HUBweek Change Maker: Kirstie Fiora

Program and Partnerships Director, Innovation Women

This week, we interviewed Kirstie Fiora, the Director of Program and Partnerships at Innovation Women, a visibility bureau for entrepreneurial, technical and innovative women.

Their mission? It’s quite simple: to achieve gender balance at every event on every panel across the globe.

Tell us a bit about your role as Program and Partnerships Director at Innovation Women. What do you find most exciting about what you do?

The most exciting thing for me is making connections every day among speakers and opportunities. Nothing beats knowing I’ve made a connection for people who couldn’t find that connection on their own. We are working to solve a visibility issue for women that connects them to more funding and leadership positions that will advance their careers.

At Innovation Women, what problems are you working to solve?

Our stated mission is to get more women on stage speaking at conferences and events globally because the visibility drives new customers/ partners that help make women successful, it drives more pay equity for women, and more funding for women founded companies and even helps to generate gender balance in leadership positions. Our platform is specific to entrepreneurial, innovative, and technical women. They tend to keep their heads down and that visibility piece doesn’t really enter into their world view until someone taps them on the shoulder and says, “you should do this” or their sitting at an event, and it’s all men on the panel, and they’re like “why did they get chosen, and I didn’t.” That is the problem we are working to solve.

What was the inspiration behind creating an Innovation Women Pop-Up during HUBweek?

When you attend a gigantic event like HUBweek, you need the chance to reset and sort of take in the information and then be able to go back so that you’re getting the most out of the larger experience by visiting smaller more intimate spaces. That’s what we created with the Innovation Women Pop-Up. It was a “refresh space” that also had really killer content that was leveraging off of the topics at HUBweek, but doing a little bit of a deeper dive with our speaker sponsors from MITRE Corporation and Emerson College’s Graduate Certificate in Entrepreneurship Program.

What were some highlights?

We trended #1 on Twitter on both days and had more than 3,000 Facebook live impressions during the event. That is tremendous. When I think about highlights, we really knocked the cover off the ball when you think about a social-media powered event.

We discussed Innovation Women’s mission to get more women on stage at conferences and events around the globe. How exactly do you connect women to these speaking opportunities?

Through Innovation Women, speaking engagements are found in three ways. One is an Event Manager find them based on their topic of expertise, another is our call for speakers which I then go through and reach out to ask if they’ve applied for a particular engagement, and the third way is through a concierge service that our founder Bobbie Carlton provides. Those three ways are the chief ways that people can get connected through our platform.

And how does Innovation Women’s platform work to achieve that?

Right now we are in Version 1 of our platform, it’s a one sided database where speakers can be found by event managers and are given the opportunity to participate as speakers. Version 2 is coming soon. Using V2, we want to reach the women who want to get involved but don’t know how. They know they need coaching, they need help writing a prepared presentation. That is a really big audience. The ones that want to do it, but don’t know where to start. One of the ways that we’re doing it now is through corporate partnerships. We can help companies get their best and brightest out on stage at events and conferences.

The HUBweek Change Maker series showcases the most innovative minds in art, science, and technology making an impact in Boston and around the world.

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