Hey there! It's Amanda, Director of Business Development at PowerToFly, and I want to tell you about an exciting event I'm hosting on 10/16 that I know you'll love.
Join PowerToFly and Autodesk, a leader in 3D design, engineering and entertainment software, for an evening of networking and discussions featuring Autodesk's women tech leaders. Interested? RVSP and we'll save you a spot.
If you've ever driven a high-performance car, admired a towering skyscraper, used a smartphone, or watched a great film, chances are you've experienced what millions of Autodesk customers are doing with their software. This event is your chance to hear from (and meet!) the women leaders and allies that make it all possible.
Autodesk speakers at the event will include:
- Paula Berggren, Senior Exhibit Designer
- Olivia Stuckman, Embedded Manufacturing Product Manager
- Tanu Chellam, Sr. Product Manager
- Mimi Hoang, Sr. Director of AutoCAD Strategy & Marketing
- Jessica Raedler, Conversational AI Lead
- Queen Denchukwu, Manager, Global Diversity Partnerships and Alliances
Want to attend? JUST RSVP HERE.
If you ask for advice about how to get a job at Google, taking an improv class is probably not something you’d expect to hear.
Yet, Monica Silva Gutierrez, Senior Program Manager at Google, found that improv not only helped transform her into the effective leader she is today but also empowered her to ditch the mentality of what she calls, “second class citizen” syndrome.
“Taking feedback is not easy for a person of color. When I used to get constructive feedback at work, this ‘second class citizen’ syndrome would creep into my mind, telling me I’m not good enough and I’m never going to get a seat at the table,” she shares.
For Monica, the principles of improv helped her to take feedback and run with it, rather than taking it personally.
“Improvisation really helped me learn how to integrate professional feedback and innovate on it, which is very much a part of the culture at Google,” she says.
We sat down with Monica to find out more about how her varied experiences influenced her career trajectory and her journey toward embracing her heritage in her professional life, and the advice she has for other Latinas to find their footing in the tech world.
From Texas Border Town to Change Management Powerhouse
Monica grew up in a border town in Texas and felt the pressure early on to assimilate to American culture for the sake of her success. She had taken the last name of her non-Latinx stepfather, and she has a white-passing appearance, which made assimilating easier.
“I was never really in touch with my ‘latinidad' as we call it because I was always trying to fit in. I have white-presenting features, so I could pretend,” she reflects.
She went on to study political science at St. Mary’s University, a Hispanic-serving school. Being around thousands of young adults just like her opened the door to her Latina identity a little wider.
“I'm glad I went there and had that experience, to be surrounded by people who looked like me and came from similar places,” she says.
After graduation, Monica’s career took her through some pretty interesting — and diverse — experiences. She worked as a Political Assistant on the Clinton/Gore Presidential Campaign, at the White House in the Department of Energy, as Director of Events at a meditation ashram (where she learned about improv), and as an executive in the nonprofit sector for democracy and social justice reform organizations.
The common thread throughout these experiences has been Monica’s aptitude for taking a practical approach to managing change.
“Throughout my career, I’ve built teams, grown them to scale, and helped them pivot and change,” she explains.
The Value of Sponsorship
While working in the nonprofit sector, Monica struck up a friendship with a tech founder through her meditation community. This person became an invaluable sponsor who opened doors for her to work at the intersection of nonprofit and tech.
“He took an interest in me and my career, and had access to opportunity, which I didn't have,” she says.
When her sponsor was working as a VP at Google, he tapped her for a Chief of Staff position. Google was focused on building an inclusive culture where everyone belongs, and he was certain that Monica was the best person to navigate these changes. She wasn’t so sure.
She remembers thinking: “I'm not a typical hire. I don't have a CS background. Also, I'm more of a generalist, and Google tends to hire people who are specialists and experts.”
However, after studying up on Google culture and preparing for her interviews with the help of a recruiter and career coach, she got the job. She then spent years successfully guiding the company through a major pivot, utilizing and building on her existing skills to help organizations transform from the inside out.
Hard Conversations, Reclaiming Identity
Monica is proud to work at a place that isn’t afraid to have hard conversations and to act on the conclusions of those conversations.
“Google is on the right side of some really tough values conversations that corporate America is going through. It's curious, and it wants to find ways to solve problems with compassion. Compassion is in Google’s DNA,” she shares.
Having these hard conversations with compassion provided the space for Monica to explore her identity more. Finally, the door to her latinidad was fully opened and she now feels that she has reclaimed her Latina identity.
“There were two versions of me: one at work and one at home,” she remembers. “But Google is a place where I could explore myself more, and I've been given permission to be me. Because Google is willing to have those tough conversations, I was inspired to publicly ‘come out’ as Latina.”
Part of that coming out was changing her married name to a combination of her mother’s and grandmother’s maiden names to honor the Latina matriarchs of her family.
She has also prioritized building community as the co-founder of the employee resource group (ERG) Latinas@Google, as well as uplifting Latina talent whenever she can — she learned through experience the impact a sponsor can have, and it’s a lesson she’s never forgotten.
“Someone else took a chance on me, and I want to do the same for others. I see so much potential and heart in the Latinx community and I want to shine as much light on that as I can,” she says.
3 Tips for Latinas in a Shifting Tech World
Monica thinks that the tech landscape for Latinas still isn't ideal but she's optimistic. On the one hand, excellent talent can go overlooked; on the other hand, the needle is moving toward more equity and inclusion.
“I think there have been many improvements around hiring and retention, as well as Latina talent filling more visible roles. I think leaders are listening and want to know how they can help,” she says.
For Latinas who want to find their footing in the tech landscape during this time of transition, here is Monica’s advice:
- Even if you don’t tick every box, put your hat in the ring. Sometimes you’ll be right for the job, even if you don’t meet every single requirement, so apply anyway. Monica recalls that a junior engineer she sponsored didn’t think she had what it took, but when she applied, she was promoted. “Now her team has grown three times. She's in a new org, under new leadership who recognizes her, her ability, and her impact,” she emphasized.
- Find a community, and collectively articulate your needs to leadership. Monica points out that leadership is listening, and now is the time to clarify needs through ERGs or other collectives. “We have to get really crystal clear about precisely what it is that we want and need,” she explains.
- Don’t be afraid to bring your cultural values into the workplace. Monica says that one value in her culture is taking care of others and that this has given many employees comfort and peace of mind during corporate restructuring. “I'm usually the one in the room that advocates for making sure that people are well taken care of, fully informed, and supported through change. I think that has a lot to do with my culture,” says Monica.
If you’re looking to be on the right side of important corporate tech conversations, Google is hiring!
While many sports-related careers tend to start with an interest in that sport, Eunice Lim admits that she doesn’t know much about basketball.
“Can I tell you about the rules of basketball? No,” she says while laughing. “But I do find it entertaining, and I love the culture.”
So how did Eunice end up with her dream career as International & Youth Expansion Lead at the NBA? Surprisingly enough, it started with an experience studying abroad.
While majoring in communications, Eunice took the opportunity to live and study in South Korea during her junior year of college.
“That was one of the best times of my life,” she shares. “It ignited my passion to continue exploring the world. And when I first started job hunting, I wanted traveling to be a part of my job.”
We met with Eunice to learn how she landed her dream job at the NBA, what it’s like to work behind the scenes of basketball, and her tips for finding your ideal career.
After Eunice finished her degree, she started exploring the job market and was open to any opportunities that would come her way. When a friend working at the NBA encouraged her to apply for an opening on his team, she didn’t hesitate.
Starting in a temporary role as Talent Acquisition Coordinator in the HR department, Eunice consistently self-advocated for, first, a permanent position, and then, for a position in the international sphere.
“When I was in HR, I took the risk of being transparent about my future aspirations and my interest in working international events,” she shares. “When something in the international space came up, they thought of me because they knew that’s what I enjoyed.”
Not only was Eunice clear from the start about what she wanted, but she also actively sought opportunities that aligned with her desires.
“I try to put myself in places and get myself the opportunities within the NBA to take on new assignments and roles in the international context. And because I had international experience under my belt, that's what ultimately led me to the role I have now.”
Since then, she has had nothing but positive things to say about all of the opportunities working for the NBA has given her.
She highlights, “Internally, there are lots of opportunities to move around, try different roles, switch departments, and take on different assignments that I never would've imagined for myself. I’ve had the opportunity to travel and attend major events, meet people that I've only ever seen on TV, and work with all different people of all titles and departments from across the company. I've been given the trust and empowerment to explore what the NBA has to offer me and take advantage of all of our resources.”
Working Within the NBA
The NBA, an organization mostly known for putting on sporting events and showcasing great athletes, is making an impact beyond the entertainment side of basketball.
This is evident through Eunice's current role, as International & Youth Expansion lead, where she focuses on referee growth and expansion on an international level.
“A goal of the Referee Operations Department is to branch out and expand internationally,” she explains. “I’m the point person for that growth and expansion. My role is working with International Basketball Operations and our Jr. NBA programs to set up camps and clinics for international referees and aspiring referees all across the world.”
Eunice also focuses on discovering talent outside of the United States.
“We know that officiating talent isn't limited to the states,” she points out. “We know that it's out there, we just have to tap into it and find the talent by running different types of training, in hopes that new talent could be an NBA, WNBA, G league, or BAL official one day.”
Apart from doing amazing work internationally, Eunice appreciates the overall work environment within the NBA.
“I'm so grateful every single day to be at this company, and that's because the people that I've met here are inspiring and they have been my biggest supporters,” she shares. “I love that everyone on my team genuinely loves what they're doing and believes in the work that we do. They're all self-motivated because the work that we do is coming from a place of personal conviction.”
Unlike the basketball stars seen at many NBA events, Eunice and her team don’t receive any publicity but are superstars in a different way.
“We have a deep passion for developing referees, offering and spreading the word to the youth that this could be a career path,” Eunice says.
Advice for Landing Your Dream Job
Eunice is in her fourth year with the NBA and feels she could do her job for the rest of her life. Here is her advice on building a career you love.
- Genuinely connect with people. “Network to build relationships with others, not just to ask for a job,” Eunice advises. “The reason I got into this role was that I had a conversation with my now manager about his experience working in Referee Operations and how that's shaped his personal career goals.” Eunice connected with colleagues and managers through curiosity and a desire to learn. And when opportunities arose, Eunice was recommended by the people she connected to.
- Show up as your most authentic self. “When people don't know who you really are you can start being led down a path or direction that you weren't intending for yourself,” Eunice explains. I was able to navigate my way into this current position because other people recognized my skills and potential better than I did. They knew which role would be a good fit for me.”
- Be confident in who you are. “It's better to show up as your authentic self than to show up as someone you are not,” Eunice shares. She illuminated this point by mentioning that just being yourself can get you to places you never even dreamed you could be in.
Whether or not you’re an avid basketball fan, you could find your dream positions in the NBA. Check out their job openings here.
For Shibani Roy, a Manager at Collective Insights, listening to her mood and energy level is key to finding a work-life balance.
“I like to be outside in my free time,” she explains. “When I'm feeling energized, I'm probably planning things with friends and family, watching an Atlanta sporting event, or going on a hike to enjoy the sunshine. Sometimes work requires long hours in front of my laptop.”
When she’s feeling calm she’ll enjoy life at a slower pace. “I might listen to some music or watch a movie, and have some time to myself.”
No matter her mood during her time off, Shibani always brings enthusiasm and motivation to her team. We sat down with her to learn more about how she built a career within tech as a consultant and now manager.
Pursuing a Career in Computer Engineering
Shibani was always a curious child. “I would try to fix things like toys and put them back together,” she shares. With the mind of an engineer, she naturally gravitated towards computer engineering as she matured. “In high school, I took a computer engineering course, and it taught a lot of hands-on, knowledge-based problem-solving. And that gave me a lot of satisfaction.”
When she reached university she knew the route she wanted to pursue, but didn't have a specific career in mind. “I didn't even know what a degree in computer engineering meant. I assumed it had to do with building computers, trying to understand the back end, coding, and how to create programs,” she confesses.
After graduating with her degree, she went the traditional career route of working a 9-to-5 job but soon learned it wasn’t a great fit. She found that she wasn't growing the way she wanted to.
Then one day someone mentioned to her the possibility of doing consulting work and the change of pace it could offer. “It might require some traveling,” she retells, “and bring some diversity around projects, industries, and clientele to help me really figure out what I wanted to do.”
So, she decided to try out consulting.
Stepping into the Tech World as a Consultant
Shibani ended up leaving her corporate job to pursue consulting full-time.
“I joined a consulting firm and I ended up loving every minute of it,” she shares with glee. “I was in multiple industries, different projects, and meeting so many different people up to C-levels and leadership.”
What gave Shibani the confidence to make this career shift was a supportive network and a unique skill set.
Within her network, Shibani has family and friends that have supported her throughout her life and helped her maintain a positive attitude. “I couldn't have gone this far without them,” she states. "Good changes happen when you're surrounding yourself with good people and good context. The right people in your life help set your path and career. No one can do it alone.”
What solidified her role in consulting were her particular skills. “I came from a client perspective where I knew what doesn't work and then jumped to consulting where I was the vendor, and could say here's how it should work. Coming with both of those experiences helped me be successful.”
Over time, her success encouraged her to realize her potential and set her sights on bigger goals. Yet when she wanted to pursue those goals she noticed a few barriers.
“I came from a large consulting firm where seniority and moving up the ladder takes a very long time,” she admits.
Shibani was willing to put in the dedication and had a vision for her next steps. “I wanted a role that people can look up to and try to follow," she explains. "It's not just about leading, it's about encouraging and showing motivation. I was ready for that next step.”
This next step would mean leaving her corporate job. She was looking for a smaller firm, where her work could impact the whole company and she was ready to move into a managerial role.
Becoming a Manager at Collective Insights
She eventually found Collective Insights where she was able to obtain the opportunities she was looking for. Collective Insights is a management and technology consulting firm that focuses on clients, culture, and community.
When stepping into this new role, she focused on building relationships between her and the other consultants on her team. “You want to create trust and build strong bonds,” she advises. “I think trust is a crucial part of any leadership role. Feeling as though your team can lean on you and vice versa creates a sense of team belonging. You can say all the right things, but trust is that glue that holds everything together."
One of her strategies for building this trust is connecting with her teammates on a more personal level. In addition to taking advantage of different opportunities, “I started expanding project teams, and working with others. And that helped me showcase the knowledge I bring to the table and how I can help this place grow,” she explains.
Once the trust was established she focused on building camaraderie within her team. "I try to show them we can talk about issues or frustrations. We can talk about where one might need more help. I saw a whole new dynamic after that.”
Creating an environment of open communication has allowed her to see the effects of her work. “I can be part of a team and show them what we're trying to accomplish and how that impacts the whole account, not just the project,” she shares.
Diversity in the Tech Space
Being able to relate to and support her team was a skill Shibani carried over from her days consulting. “In consulting, you have different teams and you have to learn different communication dynamics. You learn about different cultures and backgrounds.”
At Collective Insights, they understand the value of having a diverse workforce. Something that Shibani didn’t see when she first started working in tech. “I graduated in ‘04 and back then, the ratio of men to women in the tech space and corporate America was majority men.”
Now she has seen the needle move throughout her career. “With my experiences with different industries and clients, I can see a difference between when I first started consulting to now," she explains. "There are more women in leadership roles, even executive leadership roles.”
She particularly sees this change within Collective Insights. “There are so many types of backgrounds. It's amazing to see how diverse we are and how we all work together cohesively,” she shares with excitement. "I can see myself being here long-term and helping us grow. It's amazing.”
Advice for Women Breaking into the Tech World
Although the tech world is diversifying, there is still room to grow. For those women who are trying to enter the tech field, Shibani offers this advice:
- Be open to opportunities outside of your comfort zone. According to Shibani, these are growth opportunities. “You might think ‘this has nothing to do with my background’ but it could be something new that helps expand your portfolio,” she says.
- Be resilient. “There's a lot of discouraging people and experiences that might deter you,” she states. “You might want to change your mind as far as a career path, but disappointments or failures are going to happen.” Shibani advises not to take them personally. Instead “use them as a growth opportunity. Put it in your back pocket as a learning experience.”
- Be honest with yourself. “Ask yourself ‘Is this place for you?’ and follow your gut,” she encourages. Being true to yourself will help guide you in those moments of making difficult career choices or pivoting into a new role. "I think any woman in technology or consulting will be happy with who they are if they listen to themselves.”
If you are looking to combine consulting with tech, check out current openings at Collective Insights.
It’s hard for us to believe it’s been eight years since we started PowerToFly.
Today, we’re excited to share that after six months of fundraising and what felt like a million “no’s,” PowerToFly has closed its first official round of funding since 2015 (it’s been a long, “capital efficient” road, as our investors like to point out).
This investment will support us on our journey to becoming a truly end-to-end Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB) recruiting and retention platform. In addition to the press release announcing the funding, we wanted to take a moment to speak directly to all of you — our community members — to share more about what this investment means for you and the future of PowerToFly.
How we got here
As many of you will remember, PowerToFly began with an emphasis on increasing gender diversity in male-dominated fields through remote and flexible work.
We still believe wholeheartedly that remote and flexible work (we were fully remote even before the pandemic showed us how productive we can be outside of traditional offices) can help organizations attract, retain, and empower underrepresented talent, but our focus has broadened substantially since 2014.
After founding PowerToFly, it didn’t take us long to realize that we needed to help all kinds of workplaces (remote or not!) become more diverse, equitable, and inclusive, and that most importantly, we wanted to help all kinds of people find workplaces where they could belong.
That meant growing beyond gender, and looking at the many aspects of intersectionality regarding identity and experience — age, race, ethnicity, nationality, and ability, just to name a few — that contribute to truly diverse workplaces.
As two white women in this space, we’ve long been aware that this was not work we could do or should do alone. Yes, our personal, lived experiences as women and mothers (and in Milena’s case, as a queer woman and immigrant) helped inform much of what we first knew we wanted to change and improve in the workplace. But those personal experiences and identity markers come with their own privileges and blindspots that we’ve worked hard to address.
Learning to be better allies and to employ a truly intersectional approach to DEIB has required us to continually educate ourselves and challenge our own perspectives.
We couldn’t have done — and we could not do — that work without the support of our incredibly talented and diverse global team.
So as we share our excitement with all of you about this investment, we want to take a moment to THANK the team that got us all here. It wouldn’t have been possible without them. Their hard work, their perspectives, their questions, and their pushback have been a true gift, lifting us as company leaders, professionals, and people.
And, of course, we also want to thank all of you who have joined us on our journey thus far, whether by applying to a job, joining (or maybe even hosting!) a virtual or in-person event, or reading our content on the site.
We’re so excited you’re here for this next chapter — read on for more on what that will look like below!
Where we’re going
This funding — led by Morgan Stanley Expansion Capital, and with additional capital from: The Next Level Fund, in partnership with Hearst, Microsoft, and Walmart; Chartline Ventures; and Grasshopper Bank — sets us up to offer better, more supportive experiences for those seeking DEIB-informed networking, upskilling, mentorship, and job opportunities.
We’ll be able to offer more (and still free!) upskilling resources, covering everything from leadership development and industry-specific skills training to financial wellness, navigating disability disclosures at work, and breaking up with perfectionism. We’ll also be continuing to grow our Diversity Reboot Summit, the biggest summit series in DEIB today, and virtual job fairs. With this new round of funding, our job-seeking community members will have even more opportunities to connect directly with hiring managers and company decision makers, at our virtual events and in an updated community space.
And speaking of job searching, our freshly funded product roadmap includes all kinds of personalized updates to PowerToFly’s job search platform, with recommended jobs, hand-picked guidance for every phase of your job search, the ability to book 1:1 sessions with recruiters, and fast-apply functionality for open roles all coming soon. (To learn more about how this funding will fuel our development, including the launch of a DEIB membership platform for HR and People Operations leaders, read the full press release here.)
We’d like to think that’s putting our money where our mouth is — and we can’t wait to offer folks like you even more ways to build a career that celebrates, and doesn’t just tolerate, everything that makes you, you.
Yours in this journey,
Katharine and Milena