International Girls in ICT Day
On April 28th, TechOnPurpose supported the Girls in ICT movement by hosting a happy hour, bringing together our partners and STEAM community leaders to connect women to opportunities in the industry and inspire future generations of technology professionals.
During our “In Her Words” segment portion of the event, women changing the face of STEM shared their career journeys and why they are passionate about STEAM. We are so grateful to have had the opportunity to be joined by these women and learn from their personal experiences. Thank you to our speakers below!
Kelli E. Ballou-McMillan, Five9 | Xposure Inclusion & Diversity Council
Jackie McIntyre, Five9
Nicole Cooke, Cisco
Madelyn Webster, Aircall
Kelsey Driscoll, MPM, Upbring | ChangeDAO
Amanda Horvath, AH Visions
Lauren Lev, TechOnPurpose | Life Beyond
Recap Girls in ICT Day with us by viewing the event photos and our speaker’s “In Her Words” segment below.
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EVENT PHOTO GALLERY
Thank all you guys for coming out. For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Lauren Lev and I’m the Marketing Manager for TechOnPurpose. And I want to thank all of you guys for coming out here tonight to celebrate International Girls in ICT Day. This is a global movement we’re all part of to encourage and inspire the next generation of STEM leaders. And I’m sure all of us can agree that we need some more women in science, technology, education, arts and mathematics, am I right? So I’m probably the most excited about tonight’s event because I get to wear two of my hats. I get to wear my TechOnPurpose hat and I get to wear my Life Beyond hat, where I help women find their spark, find their purpose in life and to become an intuitive entrepreneur. So I’m very excited that you guys are all here tonight to witness that and to witness all of these beautiful women behind me doing the same in their own journey. So at my core, I believe that it’s dangerous to be alive and not know why you were given life. And you don’t have to just take my word for it. I’m sure every one of us up here is going to tell you a little bit more about how we’ve discovered our mission and what our life is about. And not only that, but also taking actionable steps to make an impact not only in our own communities, but in the community at large, right? So tonight’s event, obviously, unfortunately, is not about me. It’s about connecting young women to opportunities and inspiring the next generation of leaders, which we have one of the newest members of the next generation right here, very happy to hear. So one inspiring leader is Sheryl Sandberg from Facebook. So she says the word female when inserted in front of something is always with a note of surprise, female CEO, female pilot, female surgeon, as if our gender implies a surprise of ability. One day there won’t be female leaders, there will just be leaders. And that is why we’re all here tonight. So in a moment, you’re gonna hear from all of these ladies who are changing the face of STEM in the industry. And you’re gonna hear in their own words why they are passionate about inspiring the next generation of leaders in their own individual sectors. So first up, joining us via video- unfortunately, Kelli Ballou-McMillan couldn’t be here in person. She’s actually wearing her mom hat tonight, and she’s got her son’s baseball game. But Kelli really wanted to be a part of the day so she went ahead and pre-recorded something. She is actually a fearless leader in the tech sector, aiding individuals and organizations in building inclusive environments to improve company culture. As the Director of Global Partners at Five9 and Founder of Xposure, which is an inclusion and diversity council, Kelli is devoted to challenging stereotypes and turning a passion for technology into a successful career. So without further ado, we have Kelli Ballou-McMillan.
Hi, everybody, I am so excited to come to you virtually. Unfortunately, I can’t be there today, because I have some little people who need me to be at their baseball games. But I am so excited that Lauren and TechOnPurpose have pulled us all together to celebrate girls in technology. That is super, super close and near and dear to my heart as a Director of Global Channel Partners Five9, but also the founder of Xposure Inclusion Diversity Council, which is our industry’s first business resource group where people can come and be themselves and network and really find a tribe of people who are trying to do good in the communities that were to serve. One of the things that is the reason why this is so near and dear to me is because I had an opportunity from an amazing woman mentor to learn everything about the current industry that I’m in, to learn everything about tech and be comfortable in my skin and in my space and in the software field. Not only did she teach me things, but she also allowed me to mess up. She also allowed me to ask questions, allowed me to show up and be myself. And I feel like that’s why I have been able to excel and to grow as quickly as I have in this industry. I have only been in it for seven years, but it feels like a lot of time. However, that’s one of the things that’s what I wanted to do and came back with Xposure, not only to the network. And we spend time with each other, we elevate each other. Also mentors, we offer mentorships. And so it’s been really, really fruitful for those who go through mentorship and have someone that they can lean on and ask questions of that may or may not be within your organization. Tech is really cool girls and ladies in the room. And it’s not that difficult. You know, a lot of people think that to be in tech, you have to be a coder, or like my colleague, Jackie, who’s in the audience. And while she’s pretty amazing, I actually sit on the sales side of the house. And on the sales side of the house, I get to help bridge the gap between the customer and what they’re needing and the technology that’s the right solution for them. Also, we need people that can do products, we need accountants, we need lawyers. So all of these fields, and all of these career opportunities are still within tech. And then you can have our friends who are extremely inspiring, extremely bright, that will also help us with our AI journey, machine learning, coding and engineering, like Jackie. So I hope that you guys have an amazing time today, if there’s anything that I will leave you with is just to know that the universe is the limit. And as we know the universe is living within us. So please, if you have any questions, you’re more than welcome to reach out to me or reach out to any of those wonderful women that are there sharing their stories with you about why they’re so passionate. And making sure that you guys know that we know that you can do anything you want. Have fun tonight, and I look forward to connecting in the future!
She’s the cutest. Well, next up- I feel like Kelly did my job for me- but we are introducing Kelly’s partner in crime, Five9’s Solutions Consulting Manager, Jackie McIntyre. Feel free to call her Jackie Mac or Jack Mac, she totally approves. I got her approval before I introduced that, but here’s Jackie in her own words.
Thank you. It’s funny, because everybody thinks that I have this engineering background, I don’t. I actually started out many years ago and went and I got my master’s in architecture. So one of the things that I think we sometimes find ourselves in is, life is a journey, right? We go down a path, what happens? Things don’t necessarily work out, whether that is in career choice, it could be anything, right? There is nothing wrong with stopping, looking around and taking that other road. I went from working on- you know, I had a master’s in architecture, I practiced for three years. Fate just happened that my husband and I moved to California at the wrong time. And I just could not get a job in that field. I actually went and started managing restaurants. And from there, I was asked if I wouldn’t mind taking a short stint in the IT department for a restaurant chain out in California. I thought, “Okay, I can do that.” And that’s the other thing, you could do anything for a short period of time. Try it out, you never know. I did that. After that, I ended up becoming part of the permanent IT staff. Why? I used to joke around because my husband worked at IBM, I guess that’s the only critical criteria I needed to get that job in fact, but it happened. But from there, I made the leap and went to the technology partner, the technology provider, the technology I was implementing in these new restaurants, did that for a while. And then from there on somehow I ended up in the call center space. When I interviewed for my first job, the guy went to say, do you know anything about call centers? And I was like no, but I’m the user, right? I call it and I know what it’s like, I know what it’s like to be a consumer. So I know what it’s like to call into call centers. I have enough technical background now that I could get myself in. I actually started as a trainer in that contact center product, because part of the thing I’ve always been doing is training people, training people how to use systems, training people how to do whatever the task is. So from there, I did that for a few months. And six months later, I ended up as a Solutions Consultant. And I’ve been there for about 20 to 25 years now. From going down one path, to a couple of different companies, now managing a team of eight solutions consultants, they’re great guys. I wish I could find more women to bring on the team. Because I think women are amazing at our ability to understand the root problem, and then come up with options of solutions. What inspires me is really that- Finding people that can do those more complex things, whether your background is in technology, whatever you were doing in the past, it doesn’t matter. If you have the aptitude and the desire to learn and do the next thing and stop- “That looks interesting for a little while, let me do that. Hey, that didn’t work out, I’m going back.” It’s okay, you can do that. You can be that. I think that’s what makes my life exciting. I’m always looking for what the next thing is. Who knows, I tried selling software. I didn’t like that. I’m a sales engineer. I’m a technical person. So just like me, you know, I took that step back, and it’s okay. So try it. Take that next adventure, wherever that might be. I think you’ll enjoy the road.
Thank you, Jackie. Before I let you go, if you had to share one piece of advice for the future women in STEM or even the future generation, what would it be?
Impostor syndrome is real. And then, as women, we face it every single day, I don’t think guys really get that. We will ask the guys in the room, but at a certain point, because you’re at that table. At a certain point, you should feel comfortable, to express your opinion, to express your knowledge. And one of these days, you may be thinking that you’re faking it. And one of these days things are going to come out of your mouth and you’re gonna go, holy crap, I know what I’m talking about! It’s the coolest thing. And I laugh hysterically because people go, oh my God, you’re so knowledgeable. I’m like, really, I’m still that person that has a little bit of the impostor syndrome in me. But I’m not. I’m the voice of people. I joke around with people. Sometimes I’m the Captain Obvious. I state that you know what, that doesn’t work that way. Let’s go this way instead. It’s easy for you to take that path to you know, you belong at the table, your opinion matters. Say it, what’s the worst that can happen? Most of the time, they’ll go hm. And even if you are too crazy, they’ll still go hm. But at a certain point, you will say the right things, and you will be seen as that person. Don’t be afraid of that.
Awesome. Thank you, Jackie. All right. Next up, let’s hear from Madelyn Webster from Aircall. Tell us a little bit about who you are and why you’re passionate about women in STEM.
Absolutely. So thanks for the introduction. Madelyn Webster, I am the Senior Channel Manager at Aircall, which is a contact center for SMB. And so my job is similar to what Kelli gave us in her message in that I’ve worked with partners like TechOnPurpose, to help them, you know, feel comfortable with our product and build relationships, and then go out and look into the people that they’re speaking with. Really trying to help because as a contact center, which is saying we’re users, we all have that. And so it’s really important. I used to joke that one, it’s not rocket science, you know, where I’m not saving lives. But at the end of the day, if we’re saving, you know, minutes, seconds on each interaction we’re doing, we actually are making a big difference in the world. Even if it doesn’t seem like it. And I think that’s what’s partly so important about this STEM market, is that we just don’t always see the value in what we’re doing when we look at it from a big picture. And then all of a sudden, you start to put all of it together, and it does make a big difference. But I have been in the industry for almost nine years. And so I got into it very unconventionally. I did not choose technology, it chose me. I was a communications major in college- I’m studying human behavior, interpersonal communications, and I thought it was so interesting, I thought I was going to do something totally different. And then I ended up getting an opportunity to interview for an internship at a contact center company. And I thought, well, I’ve seen that company before, let’s look to see what that’s about. I had no idea what the channel was, what a contact center was. All I knew was I asked the people around me and they said talk about the cloud. So I built a whole presentation about the cloud, and I go in there with my little PowerPoint and he’s like, Oh no, just whiteboard. Okay, if I can literally just draw a cloud, you know. And so I ended up getting that. And then I’ve been in the industry ever since. And it’s kind of, you know, I joke, it sucks you in. But similar to what you were saying, when I started, I didn’t know anything at all. And then at first, all of a sudden, you start picking up more and more. And then once you learn the foundation, the rest of it comes pretty naturally. And I think one of the things I worried about, in addition to just the imposter syndrome, was I was so young, I was the youngest person on my team by 10 years. And I was terrified that everyone was going to think that I didn’t know what I was talking about, even if I did. And so people would say, oh, like, how old are you? I’d say well what do you think? I would never tell anyone, I tried to keep my personal life very separate. I thought I was always trying to be the person that they wanted me to be so that then they would respect me. And what I ended up figuring out was that when I kind of let that go, and was my authentic self, my career took off and I started doing much better. I think part of that’s your own confidence, when you’re being yourself, you feel better. But in addition to that, I heard a stat, I don’t remember what the exact numbers are. But essentially, they found that between people who were putting on a persona and the people who are their authentic selves, the same amount of people will like you and dislike you either way, because you’re gonna find some people who like this, and some people like that, and a little in the middle. And so truly, you know, go out there, be your authentic self. And that’s the most important thing you can do. It’ll help you be successful.
Thank you. Awesome. All right, next up from Cisco, we have their program manager, Nicole Cooke. Now, by challenging stereotypes, and turning a passion for technology into a successful career, Nicole is helping Cisco lead the global movement to change the face of STEM. Here’s Nicole in her own words.
Hello, and thanks for hearing us. Yeah. So a little bit about my journey into STEM. So in middle school, I thought math and science were really cool. And you know, my teacher pulled a couple of us girls aside, we did this kind of math and science magic show for the whole school. And she pulled us aside and said, Hey, y’all can do this, like, you can do whatever you want in math and science. And I was like, okay, that sounds cool. So I definitely thought it was a good idea. And so, you know, going into high school, I knew I wanted to be good at math and science. So what does that mean? Like, okay, I can get some decent grades in it. But I realized, you know, I could get 100’s in English and History, but I can’t get a 100 in Math and Science, but that’s why I loved it. Because I didn’t know everything about it. I had to study. I had to, you know, have some excitement in it. And so, I think my main takeaway, especially for anyone who’s younger, is it’s okay to not be amazing at something and still love it. So when I went to college I was like, Okay, I’m gonna do engineering -Failed classes. You know, so it was like, I failed solids and fluids, but I was amazing at thermodynamics. So I’m like, Okay, this doesn’t make sense. But that’s okay. You know, it’s okay to fall on your face in one class and then be amazing at the other one. And so, I knew I still wanted to do math and science, like I still want to do engineering. So I’m just going to stick with it. And so I think, really, it’s all just about perseverance and just really making sure that you’re putting yourself out there, and you’re making sure that you’re doing things that you enjoy. So as long as you enjoy it, you’ll just be so productive about it, it’ll be so much happier. So that’s what brought me to Cisco, is that I just really love science. And so we love today, Girls in ICT Day. I love working with middle school and high schoolers. That’s how I got excited about science. And so yeah, anytime y’all have any middle school/high school thing, I would love to talk a little bit about me.
Perfect, thank you, Nicole. Next to the mic, we have Kelsey Driscoll. And I’m going to keep my intro very short because what Kelsey does is way above my pay-grade. It’s not even funny. What I do know is that she is at the intersection of social impact and technology, actively supporting efforts effecting positive social change, that our world clearly so desperately needs. So Kelsey, without further ado, take it away.
All right. So again, hi, everyone. My name is Kelsey Driscoll. I’m a Senior Strategist at Upbring Innovation Labs, which is an innovation lab that’s part of a larger upgrade nonprofit that is dedicated to breaking the cycle of child abuse. So I lead our web three strategy there. And basically what that means is I come up with new and innovative ideas to pilot to push the child healthcare sector forward. And my passion project at the moment is called ChangeDAO and it is a decentralized autonomous organization on the etherium blockchain in the NFT marketplace. So it is a decentralized autonomous organization, which just means that it’s an organization on the blockchain. It is on the theory of blockchain, which is a specific protocol. And what we’re building is an NFT marketplace for social change art, or protest art, to build movements in weaponry. So yeah, that’s a little bit about my background. You know, I really resonated in the imposter syndrome stuff, the fail first stuff. It’s how I got into web three. In the culture of web three, there’s this saying that we’re all gonna make it or bragging. And that is the spirit that got me into web three and I’m not a coder. I’m not a developer, I used to work in tech consulting and management consulting in DC, but my background is in public policy and social impact. And I saw, you know, web three and blockchain those are tools to use to advance your mission. They are not an in and of themselves solution. It’s how you use that. And so I got really jazzed about web three, and the ability to create economies and opportunities for people who are left out of traditional markets. And that’s what really drew me to it. But I I had a lot of learning to do. And I did a lot of embarrassing myself. But I had a really great group of people. And I failed fast and often. And I learned really quickly. And yeah, I think that’s my biggest piece of advice for anyone getting into anything. One, stay curious. Two, chase your joy. Three, don’t be afraid to fail. Because yeah, like, you know, that creativity is- Julia Cameron likes to say this, if anyone is familiar with the Artist’s Way, the book about creativity, you know, the creativity is not in the done, it’s in the doing. And so if you keep chasing that joy, and keep doing the work, and keep doing things that you love, and keep learning new things, opportunities will present themselves. I didn’t know my job existed, either of my jobs. I didn’t know they existed before I was in them really. And I just kept getting myself into situations and different sectors. You know, as I said, I started on the Hill in DC. And I started and I was like, I want to change the world. And I got there. And I was like, oh, maybe Capitol Hill is not where I want to do that. And then I searched in the corporate sector. And then I was like, this is where I want to change the world. I’m gonna do federal government contracts, I’m going to do social impact contracts. And I realized, like, oh, wait, never mind, I’m bumping up against this system as well. And I kept kind of pivoting and bobbing and weaving. And I still do that, right. And we do that through our own careers. We are not the same as our parents’ generation where you can just get into a job and get into a union, and 30 years later you retire with a pension. That economy doesn’t exist anymore, or not in women’s industries. And so, I think, you know, security, job security is kind of a myth. So keep chasing your joy, creating the future that you want, the opportunities that you see yourself in, the life that you’re dreaming up. Because, you know, as I said, I didn’t even know any of these opportunities existed until I stumbled upon them from chasing that joy.
Awesome, thank you. So next up we have my long term dear friend/ I might stalk her on the internet a little bit too much, Amanda Horvath. I actually met Amanda- I don’t know how many years ago was that? Like four or five? At a dinner she was hosting called “Eat Dinner and Change the World.” My good friend Jeff invited me as his guest and it’s been history ever since. And I will say there must have been something in the wine or something in the cheese or something because they’re both here today in front of you guys talking. So I will let Amanda introduce herself a little bit more.
Thanks for having me. We’re excited to be here, you guys. Yeah, so I’m Amanda Horvath. I have a YouTube channel and an online course business and very much the post 2020 type life online space. But really, the kind of path to getting there was the same situation as everyone, right? Bumping up against things, testing out tons of different methods or jobs, internships, all these different ways of looking at things like, what do I hate doing so that I could find what I actually love doing. And it started in film school. And film is generally speaking a male dominant industry. And I would go to these panels just like this. And I would see these women up at the front talking and someone would ask them about, like, family life. And they’d be like, Oh, family life, what is that? Like, I don’t even have a boyfriend or whatever. And there was just like this part of me that hated that. And I was like, no, like, I want to be a mom, I want to have that be a part of it. And so it was really, very early on looking at the lifestyles of these jobs that I’m getting into or these internships and saying, like, working 12 hour days on set, no, thank you, like, pivot next thing. Okay, editing behind a computer for 12 hours a day, like, also not my thing, and slowly kind of navigating that process. So I really think that following your inspiration is the best thing that you can do. Like what feels easy. And sometimes that can be challenging, because easy and money don’t always go together. But I think that there’s something that really happens that can be magical when you follow that, because I always like to say, clarity comes with action. So if you just take one step in front of the other, that thing that might feel easy, might connect you with the right person that then leads to X, Y, and Z that then leads to the money in the bank account that helps you survive. So today, I’m really passionate about helping other people get their message out into the world with video in a way that’s affordable, and easy and fun, because no one wants to do it when it’s not fun. And so, yeah, I do that on YouTube and through online courses.
Absolutely. And I mean, if you had to leave one piece of advice for the next generation, what would it be?
Learn yourself through personality tests that are out there. The more that you can have words for different parts of yourself that you can’t necessarily describe to other people, the more you’re going to gain clarity about who you are. And if you lean more into those traits, then that’s going to once again, lead you towards inspiration, and away from like the weaknesses and different things like that and focusing on those areas. And human design is the one that has made the ultimate difference for me. So look that up.
Absolutely. And I will say I know a lot of assessments. But I will speak for Amanda when I say she taught me so much about imposter syndrome, her and Emma, who’s on baby duty, which totally changed my life because I saw these two as someone who had it all together, had this YouTube channel, had this business, had this platform. And then when she told me like no, I also feel like an impostor sometimes, I was like, Excuse me What? Like, tell me how to get over this because this is terrible. This is like impacting every part of my life. So I really liked the fact that all of you women up here are influential and powerhouses in your own right. And we’ve all dealt with impostor syndrome. We’ve all dealt with self doubt. And we’ve done it anyway. Which is so beautiful. And I love that.
I love to think about Brad Pitt, he has imposter syndrome. Everyone has it.
That’s true. It’s very true. So before I close this out, I want to really quickly go around. In one sentence, If you have to say one final last piece of advice for the next generation, like it’s on your epitaph, it’s on your gravestone, what is it going to be?
Chase your joy.
Just do what makes you happy.
Yeah, be yourself. Be authentic. And you know, learning yourself as a part of that but to learn yourself and be comfortable in your own skin.
You can do anything.
My last piece of advice as I close is, it takes just as much energy to dream big as it does to dream small. Only you can decide what you’re going to do. So find your spark, find your joy, find your magic, find what lights you up and do it anyway. You’re going to fall, you’re going to stumble, surround yourself with women who are going to be there for you. There is safety in sisterhood. Don’t only be an influencer, be the influence. Never stop questioning, never stop dreaming. It takes just as much energy to dream small as it does to dream big.