As a successful woman CTO, Sherri Hammons is well known for being both humble and strong. Her Oklahoma childhood taught her the importance of always giving (and how to get back on the bucking bronco). Give First is ingrained in Sherri’s leadership style and her approach to bringing together technology and sustainability, which is her focus as CTO of The Nature Conservancy.
Today, Sherri Hammons is CTO of The Nature Conservancy, but as she admits, “I took the nontraditional path to CTO land.” This path included eight years as a professional singer before she went back to college and got a degree in software engineering—and went on to work for companies big and small, as well as being CTO for the state of Colorado. She’s done for-profit, non-profit, and government—and brought technology, strategy, and humane leadership to each role.
Sue Heilbronner, CEO of MergeLane, described Sherri as a “humble badass”—a phrase that host Brad Feld loves. Sherri credits her humbleness to her parents, who taught her to “always give and always be nice to everyone no matter what.” That’s right, Sherri learned to Give First from her family—and she has been guided by that advice throughout her career.
As for the “badass” part, she’s a successful woman CTO. Toughness and strength of character might as well be part of the job description. Sherri sees her upbringing as contributing to this element of her personality as well: “I grew up in Oklahoma, I grew up on a horse, on a farm. And so I know about getting bucked off a bronco and getting back up.”
Listen for Sherri’s take on:
How to be a great leader
“You just always show up when it matters.”
“If you’re in a leadership position, people look up to you always, 24 by 7 by 365, and you just have to remember that.”
And how important it is for leaders to stay humble, stay human, and keep their emotions in check.
How technology and sustainability intersect
“Leveraging artificial intelligence and machine learning practices to be able to decide where we can make the most change and protect the planet, in the best way possible, as quickly as possible.”
The Techstars Sustainability Accelerator is “brilliant, actually. It’s a great way to leverage entrepreneurial minds to help solve these big climate problems. … Allowing us to partner with these startups is amazing and transformational, not only for the startups, but for TNC.”
Plus, why Winston Churchill is the historical figure Sherri would most like to have dinner with.
Companies, people, and resources mentioned in this podcast:
- Winston Churchill
- Factfulness: Ten Reasons We’re Wrong About the World—and Why Things Are Better Than You Think by Hans Rosling
- Sue Heilbronner
- The Humane Society
- The Nature Conservancy
- Techstars Sustainability Accelerator, in partnership with The Nature Conservancy