Did you know that March is Women’s History Month? As this month comes to a close, we wanted to take a moment to highlight the experiences and expertise of our women leaders at Exponential.
As you may know, increasing the representation of women in leadership roles has long been a challenge for the tech industry. According to Mashable‘s Damon Beres, some of the top ranking tech companies struggle with their own issues of gender diversity:
“Take a moment to mark International Women’s Day by reflecting on the dismal representation of women in the upper ranks of companies like Apple, Facebook, Intel, Microsoft and Google. Senior leadership at these companies is invariably dominated by dudes: Of these four, Apple is most gender-diverse, with 28 percent women. At Microsoft, 17.9 percent of senior leadership is female; 24 percent at Google; 18.4 percent at Intel and 27 percent at Facebook.”
Likewise, the percentage of women in tech sales still does not reflect a narrowing gap:
“Women in tech sales are still lagging behind in numbers. In fact, industry stats show that only 25 percent of salespeople in tech companies are women. Unfortunately, the data gets even more drastic as we look at sales management – where women fall to a low 12 percent in sales leadership roles.” (from Mashable)
At Exponential, though 53% of sales roles globally are held by women and the percentage of women in senior leadership roles exceeds that of Apple (the most gender-diverse of the large tech companies), we recognize that gender gaps can be further narrowed by providing platforms to share experiences, and thus spread awareness of this issue.
We chatted with Melissa Biddison (VP, Performance Strategy) and Mai Pham (VP, Finance) to find out what drew them to the ad tech industry, what advice they would give to other women looking to grow professionally in the tech space, and more.
What path led you to working in tech?
Melissa Biddison: My first job out of university was working at a large financial institution. Three months in, I knew it was the wrong fit. I was lucky enough to have my sister-in-law, then at Advertising.com, hook me up with an interview at Ad.com. I knew little about the tech industry, but was intrigued by a smaller, more flexible company that valued innovation. Mid-way through the interview, they asked if I was interested in a more analytical role and swapped interviewers who began to ask me case questions. I guess they knew in what role I would be a good fit, because the rest is history!
Mai Pham: Joining Silicon Valley after 6 years working in the Bay Area was the most rewarding experience. I wanted to be a part of the dynamic environment that everyone was talking about and was drawn to the high risk and high reward of start-up companies.
What do you love most about working in tech?
Mai: Participating in a dynamic fast paced environment where new ideas, initiatives, and innovations are encouraged and rewarded. You are respected, regardless of your background, by demonstrating that you are a key asset to the company and the people that you support.
How do you define success?
Melissa: Getting stuff done. It must have been growing up with a father repeatedly telling me to “just do it”. It’s not about accomplishing tasks independently, but how can you lead and motivate your team to get things done? How can you collaborate across teams to get things done? How can you effectively communicate what needs to be done? How can you prioritize what needs to be done first? Effectively answering these daily challenges will define your level of success.
What advice would you give to other women looking to grow professionally within the tech sector?
Mai: Staying focused and executing through the myriad of changes will make you a stronger leader. Accept setbacks and strive forward with a positive outlook.
Melissa: Tech sector or not, find a company that gives you flexibility. Maintaining the balance of “great mom / great worker” is a challenge that evolves constantly. I worked through a marriage, two pregnancies and now two preschoolers and have been fortunate to work for a company that is flexible enough to accommodate my changing lifestyle and needs.
I also strongly advise having a mentor; a senior person who is not on your team or in your company. Being able to talk through things with an outsider, not only about the day-to-day work challenges, but also long term goals helps you to approach situations from a different perspective. I can’t tell you how many times talking with my mentor has resulted in a fresh outlook, reinvigorating me when I needed it most.
Many thanks to Mai Pham and Melissa Biddison for taking the time to share their insights with us!
This is the blog of Exponential Interactive Inc.,(www.exponential.com) a global provider of advertising intelligence and digital media solutions to brand advertisers.
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