“Being a Woman is Awesome:” Women in Business Keynote Speaker Talks About Overcoming Challenges and Gaining Respect for Women – Including Herself

A speaker at a podium talks to a crowd

Kris Snodgrass shared how she overcame challenges and became a vice president at Norwest Venture Partners. (Photo/Jack Sann)

Written by March 11, 2024

After years of struggling with self-respect, Kris Snodgrass lost 70 pounds, stopped overworking and realized that “being a woman is awesome.”

As a result, she said, her attitude was better, people seemed to like her more and she got promoted at her job.

“Suddenly, I had a life,” said Snodgrass, this year’s keynote speaker at the Defining Her Future conference put on by the Women in Business club.

Highlighting the conference theme of persistence, Snodgrass, a principal at Norwest Venture Partners, a $13 billion venture capital firm in the Silicon Valley, shared a quote that her soul cycle instructor likes to say: ‘It doesn’t get easier, you get stronger.

“That could be you someday,” Snodgrass told a crowd at the Performing Arts Center. “Though you may have to go through a lot of tests in life to get there. But you’ll get stronger.”

Defining Her Future is an annual conference organized by the Women in Business. (Photo/Jack Sann)

Born in Northern California, when she was three years old, Snodgrass’s family moved to Geneva, Switzerland, which involved change.

“I didn’t like being different, so I turned to food for comfort all the time,” Snodgrass said in her speech.

Years later, Snodgrass moved back to California and started working at fifteen.

“I thought money would solve all my problems from all that pain,” Snodgrass said.

Her first job, besides babysitting, was for a “scary” and “domineering “mortgage broker. Then when she worked at Nordstrom in food service, people told her “You’re very professional.”

Her last job in high school entailed working as a food server in the dorms at Stanford University.

“At one point I was kind of throwing the forks in a pile, and I’ll never forget, one of my very good-looking Stanford student co-workers stopped what I was doing and told me, “Have a little pride in your work.”

That provided a lifelong lesson.

“There is no job that is beneath me,” Snodgrass said.

Kris Snodgrass, center, spoke about the value of persistence. (Photo/Jack Sann)

During college at University of Colorado Boulder, she joined a 12-step program for overeating, which changed the whole trajectory of her life and eventually learned to find spiritual connections that worked for her.

“There is a phrase that goes, ‘Religion is for people who are afraid to go to hell, and spirituality is for people who have already been there,’” Snodgrass said.

Her original inspiration to persist was a picture of a woman in a suit pulling a roller bag through an airport. Showing pictures from her college experience, she asked the audience “does this look like someone who is on a global jetsetter lifestyle, holding a roller, wearing a suit and therefore running around to meet clients?”

After graduating, she was accepted into an internship in Frankfurt, Germany, and moved there alone.

“That experience showed me the experience of being an immigrant for the first time in my life,” she said.

She moved back to California at 25, where she started a job at Sybase.

During her time at Sybase due to competition with Oracle, Snodgrass would pull all-nighters.

“Needless to say I would come home exhausted and eat in front of the TV to calm myself down,” Snodgrass said.

Her next job was a sales job at the pioneering company Netscape.

“I drove a Range Rover, I made the president’s club, went to Hawaii. I was also prediabetic and felt hopeless,” Snodgrass said.

Simone Pucher, the conference director for Defining Her Future, addressed the audience. (Photo/Jack Sann)

Because she was working “insane hours,” she didn’t take care of herself and her weight increased to nearly 200 pounds.

With a new job after Netscape, she moved to New York and joined another 12-step program for food addiction, dreading the calls with her sponsor.

She also learned then that she did not respect women but respected the men in her life.

“And it was later pointed out to me that it was because I didn’t respect myself,” she said. “So once I got self respect, I‘ll never forget the day I heard these words: ‘Being a woman is awesome,’”

In New York, she started working at fashion companies booking models for Rubin Singer’s. During this time, she was in New York when the September 11 attacks happened. She had flown to California for a work conference and also visited during her stepdad’s birthday. She flew back to New York Sept. 10, 2001.

“I had no idea how much that day would impact me,” she said.” Why did I have to fly home September 10th, seriously? That is what I remember. I could have just stayed in California for a few more days. But there I was in New York, alone, and I got to experience the collective grief of an entire City,”

For those in New York on that day, recovery required persistence.

“What I learned from New Yorkers was don’t let them win, live your life, don’t let fear win. So when the pandemic hit, I felt like New York was talking to me all over again,” she said.

“The tests in life are always going to be there. It is really how we handle them.”

                                               Kris Snodgrass, Defining Her Future keynote speaker

She moved back to California. Her sponsor told her, “Whatever you do next, if you are going to be a street sweeper, be the best street sweeper you can be.”

She ended up as an office manager for an executive search firm, where she eventually became an associate.

Then about nine and a half years ago, Norwest Venture Partners, an investor in therapy and meditation companies, offered Snodgrass a job working as vice president of talent.

Today, she is married and lives in Tahoe, a woman in recovery.

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Photo gallery/Jack Sann

“The tests in life are always going to be there,” she said. “It is really how we handle them.”

Snodgrass ended her story telling the audience to have pride in their work, keep persisting and live their life one day at a time.

Fourth year business administration major Simone Pucher was the conference director of Defining Her Future, charged with planning the event and finding the speakers

Pucher found Snodgrass through personal connections and looking at big companies in the Menlo Park area and Bay Area.

“Just through her story she really was just the definition of everything, persistence, dealing with resilience, determination and perseverance,” Pucher said.

“I think her speech was very inspiring. Just hearing her whole story really showed like what people can go through and how she got here,” said Hayjah Antonio, a high school student who attended the speech.

Pucher liked Snodrass’s journey and the fact that it was unique.

“Kris Snodgrass definitely didn’t have a perfect journey, and I think that’s what it’s all about is that really you could take any path in life, and you can be successful if you have just the confidence in yourself and also just understanding that being a woman is powerful, and you’re able to be strong through that.”



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