Women is...: Louise Velázquez, Silliwood guru

Louise Velázquez, Silliwood guru

profession: Business development exec for Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen's Interval Research, a self-styled high-tech think tank.

funding: Approx. $100 million from Allen.

born: 1956, in Los Angeles.

where she comes from: A former head of production for music legend Quincy Jones, Velázquez is now one of the players where Silicon Valley meets Hollywood, i.e., Silliwood.

what she really does: Works the high-tech conference circuit around the world making contacts with other companies that are using technology for education and entertainment. "I try to understand how people make or lose money, all aspects of business."

education: Studied at University of California, San Diego school of community medicine, but left two quarters before graduation to put her brother through high school.
first steps: Worked at a poison-prevention center by night for the cash, managed jazz and reggae musicians by day.

the way up: In 1979, she started her own management company booking musicians. Then moved into the production of albums and videos, doing everything from hiring technicians to advertising.

then what: Joined Quincy Jones's music publishing company in 1984, eventually becoming president of production with responsibility for both the business and creative sides. "My success with Quincy came the hard way though," she says. "During the years I worked with him, I rarely had time off. We worked days, nights and had a crazy schedule. I have more balance now."

claim to fame: Earned a 1993 Grammy Award nomination as producer of the "Miles Davis & Quincy Jones -- Live at Montreaux" video. (Sting won.)

moving to high tech: Left Hollywood for Silicon Valley in 1994. "It was intriguing to think about transferring the knowledge I had from the media production world to help mold the thinking of those involved in developing technologies for the future."
on Silicon Valley: "There are a lot of creative and intelligent people around. While it may not be apparent on the surface, software development is a creative process. It takes a leap of imagination to fit things together in a seamless fashion and think of things in an entirely new way."

household: She lives in Woodside, Calif., with her two German shepherds. "I am a bachelorette, I guess. Any mate would have to be able to handle being with someone who earns her own six-figure income."

advice: "Nurture contacts," she says. "One thing I do is write a personal handwritten note to people I've just met." She also suggests attending professional conferences "even if you think there is nothing left for you" as "contact is important."

management style: "I call it collaborative, making people part of the process, giving them responsibility, and building trust and respect among team members. Communication is also crucial for getting things done. As for being a woman in a man's business world, I've figured out that it's important to have a well-honed sense of humor."

pet projects: Tinkering with her two vintage sports cars, a 1960 Alfa Giulietta Sprint Veloce and a 1974 GT Veloce. Fly fishing, cooking and wine collecting.

inspiration: "My parents. They were very supportive, even though I was a kind of a nerd." They also helped her out with loans when she began her first business, an antiques refurbishing biz, at the age of 13.

favorite music: "Some great late night albums are Miles Davis's 'Sketches of Spain,' the music of John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman and Ennio Morricone's score for 'The Mission.' One of my favorite musicians on the planet is Dori Caymmi, a Brazilian singer / guitar player who writes beautiful melodies -- my favorite bubble bath music."

how life might be different were she a man: "I don't think it would be as much fun. There are too many expectations placed on men. I find freedom in not having the same social pressures. Women have their own set of pressures, but I still prefer to be a female any day."