To celebrate women who work in tech, we wanted to recognize the achievements of several women at Eightfold who embody what it means to be successful in this often demanding yet rewarding industry — and hopefully help inspire other women to join.
We asked these nine women to share some of their experiences and highlights working in tech. From early aspirations to overcoming today’s challenges for women in STEM fields, they shared valuable insights into what they’ve achieved, what they love about working in tech, and even some future goals around working in the exciting field of AI, and some career advice for those looking to enter the field.
Read on to learn more about these inspiring women of Eightfold.
RELATED CONTENT: Read our latest Talent Insights report on why building DEI in any organization is good for business.
What sparked your interest in tech?
“I never actively sought a career in tech, but moving to Seattle for graduate school provided opportunities to explore this industry further. I was volunteering with Girls Who Code and had a chance encounter with a software engineer at Google who introduced me to the field of technical writing. She took the time to listen to my interests and recommend an exciting career path that I had never heard of.”
— Rose Nguyen, Senior Manager, Technical Writing
“Computers were new, big, and shiny when I was growing up, and I was very drawn to them. I distinctly remember meeting a computer engineer from Microsoft at a family function in the small town I grew up in at the age of 11 or 12. I was completely fascinated and decided this is what I’ll do when I grow up.”
— Ishita Malhotra, Senior Software Engineer
“I have always had an interest in technology, but from a professional standpoint, I really started to see the value of technology in business after landing my first job out of college with CGI Federal. They provide an enterprise resource planning (ERP) platform for the federal government and help to take many agencies off manual budget processes. In addition to building marketing materials, I also had the opportunity to work on many proposals, participate in the FedRAMP readiness assessment, and attend government customer meetings.”
— Jenny Burns, Senior Partner Marketing Manager
How do you see the role of women in tech evolving over the next decade, and what can we do to encourage more women to pursue careers in this field?
“I look forward to seeing more women in leadership roles in tech. I personally support this by mentoring with #Girlsclub. It’s a group for women in sales who want to become leaders. Most of us sell tech solutions. I’ve developed lifelong relationships with fantastic changemakers in this group.”
— Diana Cappello, Director Solutions Consulting
“We are seeing more women in tech today and, more importantly, more women in leadership roles, but we’ve just started. …Small steps like making it a rule to have half the interviewers women when interviewing a woman, having employees take regular training against unconscious bias and more could go a long way in fighting any hiring and promotion biases that make women doubt entering the tech industry. We should also reach out to young girls and women. Programs like Girls Who Code can be very useful in encouraging young women to join the industry and flourish in it.” — Malhotra
“I see women in tech moving into even more leadership roles that will continue shaping new product developments. One of the things we can all do to help further women in tech is to listen to new ideas and give women opportunities to learn from other strong women leaders. I also believe setting expectations at a young age for girls that they can enter tech careers without the stigma that it’s for men only.”
— Rachel Salazar, Senior Procurement Manager
“We hold a responsibility to provide exposure to future generations of women to help encourage them to pursue a career in this field. … Providing that exposure earlier can demonstrate for everyone, not only women, that a career in tech can come in many different forms and flavors. Exposure not only makes it easier for a young woman to feel empowered to pursue a career in tech, or envision her future self in a similar role, but also shows the diversity in skill sets that are needed to make the tech industry hum.” — Burns
What challenges have you faced as a woman in tech? How have you navigated them?
“It was never easy for me to convince leadership that I was good in technology. My ideas and approaches in technology were often questioned. I managed it by proving my leadership through feedback from the customer and project team.”
— Swetha Lingala, Product Engagement Director
“I’ve been in awkward and dangerous situations with male coworkers and customers. It’s terrible that anyone would be subjected to inappropriate advances at the office. I learned to speak up, set boundaries, and read the room, so I know when trouble is coming and I can leave. A good rule of thumb for everyone is a two-drink max at work events.” — Cappello
“I’ve found myself time and again in situations where others are behaving rudely, unkindly, or ungenerously — doing so without remorse or self-awareness. Sometimes I’m in the room. Sometimes, it’s directed at me. It puts one in a difficult position: I ask myself, should I take it for the sake of peace and comfort of others, or should I stand up for myself but risk “making a thing” of it? I don’t believe there is a single right answer. As always, these things go on a sliding scale. I do think that male-dominated work environments, tech included, still have a long way to go to make working, especially at more senior levels, hospitable to all ways of working.”
— Marina Gu, Director, Customer Success
What recent advances in AI technology do you find most exciting? How do you see them impacting our world?
“There are so many incredible developments in AI right now [ChatGPT] that I believe we are at the beginning of a new way of working that will change how we spend our time. Some of the advancements that have already been made are enabling people to free up time to focus on things they have skills in and are passionate about.” — Salazar
“One of the most exciting developments in AI for me is the voice and language-driven intelligence. My mother only speaks and understands Vietnamese as she had to raise my brother and me as a single mother in America, a foreign country to her for most of her life. With modern voice and language-driven intelligence technology, I’m able to text with her in Vietnamese and understand what she is texting me through the power of technology. This AI development has continued to change the way we communicate with each other and increase communication across the world, creating a new unique power for our voice.” — Tiffany Dang, Manager, People Operations
“The most exciting developments are in the field of digital transformation where global enterprises are now embracing AI as the key to improving business and resource optimization, hiring for the skills they need vs. the roles, and creating value out of the compounded data learnt by the AI over the years. I can’t even imagine the wisdom some of the AI platforms will have a decade from now and steer these organizations in the most innovative direction. So it is all the more important for every organization, whether small or big, to embrace AI now to reap the benefits of it in the near future.” — Lingala
“I’m excited about AI removing human bias from the hiring process. This will give people an equal opportunity to earn those leadership roles in tech.” — Cappello
What’s the most unusual or unexpected skill you have that’s helped you in your tech career?
“My curiosity! I am always curious about how and why something works the way that it does. This has been especially useful for me here at Eightfold to use that curiosity to dig into the platform and products.”— Tania Humphrey, Senior Solutions Consultant
“I knew I had the ability to work well with others, but to my surprise I started to really enjoy working with data and analyzing reports and metrics, and part of that is having the opportunity to grow into a position that allows me to play a more strategic role with the data I manage.” — Dang
Can you share the most impactful lesson you’ve learned throughout your career?
“If someone asks you for help, an answer, or guidance, if it’s quick for you to do (under 10 minutes), it’s worth doing. A manager told me this early in my career, and it is a mindset I still hold today. The benefit of building trust and relationships is far more valuable than those few minutes. It’s those ‘in-between’ bits of work that let others know they can rely on and trust you.” — Gu
“The most important lesson I’ve learned as I grow in my career is to stop doubting myself and be more confident. Specifically, as women, I feel like we have a tendency to self-doubt. There are no dumb questions or bad ideas. If I am able to keep this self doubt aside and trust my instincts and my intelligence, I make better decisions, do better at work, and am able to be happy in my work, which is the most important.” — Malhotra
What is the most valuable career advice you’ve received?
“True leadership isn’t about managing people or delegating tasks. It’s about serving others and guiding them toward a common goal. This can manifest itself in many ways and in various roles. When we lead, we make a meaningful impact on the lives of others. We empower them to grow and achieve their goals, and we create a culture of trust and respect. Leading is about recognizing the strengths and potential in those around us and helping them to develop those qualities.” — Nguyen
“Be grateful for being in uncomfortable situations at work, as they are the only fictitious teachers that teach you with utmost honesty.” — Lingala
“Never become complacent.” — Humphrey
Did you know that diverse teams, especially those that hire, support, and advance women, perform better? Read more about the importance of championing DEI in your organization in our latest report.