Advice From Women Tech Execs to Women on the Rise
I’ve got a great idea to celebrate Women’s History Month: Let’s stop amplifying the antiquated notion of technology as a male-dominated field. It limits the vision of what we can achieve. They say that success is the best revenge, and it’s not hard at all to find women at the top of their game among our partners and customers at Braze. Of course, we’ve still got work to do, but let’s take a minute to celebrate how far we’ve come. If you’re early in your career, focus on the wins, and not on who stands in the way.
That’s what I heard from Dale Sperling, CMO at Stash. She takes pride in busting assumptions that women in marketing belong in the brand and creative roles. “I’m proud to be a skilled, cross-functional marketer, and I love representing women marketers who lean into data and analytics to help inform strategy.” And she has great advice for when you hit the inevitable bumps in the road. “A lot of people will tell you to ‘never give up,’ but actually, I think giving up can be incredibly important. You need to be willing to change course and pivot to take advantage of opportunities.” I love that counterintuitive recommendation, and learning to “fail forward” is a critical skill in a fast-paced business environment.
Learning from failure takes courage, and that’s an attribute that Amy Bourne, President at Brad’s Deals, values highly. “Don’t fear what you don’t know,” she suggests, “You can always figure that out if you have everything else going for you.” Bring energy and curiosity to obstacles and you’re halfway to a win right there. Enlist your manager as your ally. “I was working in some smaller ad tech companies at the start of my career and actually had a few great female bosses early on. Their success and mentorship highly influenced me.”
Amy is a good example of what can happen if you refuse to accept the conventional notion of tech as a male-dominated field. “I grew up in martech starting in 1995, and I can’t say that the industry being male-dominated was really on my radar. Like anyone else, I started at an entry-level position, and I was curious to learn and grow.”
I’ve found that a focus on the work, as Amy suggests, is effective at any career stage, and early on it can help you stand out from the crowd. When you put your all into what you’re doing, it shows. Amy said it best: “Be human. Be confident, curious, and commit to doing your very best work every day. Be excited to put your name on it!”
As Women’s History Month comes to a close, I find myself hoping that things will be different next year—and not just because the pandemic will be behind us. I’d like to think that the phrase “male-dominated tech field” will seem old and out of date thanks to the efforts of women throughout the industry to do great work in their areas of expertise. “Be willing to go outside of your comfort zone and give up on what you thought you knew to learn, evolve, and succeed,” is Dale’s suggestion.
For me, that means using my leadership position to advocate for the women on my team, and throughout the industry. Some days that means being an empathetic listener, and some days it means raising the bar higher, confident in what can be achieved. I push every day for us to make better use of the tools of our trade to back our strategies with data, and to inform our evaluations of what we can do better. And if anyone is surprised when rigorous data analysis is presented by a woman, I’d say that they won’t be for long.