Recently I was asked to join a round table of technology CEO’s in Chicagoland moderated by Federal Communication Commissioner, Jessica Rosenworcel. We discussed ways to increase the number of women in tech and startups and challenges all tech leaders face.
A few things I took away from this round table and other leadership panels I’ve been fortunate to be a part of:
- Roles for women tech leaders are growing and it’s our responsibility to foster young talent. Leaders are responsible for seeking out the programs and events where they can share with young people our experiences, challenges and opportunities. With more college women majoring in engineering and other technical roles it’s up to today’s leaders to be available as mentors and advisors.My sister is a great example. She’s starting her engineering degree at a big ten college this summer, it will be important for her to have female leaders to reach out to when she graduates.
- Chicago’s tech community rivals even Silicon Valley, and it’s up to today’s leaders to attract talent to the Midwest tech scene, specifically Chicago. A pool of college grads from top-tier nearby schools is available (University of Michigan, Michigan State, Wisconsin, U of I, Notre Dame, Indiana, Purdue, etc.). New grads that are looking for great jobs in tech near family makes Chicago a prime location, recruiting and retaining these future leaders is important for all of us.
- Regulatory limitations that prevent growth of tech companies is a challenge all tech leaders face. Outdated state and federal laws can make growth, new client acquisition and product development difficult. There is a need for the tech community to come together and overcome these barriers.
- Soft skills. There are skills you can only learn by doing. Things like networking, follow up, or pitching ideas to investors are all skills developed through practice – and failure. As leaders, it’s our responsibility to share our best practices in these areas to help those who follow us succeed.
It was a real privilege to be a part of this round table, and I look forward to more. Every time I’m asked to speak I’m reminded that there is a wealth of knowledge in those around us, and it takes getting out of the everyday grind and networking to explore opportunities for personal growth.