Featured Follow: Allison Esposito

Please tell us a little bit about yourself, what do you do, and how do you like to spend your free time?

Hi there! I’m the Founder of a community called Tech Ladies, we are 10,000 members strong and our mission is to connect women with the best jobs and opportunities in tech. We have events all around the country, a secret job board for members-only and a very active online community. I’ve always been an old soul and what I do in my “free time” makes me sound like a senior citizen, but here goes: I love to read (novels), garden, and cook.

As part of the Tech Ladies mission, you are building both a business and a community. What have you learned about attracting, building, and growing a community since since you first started the meetup back in January of 2015? Can you share any differences in the respective tactics and mindsets in managing a personal network vs managing a network of thousands of individuals?

I think the main thing to remember when you’re layering a business on top of a community is that you have to be willing to switch gears constantly, and deeply understand how they are two different beasts.

So for us this means that anything we do on the business end (like building out our job board and charging companies to post roles) should serve as a needed and wanted service to the community. We also focus on doing things for the community that aren’t “for profit” but benefit the members- paying someone to manage our community so the quality is high, giving discounted Online Events so our community can learn from experts, hosting in-person free/cheap events around the country, and sharing occasional perks and offers.

As far as managing a personal network vs managing a network of thousands, I’ve learned a few things. There’s power in numbers. Having 10,000 members means we can launch more things and have an audience for them. But this also means now customer service is a thing we need to handle. The cool thing about managing a network of thousands is that there are many people who can help each other/solve each other’s problems/provide advice. The collective wisdom in our community seriously blows me away.

As the tech industry continues to have much needed discussion and action focused on diversity and inclusion efforts, what are some helpful resources that individuals can use to learn about actionable ways to play a positive role in this change? Who are some of the people that curious folks should be listening to and learning from?

I always send folks to Project Include for resources around how to build diverse and inclusive environments. They even have frameworks that are easy to follow. And if you’re looking to increase your pipeline of women, our job board is great for that.

What are 2–3 things you are currently thinking through, and that you’d enjoy have a conversation with others about?

The top three things on my mind right now are: Discipline, Scale, and Bootstrapping, and I can get lost in any one of those topics for hours over a glass of wine (or matcha).

What idea would you like someone to be working on, that given a lack of time/energy, you cannot commit to work on yourself right now?

An events calendar for events for women in tech, a giant resource page for women in tech, and a comprehensive review site for coding bootcamps. Those are three things we see the need for daily that we don’t want to put on our roadmap.

In the past month, what is an article, book, or video that’s made your mind go whoa? (Who are a few under the radar people you follow on Twitter that you think more people should know about?)

I recently got lost in a game/installation piece at the Whitney Biennial by artist Porpentine Charity Heartscape who uses a program called Twine to make hypertext games that are available to play on computers. The Whitney website says she “builds fantastic and frightening worlds a player must navigate by making choices. Heartscape employs popular genres and narrative tropes to examine power dynamics and conflicting feelings of dignity and shame, at times directly challenging or frustrating the player.”

This piece attracted me because it combines three things I’m fascinated by: computers, storytelling, and the concept of unwinnable games. I ended up finding the artist on Twitter and highly recommend her tweets on their own.

You can learn more about Allison and her work on the Tech Ladies site, and by following her on Twitter.