5 Tips for Building a Fulfilling Career from Women Tech Leaders

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Presented by the organizers of the Tech Cities conference and moderated by Clockwork Active Media Vice President of Strategy Emily McAuliffe, the Women in Technology panel explored how individuals and organizations can create an environment that fosters women talent in technology fields. The panel featured five technology leaders who offered plenty of advice for navigating a career in any industry.

Read on for the top takeaways.

Don't be afraid to fail

Vidku UX Designer and Prototype Lead Liz Maddy is captivated by the tech industry because there is always something new to learn. Her advice, for women in any field, is to get comfortable with failure in order to master new skills. 

"My superpower is my willingness to try anything and not be afraid to fail. When you fail, you learn the most," says Maddy.

Look for women in the top ranks

Reve Consulting and Reve Academy Co-Founder Kristin Pardue has led teams of tech professionals in both a corporate and a start-up environment. In her view, the best way for women to continually access new opportunities and grow their skills is to join a company replete with women managers and executives. 

"It’s key to have women in leadership positions, both for mentorship and to retain employees who are amazing at their jobs," says Pardue.

Know your values

Go Kart Labs Associate Director Elli Rader is dedicated to creating a welcoming environment for women in technology, a historically male-dominated field. She warns emerging professionals that a misalignment between the values of the employee and those of the organization can stifle a career.

"I worked at a place with mostly male leadership and I really struggled to be appreciated there. It would have been so easy to blame it on misogyny, but at the end of the day, I wasn’t ethically aligned with the way they ran their business. Now, I work in an environment led by men, and I’m happy—because we have the same ethics and values," says Rader.

Make your voice heard

Sport Ngin CMO Angie Franks says the team members who can bring their individual expertise to drive the business will emerge as leaders. But to be heard, women must first speak up. 

"I’ve met too many women who come up to me and give me a great idea, after the meeting ends. They don’t speak up in a group. Having confidence and being willing to speak up and say something in the room is absolutely key," says Franks.

Abandon your preconceptions

Leadpages Senior Manager of Retention and Analytics Caroline Karanja says she doesn't fit the archetype of an engineer—which is precisely why she makes a concerted effort to change her own ideas of what particular professionals look like.

"When we think about who is a good leader or coder, we all walk into the room with our own ideas of what that person looks like. As long as those ideas remain unchanged, we can’t expect people who don’t fit into those roles to walk into that space and stay," says Karanja. 

Tech Cities 2016

Hundreds of industry professionals, researchers, and students will continue the conversation around Minnesota tech talent and innovation at the Tech Cities conference on February 26, 2016. Registration will become available on November 15, 2015. The conference is now accepting proposals from prospective presenters willing to share their expertise on tech in Minnesota.