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How Do Women Succeed in Tech? We Asked 3 Successful Women Execs.

How Do Women Succeed in Tech
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What does it take to succeed as a woman in the tech industry? We interviewed three executive women in tech at i2c, a global provider of highly configurable banking and payment solutions, about empowering women in tech.

Embrace Sequential Priorities: i2c President Jacqueline White

While in college, Jacqueline White obtained her initial professional experience as a bank teller, where she had the privilege of working alongside her mother, who was in charge of the branch. During that time, she realized she was interested in the intersection of people, money and technology.

Starting her career in the late 1990s, during a time when the tech and banking sectors were predominantly male-dominated, White recognized the need to put in double the effort and excel beyond measure in order to thrive. “Getting any position is difficult and competitive,” she explained. “I have found that the best approach is to be authentic, passionate, curious and consistent, along with being well-networked.” White understands that fostering strong networking opportunities is crucial for supporting women in the tech industry. She personally prioritizes assisting talented women to ensure their success. “Women helping other women is one of my passions,” she said.

After all, research indicates that women are often the primary caregivers and household managers, even when both partners are employed full time. Therefore, White advises executives who are women to carefully select a partner who will fully support their career and aspirations.

“Also, you need to become comfortable with ‘sequential priorities,’” White said. “Sometimes work is the priority, and sometimes family is the priority. All the other times, you have to find work/life harmony — which does not imply equal time for both, but finding a way to make both work so that everyone involved is happy. It is rarely easy to advance in your career and keep things on track at home.”

White encourages women to have a deep understanding of their strengths and be open to continuous improvement. She emphasizes the importance of asking questions without fear. Finally, she believes that finding balance is crucial. White urges women to be confident yet humble, prioritize their family while giving their best effort and value integrity over ego in order to learn from their mistakes.

Play Your Own Game: i2c Chief Client Officer Serena Smith

Serena Smith initially wanted to be an accountant but discovered a new passion when she went to work in the back office of a bank. “I loved the challenge, the constant change, the pace of the payments space and knew I had landed in a field that would be fun and exciting,” she explained.

So, Smith started at the bottom and worked her way up. “Being a woman in the financial services space means that I am often the only woman at the table,” she said. “While we have come a long way at advancing women, we still have a long way to go. I was and am often met with questions regarding my operational or business knowledge, having to ‘prove’ myself along the way.”

That is why it is important for Smith to “play your own game” instead of the games of others. She urges women executives to invest in their own development, surround themselves with mentors and define success on their own terms.

Though she worked hard, Smith never lost sight of what was most important to her: family. She admits that it did sometimes cost her opportunities, but she stayed true to her values and advocated for herself. “When I saw opportunities to advance, I asked for them versus waiting for them to be offered to me,” she explained. “I saw the opportunity and put myself out there. In some cases, I did not know what I was doing, but I figured it out. And you can as well.”

Be Yourself: i2c Chief Marketing Officer Christine Alemany

An engineer by training but a marketer at heart, Christine Alemany transitioned from coding to product because she could “translate” between the client and the coders. When she returned from business school, she brought agile techniques and A/B testing into marketing organizations. “I am extremely analytical,” Alemany said. “Numbers tell me a story.”

Unfortunately, misogynistic stereotypes still exist in tech. Alemany recalls delivering a presentation, backed by statistical analysis, of why current merchandising was underperforming and being challenged by a male co-worker for being “emotional.” Alemany was baffled but walked through the numbers with the co-worker. She later learned from a mentor that the co-worker’s business was the one that was underperforming. After she discussed ways to improve with him, he presented solutions the following week and collaborated with her going forward.

“It is important to be professional, but it is just as important to be yourself,” Alemany said. “If you try to fit in a mold, people may feel that something is ‘off’ about their interactions with you. It will take longer to build trust with your co-workers if you hold back.” She also urges women in tech to do the work, to always be learning and to try things that stretch their abilities. But also, not to do it alone. “Make sure that you network in your organization to find your allies,” she advised. Mutual support is how to get more women in tech.

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