International Women's Day: Celebrating our leaders at ConnectWise
Look within the technology industry and you’ll notice a growing trend: women are leading and innovating everywhere you turn. What was once a male-dominated industry is becoming increasingly diverse, with more and more women founding software companies and positioning themselves at the top.
In fact, a female founder recently became one of the few females to run a multibillion-dollar business. We’re, of course, talking about Whitney Wolfe Herd, founder and CEO of Bumble - the online dating app that puts women in the driver’s seat.
And it doesn’t just stop with technology. In the United States, we’ve elected Kamala Harris to be our first female Vice President, the highest elected position any female has ever had in this country. And around the world we currently have 21 women elected as heads of state.
Make no mistake about it, we’re seeing a shift.
However, as this year’s International Women’s Day theme points out, we still have work to do. The 2021 theme is #ChooseToChallenge, which calls on people to celebrate women’s achievements, raise awareness against bias, and take action for equality.
If we all come together, we can ensure that women continue to have a voice and an influence in the world. To quote the late, incomparable Ruth Bader Ginsburg, “Women belong in all places where decisions are being made. It shouldn’t be that women are the exception.”
Here at ConnectWise, we want to take this opportunity to recognize some of the fantastic female leaders we are fortunate enough to call colleagues. Although this is not a complete list of all the women who make our workplace great, we want to say to each and every one of you: we see you, we hear you, we value you, and there’s no way we could do any of this without you.
Jennifer Locklear, Chief People Officer, Tampa office
Jen proudly leads our HR efforts here at ConnectWise. However, she didn’t always work in the tech space. In fact, Jen started off as a project manager in the financial industry, where it became clear to her that she did not want to pursue a formal project management role. She was fortunate enough to have a boss who was willing to point her in a different direction, introducing her to a friend who was hiring for a tech start-up. Within two years, Jen was in an HR role and she has never looked back!
For her, the pace of the tech industry is a speed she likes and she’s particularly inspired by the impact that technology has on the world.
Over the years, Jen’s dear friend Keri, who owns an HR consulting firm, has been a great mentor, teaching and modeling what it means to be brave and take risks.
In Jen’s words, “Keri never second guesses herself on what is the right thing to do, and she always does the right thing, which is refreshing. She is loyal to a fault, wise, generous, discerning, and commanding. When I think about the type of leader and person I want to be, it is this person!”
Here at ConnectWise, Jen is energized by so many other female leaders who have dedicated their careers to this powerful industry. Having three daughters herself, she feels lucky to work in an industry where women can make such a significant impact.
Looking back, Jen would tell herself to jump! At several points in her career, she was complacent or fearful of making changes, which is strange considering she’s a risk-taker in other areas of life. But once she started jumping into career opportunities that scared her to death, like public speaking, she learned things she never thought possible.
Malathi Rai, VP Human Resources and Facilities, Maharashtra, India office
Malathi is the powerhouse who manages all aspects of the talent life cycle for our India team and who also works to keep our facilities in order.
While she can’t name a single person who has influenced her, she says her role model is any woman who has braved the odds to shine in her chosen profession. She’s proud of every single woman who has achieved something in every field, because every woman has a unique battle she has fought and we can all be inspired by one another’s paths.
Malathi shares a powerful story that illustrates exactly what she means:
“I once saw a lady driving a tuk-tuk, the 3-wheelers you find in Asia. Traditionally, these are driven by men, but she had taken to driving it to support her family after her husband’s death. I had a long conversation with her and discovered that her challenges were so unique. All the men driving tuk-tuks would get together to have lunch by the road-side. She ate alone. There were no proper toilets for her to use while she drove for 12 hours a day. At night, she had to worry about her own safety while coming home late. People vandalized her tuk-tuk and deflated her tires multiple times, so she took to sleeping in her tuk-tuk for a while to keep them away. Anything could have happened to her while she slept in her vehicle. Yet, she did it. I was so powerfully moved by not just her story, but her inner strength. Her life was so, so difficult, yet she narrated it to me with a smile and waved a cheerful good-bye. I don’t think she had any idea just how strong she was. She did it because she had to. And that’s the amazing thing about women. We don’t toot our horn - we just do it, like the Nike ad says.”
This story is an incredible example of how enduring, resilient, and impactful women are. With that in mind, Malathi says that if she could go back in time and give herself one piece of advice, it would be to stand up and speak out, because we all deserve to have our voices heard.
Madelene Campos, Software Developer, BrightGauge, Miami office
Like Jen, Maddie did not start off in the tech space. In fact, she was a seasoned and professional flautist for many years, playing with greats like Yo-Yo Ma. When seeking a change, she decided to use her training mindset to master a new skill: coding.
The career move has been an eye-opening experience. Maddie finds that working in the tech space is incredibly empowering. She delights in endless opportunities to learn and grow and better herself and is incredibly proud to pay it forward by sharing her knowledge with others who are either in the field or trying to break into the tech space.
In late 2019, Maddie started a Miami chapter of PyLadies - a group dedicated to women who love coding in Python - and has been co-hosting virtual events ever since.
Breaking into a new industry after having a whole other career under her belt was not without challenges. Maddie credits the women she’s worked closely with at BrightGauge for helping her build up her confidence immensely and for leveling up her skillset.
In particular, Maddie is grateful for fellow female leader Brooke Candelore, who mentored Maddie and continues to influence her tech journey.
“I am so thankful for the patience, understanding, and openness to take time to share knowledge with me,” says Maddie. “Through these women, I have learned not to be afraid to use resources available to me and I’ve learned the value of being patient with oneself!”
Maddie would like to tell aspiring coders and developers to trust in their ability to learn. Tech skills are not a gift one is born with; this knowledge is acquired and is constantly evolving.
Srividya Jagannathan, Senior Engineering Manager, Bangalore, India office
Vidya leads the Dyno Engineering Team, which empowers MSPs by automating end-to-end billing processes and she also works closely with the ConnectWise Invent Team to drive third-party integrations into the ConnectWise Marketplace. Her role requires her to motivate and push best practices within her team.
The reason she loves her role in the tech space is because she feels technology has leveled the playing field. With limitless possibilities, if you have the willingness to learn and the energy to execute, there is no stopping you. Vidya is proud to create and lead an empowered and engaged team.
It’s no surprise that Vidya has such a drive to lead. Her role model is her mother, Mrs. Kalyani. She was the only female Physics postgraduate student at her college in the early ‘60s and has played varied roles as a great educationist, parent, and grandparent. Vidya says traveling with her mother is inspirational, because she makes friends everywhere she goes. This is thanks to the great justice and value she has brought to the teaching profession.
In retrospect, Vidya has the following advice for her younger self: “Take risks. Never be afraid. Course correct as required. Most of all, apply the human connection. Take people along on your journey and share the joys of your success.”
Louise Simonds, Director of Engineering, Boston office
As Director of Engineering, Louise leads the engineering program and oversees teams from Eastern European vendors and our India offices. She considers herself a problem-solver who works to move her program forward.
The thing that she’s most proud of in her leadership journey is when a team member thanks her for helping them succeed.
“I don’t think it matters to my teams if I am male or female,” says Louise. “If they trust me and believe I can help them, they are willing to accept me as a leader.”
What a great message of equality.
This notion of staying true to herself is something Louise learned from her role model, a strong female VP of Engineering who Louise worked with when she first transitioned from individual contributor to manager. That VP taught Louise to always be herself, as that was a sure path towards effective leadership.
If Louise could go back in time and give herself some advice, she would say to ask for help or for different points of view on a regular basis. Being able to see things from a different perspective is the best way to learn and also to create professional relationships.
Kate Bachman, Director of Partner Communications, Boston office
Kate’s role at ConnectWise involves unifying all partner-facing communications and setting the strategy for how we communicate with partners across their various experiences with ConnectWise. In addition, Kate’s team plays a major role in incident response and reputation management.
Kate takes a lot of pride in being part of elevating the strategic importance of communications in the tech industry. Having originally started out working in agencies, Kate has seen communications receive a higher priority on projects and its impacts taken more seriously and believes she has played a role in making that happen.
She also feels so proud to work with her team on a daily basis, a team she describes as resilient, creative, intelligent, and filled with the most hilarious people she knows.
Throughout her career, Kate has admired the exceptional intelligence, empathy, and resiliency she’s experienced from colleagues around her and strives to model parts of herself after those people. Perhaps she is doing the same for those people she leads.
Kate has great advice for anyone starting out in her career. As she says, “I used to stress out and try to be everything to everyone because I felt like if I wasn’t perfect that I was failing, but that’s not true. We all bring value and our capacity to perform varies greatly day-to-day or even hour-to-hour and that’s normal. Some days we’re rock stars and some days just making the bed is an achievement - it’s all fine. We are each enough.”
We are constantly in awe of and inspired by all of our colleagues at ConnectWise and want to say thank you for what you bring to the table on a daily basis. We are proud to celebrate #IWD2021.