At a ‘Women in Technology’ breakfast event held earlier this month in Chicago, Devbridge managing director Laura Graves was invited to speak about her experience working in a technology field.
One question posed to Laura: What advice would you give to yourself five years ago?
“Not to wait for anyone else to hand you an opportunity,” she told the audience, “but to create the opportunity for yourself.”
The event, hosted by General Assembly, featured a panel of prominent women who are leaders in respective technology fields. Each panelist shared how they’ve achieved their level of success and navigated the workplace. The forum also offered insight and ideas on how leaders can help advance and encourage the next generation of women in tech.
Joining Laura on the panel were other highly successful women in the technology field. Sharing their own experiences were Cindy Quendangen from Relativity, Kate Donaldson from The Mom Project, India Lott, MS from Cision, and Keaton O’Neal from Jellyvision.
Following her talk, I sat down to chat with Laura at Devbridge's Chicago office. She spoke about the event and how important it is for her to be a part of the 'women in tech' community.
What did you take away from the event?
"It’s interesting to hear the challenges that others have faced in their own career journey and how they overcame the obstacles they faced. Keaton’s story about her experience resonated with me. If you don’t set your own boundaries, coworkers and clients may lean on you until you have nothing left to give. While it’s important to be collaborative and do your part during peak moments, I believe people generally do their best work when they’re happy and well rested. As a manager, it’s important to nurture a company and team culture that allows individuals to do their best work—not squeeze the team for more every waking moment of their day."
How do you feel about the gender breakdown of offices in Chicago tech?
"Studies have shown that having greater gender diversity in leadership roles drives positive outcomes for the company as a whole, as it brings a diversity of thought to the decision-making process. My team at Devbridge is led by two female managers and is a 50/50 female-to-male split. I’m not going to pretend that those numbers are representative of the Chicago tech community, or even to Devbridge as a whole, but I do think it’s an indication that the talent is available in Chicago to have more gender-balanced teams."
How would you describe Devbridge?
"Devbridge builds custom software for Fortune 1000 companies at industry leading speeds without sacrificing quality or transparency. We focus on prioritizing work based on impact to the desired business outcomes. Devbridge is an engaging and fun place to work. I am surrounded by creative and intelligent people, working in a fast-paced environment to deliver solutions we can be proud of."
General Assembly, a technology education organization, has hosted similar panels around the country with the hopes of sparking a conversation about women's position in the field of technology.
As tech leaders like Laura share their inspiring success stories, the community becomes more welcoming for all—particularly those groups that are traditionally underrepresented in tech.
At the General Assembly event, Laura offered up some advice.
“Think of yourself as a consultant," she said. "Go into every meeting with an understanding of the unique contribution you are expected to add to the conversation in order to allow the group to make a decision. Don’t be intimidated by the other meeting participants—if your input isn’t critical to the meeting, you wouldn’t have been included.”
Laura has been an active supporter of women in technology and plans to continue encouraging and engaging the community.