J. Kelly Hoey

Women in Tech — Get a Seat @ the Table! #GHC17

As an investor, mentor and someone otherwise connected into the tech / innovation / startup / entrepreneurship field, I get to frequently rub-elbows with individuals enthusiastically doing really cool things. Some of these individuals are startup founders and others, like Pamela Rice, are seasoned executives working for large companies or organizations. Pamela is lead for Technology Strategy at Capital One*, driving short- and long-term technology strategy planning and leading the engineering team within Capital One Labs, where new products, technologies, and skillsets are incubated. Pamela is also the Executive Sponsor of Out Front, Capital One’s Bay Area LGBTQ+ Business Resource Group.

Pamela is heading to #GHC17 this week (as am I), and will be sharing her career insights in a session on how women in tech can “get a seat a table” to be a driving force at their own companies. As it’s my first #GHC17 — and knowing there will be many attendees looking to connect with leaders in the industry (like Pamela), — I decided to seek her guidance in advance of her panel (and before the bulge of networking commences in Orlando).

Q: GHC 2016 in Houston had over 16,000 attendees, and the event in Orlando is anticipated to exceed that. On top of the sessions there is the ever important career expo that affords attendees the opportunity to interact with potential employers. What advice do you have for young women (college students/young professionals) who may be overwhelmed with the career expo at Grace Hopper?

Pamela: The career expo at Grace Hopper can certainly be overwhelming, but doing a little pre-event prep will help set you up for success. Make a short list of companies you’re really interested in speaking with and visit those booths first. From there, be open to adding additional companies to your list as you navigate the expo. Grace Hopper is full of innovative and highly-regarded technology companies — so check them all out!

[The Career Expo is massive! Spend some time with the GHC Career Expo floor plan and exhibitor list before you go!]

Try to spend time speaking with the company representatives at each booth vs. just running through the career expo, dropping off your resume. Share your interests — technical and non-technical — and if you’re not familiar with what technology a company is using or creating, ask open-ended questions to learn more.

[Note: Submit your resume for the GHC 2017 Resume Database if you haven’t done so already]

Finding a company that’s a great culture fit is also important. Don’t be afraid to ask questions that help you learn more about what it’s like to work at that organization — what’s the office environment like? Are teams co-located or spread across different offices? Do you have groups or programs for Women in Technology? Do you have any philanthropy or corporate giving programs? Do you encourage employees to volunteer? Do you have learning and development programs?

I’m hugely focused on diversity and giving back to the community. A meaningful life to me means not only building great things, but helping others, so you can bet I’d be asking companies at Grace Hopper about that!

Additionally, think about topics that speak to you from a practical or inspirational point of view, and attend sessions of women who are ahead of you in their careers. Many of us who come to speak at this conference want to provide useful information that will help you learn from our successes and failures, inspire you, and set the seed for you to embrace your success.

Q: What are you most excited about in tech right now and why?

Pamela: My job is to stay on top of the latest trends in technology, so I have a long list of things I’m excited about. Take Machine Learning, for example. At Capital One, we’ve already made great inroads fraud detection and cybersecurity, but imagine a future where we can use machine learning to help our customers predict future spending and savings patterns based on key life events, like getting married, having a baby, saving for college and more. Machine Learning has implications in all areas of our business and it’s exciting to be at the forefront of the next technology revolution.

I also think one of the biggest trends coming over the next 20 years is that you won’t need to know how to code, to code. You’ll be able to build things without having that specific skillset. I also believe 3D printing and the Internet of Things (IoT) will fundamentally change our trade industry by moving to local commerce with personalization becoming the norm.

Q: What resources do you recommend for technologists to stay current in their field? (Conferences — specific or broad, networking or skill-building organizations, bootcamps, following specific influencers on Medium, social media, or traditional media, etc.)

Pamela: When technology changes as fast as it does today, the toolsets also change at accelerated speeds. I’m a big believer that you should never stop learning. The common ingredient of successful engineers is the ability to learn new skills, and conferences like Grace Hopper are a great way to gain new skills and network with other female technologists. You can also deepen your technical acumen through a variety of online resources like Udacity and General Assembly.

It’s also important to build your network of mentors and champions. They may not be people you go to for help learning the next new programming language, but there will be people in your life who help you navigate uncertainty, tackle tough challenges and help you get to the next level. Find women — and men — you admire and cultivate a relationship with them.

[Couldn’t agree more on the importance of being a lifelong learner AND finding mentors!]

Pamela’s #GHC17 session “CR300: Women in Tech: Get a Seat @ the Table!” is on October 4 at 11:30 am in Hyatt Regency Ballroom S. Find Capital One at Booth 2329 in the Career Expo.

My #GHC17 session “CR403: Hello, It’s Me! Differentiating Yourself With a Multidimensional Career” is on October 5 at 11:30 am in Hyatt Regency Ballroom V.

*I’m proud to partner with inclusive companies, such as Capital One — and yes, while I’ll be checking out the keynotes and other sessions at #GHC17, you will also be able to find me in the Career Fair at Capital One’s booth.


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