Relationships, Grit & Joy: 24 Women in Technology Leaders Share Advice to Next Generation

Written by Paige Dawson

Earlier this month I cheered on the Dallas Business Journal’s 2019 Women in Technology award winners. The annual event celebrates 24 women in the Dallas-Fort Worth who are leaders in technology and a lifetime award for Valerie Freeman. We celebrated their achievements in areas of artificial intelligence, database development, hardware, robotics, services, and other specialties. While I love supporting sharp, smart women in business, I was a bit biased as I was there specifically to cheer on one of our MPD clients, Dr. Patricia Connolly, CEO of SMC Squared. (Read more about her here.)

What was even better…the event team at DBJ did a masterful job of making the entire event interesting, diverse, and, even, humorous. Not your typical (i.e. boring) award bio intro and thank you speech repeated 24 times. As each winner was introduced to the stage, one of four moderators shared compelling points about the winner’s role and background as well as earlier answers they secured on more unique aspects that captured their essence and outlook.

Instead of the standard thank you speech on stage, each winner was asked to share 15 seconds of wisdom that she’d give to her younger self. Fascinating, right?! With each the room filled with of lots of nodding heads, knowing smiles and hearty laughs. Overall, three key themes popped up time and again:

  1. Surround yourself with people that will advocate for you, lend a shoulder, and be your cheerleader. Find a mentor, try to work under good leaders, and then become a great leader. Never burn bridges…it’s a long journey and small world.
  2. Grit, tenacity, and resilience are the hallmarks for success in business and in life. Take risks—yes, risk failure and use any failures as learning and teachable moments for your future success.
  3. Have joy. Celebrate the big wins AND the small wins, too. Find a role, a career, a calling that makes you jump out of bed every morning and truly feel alive. Slow down where you can and enjoy the ride.

What’s even better: Each winner brought such an authentic presence that you just know they could be great friends and supporters of each other. They truly seemed “cut from the same cloth” and with a similar DNA that just permeated the entire event.

Then it hit me—that common thread—that these women are truly our early adopters of women in technology. They shared how they were the only or one of just a few females in their departments or in their computer science classes when they embarked on careers 25+ years ago. They were, and still are, some of best glass-ceiling breakers in the STEM arena.

I invite you to read DBJ’s individual profiles of these ladies to be inspired by their stories. As one winner shared, “You can’t be what you can’t see,” so let’s inspire our next generations.

About Paige Dawson

With expertise in marketing, business strategy and public relations, as well as ‘in the trenches’ experience as a business owner, Paige Dawson brings a unique blend of talent to clients. As president and founder of MPD Ventures Company, Paige works with executives and entrepreneurs throughout the country to develop key messages, marketing strategies and measurable campaigns, driven by client business goals. She has extensive experience providing counsel for professional service firms, technology companies, associations and nonprofits.