February 28, 2018 @ Work-Bench

Jessica Lin
Jan 11, 2018 · 5 min read
Let’s go.

“Be first and be lonely.” — Ginni Rometty, chairman, president, and CEO of IBM

The feels above was something that Meredith Finn and I commiserated on when we caught up in NYC in November 2016.

As women VCs— Meredith at Salesforce Ventures and I at Work-Bench — with a specific investment focus on enterprise software companies, we don’t need stats to tell us what we have personally experienced and observed. Like so many other women in enterprise tech, we have usually been the few women in meetings, in boardrooms, and at conferences (where whenever I see other women, I’m like this).

I’ve always said that if women in tech is a problem (and it is, with only 17% of tech startups having a female founder), then there is an even bigger problem with women in enterprise B2B tech — where the numbers for female founders, senior executives, junior team members, and even VCs remain exceedingly low.

Nowhere have we seen this more physically manifested than at Work-Bench, as a VC fund but also a 32K sq ft home and hub for enterprise tech here in NYC, where we host over 200+ events year for our community of suits (Fortune 500 buyers) and hoodies (leading enterprise startups). We saw for ourselves firsthand: attendees to our enterprise events have remained consistently 80% men, 20% women. When we launched almost 5 years ago, we thought these numbers of women would naturally rise on their own. But they haven’t, at least not materially.

These personal experiences led Meredith and I to talk about collaborating on something together, and I’m so thrilled today to finally announce the culmination of our team’s vision and efforts, as we launch the first-ever Navigate 2018: Women in Enterprise Tech Summit on February 28, 2018 here in NYC.

This summit builds upon the work that we at Work-Bench have been doing for the past 4 years to support more women in enterprise tech — across a number of initiatives like our #HacktheNetwork mentoring platform, women’s lunches and workshops, and speaker events.

The demand is clear — the time is now for this movement of women in enterprise tech to come together and support one another through continued challenges around diversity, inclusion, and opportunities to break through ceilings.

Our hope for this inaugural conference is that it is an opportunity to shine a light on the often under-celebrated but outstanding work being done by some of the most successful women leaders in enterprise technology. And with their tremendous insights, hard-earned lessons, and tactical perspectives, for our speakers to inspire and coach those who attend on how best to navigate their own courses within the industry.

Our vision for Navigate 2018 is to also shake up and rethink how we can best tell these amazing, often less-heard stories from women leaders in enterprise tech:

  • We wanted to include all the different best of breed companies and players who are critical to a thriving enterprise tech ecosystem — and why our keynote speakers hail from some of the top emerging startups, IPO companies, large corporations, and venture funds from across the country.
  • We wanted to ensure we heard from all the various functions that make an enterprise team truly a best-in-class, iconic company — ranging from sales, engineering, marketing, investing, and more.
  • Lastly, we want to keep this conference real and keep it tactical. I know personally as a woman, I can recite you the general platitudes of leadership advice all day long — but what I am most excited about hearing from our incredible lineup of hyper successful keynote speakers is how exactly did they navigate their teams, their companies, and their careers to where they are today? What would Hilarie Koplow-McAdams do differently (if at all), in her rise to former Chief Revenue Officer and President of New Relic? What are the biggest lessons that Julia Grace, Head of Infrastructure Engineering at Slack, has learned in building and scaling out a dev team? And Therese Tucker — please tell us play-by-play how you took your enterprise company BlackLine (in which you wrote some of the original lines of code for) public!!! We’re going to run it TED-talk style — and keep our conference fast-paced, high-energy, and most of all, fun. Because enterprise software can always use a bit of fun :)

Lastly, we couldn’t think of better partners with whom to launch this summit than Salesforce. We have been longtime fans of Salesforce’s leadership in the diversity and inclusion space, as Salesforce was one of the first companies in the nation to audit employee pay to determine if gaps existed, and has worked hard to close that gap. They have spearheaded and led the way with their Equality efforts, their Pledge 1% initiative, and their newest Salesforce Impact Fund.

Our hope is that this conference provides not only open, honest, and meaningful discussion at our event, but most importantly, the momentum and action needed to accelerate and drive other longer-term initiatives after the summit and throughout the year to support women from across all parts of the enterprise tech ecosystem: office hours, press opportunities, coaching sessions, networking dinners, resources, and more. If you’d like to be a part of these 2018 efforts, in any way big or small, we’d love to hear from you.

With that, if you’re a woman or ally in enterprise tech —as a founder, operator, executive, or VC — this conference is for you. Let’s celebrate, let’s learn, and let’s grow the sh*t out of this women in enterprise tech community here in NYC. See you on Wednesday, February 28th, 2018!

Big thank you to our terrific partners whose support is helping us make this summit come to life: Bank of America, First Republic Bank, Cooley, Justworks, and Nasdaq.


Work-Bench is an enterprise technology VC fund in NYC. We support early go-to-market enterprise startups with community, workspace, and corporate engagement.

Jessica Lin

Written by

co-founder & VC @Work_Bench | GED educator | rethinking work


Work-Bench is an enterprise technology VC fund in NYC. We support early go-to-market enterprise startups with community, workspace, and corporate engagement.

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