Tell us your story.
I grew up in a house of builders. My dad and grandfather were both commercial architects and my dad spent every weekend in his workshop building furniture. I was the youngest of three girls, so there was never any thought that something was more for boys or for girls. One year when I was in high school, all three of us got a tool box for Christmas. And every year after that, we each got a new tool at Christmas—power drill, set of screwdrivers, levelers-- that I used on multiple home improvement projects. I think of technology that way—as a tool you can use to build something amazing.
I guess because I grew up alongside the development of the personal computer and technology space, it was never intimidating for me. I had a TRS-80 as a kid and would record my own simple “Hello, world” programs onto cassette tapes. Then took basic and intro to assembly language programming classes in afterschool classes at the local science center. I didn’t get very far, but far enough for the entire process to be demystified. The world’s first browser, Mosaic, was invented my last year of college—so the internet was still an unknown and magical frontier. I remember spending evenings in the advanced computer area of my college, using Mosaic and gopher programs to explore the web. I never found anything interesting, but it seemed exciting to be able to drill down into a file directory located 10,000 miles away. Then I found out HotWired (the online for Wired Magazine) was hiring an HTML programer. I didn’t know HTML, but this was in 1994, back in the day of HTML 1.0—this stuff was easy! I said I was experienced, spent a couple of hours building a simple website in HTML, and started on my technology career. Over time, I ended up as a Sr Manager at Amazon.com, and built and ran their used books and music business.
But when 9/11 happened, everything changed. I took a good, hard look at my life and realized I wanted to do more than be a technology executive. I wanted to use technology and the skills I had learned in the private sector to make the world a better place. That’s when I began my career in the social sector. Now I run TaroWorks. We built a mobile application that enables organizations working in the most remote parts of the planet to collect data, monitor their impact, and manage field operations in real-time. Since we launched 2 years ago, we’ve helped 70 social enterprises and nonprofits across 30 countries improve the lives of the world’s poor and I’m very proud of what the company has accomplished so far.
What advice to you have to share with other women and young girls?
Any young woman today is already 100x more tech savvy than I was at their age. Each and every one is already a technologist, because they were born and raised in the age of technology. Embrace that and own that!
Pass it on!
My father and grandfather inspired me.
I want to inspire women young and old that they can become technology leaders and transform the lives of others.