The four women in technology profiled here have reached high managerial niches through their business acumen, their sense of what works practically, their wisdom about peoples’ working relationships and their ability to persist.[caption id="attachment_3339" align="alignleft" width="155"] Emily Mercurio[/caption]
How many women do you know who hold the Ph.D. in Geology? Few to nil, I’d bet. And how many women do you know who hold this degree and now lead their own companies? Few to nil, I’d bet again. Emily Constantine Mercurio is one such woman.
“While studying for my Ph.D.,” she mentioned, “I was raising a family with my husband, Matt and our two, small children.” Clearly, Emily eats challenges for breakfast.
After completing her Ph.D., she didn’t bask in the feeling of a grand achievement. “For 20 years, I worked in academia and for companies in the geospatial marketplace, and at an oil and gas company to learn what it was like to work as a professional geologist. This was especially helpful in learning about the business of geology,” she pointed out.
During this time, a lifelong desire to lead her own business came to the fore. And she launched her dream, CivicMapper, as President and CEO.
What made this launch even more impressive, Emily had few mentors who could teach her how to walk, talk and think like a President and CEO. “My first job was at a small 8(a) geospatial services company founded by a woman CEO. I thought there would be more diversity of leadership within this industry, but that wasn’t the case,” she emphasized. I am fortunate to have had the experience of working at a woman-led company early in my career. This enlightened me on what was possible.”
Emily arrived at her own presidency without the refined financial knowledge an MBA degree would have provided. She had to master financial acumen by asking for help, attending seminars, and learning by trial and error while growing her company.
She’s now leading CivicMapper in the use of geospatial technologies and spatial-based information management for projects in wastewater, storm water, infrastructure and environmental monitoring.
What’s good for business is also good for Emily’s marriage to her husband, Matt, “Because we work together in our business,” she emphasized, “we always have something to talk about.”[caption id="attachment_3340" align="alignleft" width="141"] Peggy Malady[/caption]
Peggy Malady, President and CEO of All Lines Technology, experienced the good fortune to be born into a family business, FireFighter Sales and Service, led by her father, Vincent Showalter, a World War II veteran and self-made man. She grew up in the business and did all the jobs with family members to keep the business running.
In 2002, the Malady family was considering expanding its IT department, when the opportunity turned up to purchase All Lines Technology, an IT company itself, and to make Peggy President and CEO. Today, All Lines Technology is a woman-owned company known for delivering cost-effective, industry-standard IT solutions.
“In our internal corporate hierarchy, I may be at the top,” Malady pointed out, “but as far as our business goes, the customer is at the top.” She instills this customer-first concern in the employees of All Lines Technology. She often reminds them to always try to do the right thing for the company’s customers.
Malady’s strong family background pervades All Lines Technology. “I work to create a sense of family among our employees. Above all, I strive to keep this a happy place to work and to create an environment that’s inviting for everyone,” she offered.
Malady encourages a collaborative give and take and welcomes employees’ views in creative and problem-solving meetings. She mentioned that just because she’s head of the company doesn’t mean her views are always the right ones. She supports the sharing of views and welcomes ideas from those who work for her.
As the leader of a company, Malady has a specific view to share with other women entrepreneurs. “Be true to yourself,” she emphasized, “and maintain your core values. This is more important than ever, if you really want to succeed in business.”
A time may come when Malady may want to retire and hand over the reins to another. Will she place her trust in a man or a woman? When asked this question, she replied without hesitation, “I’ll select the best person to do the job of leading All Lines Technology.”[caption id="attachment_3341" align="alignleft" width="149"] Toni Murphy[/caption]
Ask Antoinette Murphy – or Toni to employees and colleagues – what she does for a living, and she’ll tell you that she, an African-American woman, is Vice President of Comcast Business here in Pittsburgh, that she’s one of the 10 youngest vice presidents in the company, and that she leads 150 employees. Comcast Business is a leading provider of business-internet, phone and TV systems for large and small businesses. This includes its Business VoiceEdgeTM cloud-hosted PBX system, ideal for small to mid-sized businesses.
Toni got to where she is today, because she laid out a game plan early in her career that, with adaptations, has kept the business odyssey purposeful. She has now been with Comcast for nearly 10 years, and she’s moved up to her present position of vice president through operations, project management and financial strategy.
Is she assertive? You bet. “Along the way,” she says, “it’s been important for me to know who I am, where I want to go career-wise, and how to get there. And when people in the company think about a woman executive, I want them to think of me.”
Whenever someone at a meeting fails to give her eye contact, she makes a point of reaching out to that person, getting to know him or her, and telling her story. “If I don’t tell it, somebody else will,” she said.
Murphy’s leadership style is pro-employee. “Every day, I call people higher. I encourage them to take the brakes off and be courageous. If they are relentless, they will live out their dreams and their life’s purpose, and will improve their craft.”
Her wish for all the individuals she connects with during the day is to feel strong about who they are and that they’re connected to what they do at the company. She achieves this in one-on-one, mentoring conversations about problems that may arise. “As I empower people,” she emphasizes, “the work I do benefits them, their families and Comcast Business.”
Murphy is like a rock thrown into water that emits ripples of inspiration and care across Comcast Business.[caption id="attachment_3342" align="alignleft" width="143"] Vanessa Jameson[/caption]
Ever tried to learn a new language? Not an easy task. That’s why there’s Duolingo. This company offers 75 courses across 29 distinct languages. Now valued at $700 million, the company has 200 million users. Duolingo’s mission is to make free, language education available to everyone in the world.
What’s it like keeping a startup like Duolingo growing? Also, not an easy task. That’s why there’s Vanessa Jameson. She’s Senior Engineering Manager for the company. She collaborates closely with 101 individuals throughout Duolingo, including the company’s executive team, team managers and teams.
Jameson leads the Social Team, currently involved with Clubs, a new part of the Duolingo app under development. Clubs will enable individuals to speak with other people learning the same language on Duolingo. “Clubs relates directly to the mission of Duolingo by enabling learners to practice the language they’re studying. This sets learners up for eventually conversing with a native speaker,” Jameson emphasized.
Her Social Team comprises six people involved with developing Clubs – a product manager, a designer, three engineers and herself, the team manager. She also manages a team that’s exploring paid online advertising – a new initiative at Duolingo.
“My job is to keep everyone on track as Clubs unfolds and we go to market with it,” she added, “We all share a broad scope of responsibilities.”
Language learners who use Clubs to speak with other learners of the language they’re studying will gain an active, or speaking, use of the language they’re learning in addition to a passive, or reading, use of a language.
On any one day, Jameson may be involved in writing code for a product, handling product analysis or mentoring an individual. “Now, during a large portion of my day,” she emphasized, “I’m involved in analyzing how customers will use Clubs. The results of my analysis on customer use will help us to decide which direction we should take with this new development.”