Celebrating International Women’s Day at TrueCommerce: Part II
This is part two in our series celebrating the women of TrueCommerce. If you missed the first article, you can read it here!
We’re back again to interview two more amazing TrueCommerce women, in celebration of Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day 2020. Today, we’re chatting with Nicole Toldi, the Manager of Human Resources for the United States and Canada and Jeanne Clizbe, the VP of Marketing Operations and Strategy.
Welcome ladies! So happy to have you here with us. Let’s dive right in with our first question: Can you tell us a bit about yourselves, including how you got into your chosen fields?
Nicole: I graduated from college with a double major in Management and Marketing. My first job was working as an admissions representative for a technical school but I realized quickly that the job wasn’t for me as it was more sales focused. I began thinking about what I enjoyed about the job and other jobs I had in the past. I really liked interviewing the students when they came to visit the school. I also enjoyed a job I had in college where I hired employees for an on-campus cafe. So I decided to go back to school to get my master’s in Human Resources. I graduated in 2010 so I’ve been working in Human Resources now for over 10 years.
Jeanne: I studied marketing but graduated with a business management degree. I started out my career in advertising, in the music industry, but I wasn’t sure that was what I wanted to do for the long term.
How I ended up in tech is kind of a “who you know” story. A friend of a friend launched a startup offering systems integration solutions. It was in high demand at the time and so they did very well very quickly. They needed a marketing person and I was looking for a new challenge.
They were working with a lot of technology providers and I developed some really good relationships with folks at Microsoft. Then I was moving to the DC area and there was an opening for a marketing position at Microsoft. I spent about ten years at Microsoft, from there. I guess the interesting part of the story is that career path was not necessarily anything that I planned out other than that I wanted to be in marketing. I just fell into the technology industry.
When did you start at TrueCommerce? What was your first role here? What do you do here now?
Nicole: I started at TrueCommerce over 4 years ago as a Sr. Human Resources Generalist. The last 4 years have really flown by with so many exciting changes in the company such as the acquisitions of RedTail, Datalliance, and ecUtopia and the divestiture from HighJump. Through all of these changes, I have been able to learn a lot and grow my career so I am now Manager, Human Resources for the United States and Canada while also providing support to our offices in Europe and China. When I first started, I supported about 150 employees in North America and now we are close to 350 employees.
Jeanne: I started at TrueCommerce in September 2015 as Director of Marketing Operations and Strategy. I have been very fortunate to grow with the company over the past four years and advance to a VP level.
Why is gender equality important to you?
Nicole: Gender equality is important to me because I think everyone should be treated fairly regardless of their gender or any other traits they have. When we recruit, we want to hire the best person for the job whether that is a man or a woman.
Jeanne: I think it’s important because it shouldn’t matter what your gender is—what should matter is your experience, your capabilities and the value that you bring. Although there have been huge strides in workplace diversity, especially in the last few years, the tech industry is still largely male dominated.
What’s the best part of being a woman in tech?
Nicole: This isn’t really specific to being a woman but my favorite part about being in tech is that it’s never boring. I mentioned previously that we have had a few acquisitions and a divestiture while I’ve been at TrueCommerce and I just love the variety of tasks that come with these different changes. Things are always changing and I feel like after 4 years, I’m still learning something new almost every day.
Jeanne: I think that it’s impressive to be a woman in technology because you’ve broken into a male dominated field. And I think the ability to do that adds to your credibility. I think marketing is more dominated by women so it was easier for me to get into tech from that perspective—if I were say a developer, I think that would be more impressive.
What’s the hardest part about being a woman in tech?
Nicole: The hardest part about being a woman in tech is that it is awkward at times. For example, when you show up to a meeting where it’s primarily male, they all greet each other with a handshake. Then they get to me and you can tell that they aren’t sure if they should give a handshake, a hug, or just do nothing.
Jeanne: I feel like I’ve been very fortunate in that I’ve worked for many men in my career and I’ve always been really supported and not discriminated against because I was a woman. So I don’t have any particular challenges with being in the technology industry as a woman.
One thing that I think is a big gender-based issue and not just in tech, is when women become mothers. I have seen many women, myself included, that have struggled with finding a good balance once they have children to care for. It’s not as easy to work extra hours and be on the road—you have to be even more disciplined and organized with your time to be able to go above and beyond and advance in your career. It can be very challenging and I’ve seen a lot of women struggle with it.
How do you think we can attract more women to careers in Tech moving forward?
Nicole: I think the way that we attract more women to careers in Tech is to show them that we select the right person for the position whether that is male or female. It’s also important to highlight that there are more women in Tech than there used to be. In 2015, women made up about 27% of our employee population in North America and in 2020, women make up around 31% of the same group. While 4% may not seem like a lot over 4 years, to me it shows that more and more women are choosing a career in Tech.
Jeanne: Education is key—there are a lot of STEM programs that are in place that are really helping to move the needle. I’m excited about the resources that tech companies like Microsoft, Amazon, Google and others are providing such as free training, coding events, hackathons and other really interesting ways of encouraging and educating young women. I think these programs are very creative in the way that they’re trying to make it more fun and inviting and show there are so many opportunities for women in tech.
How has TrueCommerce supported your growth as a professional woman?
Nicole: TrueCommerce has supported my growth by taking an interest in me as an employee. My managers and leaders have asked me where I want to go with my career and they have helped me achieve my goals. They support my growth also with training opportunities and mentoring.
Jeanne: I’ve been encouraged to pursue training, and other resources I think are necessary for my career development. I’ve always been supported, and recognized for the work that I’ve done here. As I’ve experienced in most places, your career is your responsibility. So if you want to grow, that’s something that you pursue and you make it known and you work to put a plan in place for that. The leadership at TrueCommerce have been very supportive every step of the way.
The International Women’s Day 2020 campaign centers on #EachforEqual. How do you embrace and strive for gender equality in your work life?
Nicole: Gender equality at work starts with the company’s culture and I think TrueCommerce does a great job at embracing both male and female employees. Our policies that we have in place benefit both genders and none of them are specific to one gender. For example, we offer parental leave that applies to both male and female employees where they can take 3 weeks to bond with a newborn or adopted child. A lot of companies just offer a paternity leave for males but we call it parental leave and it applies to both parents.
Jeanne: Honestly I don’t think of it as, “what am I doing for gender equality.” I just don’t discriminate. It doesn’t matter to me what someone’s gender is—it really doesn’t. I’m interested in what is going to help us to be successful. So in whatever I’m doing, I’m just looking at who has the best capabilities to do the job.
Which powerful woman has inspired you?
Nicole: I really can’t pick just one person that has inspired me but there have been a variety of woman over my different jobs that have helped me with my career.
Jeanne: There are so many that I hate to pick just one but I would say someone like Julie Sweet, the CEO of Accenture. I spent some time at Accenture and I love their marketing so I follow the company. She’s a great role model for women today. I like her values and she gives good advice. She seems to have figured out how to balance tremendous responsibility with raising a family and staying grounded.
What’s one thing you’d like to share with younger women who are just beginning their careers?
Nicole: Do what makes you happy. Whether that is going into a career field such as Tech that is more male dominated or picking a career in a more female dominated area. Just make sure you are happy and enjoy what you are doing.
Jeanne: I would say to just be very confident. Go pursue your passion, whatever it is, and be confident in your capabilities. Don’t undervalue yourself and always remember that when you’re presenting your capabilities—whether you’re in an interview or when presenting your ideas to a group— it’s important to be confident in the value you bring to the table.