TrueCommerce Celebrates International Women’s Day: Part I
TrueCommerce is just one of many tech companies with remarkable women among its ranks, and earlier this month, we celebrated International Women’s Day. To mark this illustrious occasion and reflect on the challenges and triumphs that women experience in the tech industry, we convened a virtual panel of seven female TrueCommerce team members from our offices all over the globe. I had the honour of being their moderator.
Let me introduce you to our seven inspiring panelists:
Lindsay Renner is an EDI veteran who has been with our US Customer Success Team in Additional Services for more than seven years. If there is something more your company needs out of your EDI, she is probably already working on it. She is based in our office in Columbus, where she lives with her busy family that includes two toddlers.
Kari Rivers is an Implementation Specialist on the US team and has been with TrueCommerce for four years. She got her bachelor’s degree in IT in 2009 and is now enjoying applying her expertise through EDI. She is based in Rhode Island where she lives with her wife.
Donna Lane, based in the UK, became part of the TrueCommerce family five years ago when it joined forces with WeSupply. She has been in tech for 25 years and in EDI for 20 years. She worked her way up the ranks over her career and is now TrueCommerce’s Country Manager for the UK & Ireland. She also serves on the Global Executive Meeting Team.
Hirono Noma has been newly appointed Enterprise Success Manager at our Columbus office and has been with TrueCommerce for five years. She describes herself as a loving mom who has flourished working her way up in the tech industry—even though it tended to be made up of “all boys.”
May Hu is Software Development Manager at TrueCommerce’s office in Shanghai. She is a software veteran who has spent decades in software development in fast-paced Silicon Valley and elsewhere. In 2011, she and her husband took an opportunity to relocate to Shanghai and enjoy the Chinese culture firsthand. She has been part of the TrueCommerce family at the Shanghai office since 2017.
Helen He is the Director of Software Development for TrueCommerce, located in Shanghai. After discussing her passion for programming, she pursued a Masters’ Degree in software engineering. She’s been in the software field for 16 years and joined the TrueCommerce family 9 years ago.
Amy Xu is in charge of TrueCommerce’s Shanghai Support and Services teams. She got into the software field “accidentally” after pursuing a degree in English, and has quickly ramped up Shanghai’s QA, Support and Services teams across product lines. Amy loves creating relationships with customers, so she can help understand their needs and pain points, and explore how they can be solved with our products.
My first question to these amazing ladies was about how they feel they fit in with the technology sector, which can be a challenge.
Lindsey McGee: What is it like working as a woman in tech? What is the best part of the tech industry? The worst part?
Kari Rivers: My experience as a woman in tech has been triple-stacked by challenge. For me, it is first, being a person of colour; second, being a masculine-presenting woman; and last, being a woman, in that order. I will say it was difficult for me to find a place in the tech industry as a woman at first, although I do think it is progressing, and that’s a beautiful thing. Once I received my first legitimate IT position in EDI, I felt I gained a level of expertise and I feel like I’m growing.
The best thing about being a woman in tech is being underestimated. Across the board, women are underestimated, but we’re stepping out more and more in current times to paint a new picture of ourselves and I love being a part of that. As women, we get the opportunity to rewrite history in a way no one else does.
Lindsay Renner: I love that you touched on that polarity between what a man knows and what a woman knows. Often, we get [underestimated] because we are female. Hirono and I both lost count of the number of times over the years that we’ve been told, “I hear you, but can I talk to (your male counterpart) so they can tell me what you’re saying is right?” Well, my male counterpart is going to tell you the same thing because I know what I’m talking about. Often, people who have been in the tech industry for a long time are not used to having females in this type of role.
Hirono: There is sometimes sexism in the tech industry, but I like to prove people wrong and get ahead. I feel like we are all leading a path for females in the tech industry here [at TrueCommerce]. It’s a job for a person, not just a certain sex or a certain race.
Donna: I do find that at meetings, people sometimes assume that I work for the men in the room and not the other way around!
May: I must say personally I have not felt discriminated against being a woman while pursuing excellence in product creation and product offerings. Throughout the years, I often had very strong female superiors who were highly respected by their peers and very supportive of their team members.
Helen: When I was a project manager at my last company, I personally managed more than 5 software project teams. On those projects of about 30 people there were just 1 woman, and that was me. If you asked me if there was gender bias, it probably was. But I didn’t feel it or didn’t think about it. At TrueCommerce, on the development teams I manage, there are even more women than men. In the current environment, where people value your abilities and contribution, gender doesn't have much impact on how people evaluate you.
Amy: I never missed an opportunity just because I am female. You will gain respect and be recognised as long as you present your abilities in TrueCommerce Shanghai. I also advocate this principle being a manager. The tech industry has been changing the world and our lifestyles massively. It feels like a privilege to be in tech and have an understanding of the mystery of it.
Lindsey McGee: If you could give one piece of advice to a young woman looking to get into technology, what would it be?
May: Believe in yourself!
Lindsay Renner: Yes, I would tell younger women to be confident in themselves. When I got into this industry originally, it was me and all men. I doubted myself initially because of that. It’s a human thing to doubt yourself, but don’t allow that to hold you back. Be confident in what you know and if you feel a passion to learn more, do more, and grow more, follow that. Don’t allow yourself to be the reason that you don’t succeed.
Hirono: I agree! Don’t be afraid. Be confident. If you see something [discriminatory], definitely call it out. It’s OK to say, “Hey, this is wrong.” Then just try and problem solve, and don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do something. Females definitely can be successful in this field.
Helen: Have a strong will, and never listen if someone tells you technology is not for women. Be curious, think about what motivates you, and try to get as many experiences as you can.
Amy: You will never know how it goes until you try.
Kari: There’s an acronym that I’ve come across and I’ve come to hold in my own life, and that’s to always be DEAF: Don’t Ever Accept Failure. We have to have confidence as we overcome the obstacles that come at us as we pursue our journey. You have to become “DEAF” through it all. If this [career path] is what you want, don’t ever let anyone take that away from you and just keep pushing forward.
Donna: I would say to any young woman who wants to come into this industry, come join us! It’s fast-paced, ever-changing, and it is an industry that offers genuine career opportunities. And particularly at TrueCommerce, it does give you more of that flexibility for that home/work/life balance as well.
Join Us for Part II Soon
In the next blog in our International Women’s Day series, we’ll continue listening in on our panel discussion with these seven women from TrueCommerce’s global team, diving deeper into the ever-elusive issue of work/life balance that Donna mentioned, and how companies like TrueCommerce can attract more women into the rewarding field of tech.
Lindsey McGee is a Marketing Content Writer specialising in supply chain strategy, thought leadership, and education. As part of the Marketing team at TrueCommerce, Lindsey strives to provide thoughtful, accessible information to help business owners grow and manage their operations. Lindsey lives in Pittsburgh with her husband, Cody, and rescue pets, Delta, Bahn, and Izzie.