Professional Growth

3 Questions with a Tech Lady: Cynthia Bell, Sales Operations Manager at Industry Dive

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Hi Cynthia! What are you working on these days?

A little bit of everything! For my day job, I’m constantly looking to improve my Salesforce skills. I’m currently learning Apex (which is an object-oriented programming language, a bit like Java) so that I can automate processes for my team. I’m also hoping to take and pass the Salesforce Admin exam in the spring.

Outside of work I’m teaching myself (slowwwly) a bit of HTML and CSS so that I can host my own website on Github Pages. That has been a ton of fun. I also just received a sponsorship to participate in Microsoft’s Codess and Microsoft Professional Program, which is a 6 month online course that teaches you the basics of data science.

Can you tell us about the Microsoft Codess sponsorship and how you found it on Tech Ladies?

Codess is Microsoft’s initiative to create a community for female coders and help promote diversity in the field of computer engineering. This specific sponsorship is focused on data science — a cohort of us will be going through the 6 month online program where we’ll learn the the basics of data science. We’ll also be paired with a mentor from Microsoft who will assist us with questions related to careers in data science.

I found the application for the sponsorship through the Tech Ladies Facebook group. I think I was just scrolling and reading posts while taking a break at work and I saw it posted as an #OFFER to apply. I’ve been thinking about taking a class to improve my data skills and this seemed to just fall in my lap! I took it as a sign and applied that evening. This is the great thing about being connected to a community of over 8,000+ awesome women — resources and opportunities are constantly presenting themselves.

What’s some career advice you would give to your younger self?

My first piece of advice would be “Take a deep breath, it’ll all work out.” I have gotten way too worked up over things that ultimately worked out. Worrying and stressing does nothing.

My second piece of advice is just because you’re not seeing progress/results right away doesn’t mean you’re not on the right track. The journey of getting from where you are to where you want to be is usually a long and winding one (reminds me of this image), and as long as you feel you’re moving slightly in the right direction then it’s usually fine. I was a fundraiser at a non-profit for 3 years prior to my journey into tech. It’s been 17 months and I’m now finally feeling like I have some clarity. Seventeen months is such a short period of time but when you’re caught up in the moment it’s easy to beat yourself up and feel like you’re doing nothing. When that happens, I recommend taking a deep breath. It’ll all work out.

3 Questions with a Tech Lady: Camille Hearst, co-founder and CEO of Kit

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Interview by Breanne Thomas

Hi Camille! What made you take the leap from working at other tech companies like Apple and Google to striking out on your own to launch Kit?

I grew up in San Francisco in the 80s and 90s, so I witnessed the first dot-com boom and bust firsthand. My parents are musicians and artists, so I’ve always been around people who hustle. I studied entrepreneurship when I was at Stanford, first as a Mayfield Fellow, and then as a graduate student. So for me, I’ve always felt like I would strike out on my own.

I feel incredibly fortunate to have had the opportunity to work at and get my initial “training” at amazing companies like Apple, YouTube, Google, and even Hailo (even though they didn’t turn out as we’d hoped) during the early stages of my career. For me, leaving to work on Kit was a question of the timing being right, as well as the team and the idea.

When I first met Naveen Selvadurai (of Expa) and we started jamming on the idea for Kit, I was at a crosspoint in my career where it made sense to start applying everything I’d picked up over the years; the more we worked on Kit, the more I fell in love with the vision we were crafting and the problem we decided to set out to solve — helping people discover the best products for them so that they can get on with living life.

What’s it like working at Kit?

The team at Kit is brilliant — we are collectively ex-Apple, Google, YouTube, Gilt, and Foursquare, as well as a former professional DJ; and we are diverse, inclusive, and a lot of fun. Working with smart, talented people really can make all the difference in your outlook.

Couple that with clear set goals, open communication, and a mission we are all hungry to solve, and coming to work feels really satisfying. In such a small environment, you can see and feel your impact firsthand, and I think this kind of opportunity attracts people who want to leave their mark on the world — and it shows.

Late last year, you and your team announced that you had raised $2.5 million in your seed round to grow Kit. Congratulations! Do you have any advice for other Tech Ladies who want to get funded, especially at that scale?

Fundraising is really, really hard. My main piece of advice is to prepare yourself mentally and emotionally, and to take care of yourself physically and spiritually throughout the process as well.

I used to play basketball growing up, and I found this great article on mental toughness for high school girls’ basketball coaches that I actually think applies to fundraising and entrepreneurship as well. A lot of people think they have these traits, but it’s not until you’re really in a situation where you can forge those skills that you can 1) see what you’re made of and 2) continue to develop the skills. The advice in the article is awesome and I found it incredibly encouraging when things were tough.

3 Questions with Quinn Hubbard, who found her job at The New York Times through Tech Ladies

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Hi Quinn! How did you get your career started doing marketing for tech companies and what drew you to tech in general?

I was extremely involved in my college’s entrepreneurship scene, and through that, I became friends with developers. Unsurprisingly, when we kicked around ideas, they tended to be tech-based. So, I started reading tech news to understand the space. When it came to job hunting after college, tech companies were top of mind for me. (Not to mention that was where I had connections, which always helps!) It was an unplanned, iterative interest.

I think I was subconsciously drawn to tech for a few reasons:

  • The space changes rapidly, so it’s easy to be and stay engaged.
  • I use the products and legitimately care about everything from the details of push notification microcopy to how one brand promise differs from competitors.
  • I am in total awe of the complexity required to make and market a simple, intuitive product.

How did you hear about Tech Ladies, and how did you find your role at The New York Times with us?

TL;DR: SEO brought me to Tech Ladies. I had applied to every job (and then some) that interested me on LinkedIn and AngelList. I was finding the same postings on job sites like Monster and Indeed, and other job boards were basically carbon copies of those. So, I searched for the best job sites for tech in NYC. I stumbled across an article in Forbes about Tech Ladies, and LOVED the concept. Very little makes me happier than women helping women, so I signed up.

Later that day, Tech Ladies sent out a newsletter with a story about someone else landing her dream job at The New York Times. It inspired me to look at their open roles and that’s how I found my new job a Senior Manager of International Customer Experience and Retention.

What’s the one piece of advice you have for people who want to create a marketing career in tech?

Always be self-learning, but more than that, be strategic about what you are learning and how you are expanding yourself. For example, are you trying to be a T-shaped marketer? A full-stack marketer? Something else? Decide what types of marketing you want to focus on based on what you have a knack for: creativity, analysis, or strategy. This way you can structure your career to be aligned with your strengths.

3 Questions with a Tech Lady: Meet YouTube’s Goddess of Code, Kristen Leake

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Interview by Allison Grinberg-Funes

You have a YouTube series called “Girls Talk Code.” Can you tell us more about the series?

When I searched YouTube, I found very few active channels with ladies teaching or discussing code. This doesn’t accurately represent the number of women interested and working in this industry at all! So I decided to introduce YouTube viewers to the many different faces and occupations of ladies who code and everything in between! My mission is to create educational and motivational content to help coding newbies on their journey and give them the confidence to enter the tech industry.

Starting February 22nd, I’ll release weekly conversations with different women. The topics are based upon my guests’ background, which range from UX/UI, frontend and backend development, teaching, and founding startups.

You were just accepted into the Hygge Podcast Residency — what drew you to podcasting?

Podcasting was suggested to me when my YouTube was in its infancy, but I thought it was something I could never do. When my following grew, I realized that it wasn’t about me: it’s about the valuable content I was sharing and the messages that need to be heard!

It recently occurred to me that engaging my audience via podcasting will be a lot different compared to video. Without the ability to show locations and use props, it’s a completely different experience that will both test and improve my listening skills, diction, and creativity. I’ve gotten the hang of my YouTube workflow so it’s fun to start over by creating a new flow for podcasting.

With the help of Hygge, I recently created a podcast called “Break Into Code.”

A lot of women in the Tech Ladies community are looking to learn new skills or grow the ones they have. As someone who combines web development, YouTube, and now podcasting, what advice do you have for the community about managing your time and fitting everything in?

First, be conscious of how you’re wasting time! This past year, I started paying attention to not just the tasks I do every day but how long I do them. I quickly realized that I often picked up my phone to respond to tweets and Facebook messages, and I would always lose myself in apps and lose track of time! So now I allow myself to check social media while multitasking, like standing in line at the grocery store. When you become conscious of it, it’s easy to say no to distractions.

Second, prioritize! Remember that YOU are your number one priority… no one else will prioritize what’s important to you. So every morning I ask myself: “What 3 things must be completed for me to feel accomplished today?”

If you’re passionate and eager to do something, you can always find time. It just requires reflecting on your current workflow and making changes that best suit your needs.

3 Questions with a Tech Lady: Amrit Richmond, Founder of CMYK Ventures

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Hi Amrit! Can you tell us a little about your company CMYK Ventures?

CMYK Ventures is an agency designed to help technology companies thrive. We work closely with investors, founders, and executives who want to support, grow, or partner with startups. CMYK is not a fund, yet, but in the meantime we can help companies connect to revenue opportunities and investors in our network.

Before starting CMYK, I spent nine years collaborating with VCs, founders, global brands, technology platforms, advertising agencies, and media companies. CMYK brings all of those people together as an ecosystem and platform of resources that companies can leverage to grow their businesses.

What have learned working in VC that you think is good career advice for our Tech Ladies?

I learned so many things from working with four venture capital funds, particularly about finance and scaling a startup after the company has product market fit. The best skills I learned were how to make detailed financial models and budgets, and creative ways to cut operations costs that don’t require downsizing!

Whether you’re running a company, a department, or a new program at work, you should always know your runway (how much money you have left in your budget), your burn rate (what you currently spend per month), and the cost of scaling if you were to expand resources, cities, or headcount. When you treat the responsibility of managing a company’s capital as if it was your own money, it becomes much easier to get budgets approved and buy-in from your colleagues for new programs.

Do you believe in goals? If so, how do you create and measure them?

Goals are important to have something to work towards, and for benchmarking success, either individually, as a team, or for client projects. While I have 1, 5, and 10-year goals for CMYK, I’m more driven by purpose in the short-term.

Before committing to something new, I think through the why — what’s the purpose of X? Why does this matter? Who or what does it impact? After those questions are answered, I outline specific goals driven by one or more of the following: engagement, awareness, revenue.

On creating goals for yourself: If you genuinely want something, such as a new job, or if you think your product should exist in the world, don’t wait for permission, a paycheck, or funding to get started. What can you do now to get started?

3 Questions with a Tech Lady: Sarah Judd Welch, CEO of Loyal

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Hi Sarah! So what is Loyal?

Loyal is a community agency that helps brands develop and leverage communities online. Our work creates deeper customer relationships to increase user retention and help organizations innovate and grow. Clients range from really big co’s like General Electric and National Geographic to early- stage startups.

Why did you decide to start your own company and what’s the best part of running it?

It’s less about deciding to start a company and more about being called to do something or an inevitability. I saw a gap in the market for something that needed to exist. I love the relative schedule flexibility — yoga at 9am, no problem. Take two weeks off in January, sure. Yet, here I am on a Sunday in the office.

What’s one piece of advice you have for women who want to start their own company?

Your work is a reflection of you, though you are not a reflection of your work. Just as you grow and evolve, so will the things you create. Therefore, don’t be too precious with what you make.