Career advice for women in tech from leading women at Mercatus
For women who are new to the tech industry, navigating career opportunities can seem overwhelming when you consider the current state of the job market and the added gender disparities of the industry. Despite some progress in increasing women’s representation in the tech industry, they are still significantly underrepresented, especially in leadership positions.
The Ladies of Mercatus (LOM) community is an online network of women across our organization who share and connect with each other. Originally established through our shared Slack workspace, the community has grown to organize lunches over Zoom and virtual coffee chats to invite conversation and learn more about each other. This community is also my go-to for asking about career advice for women looking to start careers in tech.
Career advice for women in tech from the LOM Community
I found that the LOM community was a great way to connect with women from across the organization. In order to gain insight into being a woman at a tech company, I spoke to four women in leadership positions at Mercatus.
These women have had widely different experiences and career journeys, meaning they each had a unique perspective to share. Here are four pieces of advice each of my co-workers shared about developing a successful career in tech:
Bring your perspective to the team
The best way of demonstrating your learning and experience is by sharing your perspective with your team. With new trends constantly emerging in the tech industry, it’s important to bring fresh ideas that invite collaboration among team members.
When Marishel Santo Domingo, Product Manager at Mercatus, first joined the Product Team, she was the only woman. In my conversation with her, she highlighted the importance of inviting new perspectives to the team, “the solutions that we offer to the market are often used by women, so having a women’s point of view on the Product Team is a benefit because we can provide insight into that shopping process.”
As someone who describes herself as an artistic individual, Marishel did not expect to find herself working at a tech company. “I started working at Mercatus as part of QA, but I became more interested in joining the Product Team because I found so many opportunities to learn and grow.” As a Product Manager, Marishel is able to contribute her expertise in key decision making discussions as well as let her creativity thrive.
My role at Mercatus allows me to learn about all facets of our product. With technology constantly changing, I’m wondering how our product can evolve along with it.Marishel Santo Domingo
Marishel’s passion for learning and growth has empowered her to lead with influence, facilitating team discussions to invite fresh perspectives that help modernize Mercatus’ solutions.
Don’t underestimate yourself
An important lesson to learn, especially in the tech industry, is the idea of believing in your skills and experience. For Supriya Gownivari, Platform Team Leader, this was an important one, “do not let anyone tell you that a task is too complex for you to solve.”
Supriya recommends breaking down problems and solving them one step at a time. “I enjoy problem solving. I will take large tasks and break them into little tasks that I can easily accomplish. I also make sure to set aside low priority tasks that I can easily solve if I need to pull away for a better perspective, they also act as confidence boosters.” By leaning on your skills, experience, and most importantly, yourself, you can accomplish the tasks that you set out to do.
For a problem solver like Supriya, working in tech allowed her to assess situations from different angles and provide insights that others may not see, “prior to joining Mercatus, when I’ve taken on senior positions and had to tell my fellow coworkers the right way to accomplish a task, they would have a hard time believing me. Trust your skills and let your work speak for you.” Supriya went on to share how working at Mercatus has been extra fulfilling because of our workplace culture.
Being a part of a diverse team where everyone had mutual respect for each other created a safe space for innovation where I felt like I could contribute my ideas and feel valued.Supriya Gownivari
Supriya was also among the first few who had the opportunity to test out our new graduated return to work program, “I had one month to gradually return to work. It helped me reconnect with the people on my team, understand the progress that was made, learn and still give attention to my little one as needed.” Overall, Supriya found the new program to be supportive of her new routine at home and in the professional work environment.
Lean on women for connection and support
Our shared Slack channel for the Ladies of Mercatus is a community of women who can support each other as our organization grows. In speaking about how the LOM community has built connections, Alicia Sarris, People and Culture Manager, shared, “We’re able to share openly, hold space, provide support and learn from one another in an environment that feels safe and comfortable. We’ve shared articles and resources that we as women can connect with.” Opportunities for connection are crucial for young women looking to build their network.
I love helping connect young women to different industries, especially within tech. To know that, as a people leader, I’m able to act as a mentor and share the lessons that I’ve learned along the way is very fulfilling.Alicia Sarris
Alicia originally joined Mercatus because she was looking for an organization with a supportive workplace culture. “I had a good feeling about Mercatus. Here, I get the opportunity to work with an amazing leader who I’ve learned so much from.” Leaning further into the People and Culture team’s dynamic, Alicia shared, “Having another woman like Christine [VP of People and Culture] on our team is empowering and fun. I see her as a role model to whom I can express my ideas and feel valued for sharing my thoughts and feelings.” Alicia’s drive for growth and inclusive employee benefits led her to work with her team on a new parental leave program.
The new gradual return to work program for parents allows women to transition back to work gradually over a 4 week period, allowing them to become comfortable with their new daily routines. “We want to provide new moms returning back to work with a sense of balance and support. We plan to provide resources to support parental leave planning, meet with them to build a plan that works for them and their family, schedule regular check-ins to see how the transition is going along the way.”
Be open to mentorship opportunities
Mentorship allows you to learn from experienced professionals and grow your skills in tech. It’s also an opportunity to build strong relationships and gain access to a network of support.
At Mercatus, many of the women on our team have taken on mentorship roles, especially towards young women who are at the beginning of their careers. One such mentor is Kelly Savoy, Senior Manager on the Engineering Team. In speaking about her passion for mentoring, Kelly shared, “watching someone grow into themselves and into their careers is incredibly motivating for me, especially when I see someone I’ve mentored go on to offer that support to others. They have such compassion for others and are always volunteering to help individuals both internally and on other teams.”
But mentorship doesn’t have to end when you’re at the beginning of your career. The more conversations I had with the women at Mercatus, I realized that they had built a network of support. While on a call with Kelly, she recalled a story about working with Marishel, “she [Marishel] was explaining that a task was taking longer than she wanted it to, so I showed her a different way to do it, cutting the time down to seconds.”
This supportive company culture is what leads these incredible women to creating solutions that regional grocers can navigate with ease. As Kelly went on to illustrate, “We all want to build a platform that offers the best possible experience to our retailers and makes their lives easy.”
As a young woman starting a career in tech, you should also be open to becoming a mentor in the future. When I asked Kelly if she had any more career advice for women, she advised, “be open to giving mentorship as well. Don’t worry about how many women are on your team because someone has to be the first, second or third.” Becoming a mentor not only develops your communication and leadership skills, but also allows you to be an advocate for other women looking to join the tech industry.
Celebrating the Ladies of Mercatus
This year’s women’s day celebrations included our first LOM Awards to recognize and appreciate the work that the women at Mercatus have contributed to the organization. Everyone at Mercatus was invited to vote for women on our team who have made a positive impact within the company.
In addition to the LOM Awards, we also attended an exclusive Cool to Connect session. The session presented a unique opportunity for the women on our team to come together and connect over shared experiences. To keep the self-reflection going, we were also sent a Cool to Connect guided journal.
I’d like to thank all of the women who agreed to have a conversation with me about their experience working in tech. I left each session having learned something new and feeling empowered about my journey here at Mercatus. To know that I have these incredible women to rely on for support makes me feel excited for Mercatus’ growth.
At Mercatus, our people matter most
Learn more about our employee benefits and our commitment to providing team members with the support they need to professionally grow their careers.