Meet 6 women engineers building game-changing products in Colorado tech

by April Bohnert
June 25, 2019

Boys’ club culture has been pervasive in the tech industry for years, particularly when it comes to software engineering. But despite remaining hurdles around advancement opportunity and equal pay, change is coming — and it’s coming fast. Women today have a large hand in creating some of the most innovative technology the world has seen, including women right here in Colorado.

We caught up with six local techies  — each with their own unique story and career path — to learn more about the game-changing products they’ve built and how they overcome obstacles in both their professional and personal lives.

 

GHX women engineers Colorado tech
Phioto via GHX.

GHX’s cloud-based supply chain technology exchange connects healthcare organizations with manufacturers and suppliers that can help them streamline and automate their business processes, thereby improving patient care and maximizing savings.

After studying and launching her tech career in France, Enterprise Architect Mélanie Braure de Calignon moved to Colorado to be closer to the big initiatives she was working on for GHX. In the five years since, she’s built not only a ton of noteworthy product features but also a strong support system that helps her navigate both personal and professional challenges.

 

Tell us a bit about your engineering background. Did you attend a school or bootcamp? How did you arrive at your current position?

I studied in France, got two master’s degrees, then after trying a Ph.D., I started my career as a software engineer. I was a contractor for two years, which was a very enriching experience where I got to work on everything from banking systems to military projects. I then moved to a software architect position for a small healthcare startup for four-and-a-half years. I ended up working for my current employer from France for two-and-a-half years, before moving to Colorado five years ago.

 

What's the most impactful project you've had the opportunity to work on, and why?

When I moved to Colorado, I worked on redesigning and rebuilding the core system of GHX: the Exchange. We switched from an old system that was really reaching its limits to a modular and flexible platform in the cloud. It was the biggest project the company ever undertook in terms of size and technology. It was also the most impactful from a personal development perspective; working toward a goal that’s bigger than yourself is inspiring.

Since then, I continue to be inspired and try to change the culture inside and outside of my work to make the world a better place for the most vulnerable of us and to get rid of discrimination. I feel it is my duty and goal to inspire and help others by being a successful young trans woman working in technology.


When you hit a snag on a difficult project, how do you work through it?

For the difficult times, that’s when you need a support system. It’s true on a difficult project, and it’s true in life. That’s how I actually bonded with my coworkers, and we wouldn’t have gone through the difficult times without feeling for each other. That’s when you really understand the impact of the extra work you might have to put in because it can relieve some pain for somebody else.

 

Havenly women engineers Colorado tech
Photo via Havenly.

Havenly helps people transform their interior spaces with just a few clicks by connecting them with professional designers who can work with them to create personalized design plans and offer recommendations for unique products — all of which can be purchased through the company’s online shop.

Software Engineer Stacy Moore explained how she made her way into a career as a web developer at Havenly and what she’s accomplished in the short time since.

 

Tell us a bit about your engineering background. How did you arrive at your current position?

In 2018, I chose to leave behind my dental career of 10 years to pursue a life in web development. I attended a full-time boot camp for six months and, upon graduating, secured an internship with Havenly. Before the end of my internship, I was offered a full-time position.

 

What's the most impactful project you've had the opportunity to work on, and why? When you hit a snag on a difficult project, how do you work through it?

The most impactful projects I have been honored to work on are features that made the workflows smoother for Havenly’s operations team members, such as a call scheduling system for over 250 designers all over the country. I am lucky in that, even when I hit a snag in development, not only do I have an incredible team of developers to reach out to, but I am also able to work directly with the end users to ensure that what I build will be exactly what is desired. Having this type of immediate feedback, along with the support of a strong team of engineers, makes for a very productive and rewarding work environment.

 

Recurly women engineers Colorado tech
Photo via Recurly.

Recurly’s subscription management platform helps subscription-based businesses manage and scale their recurring revenue and subscription billing operations, reducing the pain and complexity that often come with these tasks.

Software Engineer II Lark Fleming gave us a glimpse into her career path at Recurly and got candid about a recent project that forced her and her team to think outside the box.

 

Tell us a bit about your engineering background. Did you attend a school or bootcamp? How did you arrive at your current position?

I have a master's degree in philosophy and worked in education before transitioning into tech approximately four years ago. I started in tech by attending a six-month intensive web development program at Galvanize in Boulder. After graduating from Galvanize, I spent a short time working on web development projects for some smaller companies before beginning at Recurly as a support engineer. From there, I was promoted to software engineer and then software engineer II.

 

What's the most impactful project you've had the opportunity to work on, and why?

I've worked on several impactful projects, but one of my favorites was a change to the way taxes are processed on some Recurly invoices. I enjoyed this project because it was both a conceptual and technical challenge. It forced our team to think about taxation in a different way, but also required that we work through the technical challenge of implementing a different approach to taxes in the code base.

 

When you hit a snag on a difficult project, how do you work through it?

When I'm working on a difficult project, I start with pen and paper. I write down the requirements to make sure I understand them, any processes or features that will be affected and, finally, the locations and logic of the code changes. After that, I talk to my team to make sure we're on the same page. Then I look for the necessary or simplest starting place and begin working. If I hit a snag, I refer back to my notes to get grounded again. Taking a break is good, too! Sometimes 10 minutes away from my computer clears my mind and allows me to spot something I couldn't see before.

 

FluentStream women engineers Colorado tech
Photo via FluentStream.

More than a business phone company, FluentStream delivers a range of cloud-based communications solutions that integrate with a business’s other software and platforms to power, manage and improve customer communications.

Leveraging her self-taught technical background, Lead Software Developer Juliette Abeyta has led a number of impactful project at FluentStream.

 

Tell us a bit about your engineering background. How did you arrive at your current position?

Just like most developers you talk to, my technical background is non-traditional; I did not go to a coding bootcamp, and instead took a year using online resources to build a fundamental understanding of front-end web development. After that year, I was given the opportunity to work at FluentStream, which has afforded me immense opportunities for growth and brought me into my current position as the lead developer here.

 

What's the most impactful project you've had the opportunity to work on, and why? When you hit a snag on a difficult project, how do you work through it?

The most impactful project I have had the fortune of working on is the Salesforce integration with the FluentCloud platform. This integration allows for seamless sales tracking with live calls made on the FluentCloud system. This particular integration has a lot of intricacies to it, so there were many obstacles I ran into in its development. To move through these, I found the best solutions were to thoroughly comb through the documentation for building Salesforce integrations with JavaScript and to ask peers for help on issues that weren't specific to this project.

 

Envysion women engineers Colorado tech

Leveraging both hardware and software, Envysion helps businesses use video as an analytical tool for improving customer experiences, coaching employees and increasing profits by giving them greater visibility into the day-to-day operations of their stores and restaurants.

Android Engineer Heather Cahoon works behind the scenes on Envysion’s mobile applications and gave us some insight into her career and the game-changing products she’s worked on over the years.

 

Tell us a bit about your engineering background. How did you arrive at your current position?

I started coding on my own when I was 28, then decided to go back to school for a master’s degree in computer science. My first job after graduating was at Sun Microsystems, writing XML schemas and JavaScript. I took a few years off to raise my three children and taught myself to code in Android, then started working mobile jobs, picking up some iOS along the way. I was looking for something new when I found out Envysion was hiring. It was a great fit for me technically and close to home, with two other female engineers.

 

What's the most impactful project you've had the opportunity to work on, and why?

The most impactful product I've worked on was probably at my last company, Gogo. They provide private in-flight internet on commercial and business jets. I worked for the business aviation division and helped launch and support their Gogo Text and Talk app that allows private business passengers — think CEOs, CTOs and COOs, PGA golfers, celebrities — to make and receive phone calls on their own number in flight. I always imagine multimillion-dollar deals being closed mid-flight.

 

When you hit a snag on a difficult project, how do you work through it?

When I hit a snag on difficult projects, I like to find the root of the issue first. I look on Stack Overflow to see if anyone else has had a similar issue; I reread support docs to make sure I'm using the tools properly. If it's a technical issue, I start looking for other ways I can solve it and still meet the requirements on time. If a full solution won't meet the deadlines, I ask for guidance from the product and project management teams while giving them options for a partial solution that will meet the timelines.

 

Backbone women engineers Colorado tech
Photo via Backbone.

Backbone’s product development platform is changing the way consumer goods companies bring new products to market by streamlining complex processes, centralizing communication and reducing lead times throughout the supply chain.

Software Engineer Ashley Amato shared her experiences working on Backbone’s game-changing products and how she navigates the inevitable roadblocks that come with doing innovative work.

 

Tell us a bit about your engineering background. How did you arrive at your current position?

A number of my friends are web developers, which is what initially sparked my interest in the career. My first step pursuing coding more seriously was signing up for an Intro to JavaScript evening course. I later enrolled in the web development program at Galvanize Boulder.

 

What's the most impactful project you've had the opportunity to work on, and why? When you hit a snag on a difficult project, how do you work through it?

I currently have the opportunity to work on software that has such big potential. Here at Backbone, we are truly changing the way companies manufacture physical products, and it’s exciting to be part of that process. When I hit a roadblock on a difficult problem, I try to think about the bigger picture, consult a coworker or get some fresh air to clear my mind.

 

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