Moderator Joey Rosenberg, Global Director of WWCode
With: Michie Ang, WWCode Manila Director
Sheree Atcheson, WWCode UK Expansion Director
Jane Shih, WWCode Taipei Director
Sandra Persing, WWCode Seattle Director
Genny Andrea Centeno Metri, WWCode Merida Director
A diverse group of WWCode leaders from Networks around the world came together for a panel discussion on leadership, tech, and ways to make the industry better, everywhere. These were women from Mexico, the UK, Manila, Taiwan, Seattle, and Atlanta, all with very different backgrounds, but united as leaders in tech, they were able to find common ground and share their differences to expand the perspective of us all.
They started out talking about their Networks and the state of tech in their city. One thing they all noted in common was the problems that women had in the industry in their area. However, this was tempered with hope, as they described the incredibly positive effect that their WWCode Network's have had on those women, and the cities where they live.
Can you tell us your thoughts on disrupting the industry and how you are doing that?
Sheree spoke about how she was a Sri Lankan by birth, who was adopted by an Irish family, and how just having such a different look when she walks into a room is a disruption, in a good way. She went on to speak about the importance of Women Who Code for doing that to the industry and making others feel empowered. As she put it, "We're here to showcase if I can do this anyone can do this. And that definitely helped me along the way."
Sandra responded by talking about how her company was actively seeking out technologies where the rules had not yet been set, and where "anyone can walk in and say I'm going to make a difference, I am going to disrupt." She also spoke about technologies ability to empower people at every level. "If you can bring in everyone who wants to be a part of the story it makes it possible for anyone to join in and thats the power.
For Genny, disruption came from the language gap. In her Network they mostly spoke Spanish, but they realized that many of the conversations in tech were taking place in English. So, their disruption was having to improve their English language skills to better join the global community. Beyond that she largely agreed with Sandra, saying, "Tech is a way to have equality. It doesn't really matter where you come from. What matters is where you want to go. and if you want to get there you can get there."
Michie felt that the very fact that they had opened Women Who Code Manila was a disruption of the industry. "Because we have this network, we opened a portal to bigger connections. By encouraging more women to be leaders in tech we're changing the face of tech."
Genny rounded things out, saying, "We have very different backgrounds, we come from very different cities but we're all here together."
What can you tell us about spotting opportunity?
A lot of the answers here were around youth and technology. Jane spoke about how it is a very important time for kids to learn tech. Sheree agreed, talking about how her Network was working to provide educational tools and workshops for their members, and also emphasized the importance of stepping into leadership positions early.
How do you balance succeeding in your career and giving back to the community and being a Network Director?
Michie: "If you're passionate about something you just keep on going." Though she did add that it is also important to "Balance everything."
Genny: "It's all team work. Merida is an amazing team. As long as you have good people around you and have teamwork you can do anything.
If you want to go fast you go by yourself, but if you want to go hard you go with your people."
Do you have advice in 5 words or less for disrupting something?
"Be free to try and achieve your dreams"
Genny Andrea Centeno Metri
"Believe in yourself"
"Don't be afraid to get out there"
"Known your own value"
"Make sure to get sponsors and allies"