At Nasdaq, we support the communities we work in, and create a pipeline of diverse talent for the future. We introduced 5 webinar series for emerging talent in public schools, where we are featuring conversations with thought leaders and inspiring individuals at Nasdaq. They shared their career stories and their journeys in innovation and self-empowerment. They also touched on the power of diversity, inclusion and growth.
During the most recent Women in Technology Session, the panel discussed the current purpose and impact of technology, as well as its future. They also provided valuable career advice for women looking to make a living in the tech industry. Tarika Barret, from Girls Who Code, hosted the panel, and was joined by:
- Lauren Dillard, Executive Vice President from Global Information Services at Nasdaq
- Angie Ruan, Senior Vice President, head of Technology for Global Corporate Services and Market Technology at Nasdaq
- Brenda Hoffman, Senior Vice President, head of Markets & Data Technology at Nasdaq
1. Technology is a vast and dynamic industry, where you can make an outsized impact
Technology can be found everywhere in our lives. Its ubiquitous nature puts it at the forefront of how we as individuals and as companies operate.
“Technology is a part of everything that we do. It really incorporates everything in the way we live” said Lauren Dillard. Because of this, working into technology puts you in a position to make world-changing contributions at your job every day.
“Millions and millions of people benefit out of the work you're doing” said Angie Ruan. In tech, you won’t only benefit your company internally, but also will benefit many externally, as depending on the sector you work in, you’ll be changing the way people function day-to-day, make money, get entertainment, and/or receive medical care, etc.
On top of that, Brenda Hoffman noted, “There are so many disciplines within the field and every year there's more and more.” With new technologies being invented every day, companies are hungry for many more talented and passionate people in tech to drive forward change.
2. Collaboration is at the forefront of working in technology
While Brenda said that there is a perception that coding is just sitting in front of a screen with headphones on, banging away at the keyboard, she emphasizing that the technology field is actually generally very collaborative and exciting.
To that end, Angie commented that working in technology is “great in terms of team collaboration and communication” and has allowed her to take more risks and become more fearless in her career.
3. People of many different interests and skillsets could work in technology
While many people think that technologists all do the same thing, Angie highlights that the reality is that technical work has so many variations to it. You can work in the marketing side of tech if you are more interested in articulating products, the design side if you are more artistic, even the management side if you are more skilled in putting people together to get something done, and more.
Brenda emphasized that there are many different paths to enter in the technology field because there are so many disciplines. “You have so many options, so if you start in the technology field in one aspect, and then want to change to another discipline, the field is so vast, so big that there are so many different things you can do” she says. In fact, if you are someone who is not entirely sure what you want to do long term in your career, technology may be the perfect path for you, since “there’s almost unlimited directions you can go with in the field.”
Lastly, Lauren highlighted that working in technology doesn’t always mean you have to be a technologist. She says “there are ways to enter the tech field that aren't necessarily computer programming, engineering, or mathematics. The best thing you can do is find something that you really love. As a non-technologist, we can partner with somebody on the technology side, get into the tech field, and become very good.”
4. You can enter technology any time in your career or education
As someone educated in finance and with experience working in accounting, Lauren shared her perspective on getting into technology later on in her career. “Everyone's path can be different and you shouldn’t feel like there's only one way.” Lauren’s experience working at Nasdaq has allowed her to work with really great technologists and develop her career without having the standard computer science education, leaving her with both extensive expertise in finance and tech, a route that served her well working at the Fintech exchange.
Brenda noted that she went to school for economics and did not earn a computer science degree. “I moved to technology because everything that was happening at the stock exchanges was revolving around technology, even 30 years ago. And today, it's still doing that.”
Angie, who took a traditional path to working in tech, pointed out that she decided to study computer science before she even knew what it was, and has seen her career in technology evolve since then.
5. In the future, technology will be all-encompassing
The future is big for technology, with Lauren predicting that soon that “every single company will be a technology company, with so many amazing opportunities.”
Brenda emphasized that technology is going to change profoundly, but what’s really important is that the younger generation will be the force driving that change. “Technology is not a maintenance field, it’s an evolutionary field. You [as a technologist] will drive that field. What’s really cool is that you will not only be thinking about what you need, but actually informing the industry on where it should go.” She also notes that technology is going to be more complex and pervasive. “That's why we must have girls and women in technology, because we're half the planet, and we all need to be in there to drive what new technology is going to be.”
As far as accessibility to the industry, Angie pointed out that there are new API’s helping make the programming process simpler and more story-like. Technology is a tool we have to “help enhance the human life and human experiences,” and that women should feel empowered to be part of that.
The panelists also left a few key pieces of advice to help motivate all girls and women interested in technology: learn as much as you can from as many people as you can, don’t be afraid to ask for help, and know that just because something is hard at first, doesn’t mean it’s not for you.