The Power of 1,000 Voices – A Day at the Second Annual Women In Cloud Summit

January 29, 2019

Last Saturday, I joined over 1,000 women at the second annual Women in Cloud Summit hosted on Microsoft’s campus in Redmond. It was inspiring to see the growth of the conference over the previous year, and the community that has formed around a common goal of inspiring, connecting and accelerating the growth of women in technology.

During the event, I was honored to join the CEO Power Panel, along with Amy Nelson, Founder and CEO of The Riveter and Kristina Bergman, Founder and CEO of Integris Software. Our fearless moderator, Heather Brewer, Director at Strong-Bridge Envision Consulting, led our discussion on how women can build a path to the C-Suite. We shared our insights on embracing uncomfortable moments, risk-taking and authenticity, and how these experiences play a key role in breakthrough moments.

I spent the majority of the day soaking up advice from some amazing women leaders. Here are a few nuggets that stood out to me:

  • You don’t have to be highly technical to start a technology company. You can always find a technical co-founder that complements your skillset.
  • So, you’re not an engineer or developer. There are numerous ‘tech adjacent’ roles – like product marketing – that offer ample opportunity for career growth and advancement in the world of tech.
  • Be your own best advocate – no one else is going to do that for you.
  • Innovation only happens when there is conflict. Get comfortable being uncomfortable.
  • In most tech companies, you are building the plane while flying it. You don’t have time for perfection. Put aside your fear of failure and move forward with courage and conviction.

Events like this are critically important in bringing awareness to the state of the tech industry and driving action around diversity. Gavriella Schuster, CVP One Commercial Partner at Microsoft, shared that in 1991, 36% of all tech-related roles were held by women. In 2015 that number was down to 25%. We must do better if we are going to further innovation, build better products and meet the needs of customers. I know we can do better.

My challenge to you: take some time to think about how you can contribute to building diverse teams and encouraging women to explore careers in technology. Perhaps it’s serving as a mentor, working with your recruiting teams to have a more diverse candidate pipeline, speaking at a local university or sharing your experience as a woman in tech via your company’s blog. There are endless opportunities. What action will you take?

I hope to see you at next year’s event.

-Karli Barokas

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