Relus and WIT: Accelerating Women in Technology

“Get comfortable with being uncomfortable.”

Being a woman in technology, this has to be one of the best pieces of advice I’ve heard. Last week, the Relus Cloud team hosted its first Women In Technology (WIT) event at our office in Peachtree Corners, GA. We had 5 successful women speak on our panel moderated by Relus Cloud Sr. Director PMO, Mary Fellows. The panel included Sandy Welfare (Executive Director of WIT), Molly Proffitt (CEO of Ker-Chunk Games), Carrisa Jones (Director of Talent Acquisition at Advocate), Dr. Andrea Bowens-Jones (CEO of IDG Vision), and Christine Kaszubski (Chief People Officer at SalesLoft). The panel opened with a Q&A session that lead to a discussion filled with advice for both men and women trying to make their way in the IT industry.

Each woman had a different story, but they all seemed to share similar challenges and obstacles throughout their careers. With adversity, comes strength and knowledge. These women filled the hour with fantastic words of advice on how to overcome the adversity that many people in IT routinely face. This advice was simply put and will continue to resonate with me (and many others in the crowd, I’m sure) throughout my career. Though there were many more pieces of advice given, here are just a few of my most noteworthy takeaways:

  • “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.”
  • “Get comfortable with being uncomfortable.”
  • “Stop being the smartest person in the room. Be vulnerable”
  • “We need to stop getting in our own way.”
  • “As leaders, it is our responsibility to create an environment where women are able to thrive.”
  • “The level of confidence you come to the table with, speaks volumes.”
  • “Be your genuine self.”

Another main topic that was continuously referenced was how to be a mentor to the younger female generation that aspires to start their career in STEM. It was highlighted that these mentorships don’t have to be as formal as one may think. Simply spending time with your mentee--whether that means grabbing a quick coffee or bite to eat-- and sharing bits of advice and knowledge will most certainly go a long way.

Though it was our first time hosting an event in conjunction with WIT Atlanta, we had a full house of support from the WIT community. This event was a perfect way to network with a group of people that share a common passion and interest in their IT careers. Not only was our panel filled with strong female leaders, but our audience was too. We had representations from female Directors, VPs, CEOs, and young females aspiring to be in leadership.

Now, more than ever, is a critical time for women to support each other in the IT market. According to Forbes, “Women in MAJOR technology companies make up LESS than 20% of those employed.” Relus is a little over the “norm” at 34%, but we are continuing to grow that number.  More companies are helping to attract and retain women by creating incentives such as: longer maternity leave, flex schedules, or for new moms – free diapers and house cleaning for a year! Groups like WIT help create awareness for younger girls envisioning a career path in IT.  

As we continue our partnership with WIT I hope to see you at more fantastic events to come!