Tech Up For Women: My New Female Role Models

Posted by Ilyssa Bernstein on Nov 25, 2019 2:02:00 PM
Ilyssa Bernstein

Fact: Nearly half of all VidMob employees are women. I wish I could have stood on my chair and shared this with the sea of women gathered at the TechUp for Women Conference at the Jacob Javits Center in New York City. Some fresh out of college, others with over 40 years of experience. What united these 1,300 attendees was a shared interest in technology and an unwavering drive to see more women joining our fast-expanding circle.

Tech Up For Women is an annual conference designed to promote the advancement of women in technology through education, resourcing, and networking. From Goldman Sachs and Pfizer to Soul Cycle and Adobe, women across a multitude of industries mingled and listened to presentations from a diverse group of powerful women. Each speaker followed her combination of failures and accomplishments to become the #BossWoman she is today. Below is a brief recap of three speakers that left a significant impact on me.

Randi Zuckerberg

Founder, Zuckerberg Institute

Entrepreneur, investor, and bestselling author Randi Zuckerberg entered the stage alongside Alicia Syrett ofPantegrion Capital for the second fireside chat of the morning. As Syrett took the lead, guiding us through a captivating conversation with Zuckerberg, the audience sat silent, with arching necks and open ears, soaking in every bit of advice she had to offer. The theme of the conversation was to never give up, no matter how many people (or how publicly), others may snicker at your dreams. My favorite anecdote shared was her adolescent dream of becoming a Broadway singer (same, Randi, same). After a hopeless attempt at headline marquees and centerstage solos, Broadway it seemed, had no room for her — not even in the chorus line. She picked up and moved west where her life took an unexpected turn and brought her massive success in tech. When The New York Times discovered her failed attempt at Broadway stardom, they publicly mocked her with an incredibly hurtful article. But that didn’t stop Zuckerberg. Fast forward a few years. She returned to Broadway as both a performer and a producer. Now, atop of all her Silicon Valley accolades, she is the proud recipient of not only one, by two Tony Awards. This time, The New York Times’ feature on Zuckerberg applauded her as a massive Broadway success.

Michelle Crossan-Matos

Vice President, Strategy and Transformation, Samsung Electronics America

I will now take a moment to recognize this absolute gem of a woman. I was not familiar with Crossan-Matos prior to Tuesday, but I for sure will never forget her. In another fireside chat, this time moderated by Stephanie Smeriglio Latham from Facebook, Crossan-Matos took control of the conversation in a way that was both inspiring and hilarious. She exuberantly shared her goal of leading a team rooted in diversity, and her belief that connecting with consumers from all walks of life only happens when a diverse group of thinkers ideate together. A woman of her word, she not only makes a conscious effort to hire for diversity but hosts en-office-soirées themed to bring employees together. For example, she organizes high teas where the new moms of Samsung are cordially invited to an unfiltered discussion on ‘new mom’ topics such as the brand of diapers that work best for their baby.

Evy Poumpouras

Special Agent, United States Secret Services

Not in the event’s program book, Poumpouras was the unexpected, mid-day pick-me-up none of us knew we needed. With an entirely unique background from any other women in the room, Poumpouras served as a member of the Secret Service under the Bush (x2), Clinton, and Obama administrations. Holy. Moly. With conviction supporting both her posture and words, Poumpouras taught us how we as women can take control of our careers using the same negotiation techniques she uses when INTERVIEWING TERRORISTS. She delivered an empowering presentation on how to interpret body language, and utilize verbal language, to get exactly what we want. Her book, Becoming Bulletproof, will be available April 2020, and I will not be putting it down until I’ve absorbed every single word. Excuse me as I bow down to: This. Total. Badass.

To learn more about Tech Up For Women, visit their website. #TechUp #TechUpForWomen


Topics: tech