Intellectual Ventures President Adriane Brown on Global Impact, Benefits of Being Uncomfortable, and “Positive Change Through People”
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dealing with industry down cycles. We were cutting some resources because we were not able to meet our commitments. One thing that was falling short was applied research. The common thinking was we had to drop research. I told people I believed in research. It turned out there was a government grant [available], and we partnered with the University of Notre Dame. We were able to outsource our applied research as part of this grant; we gave them a loaned executive who ran this department. It would have been easier to cut the budget and keep moving forward. But I found that when one way doesn’t work, go find another way.
X: What are your typical days at Intellectual Ventures like?
AB: I’m in lots of meetings. It’s part of my management operating system to make sure I have one-on-one time with all my direct reports. Sometimes it involves some coaching and directing. It always involves lots of alignment. That means when they walk out of my office, let’s make sure I can count on the actions we’ve talked about. This week, we have an executive leadership team meeting. Later this week, we have a founders meeting and a founders board meeting. I’ll spend some time this week talking to investors. Since I’ve come on board, I’ve had 15 to 20 town hall meetings with employees, sharing my overview of the [company] goals—what are the expectations, ensuring they are enrolled and engaged. So what you’re hearing is, communication is a key piece of what I spend my day on.
My role is company-wide. The first and most important role is the performance of the company. In 2010, my focus is heavily internally weighted. But the founders, employees, investors, and inventors—all these people are in my sphere of wanting to be engaged with.
X: So how do you prioritize? And since Intellectual Ventures has many different businesses, what is your main focus—where do you go from here?
AB: It all comes down to the goals we commit ourselves to. I have the capacity to walk and chew gum. I love the multi-facets of IV. I can sit in the lab and be part of an “invention session,” and [shift] to talking about a particular licensing program. The whole process and whole thinking about the dynamics of our company is fantastic to me. I also navigate in the more mundane process development [areas]. I get great satisfaction in solving both big problems and small problems.
We have profound customer value. I look forward to the coming of scale where we’ve been able to demonstrate time and time again that we are an organization that will make technology more accessible, more profound, and more efficient for our customers. I am thrilled to see for myself that we can help companies find a much more efficient path to their future technologies. And have inventors continue to invent because there is value that continues to be realized through technology companies.