8 Lessons From The Most Influential Women in Tech 2016

by Geekgirl, July 1, 2016

A Women Who Code study of over a thousand women in technology revealed that women with tech-oriented careers believe they would most benefit from having more female role models in the workplace. While statistics can’t change instantly, women professionals can find role models now.

Elle Magazine published an inspiring list of 2016’s most influential, powerhouse women in tech in their June 2016 issue. By learning about today’s top women in tech, aspiring professionals can find their own role models and learn important lessons on succeeding in this industry.

The popular magazine honored eight tech industry leaders and shared their impressive accomplishments showing the world just what women in tech can do. These women have amazing lessons to share to all professionals with major career goals in corporate and in entrepreneurial endeavors.

April Underwood, VP of Product, Slack

April Underwood, VP of Product, Slack
Source: Fortune

April Underwood’s resume includes Google, Travelocity, Twitter, founding the investment group #Angels and now Slack, although none of those places were where Underwood believed she would end up. A rough start in chemical engineering led her to a tech support job where a hidden talent evolved.

Underwood is making serious improvements at Slack as VP of Product. At her desire, the company is investing in third party apps to complement its offerings. This includes Awesome, an app that summarize conversations so busy people don’t miss anything.

Lesson: Everything Starts with a Need

In a way, Underwood acts like an entrepreneur in corporate. With each major decision she makes, it’s clear that she does it by understanding the need. Her initial interest in tech began by seeing the need of programs that assist customer service in her first job in tech support. Underwood sees the needs of customers and employees to make businesses better and she succeeds by making solutions happen.

Del Harvey, Head of Trust & Safety, Twitter

Del Harvey, Head of Trust & Safety, Twitter
Source: Fortune

Harvey is one very brave woman. While she may be sitting comfortably at Twitter now, she once worked for Perverted Justice posing as child to catch adults soliciting sex from minors. Now her ability to know just what people are capable of is making Twitter safer.

While you may think her job is relegated to stopping spam, Harvey has done much more than that. Harvey helped shut down over 100,000 terror-related accounts and is making steps to crackdown on cyber-bullying.

Lesson: Work Smart and Keep Working

Harvey has gotten real about what motivates abusive behavior and how to stop it. She’s currently working on implementing “necessary friction” and other precautions to help people really think about what they are doing. Harvey’s line of work is almost never-ending. There are always roadblocks and new ways people are attacking through social media, but this just keeps Harvey moving forward creating new tools and implementing new policies.

Leila Janah, Founder and CEO of Sama Group

Leila Janah, Founder and CEO of Sama Group
Source: Makers.com

Done with the bureaucracy of international development, Janah started her own company, Samasource to give digital jobs to those living in poverty around the world. Laxmi is her latest non-profit venture that employs low-income women harvesting the ingredient for a organic skin care line.

Janah told Elle Magazine, “It dawned on me that the charity model is destructive, since it often involves short-term stopgaps that create a handout mentality. Giving stuff away is always patronizing,” Janah implored. “It’s much better to help people be able to buy things themselves.”

Lesson: Connect Your Passions to Really Innovate

Janah hosts a number of non-profits under the umbrella of Sama Group. By doing this, she’s found a way to support numerous causes close to her heart in innovative ways. Particularly in the corporate field, one can feel like they’re stuck doing one thing, but Janah teaches that by connecting ideas with a cause or motivator, one can do more than they ever imagined.

Tracy Young, Cofounder and CEO of PlanGrid

Tracy Young, Cofounder and CEO of PlanGrid
Source: Builtworlds.com

Tracey Young lives for efficiency and even brags having a morning routine that’s down to just five minutes. After racking up a $27,000 blueprint free while she worked as a construction engineer, Young knew there had to be another way and created her own solution with coworker, Ryan Sutton-Gee.

Young realized that no one was taking a mobile-first approach to the construction industry and knew it was a real need from her own experience. Young and her partner used their knowledge to create easy-to-use software with construction workers in mind. Thanks to PlanGrid, construction information is organized on one easily organized and collaborative platform.

Lesson: Find Your Industry’s Blind Spot

Hundreds of industries have the unfortunate tendency to change slowly and often innovate years behind the curve. Young was able to notice a trend that had been innovating other industries and use that trend to create a solution she needed. Young solved her own problem in a way that was taking other companies years to even consider. Women in tech can stay flexible and open-minded about trends and issues in their industry to create standout products.

Jen Fitzpatrick, VP of Google Maps

Jen Fitzpatrick, VP of Google Maps
Source: Google Capital

Jen Fitzpatrick’s boldness landed her an internship at Google in its very early stages that led her to where she is today. As one of Google’s first female engineers, Jen has co-founded the internet giant’s user experience team and ensured that more diverse candidates are hired into Google by insisting that at least one female executive interview every job candidate company wide.

“The central problem we’re trying to solve is how to help people explore the real world,” Fitzpatrick told Elle Magazine. “And the level of detail people expect Google Maps to answer about the world is rising all the time. It’s a huge challenge, but it’s also an exciting moment because it means we’re getting information to people that really matters to their lives.”

Lesson: Finding a Deeper Purpose

Fitzpatrick understands that Google Maps is about more than just getting directions. She recognizes how every minute saved from bad traffic is another minute with family or doing meaningful work. She’s pioneered Google Maps capabilities that provide important information and improve people’s lives. Tech professionals can follow suit and seek how their work can impact users on a deeper level. Even finding a guiding purpose can help make a difference in their work.

Anjula Acharia-Bath, Partner at Trinity Ventures

Anjula Acharia-Bath is a champion for successful women. This unbelievable woman is responsible for Priyanka Chopra’s rise to fame, unprecedented investment in female-founded startups, and founding Desihits!, a multimedia platform driving diversity in global pop culture.

Though her career has been a mix of entertainment, tech, and investment, Acharia-Bath has always looked for ways she can connect and uplift women. The hardworking entrepreneur mentor told Elle, “Everything I do is about women.”

Lesson: Be a Connector

Acharia-Bath has spent her entire career empowering and serving others and it’s no doubt that those connections were useful to her own success as well. Although Acharia-Bath is not likely thinking about her own advancement, she helps herself as well as countless others through her ability to connect people. She related to Elle, “Whenever I meet talented women, I just want to help them achieve their goals. It’s my calling.”

Whitney Wolfe, Founder & CEO of Bumble

Whitney Wolfe, Founder & CEO of Bumble
Source: MLM Digest

Whitney Wolfe is a comeback queen. After resigning from Tinder and filing a sexual harassment suit against the company, Wolfe didn’t sit back as haters derailed everything she had accomplished. Later that year, she founded Bumble, a dating company that puts the power in the hands of women.

Although it ended in flames, Wolfe says she’s proud of her work at Tinder, but it’s clear she’s moved on to bigger and better things. Moving to Austin, she hired an almost all female team to start Bumble and has gained accolades for her less “predatory” and more fun dating app.

Lesson: Come Back Better Than Before

After the nasty lawsuit, strangers around the world were speculating terrible things about Wolfe. Instead of moping, the entrepreneur bounced back in months with her own company. Wolfe used what she learned from Tinder and created something she believed to be better putting all those haters to shame. This determined entrepreneur shows women in tech that sometimes the biggest success comes right after heartbreaking failure.

Marcella Sapone, Cofounder and CEO of Hello Alfred

Marcella Sapone, Cofounder and CEO of Hello Alfred
Source: AlleyWatch

Marcela Sapone’s startup was created one spring break during her first year at Harvard Business School. Recognizing that young professionals had a need to outsource household tasks, Sapone and her partner made the idea feasible and launched Hello Alfred.

Since it’s launch, Alfred has raised over $12.5 million in venture capital, hired over 20 employees, and set its sights on moving west.

Lesson: Make it Accessible

A concierge, butler type service isn’t unheard of, but Sapone and her partner did it in a way that that made it accessible to more people. By thinking creatively and getting the financial side to work, they opened up an entirely new market and made a name for Hello Alfred. Entrepreneurs in tech can follow their lead and create startups that innovate by increasing accessibility.

Thanks to Elle Magazine for featuring these extraordinary women in tech in their third annual celebration of influential women in the industry.

What lessons have you learned?

What lessons have you learned on your journey of starting or running a tech business?