Women in tech to know: 6 local trailblazers driving their companies forward

by April Bohnert
November 20, 2018

Women in the technology industry face no shortage of challenges in their careers — no matter their profession. And even as the tech community works to become a more equitable and inclusive space, the truth is that women continue to be underrepresented in the boardrooms and leadership teams calling the shots.

But make no mistake. The women leaders we’ve been waiting for are out there and they’re no longer asking for their seat at the table. They’re taking it. From sales to software development, from the C-suite to the department manager, women are making their voices heard and creating major change within their organizations and their industries.

In part one of a two-part series celebrating local leaders, we talked to six women about the paths that have led them to where they are today, the accomplishments they’re most proud of and the challenges they’ve faced throughout their professional journeys.

 

 

Webroot women in tech to know Colorado
Photo via Webroot.

Kelly Titterington Wells first discovered her interest in customer development in college while working as an intern for a boutique consulting company. Working alongside her team as they helped train others on a new CRM tool illuminated for her the many ways that technology and process could make businesses more efficient and profitable — and that’s what she’s been doing ever since.

Today, Titterington Wells is the VP of customer development and success at cybersecurity company Webroot, where she leads a team focused on optimizing the customer experience and ensuring both Webroot’s customers and her internal team are successful.

 

What is one of your proudest accomplishments in your career?  

I am most proud of the team and community I’ve built. I’ve worked to create a highly functioning and dedicated team that supports each other and the organization. Several years ago, we went through an organizational change to streamline our go-to-market strategy. This change included the blending of two teams that had not worked closely together and, unfortunately, were not well aligned. It took a dedicated commitment from the team to come together, understand each other’s dynamics and figure out how to work together moving forward. Within a year, we were seen as one of the strongest, most productive teams at Webroot. The old adage is true, go slow to go fast.

 

What would you like to accomplish next?

I recently took on the challenge of building a new organization at Webroot: an entire team focused on customer development and success. It’s been an exciting journey so far digging into research and building a team that focuses on the driving force behind our company — our customers. We are early in our transformation, but my goal is to have another team that is highly productive and sought after to partner with across the organization.

 

Move away from the mindset that you need to be authoritative. Move toward collaboration. This is the difference between being a leader and being a boss.”  

 

What challenges have you faced as a leader? What advice do you have for other women facing similar challenges?  

One challenge I have faced is understanding my approach to leadership and its impact on the teams and individuals I rely on to drive the business forward. For a number of years, I aligned with the autocratic style of leadership and felt that in order to be taken seriously as a woman leader, I needed to be decisive, driven and strong.

Then it happened — and it hit me hard — this style was no longer working for me and was not helping my career progression. Through a coaching relationship, it was brought to my attention that the people who worked for me, and with me, did so because they were scared of failing me and what that would entail. This was a tough pill to swallow because I held tight to the belief that, to be taken seriously, I needed to be an aggressive, driven leader. I could not have been more wrong. Through a structured process, I worked hard to change and evolve my leadership style. I want the individuals I interact with to feel heard and supported. I want them to partner with me because we are a connected team and we all matter — not because they are afraid.

My advice for other females is to take a very candid look at your leadership and interactions. Move away from the mindset that, in order to be heard and respected, you need to be authoritative. Move toward collaboration. To me, this is the difference between being a leader and being a boss.  

 

Ibotta women in tech to know Colorado
Photo via Ibotta.

For Mary Woodka, it all started with a class competition, leveraging Procter & Gamble’s data to help them better market and promote their diaper brands. It isn’t the sexiest anecdote, but the experience — which combined her love of numbers, financial analysis and people — had her hooked. Following college, Woodka followed her newfound passion into the wine business (another personal passion), focusing on consumer product good sales, marketing and analytics.

After earning her MBA, she co-founded an all-natural food company, and then jumped into the booming craft beer industry, where she was introduced to Ibotta. She came to the company two and a half years ago as a client, but loved their consumer shopping platform so much she decided join the team. As the VP of CPG sales, Woodka oversees everything from annual planning and quota setting to strategic events and training for the sales and account management functions of the organization.

 

What is one of your proudest accomplishments in your career?

I created and built our enablement and strategy functions at Ibotta while undergoing chemotherapy and radiation treatment over the course of the last 12 months. Nothing like working in financial models from a chemo infusion room or hosting team meetings via webinar from your bed!

 

What would you like to accomplish next?

While at Ibotta, I want to create a world-class onboarding and training curriculum and content for all sales and account management employees coming to work for us. Through our enablement team, we have built the infrastructure to allow our sales and account management teams to grow, scale and execute at an elite level. Now, it is time to create a world-class onboarding and training program to continue recruiting and retaining the best sales and account management talent across the country.

 

Stay rooted in fact and strip emotion away. Focus on your contributions and results against the goals you are being tasked with.” 

 

What challenges have you faced as a leader? What advice do you have for other women facing similar challenges?

The unconscious biases are the most difficult; women are scrutinized more on their style, approach and tone than the content and product they deliver. While men may not realize they are evaluating women on their tone of voice or their professional style, I challenge them to prepare for a one-on-one with their female colleagues or employees by pretending it is a man walking into their office. How would they coach differently? How would they react differently to a presentation that individual delivered? What career advice might be different? It’s fascinating to employ this tactic and realize how differently one might behave.

For women facing these challenges, stay rooted in fact and strip emotion away. Focus on your contributions and results against the goals you are being tasked with. Be direct and candid with your managers and colleagues if you experience inequities; don’t be afraid to speak up and voice concerns. And if you want help, ask for it! Seek the help of a mentor, an executive coach or a fellow alum from your alumni network. Lean on other women (call me if you want!), as well as the men who have an appetite for supporting women in their growth and development. We are making great strides, one voice at a time!    

 

Wowza women in tech to know Colorado
Photo via Wowza.

Melissa LaMonica started her career in finance but always seemed to fall naturally (and unofficially) into the role of employee advocate, eventually making it her purpose to be a trusted voice of the people while earning the respect of senior executives. She joined media streaming company Wowza in a combined finance and HR role, before quickly realizing she could best serve the fast-growing company — and its fast-growing team — in the latter half of that role.

Today, LaMonica is the chief of staff and senior vice president of people and culture at Wowza, where she continues to be a voice for her people, a champion of the company’s culture and values, and a leader willing to hold everyone, at every level of the organization, accountable for their actions and responsibilities.

 

What is one of your proudest accomplishments in your career?

My proudest accomplishment is comprised of a collection of moments — the moments when someone trusts me enough to share their thoughts, challenges, frustrations, fears or feedback with me. As a result, I am then able to effect a change that moves us forward as an organization. I understand it is not easy for most of us to step out of our comfort zone at work when faced with challenges, and I am humbled to be the person they choose to talk to when they are feeling their most vulnerable.

 

What would you like to accomplish next?

Moving forward as Wowza’s chief of staff, my goal is to continue being a trusted employee advocate and advisor to our CEO, while driving us to be a high-performing organization full of highly engaged workers who love to come to work every day. Building a culture of trust, accountability, results and open communication is no small task and is a continuous effort. With this in mind, my future accomplishments will take care of themselves.

 

If all of our leaders, male and female, learn to lead authentically and compassionately... the entire organization will benefit.”

 

What challenges have you faced as a leader? What advice do you have for other women facing similar challenges?

Women leaders are often expected to take on the more emotional challenges of the organization, a role I have definitely taken on throughout my career. It is important that we not only set boundaries but hold our male leaders accountable to bringing their whole selves to work and encourage them to flex their “emotional muscles” and take on these challenges as well. The workplace will never be entirely without emotion, nor do we want it to be — that is where passion, conviction and innovation come from. If all of our leaders, male and female, learn to lead authentically and compassionately, and address these emotional challenges with intelligence and skill, the entire organization will benefit.

 

ezCater women in technology to know Colorado
Photo via ezCater.

Words and food have always been Alyssa Eisenman’s two passions. Her early love for writing led her to study English and creative writing in college. From there, she shifted course to work as a professional chef. And later, she merged her two loves into a more traditional, nine-to-five career when she joined business catering marketplace ezCater as a content manager.

Four years later, Eisenman has worked her way up to director of partner operations and Denver HQ site manager, where she leads a team of project managers who help the company’s catering partners get up to speed with their technology while keeping the day-to-day operations of the office running smoothly.

 

What is one of your proudest accomplishments in your career?

Earlier this year, I was afforded the opportunity to relocate from Boston (ezCater HQ) to Colorado as the site manager of our second office. This means I am holistically responsible for our 130-person — and growing — group of employees in downtown Denver as a “cultural ambassador” of sorts. Watching a fresh crop of new hires make ezCater their own, while still embracing and embodying the core elements of what we call our “culture recipe,” has been incredibly rewarding.

 

What would you like to accomplish next?

ezCater recently announced its plans for the next generation of ezManage — our fully programmable catering management platform. My team will be responsible for helping our catering partners get the most out of the technology and implement it into their daily operations. More traditional project management is relatively new to our organization, and my goal is to fold it into the fabric of our internal processes.

 

Find a mentor who has been in your shoes, or better yet, find an organization that is entirely focused on the advancement of women in business.”

 

What challenges have you faced as a leader? What advice do you have for other women facing similar challenges?

My years spent in restaurant kitchens (a historically male-dominated space) were a crash course in making sure my voice is always heard. While the tech industry has made great strides on the inclusivity front, it can be a challenging space if you’re not proactive about finding your “tribe.”

My advice: build relationships with key colleagues (these people don’t need to be exclusively women) who you can lean on as an honest sounding board. Find a mentor who has been in your shoes, or better yet, find an organization that is entirely focused on the advancement of women in business (the Massachusetts-based Commonwealth Institute was mine). Subscribe to female-led tech media and get a daily dose of influential content in your inbox. In my experience, these strategies add up to a powerful plan of action.

 

CANVAS Technology women in tech to know Colorado
Photo via CANVAS Technology.

Bridget Nelson has always loved helping people, and that passion has guided her in her career since day one. But in moving through customer service roles at places like Comcast and Ericsson, Nelson discovered it wasn’t just helping people that interested her. She also wanted a fast-paced, challenging and tech-driven environment where she could work on a product she knew would have a big, long-lasting impact on the world.

Now, Nelson leads the account management team for CANVAS Technology, where she helped launch the autonomous robotics startup from pilot mode to large commercial deployments, and continues to drive customer success from both a technical and business perspective.

 

What is one of your proudest accomplishments in your career?

I’m proud that I took the risk of leaving my comfy corporate job for something where I felt I could have a lot of impact.

 

What would you like to accomplish next?

Technical innovation is the blood running through CANVAS. And while I am proud of the technical knowledge I have gained so far, I want to continue to push here in order to be the most helpful to my team and my customers.

I’m also excited to help many of the customers I’m supporting move to the next level with mobile automation.

 

Don’t try to act like anyone but yourself. You shine when you are authentically you!”

 

What challenges have you faced as a leader? What advice do you have for other women facing similar challenges?

I haven’t faced a ton of female-specific problems, to be honest. Of course, you run into some companies or some individuals that are backward-thinking. But in general, I find the tech sector to be pretty egalitarian.

There are two principles that I have used to guide me through my career:

  1. Get educated and engaged! The more you know about a specific subject, the more confident and effective you will be.

  2. Don’t try to act like anyone but yourself. You shine when you are authentically you!

 

BombBomb women in tech to know Colorado
Photo via BombBomb.

Throughout Amanda Obringer’s life, her love of computers has been a constant. She studied multimedia throughout high school and college — working on everything from computer animation to web design to audio production — and later took on roles doing graphic design and website development.

But it wasn’t until Obringer joined Colorado Springs-based BombBomb that she fell into a role that allowed her to put all of her passion into a single product. As a designer, front-end developer and, now, product manager, Obringer helps drive the company’s product forward, enabling more businesses to engage and connect with customers and prospects through the power of video.

 

What is one of your proudest accomplishments in your career?

Taking on the product manager role at BombBomb. It’s a more public role than I had previously and has challenged me more than any I had before. After hard days, I keep coming back to the office, trying different approaches and pushing through. I am proud that I stepped up and took a risk on a new path, and that I continue to do that each day.

 

What would you like to accomplish next?

I would like to move into a VP of product role and lead a team of product people. I have always enjoyed mentoring in my past roles and would love to do that as I grow in my product experience. But mostly, I want to continue to grow in my leadership skills by establishing and driving the vision of a product.

 

Remember that your contributions are important and the world misses something when you don't contribute.”

 

What challenges have you faced as a leader? What advice do you have for other women facing similar challenges?

I haven’t faced many obvious challenges as some women have, but rather unconscious ones, many of which have been put upon by myself. I was always told I could do whatever I wanted to, but deep down I didn’t believe it. I was nervous in leadership meetings, was hesitant to put my ideas and opinions forward, and assumed others knew better than myself. The fear of failure and desire for perfection often stunted my forward progress.

So, for other women facing these challenges I would say to believe in yourself and the tremendous value you bring to your organization. Know that obstacles exist to help you find your best self and your best fit, so continue to push forward. Most importantly, remember that your contributions are important and the world misses something when you don’t contribute.

 

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