Forbes 30 under 30: My experience as a fearless female in tech

It’s an exciting time to be a woman in tech.

Women@Forbes Under 30: Closing the Tech Gap

Every year, Forbes holds a summit in Boston, honoring and recognizing innovators and path-breakers from all different sectors, ranging from retail to technology to media. They also release a list of the Forbes 30 under 30, which also includes the Forbes 30 under 30 scholar program. With this summit, Boston becomes a live map for students, professionals, and leaders to grow their network with the likes of WeWork Co-founder Adam Neumann, Sheryl Sandberg, and Kendrick Lamar.

The summit itself lasts 4 days, and allows honorees and companies do the following:

  • network with leaders in their space of interest
  • meet future employers
  • learn from a booming community that meets in Boston yearly

This past year, I was honored to be recognized as a Forbes 30 under 30 scholar. This program is focused on identifying scholars and innovators from around the world with a focus on diversity and inclusion. In addition, Forbes launched a Women in Tech program held at MIT this year, which I was also honored to attend. Someone thought I was cool enough to be awarded and the Forbes team agreed! Yay!

The Slalom Connection

I work at Slalom Consulting, as an engineer and consultant within the Application Development practice- primarily focusing on Cloud and DevOps. Since I joined Slalom over a year ago, I’ve had the opportunity to pursue my passions, voice my interests, and really #lovemyfuture. Slalom is headquartered in Seattle, has over 25 offices around the globe, and is a technology and business consulting firm. Joining Slalom has been one of the best decisions of my life. The people here are not only brilliant consultants, sales people, engineers- but genuinely good people.

Women in Tech @ Slalom

The climate in the tech industry has been disenchanting for women lately… all women. This includes women of color, young women, old women, trans-women, and women of all religions.

When I joined Slalom, I was the only female on a team of 15 engineers/geniuses. It didn’t shock me, but it most definitely motivated me.

When I attended the Forbes Conference, I met many women in tech, upset about their environments, and looking for like-minded females to push change. At that moment, I felt proud to share that I’ve never had such an experience with the App Dev team at Slalom, and I realized how rare this was. I’m at an early stage of my career and I’ve been fortunate enough to be in an environment that mentors me and supports my growth. Not once have I felt undermined for being who I am, and that speaks volumes.

When I joined Slalom, I noticed there was no Women in Tech group. We have a fantastic Women’s Leadership Network, with consultants from all practices, but nothing specific for the gals in tech.

After attending the Forbes conference, it was clear to me that this is what I wanted to drive. I reached out to a co-lead of our Women’s Leadership Network in the Fall and shared my vision with her. In January, Women in Tech was presented to the entire company as a new pillar of the Women’s Leadership Network. The purpose of this group is to foster an innovative community, share our experiences as consultants and engineers, and support one another in the ever changing world of tech.

The Forbes Under 30 conference was a huge motivator in having these conversations. The highlight of the conference for me was Bozoma Saint John, the first Chief Brand Officer at Uber. I clearly remember her presence on stage - fearless, bright, and in hot pink heels… and all as an executive of a company going through some murky times. I admired how unapologetic she was, coloring out of the lines of the coloring book of Silicon Valley. She exclaimed, “There is something to be said about taking the risk. We all know that is where the greatest reward is.” Her perspective was to bring some humanity to tech. Somewhere in between lines of code and VC funding rounds, this humanity has been tossed around.

If we as people can bring humanity to our day-to-day lives, maybe the world will be a little better.

Since then, Bozoma Saint John has moved on from Uber, but her lesson remains the same. I took that message, packed it into my Slalom backpack, and shared it with Slalom leadership.

The Present and the Future!

After the conference, I shared my experiences with Slalom, explained my vision for what a Women in Tech group could do for Slalom, and set it into motion. I was confident in myself, to create this group, and even more confident that Slalom would support it. It was important to see other females in tech, asking for what they want, going in with a plan, and making it happen. One day, there will be no need for “women in tech” groups, but until then, we’ll need to move forward together.

Today, I am excited to share that Slalom’s Women in Tech is a fully supported committee! Starting with our existing Slalom Technology Blog, women in tech across our local and delivery centers will share their thought leadership on a range of subjects, from new cloud services in Amazon Web Services and Google Cloud Platform, to infrastructure automation strategies, and how to successfully lead technology solutions. We are going to create a dialogue, and open the world to the things our fearless females are taking on. We have women in tech leading initiatives like the Summer of Data Science, an incredible technical recruiting team, and an entire practice dedicated to Information Management & Data Science. Best of all, since I joined Slalom, we’ve tripled our women in tech on the App Dev team, and are building on that momentum!

So much so, that we have a slew of events coming up, with technology and women in tech organizations in the Boston area. Join us as we support one another on how to have difficult conversations, smoothly!

The past year at Slalom, mixed with the Forbes conference, and my day to day experiences, has taught me how to be fearless and ask for what I want. The women in tech group is a direct result of this. Looking towards the future, we hope to be speaking at more events, sharing more thought leadership, and having more fearless women in tech join our teams.

If you’re interested in learning more about Slalom, reach out to me or Elise DiNardo. Until then, stay tuned as we support our women in tech, build them up, and widen our footprint on the blueprint that is Boston!

It’s an exciting time to be a woman in tech… especially at Slalom.