointment listening.
Not only does Priscilla share expert insights on the digital revolution transforming the insurance industry, but she also speaks with refreshing candor about what it's like to be one of the vanishingly small number of female C-suite executives in the tech sector.
Smashing Through Glass Ceilings
First, the backstory: Priscilla joined San Mateo, Calif.-based P&C insurance platform provider 16 years ago, and her career has tracked with Guidewire's own remarkable rise.
"I literally grew up at Guidewire," she says, adding that her own professional milestones are tied to Guidewire's journey from tiny startup to a publicly-traded high tech powerhouse. That includes a driver's seat view of an evolution from COBOL programs on mainframes to modern technologies that enable insurers to become more agile and responsive to the market and customer needs.
Over the last few years, she has helped spearhead Guidewire's transition from an on-prem to cloud-based solutions provider. But she has also been actively involved in the company's Diversity Inclusion Program and other employee resource groups (ERGs) focused on fostering equality and inclusion across the company.
How Unlikely Becomes Inevitable Success
For all the accomplishments she has played a role in during her tenure at Guidewire, what's most remarkable is how unlikely it all seemed to Priscilla. "I simply do not fit into the traditional image of what a competent executive looks like," she says. "I am Asian, with an accent, I am short. You may find it silly, but those characteristics have absolutely worked against me in the past."
Indeed, the tech industry's pervasive bro culture and lack of inclusion are well documented. But Priscilla has actually lived it. "Unconscious bias is real," she says, citing how she used to be mistaken for a former CEO's Asian wife at corporate events. "Like the only reason why I had that 'seat at the table' was because I was his spouse."
Instead of letting it all defeat her, however, Priscilla channeled her frustration into a determination that has served her and Guidewire well. And despite the challenges she faced to reach her rarified position, the longevity of her success has also given Priscilla a broader perspective on the progress made by women in the tech industry.
"I am very hopeful, the world is changing," Hung says. "I realize that sharing my own experiences and how I plowed through them has been helpful to others—and also cathartic to me."
If you're looking to get inspired, stop what you're doing and listen to the full interview now!
To learn more about Girls in Tech and how you can become a valued partner like Guidewire to this critical organization, please visit https://girlsintech.org/