A Look at Our Recent Event with Vrbo (formerly HomeAway)
Featuring the CEO of Expedia and the President of Vrbo (formerly 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 Vrbo and PowerToFly hosted an evening that included Vrbo's president, members of its executive team, and the CEO of Expedia, Vrbo'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.
Vrbo 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 Vrbo 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 Vrbo, 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.
Vrbo 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."
Jenny Donnelly, Head of Platform Engineering at Nextdoor, is no novice to the tech world—she came on the scene when most of us were still using dialup. If you were to look at the linear progression on her LinkedIn profile, you might think she'd had her sights set on rising the ranks in Silicon Valley since she was an undergrad.
Tips from PowerToFly's Strategic Global Enterprise D&I executive, Dionna Smith-Keels
If you are someone who works in Diversity and Inclusion or is passionate about seeing more diversity in your company, you may feel overwhelmed about where to start. When it comes to D&I, the best place to start is at the top. If you really want the work you do to have an impact, you need to get leadership at your company to buy-in to diversity efforts.
How She Overcame Self-Doubt & Became a Full-Time Software Engineer at Quip
Have you ever dreamed of pivoting into the world of software engineering? Claire Johnson, a self-proclaimed chemistry nerd who landed a chemical engineering job straight out of college, certainly hadn't… that is, until she took her first programming class online at Stanford. Now she's a full-time software engineer at Quip, Salesforce's productivity platform. "I never would've thought that I would do this when I graduated college," she explains, laughing.
For the boss you loved, the coworker you hated, and everyone in between
Two things are inevitable when someone leaves your team at work: there will be an abundance of sweet treats (I'm partial to those giant cookie cakes from the mall) and there will be a card passed around for everyone to scrawl the professional version of sweet nothings in. Depending on the "importance" of the person, you may get the bonus activities of farewell gifts and/or an all-team champagne toast.