Honoring Women’s History Month: Real stories from Women of Collibra

With the entire world focused on the impact of this global pandemic, we’ve been on the lookout for inspiration to keep us feeling positive and motivated. Throughout the month of March, our Employee Resource Group, Women of Collibra, invited Collibrians to participate in a virtual Q&A session to share what inspires them, fills them with confidence, and makes them feel proud. The result was a story series that honored Women’s History Month through personal experiences, achievements, and lessons learned. Here are some of the highlights:

Q: Why did you choose a career in tech?

A: Tech is inherently dynamic, and the people it draws are therefore creative, passionate, and smart. I like working around (and learning from) people with these qualities, and I thrive in environments in which novel, iterative solutions are welcomed. Additionally, it’s pretty great not to have to wear a suit every day.
— Nitya Shekar, Head of Learning and Development, New York

A: I love mathematics and solving problems. I see mathematics behind everything. From a good presentation to a beautiful picture. Mathematics provides the means to create structure, harmony, reasoning and conviction.
— Vasiliki Nikolopoulou, Principal, New York

A: Tech is an ever-evolving space and I knew that by working at a tech/SaaS company, it meant I would have the ability to keep learning, evolving and growing my skill set.
— Lisa Kaiser, Executive Assistant/Ops, Product & Engineering, US

Q: Are there any assumptions about women/women in tech that you would like to change, and why?

A: When I talk to people about my job, usually one of the first things they ask me is “Isn’t your job boring?” They ask me this after I explain, in my usual enthusiasm, the things I’m working on. I’ve never heard a man be asked this question, and it sometimes feels like people assume that a woman can’t be an active part of the tech world and enjoy it. I’m glad there are many strong women at Collibra, who clearly enjoy their work as much as I do.
—Anouk Gorris, Technical Writer, Brussels

A: In a recent panelist discussion with Indra Nooyi at the Watermark Conference she stated, “There are very few women managers, and somewhere between upper and middle management their numbers dwindle.” Upon being asked why she didn’t appoint another woman CEO for PepsiCo after she retired, she responded: “Why is that question never asked to a Male CEO?”
—Tishya Khanna, Sr PreSales Engineer, San Francisco Bay Area

 A: From toys to language, teaching girls basic skills and busting gender myths from an early age could encourage more women into tech. We expect boys to be good at math and athletics, and girls to be more creative or caring. This assumption is still somewhat shaping the industry today, so I’m looking forward to becoming a mother to help shift this bias.
—Lucy Whitty, Customer Advisory Manager, Australia

Q: What’s one tip you have for women just starting their careers?

A: Get yourself a good mentor. Be willing to take risks and accept challenges. Don’t get stuck doing non-promotable tasks and work, look for assignments that give you visibility. Believe in self-promotion, and don’t be afraid to present yourself as skilled and accomplished.
—Laura Fontan, Technical Presales Manager, Spain

A: It’s not going to be easy but if you put the time and the effort it will turn out well. It’s ok to make mistakes, just own and learn from them. It’s ok to ask for help, don’t feel you have to do it all alone.
— Eliana Valderrama, Technical Trainer, New York

A: Don’t be intimidated. Be the intimidator with your confidence and hard work.
— Janice Gordon, Pre Sales Engineer, New York

A: Do research on what fair pay is for the job and market you are entering. Know your worth and ask for it… for your entire career!
— Laura Case, Senior Product Manager, Data Registry, North Carolina US

A: Don’t be afraid to speak up. If something bothers you, say something. Don’t let people feel they have the ability to walk on or speak over you.
— Erin Schwarztein, Regional Sales Manager, US – West

Q: Who is one woman that made a pivotal impact in your life?

A: A former colleague was an incredibly successful professional and an incredibly present mother to her children. She told me: “It is possible, we need to fight the myth that it’s only possible to have a career by hiring a nanny,” and encouraged me to keep on having the conversations necessary to achieve that.
—Teresa Rojas, Manager in Product Management, Belgium

A: One of my first managers was a young, attractive woman. She was rumored to be “nasty” and “difficult.” Early on, I believed what I had heard and was afraid of her. I quickly learned that she had rigorous standards and was not any of those things. She encouraged me to be more confident in the way I communicated and carried myself. I was very timid after college, and it’s because of her that I found my confidence. I don’t apologize for my beliefs, nor do I feel guilty for my ambitions.
Chiara Clough, Support Operations Engineer, US – East

As we continue to navigate through this time of uncertainty, it’s important to keep in mind all the things that have not changed, like the inspiring women who shared their stories with us. Thank you to Women of Collibra for leading this initiative, and to all the participants for sharing their stories. Happy Women’s History Month to all the amazing women and allies across the globe!