I’m incredibly excited to return with five more female MVPs from the Sitecore community. If you missed part 1, check it out here. These blog posts are part of my mission as a Sitecore Ambassador MVP to lift up the powerful women in our community and encourage every woman to get involved, share their knowledge and become leaders in the Sitecore ecosystem.

Let me know how you would answer these questions and join the conversation on Twitter by mentioning me @itinocom.

 

Ishraq Fatafta

Sitecore MVP and technology evangelist. Ishraq has over 11 years of web development experience using .Net platform and has been working with Sitecore for more than 8. She has been a Leading Architect on several large scale projects around the world.

What challenges have you faced as a woman in the tech industry and how did you overcome those challenges?

The main challenge I faced as a woman in general is that we are not good enough to work alongside men and if you live in communities that stigmatize women as being weak and less for so long, you will create generations of women and men alike who will adopt this as a fact and act upon it.

In a field that has used to be male-driven (you can see that this norm is constantly challenged and changed), it is rare to find respect and support based on competency.

We live in a fast-paced society where technical advancements are not only changing our perspectives on how we see the world around us, but also how we interact with this reality. I choose to stand up and be seen as a tech-savvy woman. I always tell myself if I can stretch my abilities a little bit today, I can stretch it furthermore tomorrow and so forth. Or as Albert Camus puts it “What we can or cannot do, what we consider possible or impossible, is rarely a function of our true capability. It is more likely a function of our beliefs about who we are.”

What do you wish you would have known when you first started out in the tech industry?

One day, I will be part of something that will create value and help make people’s life better

What are the best resources that you have found that have helped you on your journey?

Family support in the first place! I am blessed with wonderful, understanding parents who not only believed in my capabilities but also pushed me further in my journey especially through the darkest times when I wanted to give up.

Also, the Sitecore community is one of a kind. The love Sitecorians have for Sitecore can push anyone to the moon. Being an active member of a community that tries to support you in anyway possible is the key to your career. Befriend as many as you can from the community and enjoy an outstanding dose of knowledge on a daily basis.

Read as much as you can and never be satisfied. Get involved in every channel possible and show gratitude when it’s due.

 

As Director of Technology Operations and Offerings at One North Interactive, Ethel is responsible for the management and execution of leading digital technology solutions and product management, continuously identifying new strategic technology opportunities for One North and its clients. Ethel is also responsible for the oversight and management of technology operations, IT, enterprise security, risk management, data protection and privacy compliance.

What challenges have you faced as a woman in the tech industry and how did you overcome those challenges?

Until more women join the tech industry, I’ve often found myself as the only woman in the room. This is especially true as I’ve progressed in my career. While it’s strange at first, over time I stopped noticing because in the end it doesn’t matter and no one else cares.

What’s important is focusing on yourself to gain the knowledge and experience to demonstrate your value. Work hard and invest the time to understand different technologies inside and out. You start by mastering the basics of what it is, how it works, user experience, and differentiating features. You then dig deeper to understand things like what is the problem the technology is solving, what is the value to the customer and marketers, what are the privacy and security considerations, how extensible is it and what integrations are possible. When you become an expert, you earn the respect of your peers.

What do you wish you would have known when you first started out in the tech industry?

When I switched into more technical roles, there were things I didn’t understand yet and terms I would look up later to figure out what people were talking about. I was initially concerned that my previous background might be a disadvantage because there was a gap. I later realized it’s okay if you don’t fit the traditional mold because that gap gets filled and technology keeps evolving.

Diversity and coming from different backgrounds gives a unique perspective to the tech industry. For example, my previous experiences working directly with clients at a consulting and project management capacity helps me keep the value and usability of the technology in mind when creating different tech offerings or implementing new product features. My personal experience as a mom of young twins has helped make me stronger, more patient, and willing to take on new challenges and risks. People in tech come from all backgrounds regardless of gender or where they started in their career. It’s never too late to transition into a more technical role.

What are the best resources that you have found that have helped you on your journey?

With the fast paced nature of the tech industry, it’s important to surround yourself with a strong network of technologists and successful professionals. Many of my colleagues share the same passion of staying current on the latest technology. We subscribe to tons of feeds and monitor news, blog posts, and social media from a variety of sources. I try to maximize my time by spending my train commute to and from work catching up on the latest tech news and sharing relevant articles with colleagues. Our work environment is very collaborative where we all share our knowledge and organically have discussions on certain topics if warranted.

It’s also helpful to develop professional relationships within a variety of tech communities and at different companies and industries. Sharing actual experiences and perspectives with each other helps both sides grow and make more informed decisions.

Friederike is a Sitecore Solution Architect, Technical Sitecore MVP since 2017 and co-founder of the Sitecore Usergroup Germany.

What challenges have you faced as a woman in the tech industry and how did you overcome those challenges?

There were no significant challenges during my career because of being a woman in the tech industry. Usually there were more men than women in my teams, sometimes I even was the first woman. But I never had the feeling that the gender makes any difference for my colleagues, I was treated equal. In some situations, as the only woman between men, I did have to be extra tough, but I don’t think that it’s much easier as being the only man among women.

What do you wish you would have known when you first started out in the tech industry?

My parents brought me up very self-confident, so I didn’t make any thoughts or worries about starting a tech career. We, as role models, should talk more about the positive aspects of our jobs in tech to convince and encourage less self-confident girls to choose a technical career. I would appreciate seeing more women become my colleagues.

What are the best resources that you have found that have helped you on your journey?

The best resource is oneself. Do what you like and do it with heart and soul.

 

Wendy Derstine is a Sitecore Solutions Architect and Sitecore Technology MVP 2018. She has been immersed in Sitecore since her first project at PC Connection over ten years ago. Since then she has joined the Agency world and has helped deliver Enterprise level Sitecore websites for many clients including Air Products, Iron Mountain and Greyhound Lines.

What challenges have you faced as a woman in the tech industry and how did you overcome those challenges?

Women are certainly a minority but well represented in the tech industry and in my experience, are treated as equals. It was always interesting in to view the demographics of my computer science classes and it was quite noticeable that as the classes got more technical, there were fewer women in the classroom. I would love to see that change as this is a great field with lots of opportunities.  

What do you wish you would have known when you first started out in the tech industry?

My foray into the tech industry was rather unconventional. My first career was in Interior Design and I decided I wanted to translate my design and color skills into website designs. I started learning html but once I got further into the field I discovered I really enjoyed the back-end programming and eventually ended up getting my masters in Computer Science. If you had told me where I would end up I would have certainly laughed and not believed a word of it.  Starting with no preconceived notions left me open to all possibilities, so I really don’t think I would change a thing.

What are the best resources that you have found that have helped you on your journey?

Google. And I’ve had a lot of great mentors along the way – there are so many people in this industry that go out of their way to share knowledge and empower others. This is especially true in the Sitecore community where Sitecore encourages and rewards knowledge sharing and community involvement.   There are multiple Slack channels for all kinds of topics, https://sitecore.stackexchange.com for more structured Q&A as well as hundreds of blogs.  

 

Margaret Wise has over 20 years experience helping organizations leverage technology to improve their lead to sales and customer journey experiences. She is currently VP of Strategy for Arke based in Atlanta, GA.

What challenges have you faced as a woman in the tech industry and how did you overcome those challenges?

I think I’ve had amazing opportunities in this industry and many times being a woman has helped me to stand out in a positive way. I believe many of my challenges were tied to inexperience more so than being a woman. That said, I think I was much harder on myself for those challenges than a man would be on himself and that probably limited me more than any other factor.

The second toughest factor has been being a working mom. I think I experienced bias around this when my children were younger (they are now 11/13). I pursued lesser, more flexible positions at lower pay to try and achieve a better balance when they were babies and it took time for my career to recover from that. The reality was that as smart,  productive, organized and hard working as I am, I was delivering more than full time for part time pay.

What do you wish you would have known when you first started out in the tech industry?

I wish I had learned (or been mentored) how to communicate more directly and confidently earlier in my career. I’ve never been shy, but there were so many times I could have taken a bigger step forward and propelled my success even further than where I am today. I wish more books targeting women, like Lean In and Presence (Amy Cuddy), had been around when I was younger. I wish I would have known about things like the Imposter Syndrome.  We have access to so much more information at our fingertips and can be so digitally connected to other women now for support.

I wish that I would have not purposely accepted less pay in exchange for flexibility when my kids were younger. I wish I would have just sought the right team culture that fostered flexibility.

What are the best resources that you have found that have helped you on your journey?

This is a challenge! Working for smaller companies in the tech industry has not given me access to female focused resources within the workplace. Being a working mom has limited my time to reach outside of the workplace for resources. I have maintained relationships with select former bosses and co-workers and those people have been great resources for sharing ideas, processes, contacts and encouragement.

Business and communication books have been consistently good resources for me over the years.

I am very proud to host and facilitate (with Arke’s financial support) a Woman’s Leadership Group that meets 5x/year in Atlanta. It’s a select group of senior Marketing and IT women leaders and this group has been a tremendous resource since coming together organically over the last few years.

 

How do you overcome challenges as a woman in tech? Share your answers and join the conversation on Twitter by mentioning me (@itinocom)!

  

About Isabel Tinoco

Isabel collaborates as the Alliance Manager Coveo for Sitecore in Montreal and she got recognized as a Sitecore Ambassador MVP 2018. Traveling around North America, she enjoys enabling the Coveo partners in the Sitecore ecosystem, supporting them to identify business opportunities as well as marketing and commercial joint activities. She received a Managerial Accounting and Information Technology DEC from PW Sims Business Program at Champlain St Lawrence as well as a B.A.A. from Laval University.

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