Yesterday, I was lucky enough to attend the first ever Navigate 2018 Conference for Women in Enterprise Tech. The event was held at Work-Bench in New York City and had over 300 women in attendance (sold out!). The lineup of speakers was amazing – executives from Salesforce, Bank of America, and even the Deputy Mayor of New York City. I personally learned a lot and was able to meet a bunch of women from different startups and companies around New York City. Below are just some of the insights and advice that I heard from the keynote speakers at the event.
The keynote talks kicked off with Julia Grace, Head of Infrastructure Engineering at Slack, who talked about leadership skills, the future of work, and owning your career narrative. Some of my favorite points:
- Look at the attributes that the leaders in an company have. Employees with those same attributes will be rewarded at that organization.
- Remember to lead through influence, not authority.
- The higher up you go in an organization, the more your job is sales (even if you’re not in sales!)
- The future of work is about flexible communication and work-life integration. The big changes are the rise of messaging platforms, the consumerization of enterprise software, and the changes in the nature of work itself.
After Julia’s talk, we heard from Rosa Ramos-Kwok, a Managing Director at Bank of America. Her story was inspirational and she had some great pieces of advice for women who are building their careers.
- Think about your ‘skills wallet’ – what do you need to learn to get to the next steps in your career?
- The fuel of enterprise technology is the availability of data everywhere.
- The best way to get noticed for your work is to volunteer for a tough assignment that no one else wants.
- Sponsors are earned relationships and you earn them through hard work.
- Know your strengths and leverage them every day.
She closed out her talk by saying, “It’s up to us as women to make sure that I’m not the only Latina Managing Director on Wall Street.”
Next up was Liz Maida, Co-Founder and CEO of Uplevel Security. Her talk was really about how she figured out what career path she wanted to go down, and how that eventually lead her to taking the steps to found her own company. Her advice to others going through the same struggle is to stop waiting for permission to do what you want to do. What matters is what you can do now.
After a quick networking break, we heard from Hilarie Koplow-McAdams who is a Venture Partner at NEA and previously held roles at Oracle, Intuit, Salesforce, and New Relic. It was great hearing advice from someone who has had such an impressive career over the years. Some of the key points about business that I took away from her talk:
- Market share is the essential ingredient to success. Get the largest addressable market share as possible.
- Think about your competitors: respect them, study them, and beat them. Don’t get complacent at the top because that’s when your competition will catch you off guard.
- Disruption always wins. The most successful companies have brought new business models to the market rather than just a new product.
She also offered some career advice, saying that you should not let your perceived limitations dictate your narrative but rather to think about what tangible goals you can set up to achieve the success that you are aiming for.
Next up was a really fun fireside chat with Leyla Seka, EVP of Salesforce and Alicia Glen, Deputy Mayor of New York City. They talked about how New York City is a top city for women to start a business and the steps that Alicia is taking as deputy mayor to even the playing field for working women. Alicia has worked on legislation like New York City’s paid family leave plan and the bill preventing interviewers from asking about workers’ previous salary, and she is hoping to close the gender pay gap even more through her work.
After another networking break there was a VC panel moderated by Polina Marinova from Fortune Magazine and featuring Jessica Lin from Work-Bench, Meredith Finn from Salesforce Ventures, and Karin Klein from Bloomberg Beta. They had a great discussion about what VCs are looking for when investing in a company and how in 2017 female founders only received 2% of the total VC funding. They are hoping to change that by encouraging women to start their own businesses, become board members and also to become venture capitalists.The last speaker of the day was Therese Tucker, Founder & CEO of Blackline. Her talk was my favorite of the day and she had a lot of good points to make:
- There’s not only one playbook for success. Everyone has their own strengths so it’s important to know what works for you.
- Don’t be the person that humility plays. Admit when you don’t know all the answers and bring in someone who does.
- Building capital can’t be the primary focus of your business. Focus on getting customers rather than getting funding and take the smallest amount of capital that you can so you can retain control of your company.
- Talent development is important. Take chances on people and they will stick around.
- Women are an asset that are undervalued in the market. Use that to your advantage.
There were a bunch of other great points that Therese gave out during her talk- how being a mom has made her a better CEO and vise versa, how to grow your business thoughtfully and carefully, and that there is more than one way to get to the top. Her talk was a great ending to the event.
Obviously, I learned a lot from the women who spoke at Navigate and the other attendees who I was able to speak with as well. I’ll definitely be looking forward to next year’s event, which is aiming to be twice as large. Go here for more information on Navigate 2018 and make sure to follow Temboo on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn for updates on the events we’ll be attending.