A Chat With Lauren Feldman :: Managing Director :: San Francisco

HI Lauren!  Thanks for joining me today!  Let’s get going. Can you tell us a bit about your background and which chapter you manage?  San Francisco and Silicon Valley! This is where the organization was originally founded, and Adriana is here in the city, so we are lucky to have her so close.   As an individual chapter, our current initiatives are centered around 3 primary pillars:

Our goals are to create structure for everyone in our community to help expand their network, to learn and grow from senior leaders and to help everyone succeed in their profession.

How long have you been involved in Girls in Tech? Almost 2 years now.

What motivated you to get involved in the organization?  I began organizing business dinners with groups of 15-20 people when I first started my consulting business.  I called them DinnerCons.  When I picked the people, I picked them based on who I thought would benefit from knowing each other.  Everyone enjoyed the dinners; it got to the point where I had a waiting list for invites.  A friend of mine mentioned that the Managing Director role for San Francisco was open.  She intro’d me to Adriana and the rest is history!

What do you currently do professionally?  I am a growth and monetization advisor for early to mid-stage startups.  I have a handful of different clients who are all trying to answer the same questions: how do I acquire, engage, and monetize my customers?  My role consists of helping establish a strategy that is built around KPI’s (Key performance indicators) and ensuring teams have the infrastructure to collect and analyze relevant data.  I’ve worked with a diverse set of companies spanning various industries, including advertising, casual games, social casinos and most recently, hardware.

If you could do anything in this world, what would it be?  It would be doing what I’m doing now.  About 2 years ago, I stopped being a full-time professional with a traditional career path. I was forced toGITLaurenFeldman redefine who I was professionally.  It wasn’t easy, but now I have the luxury of choosing who I work with and making time for myself to do other things.  I spend most of my free time studying Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Muay Thai.  I’ve recently started competing again, which I wouldn’t be able to do if I wasn’t working for myself.

What or who got you into Muay Thai?  My best friend was a “Karate Kid.” She went to Karate everyday after school for as long as I can remember.   I on the other hand was a cheerleader in High School.  After college, I went back home and stayed with my parents until I could figure out what I wanted to do.  I was pretty bored, so I called her one day to complain.  She insisted I take a karate class.  At first I wasn’t sure, but she convinced me pretty quickly when she said “the worst thing that could happen is that you meet a hot guy.”  So I went to a few classes and fell in love with the sport.

So other than Girls in Tech, tell us a few things you love to do. You mentioned Muay Thai…

  1. Jiu Jitsu

  2. I’ve also been learning to sail.  My boyfriend does competitive sailing and slowly he’s been teaching me.  We are lucky to have the San Francisco Bay to sail in.  My group at the sailing school has become my family.  We are all really lucky to have each other.

Finally what are your top 3 songs in rotation right now?

Can I pass on that question?

Sure if you want to!

…I’ve recently started to download my favorite songs from high school, but here are my top:

  • Simon and Garfunkel ” I Am a Rock “

  • “Believe” by Mumford and Sons

  • “Stompa” by Serena Ryder

Thanks for chatting with us, Lauren! We will be staying connected on Twitter  for sure. Much success to you and your team, and your continued efforts in Muay Thai and Sailing!


Talk about a powerful chica! Laura Owen worked for Kansas State Office–Laura was the First woman to hold the position of Kansas Secretary of Office! Umnn…wow! …and this was just the beginning…Here’s more on Laura:

Q1: Who was your first female mentor and how did she help you?

My mother. Women like us who are go-getters, learn that first from their mom’s. It’s when you grow up without fear. What holds women back is lack of confidence and fear of failure. Have three older brothers, and a father who was so encouraging helped groom me perfectly for entrepreneurship.

Q2: You were the first woman appointed to the Kansas Secretary of Commerce. How did this impact your life overall (personally and professionally)?

Public office is very demanding. They need more people willing to put their necks on the line. The company culture tends to chew you up and spit you out. It holds others back who should be serving. It was pretty difficult. It was no different than a woman in any role who has a solid reputation in society.

Society still places home responsibilities with the woman. Thankfully, we have a great advantage today. When I got out of college, things were different. You didn’t dare talk about your husband or children in the workplace. I called it the GREAT LIE–it’s that stigma that suggested that “women can have it all!” One thing I always talk about is that there are trade off’s. If you, as a woman, go into your career and your life knowing this, then your time is more intentional. That balance is critical to being fulfilled and not living a guilty life.

Luckily, we have come a long way and we should now start to support each other. We have got to hold each other up. The more mature you become you start to realize what is most important and the thing you treasure the most which at some point is family. We need to continue the discussion around this, and support each other in our roles!

Q3: You are speaking at the upcoming Girls In Tech Catalyst Conference! Give us a glimpse of what you will be discussing.

That’s a great question! I’m excited because I’m offering a fun challenge! I’m going to share an idea with the women in the audience of how each one of them can be responsible for mentoring over 1 million women in one year, with minimal commitment of time. I’ll be discussing why this is important, as I hear a lot of women say, “I don’t have anything to share.” WE ALL have something to share!

No matter what age, or where we are in our lives, we are always (or should be) learning and growing. Because of this, we should always have, and BE mentors. Both roles should always be filled.

Another thing that is important to talk about as mentors is the mentorship relationship. We always tend to think of the mentee who benefits. On the surface yes, this might be true, but as mentor, you gain so much! Think about it this way, if I open my rolodex and share in strategic problem solving to help someone, if she actually applies what she learns, she will then gain a huge advantage in her career! The mentor is blessed big time in making difference in that other woman’s life! So it’s not just the mentee who benefits, but the mentor benefits more than they know.

The focus of my presentation is how to design a mentoring relationship that works. This can be a short relationship and be meaningful or sometimes it will be long term. I will clarify the “rules.”

Q4: I wish we had more professional mentors like you, Laura! On that note, how do you think we can motivate more women to join the STEM career movement?

That’s a great and important question. It goes back to what I was saying about exposure. There’s still something there that pushes girls from Science and Math. I believe it goes back to confidence thing. Girls don’t seem to think they can do it. I have to say I grew up thinking I was not good in Science and Math either. I had that mindset that helped me own and operate a number of companies.

We helped engineer mobile video cameras for police cars all over the world in 2001-2002. It’s around the time when cameras were going from analog to digital. I saw opportunities in law enforcement because there were so many limitations. At first I was intimidated and then I thought, I can do this! By a leap of faith I made it happen. So FIRST, I’m an entrepreneur, SECOND I learned the technology. It just took having the guts to move forward with my vision because the opportunity existed. I was fearful, but I still did it. This is an example of how we should teach women to capitalize on their strengths to help them embark into STEM careers.

Mentoring allows people to fast track their career in ways you can’t fathom! Nothing is more forwarding once you find the relationships that work. You can really advance.

I’m a strong advocate of mentorship and so are lots of my colleagues. Thanks for offering such great insight and we’re elated to have you at our Catalyst.GirlsInTech.Org Conference as a Speaker! #GITReady

Tweet Laura at @Ponscio on Twitter.


Top 10 Ways Managers Can Increase the Visibility of Technical Women

Below are ten important recommendations supervisors or managers can readily adopt to improve visibility of their employees. These recommendations are particularly useful for improving the visibility of women, as well as employees from other underrepresented groups.

  1. Look for key opportunities where employees can increase their visibility

Recommend qualified women for these opportunities, and encourage these women to pursue such opportunities. Also, identify junior women who have the potential for more visible roles and work with them to develop the necessary experience and skills to fill such roles.

  1. Identify and recommend women for top leadership roles

Identifying these women early and actively developing their leadership skills is vital for increasing women’s representation in top leadership over the long term. Doing so also increases overall retention of female technical talent.

  1. Ensure women are visible at strategic corporate events

It is tempting to default to established networks and connections when selecting people for roles at high-profile events, but this can mean overlooking talent from underrepresented groups. Take the time to identify, recommend, and select women for visible roles as speakers, as panelists, in customer briefings, in cross-trainings, or in other roles important to your business.

  1. Give female employees credit for their work

You can make a difference by publicly recognizing female employees for their technical accomplishments. Research shows that women tend to give their team credit whereas men are more likely to take individual credit. In addition, women are often raised to believe that it is arrogant to “sing their own praises.” This belief sometimes means women go unrecognized for important achievements.

  1. Promote female employees’ technical contributions; market their value and technical ability

Not only is it important to give employees credit for their work, it is important to make sure that this work is visible throughout the organization, in the right places and with the right people. This advocacy is an important part of being a sponsor.

  1. Ensure women have a combination of effective mentors and sponsors with organizational clout

Research shows that women with mentors and sponsors (sometimes called advocates) are much more likely to remain with a company than those without. Mentors provide advice or guidance, while sponsors advocate for an employee throughout the company. It is important that sponsors have knowledge of the organization, as well as influence and power.

  1. Look for rotational assignments that will help broaden female employees’ experience, visibility, and influence

Employees must be visible across different parts of the company, as well as knowledgeable about the larger company and its industry picture. Recommend and encourage women to pursue cross-company, rotational assignments that will develop and expand their strengths and talents.

  1. Ensure female employees are focusing on high-value, visible work

Assign women to critical technical roles with high visibility. Keep track of which employees on your team get which roles. Watch for patterns where women are assigned to roles that are less visible or more endangered (e.g., first to be downsized or potential “scapegoat” roles).

  1. Encourage participation in technical conferences and membership in professional organizations

Publicize opportunities for professional development. Provide time and funding for women to attend conferences and professional development sessions.

  1. Help women expand their networks

Use your own network to help women expand their networks, connecting them with influential people across the company and in the industry.


The Importance of Mentorship in STEM educations

In The last months, we’ve been working closely with the U.S. Dept of State in the Techgirls/Girls in tech Mentorship programs initiative. Excited about the partnership and we will be in D.C. July 16th to share more about the mentorship programs with 27 women from eight middle eastern countries and palestinian territories. Ivo Lukas, Chief Innovation Officers & Global exec for mentorship programs will be in Charge of the engagement. To learn more about the initiative, check out the press release here. Join Ivo Lukas in the conversation would be Yahoo, Microsoft, Legacy executives and more. To learn more more, email ivo.lukas@hotmail.com

From June 25 – July 18, these tech-savvy teenagers from Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, the Palestinian Territories, Tunisia, and Yemen will engage with their American counterparts in the classroom and the community, working on their technical development and leadership skills. They will participate in an iD TechCamp, an interactive technology and computer camp, at Towson University; meet with leading U.S. technology companies in Washington, DC, and New York, NY; and take part in community service activities. The TechGirls will be also be mentored by representatives from top technology companies, making important personal contacts and expanding their networks to compete equally in an often male-dominated field.

Working to ensure a diverse experience, the Department has teamed up with several private sector partners, including: 24Notion, ALIVE!, Inc., AT&T, Bully Pulpit Interactive, Code4Charity, the DC Digital Divas Dinner, DoSomething.org, Facebook, George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services, Girls in Tech, Girls Who Code, Google, OhMyGov Inc., Precision Network, Relief International, TechChange, Women Innovate Mobile, Yahoo!, and Verizon Communications. The State Department is also pleased to collaborate with the White House, Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR), Congresswoman Susan Davis (D-CA), and the Federal Communications Commission for the TechGirls program.

Follow Ivo Lukas @MsSonicFlare