WITI Women

Isabel Maxwell
President, CommTouch

Isabel Maxwell manages all sales and marketing activities for CommTouch and co-directs strategic business development. Prior to joining CommTouch, Maxwell co-founded The McKinley Group, creator of the pioneering Magellan online search engine. During her tenure with McKinley, Maxwell led international business development activities and served as senior vice president of corporate affairs and investor relations. She oversaw the transition of McKinley to a full subsidiary of Excite, Inc.

Prior to founding McKinley, Maxwell served as senior vice president of sales and marketing for Research on Demand, an international information brokering company in Berkeley, California. Maxwell brings over 15 years of international journalism and entertainment experience to CommTouch. Her accomplishments include production/direction for the Yorkshire and Southern Independent Television networks in the UK and feature film production for New World Pictures. She served on the Board of Directors of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts-LA from 1986-1998, and is a Fellow of the Royal Geographic Society (FRGS) of London and a long-time member of the National Union of Journalists (NUJ), U.K. Maxwell holds honor moderations in Jurisprudence and a B.A. and M.A. in history and modern languages from Oxford University.

1. What was your first job in technology?
I co-founded the McKinley Group which created the popular Magellan Search Engine which sold to Excite in 1996.

2. Who has been your most significant mentor? Why?
I did not have any one mentor that was particularly significant in my life. Along the way I've learned from many different people. I don't believe it is necessary to have 1 or 2 mentors, but rather that we make sure that we learn as much as possible from those who are effective and have been successful.

3. What has been your greatest challenge and what strategies did you use to overcome obstacles?
Becoming myself and remaining true to my dreams have been my greatest challenges in life. When I determined my goals I decided that I would go for them regardless of whether people believed in them or not. I believe it is important to never give up - little by little you can accomplish what you dream.

4. Who has been the most influential person in your life? Why?
My father was most influential in my life. He was a very accomplished man and achieved many of his goals during his life. I learned very much from him and have made many of his ways my own.

5. What lessons have you learned that would be valuable to women beginning their careers in technology?
As I said before, it is important that women don't give up when they encounter obstacles. Just go for what you want. You can take little steps but be persistent. Also, remember to learn as much as you can and listen. Women have a lot to contribute.

6. What strategies do you use to maintain balance in your life?
I don't have a specific strategy. But I do make sure that I find some personal time every day, even if it is only 5 minutes on some days.

7. What new technology do you believe will have the most positive impact on the world in the next 20 years? The most negative impact?
I am not scared of any technology. On the contrary, technology awes me! I believe any technology can be positive or negative depending on how it is used. However, personally, I believe the most promising technologies will improve our ability to communicate with each other.

On a lighter note:

1. If you could have dinner with any 2 people (living or not), who would they be?

I'll break the rules here and pick three people. Nelson Mandella, Aung San Suu Khi of Burma and Rheinhold Messner

2. Define success in 10 words or less.
Making the world a better place.

3. If you could only subscribe to 3 magazines, what would they be?
Time, National Geographic, and Industry Standard

4. What was the last book you read?
Freedom from Fear and Other Writings

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