Why Being a Person in Tech Comes First
Last month I sat on a plane full of anticipation -- this year marked my second journey to the tech industry's hallowed event, Mobile World Congress. The big show. The show to end all shows. The show that again this year was slated to blow away its past attendance records (and it did, with a reported 108,000 attendees from 208 countries and territories). The show that many in similar roles to mine spend 11 months preparing for -- that 12th month being the recovery month of March.
Not only was I excited to meet partners, show my company's new proof-of-concept demo and observe the key industry trends that have developed over the past year, I was also excited to attend the first Women4Tech Summit taking place at MWC -- so excited that I signed up well in advance and blocked off my calendar. But my great intentions to attend both the Speed Networking and Coaching session that took place on Tuesday evening and the Thursday Summit day were sidelined. I had to focus on being a person in tech at MWC rather than a woman in tech and a Woman4Tech Summit attendee. Attending MWC is such a great opportunity to meet all your partners and prospects in one place, and there are always new people to meet and new connections to be made to further your business.
I did manage to catch about ten minutes of the Tuesday session -- enough to grab a quick picture and meet one passionate entrepreneur working to improve communications between parents and early childhood educators. After about ten minutes of conversation, spurred from a suggested conversation topics card, I had to hightail it to a partner's reception. Because I did not attend the Women4Tech events in their entirety, I would like to tell you more about my partner’s reception instead.
Yes, there were tapas and yes, there was also nice cava, but most importantly, I got to spend some time with an industry peer who is quietly working behind the scenes and making real waves, and who I believe is a great example of a driven, successful woman in tech who is continuously putting the pedal to the metal, furthering the success of her company and team.
She may not be a CXO yet, but it is only a matter of time. At MWC alone, Vanessa Little, the senior manager of Global NFV Ecosystem Architecture at VMware Inc. (NYSE: VMW), drove an NFV onboarding hackathon involving 26 ecosystem partners and presented in the VMware theater four times (on four different topics). Vanessa also has a "second job" as a member of Open Source MANO's Technical Steering Committee, another awesome feather in her cap. She is a professional, prioritizing, admirable person in tech, and one that I would consider a role model.
So, women in communications and WiC advocates, try and take the time to attend the women in tech and communications events when you can. They are a great way to network, expand your skillset and hone your business acumen. But remember to prioritize -- be a business person first and a woman in business second. Focus on your business and your team, pound the pavement and further your career and your company with all you've got, and then go network with other kickass women in tech and those that you admire at the Summits when you have the time -- and share your war stories there!
— Kaela Loffler, Women in Comms Board of Advisor; Director, Marketing & Industry Alliances, Netrounds