When it comes to recognizing women leaders in tech, Springbox doesn’t have to look far. Two of Austin’s most decorated female digital leaders are right here on our executive team. In fact, with a company made up of 47% women, you could say that Springbox is a place where strong women thrive.
That’s why this International Women’s Day, March 8, Springbox's Chief Vision Officer Megan Coffey and Chief Experience Officer Maria Seaver will help lead a Women in Technology Panel at the historic Chateau Bellevue as a pre-SXSW 2018 kickoff.
International Women’s Day: a history of taking charge
The first International Women’s Day crashed into the world in 1911, with over a million people participating in demonstrations all across Europe. The goals then were suffrage and equal employment rights. Well, the vote came in 1920, but we’re still working on those equal employment rights. In fact, technology, one of the most forward-thinking industries, suffers from one of the poorest gender representation track records. That’s the idea behind the Women in Technology Panel.
Sponsored by the Junior Austin Woman’s League and the Young Men’s Business League of Austin, the panel commemorates International Women’s Day by using the power of the past to inspire the future. After all, 1911 might have been more than a century ago, but those women were just as much in the vanguard of society as today’s digital leaders.
Bringing women together
The Women in Technology Panel brings together some of Austin’s most notable women leaders in tech to discuss everything from behavior modeling to mentorship to motherhood with ambitious women at the beginning of their digital careers. In addition to Coffey and Seaver, the panel features Sarah DeRocher Moore, Vice President of Brand and Revenue Marketing at Spredfast, and Becky Bui, Vice President, Strategic Alliances, at Social Native. Together, these four women have over 30 years of experience in the tech space, and they’ve accrued some valuable insight for women starting out. First step? Take gender out of the equation.
"Don’t think about yourself as a woman,” says Coffey. "Think about yourself as a hard worker.” It’s a familiar mantra to those who have worked with her. Her Linkedin profile is swathed in comments like “Megan is one of the hardest workers I know” and “Her work ethic is rivaled only by her amazing talent.” And it’s not just her coworkers who have taken notice. She’s been named one of the “Leading Ladies in Austin Advertising,” and she and Seaver have been called “The Dynamic Digital Duo.”
But she understands that hard work is only part of the equation. Being a leader means building up the people around you. “Springbox really invests in their leadership to forge a path to allow people to find what they want to do.” Coffey believes it’s this investment in people that makes Springbox such a great place for women.
That goes for leadership, too. Last year, after three years as Springbox’s Chief Creative Officer, Coffey made the leap to her new position, Chief Vision Officer. She credits Springbox President Mike Snavely’s confidence in her as part of the inspiration for assuming the new role. “Mike pushed me to recognize my own strengths and provide the leadership that the organization needed.” As CVO, she hopes to do the same thing for the company as a whole.
Mentorship vs. partnership
As president of the Austin chapter of Women in Digital, Seaver takes mentorship very seriously. But her time at Springbox has taught her that it’s equally important to share input as peers or partners in a roundtable format.
“We really are a relatively flat organization,” she says. “We all talk to each other and respect each other’s opinions.”
Seaver attributes this dynamic to Springbox CEO Tom West’s open-minded approach. “He’s trusted me to take on all sorts of new capabilities for the organization, and I’ve been able to spend time learning from people and making the right things work for Springbox.”
Seaver tries to provide that same trust and support for her team members, allowing them to always feel like they can speak up and express themselves. She encourages women to own their voice in the workplace. “Tom once told me, ‘People really want to know what you think, and that’s a big deal.’ You can’t be afraid to speak up.”
Work/life balance doesn’t have to be a high-wire act.
That goes for speaking up about major life events, too. Both Seaver and Coffey are mothers of young children, and that responsibility has brought a new dimension of challenges. But it certainly hasn’t slowed either one of them down.
Coffey says that Springbox’s leadership has always shown a great deal of trust and flexibility around work schedules and remote conferencing. Even with trips to the pediatrician or other unexpected outs, “There is never a situation in which I am out and I fear my boss does not think I am productive,” says Coffey.
This trust and flexibility extended to the respect the company showed for her maternity leave. “As a first time mom, reentering work is intimidating for many reasons,” she says. The executive team gave us the room to balance and reemerge, as well as the confidence that we were welcome and missed.”
The road to Digital Leadership
It seems like everywhere you look, organizations and events are popping up with the goal of getting more women involved in tech. Later this month, Girlstart's Girls in STEM conference will introduce about 600 girls to hands-on workshops led by women in science, technology, engineering, and math fields, intended to show the fun side of STEM. And last week, UT hosted Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day and the Girl Day STEM Festival for over 8,000 elementary and middle school girls.
Community groups like Junior Austin Woman’s League and Women in Digital provide environments for women to support and encourage each other. But what about once they’re on their own on the job?
Seaver encourages young women to “be the example” in their workplace. “Do the things you want to see your own leaders do.”
And the more women leaders we have, the more examples we’ll all be able to see. That’s the goal of the Women in Technology Panel: showing young women what female leadership in technology looks like and paving the way for them to get there, themselves.