This weekend I was among 21 women recognized as a Rev Boston “Badass” woman in tech. My co-honorees and I are senior leaders in tech who work at landmark institutions (e.g. Boston Children’s Hospital), high-flyer local companies (e.g. Veracode, WayFair, HubSpot, Carbon Black, CarGurus), as well as mid-size and tiny startups (e.g. Toast, Drizly, TetraScience, clypd, IdeaPaint). We lead engineering, product strategy, marketing, sales, services and operations in business areas as diverse as security, healthcare, travel, and online marketplaces.
After a weekend with this amazing peer group I’m excited to share my thoughts on why the future for Boston’s women in tech is strong.
Over the course of the weekend we met women who have taken their careers to rare heights. Session leaders included current and former CEOs, entrepreneurs, investors, board members, and academics.
We spent 2 hours with Francis Frei, HBS Professor, best-selling author, and Senior Associate Dean for Executive Education. Frances walked us through a management case study and blew us away with her capacity to make the complex simple.
Diane Hessen, business executive, entrepreneur, marketer and author, led many panels and sessions. Among other accomplishments Diane was CEO and founder of C Space, and now serves as Chairman of Startup Institute where, as CEO, she created a force for building great talent in the innovation economy.
Maria Cirino shared the ups and downs of her career from high tech operational and management roles to founder of the successful venture capital firm .406 Ventures.
The sessions were varied but the takeaway was consistent. Dream big and the possibilities are limitless.
The benefits of a diverse workplace are unequivocal. McKinsey’s research shows that gender-diverse companies are 15% more likely to outperform their peers. Catalyst’s research shows that companies with more women on the board statistically outperform their peers over a long period of time. Our workplaces know this and are taking steps to recruit, support, and promote diverse employees.
At Veracode the commitment to diversity starts with our CEO. Bob Brennan and his team, male and female, lead diversity initiatives that include mentoring, women-in-tech peer groups, and a guest speaker program. One small but meaningful action stands out to me; conference rooms at Veracode are named after influential scientists in multiple disciplines – both men and women. The women of science include Marie Curie, Hedy Lamarr, and Maria Mitchell. I feel supported and valued every time I attend a meeting in these rooms.
Our workplaces are investing in women because it is good for business. It’s also a precursor to future success for women in tech.
As high-tech workplaces become friendlier to women the positive benefits accrue. Male and female peers and co-workers feel the momentum and are stepping up to help. Multiple Rev Boston honorees and session leaders talked about co-workers and managers who encouraged them (and sometimes pushed them kicking and screaming) to stretch outside of their comfort zone. The work environment has become friendlier to women and more tolerant of different styles. Policies like these will benefit both men and women as well as the companies they work for.
And it is not just our workplaces. Many of us are fortunate to receive strong family support. After Rev Boston my amazing husband greeted me with flowers, champagne and a celebratory dinner to mark my new “Badass” status. With this love and support I can go far.
Historically men have taken advantage of professional networks and career sponsorship more effectively than women. Multiple factors contribute - child and elder care responsibilities, lack of fit for women in outings such as sports events, and women’s differing approaches to time management.
Now we realize that we need to change our strategy. It’s not smart to spend all our energy doing while under-investing in networking. Women are, more than ever, sharing experiences, learning about opportunities early, and finding new avenues for advancement and self-fulfillment. Networking groups are seeing increased participation by women at all career levels.
The 2016 and 2015 Rev Boston cohorts are committed to our Rev network and we will encourage the women in our communities to network. Together we will network our way above the glass ceiling.
I was inspired by every single Rev Boston honoree, totally wowed by the accomplishments of their careers to-date.
For example Sandra O’Sullivan built the Carbon Black’s Customer Success team from the ground up and now owns Customer Success and the renewal business for the company. At Boston Children’s Hospital Carla Small oversees innovation and commercialization programs that accelerate the transformative ideas of clinicians and researchers. At Wayfair, the largest online retailer of home furnishings and décor, Liz Graham leads global customer service and sales. Alison Elworthy manages HubSpot's operations, pricing and packaging, strategic planning, and ultimately, keeps the company on track as the world's leading inbound marketing and sales platform.
Several hundred women in tech were nominated for Rev Boston, each identified as an A+ player and influential person in their organization. There are thousands more like us in Boston and surrounding areas.
With this wealth of local smart, compassionate, and strategic women leaders, who can argue that the future for women in high tech in Boston is strong?
Thanks to Accomplice for creating the Rev Boston event and congratulations to each 2016 honoree: