It was a run-of-the-mill managers meeting.
Eileen Murphy had just been named head of e-commerce programs for software company Santa Cruz Operations, and on her way to the meeting, she stopped to get coffee. In a gesture of good will, she decided to bring some for everyone else, too.
Murphy was the only woman in the room, but she was used to that. She updated the team on her projects and felt like the meeting went well. But her supervisor, Brian McPhail, pulled her aside afterward.
“I wouldn’t bring coffee again,” he advised.
The comment took Murphy aback.
McPhail explained that the point of her being there was to share her ideas — not to provide a service many would perceive as diminutive.
That five-minute conversation was one of Murphy’s big lessons as a manager. Now she’s vice president of operations for the Silicon Valley-based Virtual Instruments, a 300-employee company with a platform that gives IT managers insight into how efficient and productive their systems are.