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Featuring the CEO of Expedia and the President of HomeAway
When you convince more than 100 women in tech to come to an event on one of the coldest nights of the year, you want to have a stellar line up of executives from one of Austin's top companies discussing their diversity and tech initiatives. That's exactly what happened on January 17th when HomeAway and PowerToFly hosted an evening that included HomeAway's president, members of its executive team, and the CEO of Expedia, HomeAway's parent company.
For people who couldn't attend, we wanted to share a few quotes and anecdotes that moved the conversation forward in the room.
HomeAway President, John Kim: "In the last two years, there has been an awakening in diversity and inclusion. We are not going back."
Expedia CEO, Mark Okerstrom discussed how Expedia has made diversity a major initiative at the company by increasing the number of women on the Expedia board and expanding the number of women vice presidents.
Tina Weyand, Chief Product Officer at HomeAway discussed how "ideas can come from anywhere." She detailed how feedback has been key to her career. In fact, feedback is so valued at HomeAway that managers and teams recently received six hours of training on how to give constructive feedback that is actionable and unbiased.
Siobhan Burch, a Software Engineer at HomeAway, shared advice about returning to the workplace, something she herself has done after taking a five year break to raise her family. Burch leveraged her network of female supporters and kept herself sharp via internet courses to ensure that the transition back to the workforce was a successful one.
HomeAway Senior Strategic Data Analyst Nikole Phillips also stressed the importance of ongoing education citing advice her single mother gave her growing up in a low-income neighborhood in Philadelphia. "People can take anything away from you but they can't take the brain out of your head."
As one attendee, Violeta Albrecht, noted, it's important for women to not feel the need to hold back but to rather have a strong and equal voice at meetings, especially when you are one of the only women in the room. "I've taken myself off mute."
Whether you work from home or from an office, there will always be things that are out of your control. Maybe your office is always freezing, your coworker always talks two times louder when they're on the phone, or there's construction going on right next to your building. Or maybe your boss just won't stop asking you for more than you can feasibly finish in a day.