Written By Sara Jones, president of IFINIDI in Salt Lake and co-founder of the Women Tech Council
1. I use the words “what if” a lot.
We all go through life wishing things could be done differently. Technology has the power to change the way we live and work. I helped launch video and e-book products that impacted hundreds of thousands of educators to coach them in teaching best practices. Imagine how many student lives were impacted by helping teachers be more effective. A lot of technology is being created for the first time. Being able to create is incredibly energizing and accesses the highest levels of thinking. So a lot of conversations with my teams start with “what if we did this?” Women have incredibly innovative minds, and often they think different “what ifs” than men do. We need more women entrepreneurs thinking about using technology to change their spheres of influence.
2. I’m influencing the next Sheryl Sandberg/Susan Wojcicki/Virginia Rometty/Meg Whitman.
Did you know Bill Gates got his entre to computers because of his mother? Every woman in tech got her inspiration from someone early on. I’m grateful to my school teachers for encouraging me in an engineering education. Parents and adult leaders can inspire girls now to get excited about tech; don’t wait for your school. Scratch, Khan academy, Goldieblox, and Tynker are just a few great kid tools available. I talk to my kids (ages 9 and 13) all the time about technology, entrepreneurship and strategy. Young girls are just as capable in STEM as boys; and early exposure can make the difference in a young woman choosing a tech pathway.
3. Work isn’t work.
One of my tech clients recently did a culture study, and a common theme was, “I sometimes feel like the dumbest person in the room.” This was a humble way of saying, “I work with really smart people.” Collaborating with so many bright, capable people — who often come up with bigger and better solutions than I would on my own — inspires me. I love consulting because I bring my experience working with fast-growing tech companies to advise other entrepreneurs on strategic direction, building diverse teams, and increasing team performance. It’s incredibly invigorating and I love jobs where I don’t feel like I’m “working.” Technology careers are fantastic for women who want interesting and creative work.
4. The career path is curvy.
I’ve been a patent attorney, adjunct professor, product lead, business developer, training consultant, founder, community builder, CEO, leadership coach, strategy consultant, event planner, and public speaker. When I started my career, I would have never imagined having the opportunity to do all of this. I’ve enjoyed every role and look forward to what the future holds. Being a woman in tech presents unlimited learning and opportunity.
5. The community inspires me.
With the low diversity in tech in Utah, it’s pretty easy to stand out when you are a woman and a minority. I take advantage of this, and I strongly feel the responsibility to give back to our tech community. I’ve developed the most amazing friendships over the years and witnessed the entire Utah tech community rally to change our Utah culture to be inviting for women in tech. The Utah tech community is rooting for the success of women in technology. My friend Pat Jones summed it up, “There is a drumbeat for women leadership right now nationally and in our state.”