Explorance Celebrates International Women’s Day
Written by Explorance.
Happy International Women’s Day! March 8th is a day to celebrate the amazing accomplishments of women worldwide and remind ourselves of the incredible impact they have on the tech industry while remaining severely underrepresented.
This article centers around the answers of the five women in Explorance’s leadership team who shape the company’s success daily. They discuss their introduction to the tech industry, how they experienced this world as women, and share their advice for girls and women considering tech careers.
Q: How did you get in the tech world? How can International Women’s Day help other women consider a career in the tech industry?
Hilda Batri, Director, Corporate Affairs: I was a stay-at-home mom, a banker, a technical team manager, and then I was offered the opportunity to work for Explorance. Out of all my work experiences, this one outweighs the other opportunities, except being a mother. Depending on what a woman’s ambitions are, working for a tech company is challenging in a good sense. You are constantly challenged to look for the best solution, the best outcome, the cleverest way to do your job. I feel this experience is gratifying compared to other fields.
Beth Gantz, Chief Sales Officer: My tech interest and experience actually stems from my college experiences. I had a concentration on technology in education while attending Purdue University. I am appreciative that my entire professional career post college has focused in the tech world in HR and Learning SAAS roles. International Women’s Day is an opportunity to highlight the wonderful women leaders in the industry today. Some of the most inspirational colleagues I have had the pleasure to work with have been women. International Women’s Day highlights the amazing successes of powerful women!
Anastasia Tsimiklis, Chief Marketing Officer: I stumbled into the tech industry after college. I had the opportunity to work as part of the sales team for Montreal-based Matrox, who in the mid-90s reigned as the world’s leading graphic card manufacturer. I pivoted to software after being inspired by Bill Gates and one of his keynote speeches where he shared how software was going to help shape the world, and help organizations and people grow through the power of automation and efficiency. I am proud to call myself a tech marketer. International Women’s Day has helped connect me with other women in tech and we continue to learn from all the wonderful stories that are shared every year during this important day.
Shawn Overcast, Chief Insights Officer: I entered the tech world as a client or consumer of technology. I was responsible for a process that needed to be enabled by technology in order to scale. I had always been on the content and process side of technology, and didn’t think of myself as ‘tech-savvy’ or ‘technical.’ By bringing awareness to the various roles inside the tech industry, we can invite more women into the field and thus more diversity of thought and experience into the industry.
Yeona Jang, Chief Community Engagement Officer: When I was about 6 years old, growing up in South Korea many decades ago, we had a TV channel with shows from the US. I was flipping channels and ran into this strange TV show where people were in uniforms, speaking a language I couldn’t understand, with food appearing like magic. We were poor and didn’t have enough food to eat, so I thought that something that produced food was great! My uncle told me I was watching a TV show called Star Trek that was in English, and that the “something” producing food was technology. I told him that’s what I’d study: technology.
Q: How has your experience as a woman in tech impacted your personal and professional growth?
Hilda: The tech world has impacted everyone with the changing times. Technology occupies the biggest part of our daily lives. It is there in everything we do, in every task: from turning the lights on, as funny as it is, to using Google Maps to get to work, to shopping online, and most importantly, to work. Being in a software company gave me a unique opportunity to learn about different platforms, as well as increase my use of logic, and develop my autonomy, efficiency, and productivity, since you are provided with tools to accomplish different tasks in a smarter way. Growth is inevitable!
Beth: Women have a unique ability to lead with empathy and intuition, which are extremely valuable skills in today’s workplace. I have found these to be essential in both my personal and professional life given the opportunity to understand and develop others (whether it be my children or my team) and it has been key to my individual growth.
Anastasia: My experience in tech continues to have a profound impact on my personal and professional growth – these are interconnected. While much progress has been made, women remain a minority in tech. I remember being invited to a meeting to discuss our GTM strategy for 2H of the fiscal year. As I looked around the room, it struck me that I was the only female and I counted 30 colleagues in the meeting. These types of experiences have helped build my self-confidence, resilience, and agility, both in my personal and professional life.
Shawn: The early stages of my career were focused on building domain expertise and dealing with human interactions, processes that were conceptual, and results that were intangible. As I grew in my career and moved into higher levels of leadership and business ownership, it became apparent to me that in order to scale, I needed to be able to break processes down into scalable, repeatable pieces that could be enabled by technology. This way of thinking was not natural for me and invited me to flip my thinking upside down. As I joined the tech industry, I met engineers and developers who thought differently than me. Individuals who pushed me to get granular with the expertise I desired to bring to the market, and to better understand and articulate how to attain results. While I still value the human interactions in the work that we do, it has become easier for me to find ways to leverage technology to be more efficient, to scale expertise, and to reach more people, this having potential for greater impact.
Yeona: I loved each and every experience I had. My academic education in Computer Science and Statistic opened up many opportunities to apply cutting-edge information technology to help businesses achieve their goals and improve people’s lives. And my graduate study in Artificial Intelligence (to design an AI system to diagnose what’s wrong with your cardiovascular system) was of help in understanding how people learn, solve, and make decisions under uncertainty, which has been a great asset professionally and personally.
Q: What is your advice for girls and women considering careers in tech and striving for leadership positions?
Hilda: The younger generation depends on technology constantly as it is the future. So, what better way to walk the path with knowledge and self-sufficiency? Success is up for grabs when you accomplish your work and goals smartly.
Beth: Women should feel empowered to develop a career in technology and recognize they can lead with confidence, knowing that they bring a unique voice to the table!
Anastasia: I would strongly encourage young women to consider a career in tech and leadership in technology! It can be extremely rewarding and a ton of fun. To help navigate your workplace and organization, working with a mentor is definitely a great way to fast track towards leadership and more senior roles.
Shawn: The tech industry is becoming more diverse and equitable, but we continue to see more of the leadership positions across the industry to be held by men. It can be difficult for those just getting started to see themselves leading in this industry. My first piece of advice is to believe in your capabilities, to have confidence in your area of expertise and the value it can add to a team and an industry. Second, be continuously curious, particularly in tech. We live in a hyper-disruptive, ever-changing world. Keep asking questions, don’t settle for the status quo, keep seeking to understand and learn beyond where you are today. And third, always be aware of your network. So often I see women and men joining an organization and becoming isolated to the network that exists within their current company. We connect, link, befriend those we work closely with. Continue to reach out to circles outside of where you are to build a robust and well-rounded network that spans industries, geographies, and areas of focus. These relationships are critical to future business and career opportunities.
Yeona: What I’ve learned since I mustered courage to move into a management role from an individual contributor role a while ago was the importance of finding your own leadership style that you feel comfortable with. Leadership is a set of learned and complex skills. Remind yourself of the 10,000-hour rule, popularized by Malcolm Gladwell’s book Outliers: it takes 10,000 hours of intensive practice to achieve mastery of complex skills and materials. Practice, practice, practice to master leadership skills. Finally, experience the fulfilling joy of what resilient optimism grounded on humility and a growth mindset can bring to you!
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