Women In Tech: Meet the women behind @Pay

Women’s History Month in March is a great time to reflect on women’s role in technology.  At @Pay, we’re proud to have a diverse team, with over a quarter of our staff being women. 

We’d like to introduce you to some of the women at @Pay:

Dawn

Tell us your story. How did you end up in tech?

My background was primarily in retail buying and merchandising, but I was looking for a change of pace and being in the heart of Silicon Valley, I decided to make a leap of faith and join WebEx Communications in 2001 (then still an up-and-coming private tech company). WebEx an exceptional training boot camp, with a large sales team and a fun, but fast-paced environment, which was a perfect starting point for getting into the technology space. After WebEx, I moved on to a start-up web analytics company called Fireclick and moved to Mountain View, Ca.  Shortly afterwards, Fireclick was acquired by global e-commerce provider, Digital River, I then joined the BlueHornet email marketing team, which is where I spent the last 10 years before joining @Pay. After hitting a 10-year milestone, I was open to seeing what else was out there in evolving technologies.

What have the highlights and challenges been during your tenure at @Pay?

@Pay peaked my interest first from the consumer standpoint, I am a huge online shopper and have over 80+ username/passwords, for various sites.  Manny Ju, @Pay’s Director of Partnership’s recently moved to @Pay from BlueHornet and was very excited about the two-click express checkout via email.  Manny mentioned me to the CEO, John Killoran, who called me immediately.  I was sold on the company and technology by John, who is very charismatic and passionate about @Pay, along with the rest of the @Pay team, so I decided to make that my next home.

As for challenges, I would say moving from a 2,000-person corporation with standardized processes to a start-up environment has been one of the top challenges, but I’m enjoying the change. The other challenge would be learning new industries, specifically non-profit and bill pay versus my last 10 years of working primarily with internet retailers has been the biggest challenge, along with learning more around the payments industry.

What do you most want other women and young girls to know about being a woman in our digital culture?

One piece of advice is to continue to read up on your industry. If that is e-commerce, payments, etc., it is always evolving. Follow trends on social media (which we didn’t have 10 years ago, when I started), subscribe to business publications, both digital and direct and join networking groups via places like LinkedIn.

What do you think is the biggest issue for women in the workplace? 

In my opinion, and I can only speak to sales, there has been and still is a small percentage of women in sales and leadership roles for technology.  I have seen first hand less then 5% of the sales teams are women in any tech job that I have been a part of in the past.  Not exactly sure how to change that.

What do you want @Pay to accomplish in the next year?

I want to help @Pay be the leader in express checkouts for non-profits, bill pay and retail.

Shari

How did you end up in tech?

I didn’t specifically set out to work for a technology company.  It was really the start-up experience that drew me in.  Throughout my career, each of my positions has involved starting and growing an organization, a business, a division, a new program or a major initiative.  I’ve held leadership positions in nonprofits, financial services, human resources and the entrepreneurial sector.  When I had the opportunity to help start and grow @Pay, I knew that I could bring all of these diverse work experiences and combine them with my business background for an exciting challenge.  The fact that the start-up was in a new sector for me, technology, was an added bonus, as I always love to learn new things and face new challenges.

What have the highlights and challenges been during your tenure at @Pay?

The highlights and challenges at @Pay have been many.  Some of these include investing in building a great company while safely guarding and wisely using investor funds; becoming substantially more flexible with the rapid changes in direction at a start-up company, figuring out answers to questions that have never been posed before because our technology is brand new;  creating and defining an entirely new market sector that consumers don’t even know yet that they need!

What do you most want other women and young girls to know about being a woman in our digital culture?

Women and girls today have access to any sector in which they want to participate, including our digital culture.  The qualities that make someone a valuable employee in the technology sector are the same as any other – drive, communication skills, agility, problem-solving skills, continual learning, and demonstrated leadership ability.  Women and girls shouldn’t exclude any sector from consideration.  It’s much more about the fit of the company, people, and quality of the experience wherever she chooses to apply her talents.

How can we encourage more women to work in tech companies?

Be willing to take risks.  Be willing to stretch and try something new.  You are probably much more powerful than you realize.  Our world has substantially changed from 20 or 30 years ago, and all jobs require a level of agility and initiative that must be an inherent part of a woman’s skill set.  So, take the leap and join a field that will be on the forefront of jobs for a sizable time in the future.  There are powerful female leaders now in tech, which is an inspiring and exciting asset.

How has mentorship made a difference in your professional and personal life? 

I have always had mentors and been a mentor to others.  Mentorship is critical no matter what our role in a company or what our job is.  I have mentors in my personal life too – other parents whom I respect and aspire to be more like, community leaders whom I admire and learn from.  The best thing a woman (or anyone) can do is always surround herself with people who make her stretch in new ways and better herself.  And then she needs to turn around and serve that role for other women around her.  Since my first job out of college, I have made it a point to have mentors who are both female and male.  I think this is a critical in order to continually develop balanced aspects as a professional.

Which other female leaders do you admire and why?  

Eleanor Roosevelt has always inspired me.  She was one tough cookie who was way ahead of her time and helped steer through challenging political times.  Yet she had a deeply meaningful spiritual side of her and great wisdom that guided her to live through principals and character.

Nora

How did you end up in tech? And how has your previous experience aided your role at @Pay?

My training and formal education is in mental health counseling, which surprisingly comes in handy in my role at @Pay.  Therapy is all about assessing complex situations and solving problems, and I use those same skills every day when responding to our company and customer needs.

How can we encourage more women to work in tech companies?

Make startups feel less like fraternities!  Really, though, the lack of women in tech companies can result in a failure to understand female employees in terms of things like motivation, relevant incentives, benefit preferences, effective feedback mechanisms, etc.  Addressing some of these common cultural elements could make tech companies more appealing to women.  Also, encouraging STEM involvement for interested young girls is key – it’s about allowing them to see those as real careers options for girls too.

Which other female leaders do you admire and why?

I think a big question for women my age is how to balance the personal and the professional.  (While it’s also true for men, we seem to talk about it more in regards to women.)  I so appreciate prominent women like Indra Nooyi and Sheryl Sandberg saying, flat out, “it’s not possible to have it all.”  The honest conversation about what sacrifices women should be prepared to make is really useful.

Meagan

How has your previous employment experience aided your role at @Pay? 

I made a leap from music into publishing. I had written weekly columns for various newspapers, but had the golden opportunity to work for a small arts magazine directly out of college that had recently relaunched.

When I started at that magazine, it was really the beginning of social media marketing for businesses and even publishing. There were no classes offered yet to teach it–it was too new and the sites were changing drastically every week. Everything I learned was by trial-and-error, blogs by other budding social media marketers, and unofficial coffee meetings with local ladies who were in similar positions at different organizations.

Because publications are in the business of churning out constant great content, it was a great industry for me to learn community engagement and digital marketing. No matter what product you are marketing online, content is always king.

By taking this unplanned route through publishing, I was more prepared for my digital marking position at @Pay. I was accustomed to the many hats worn at startups; I understood PR since I had been on the receiving end of story pitches; I had ample experience in producing quality content at a fast pace; and I learned how to best distribute and market that content.

What have the highlights and challenges been during your tenure at @Pay?

The biggest challenge for me was learning a new language. I went from arts, music and writing to talking about technology, online security and payments. Drastically different!

Our CEO, John Killoran, was patient with me as he instructed me on a whiteboard about how APIs work along with SPF, DKIM, ISOs and a long list of other technical acronyms related to how our technology works in the payments sphere.

I’ve never been afraid of the stage–whether playing an oboe concerto or emceeing an event–but I was terrified before going on stage for my first live pitch at a tech competition. It was a mere two minutes, but I was so afraid I’d get this foreign tech-language wrong. To my surprise, we were one of the winners and I feel much more confident with this new vocabulary and more confident I understand how the technology actually works.

What advice can you offer women who are looking to start a career in digital marketing?
You have to absolutely love educating yourself every day. You will never know it all because digital/social media changes yearly, monthly, weekly, daily. You have to actively seek out thought leaders who have their thumb on the pulse of these changes and really take the time to understand and test them out.

Networking is extremely important for digital marketing–both online networking and traditional networking. If you are aiming to get marketing news about a product out to the digital world, you need to be sure you have a large and engaged network.

And, of course, consistent great content is a must.

How can we encourage more women to work in tech companies?

I think women of all ages should consider working at tech companies. If you’re in high school, learn to code. If you’re in college, learn data science. If you’re in marketing, extend your knowledge to digital marketing. If you love finance, become the CFO. If you love HR, join a tech company and hire more women. Any traditional job position out there can be applied to a tech company. More women should learn code, but it’s not a requirement to be successful at a tech company.

Tech companies are a wonderful spot for women to further their career. The energy can be addictive if the company is moving at a fast pace. Stock options are also a great perk of many tech companies.

I find the men to be very welcoming to women in the workplace–I think they also crave that natural balance. …And how can you not want to work somewhere that allows you to shoot your coworkers randomly with Nerf guns?? It’s just fun!

Leave A Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.