Happy National Women’s History Month! This month, we celebrate the unequivocal, social, cultural, and technological contributions women have made that continue to propel us into the future. We acknowledge the hard work and sacrifices made by women and commit to creating a more equitable and just society.
Liberty Advisor Group takes pride in our dynamic team of women leaders. Rich in experiences, thoughts, and perspectives, the women of Liberty deliver priceless value to our firm. They are trailblazers in the tech industry and are essential to helping our clients realize their potential. In celebration of National Women’s History Month, we highlight valuable members of our team and share their personal insights.
Why did you choose a career in technology?
Jessica: “I’m not sure that I chose technology as much as it chose me. I started my consulting career managing programs at DARPA, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and was exposed to some amazing technological research & advances, some of which are changing our lives now like autonomous vehicles, and some that will continue to change our lives in the future. It’d be nice to say I was hooked then but you can’t escape technology – it is a business enabler across the spectrum – and as I continued along my career journey, I’ve been fortunate to sit at that intersection of business and technology.”
Caroline: “The short answer is, that I enjoyed it and was good at it. The longer story is that I attended an all-girls private school in England, where I was introduced to Computer Science at the GCSE level (15-16-year-olds). I really enjoyed and it seemed to come naturally, so I managed to successfully petition the headmistress to add a new teacher and an A-level Computer Science class (pre-college level). Going from an all-girls school and studying Math, Physics, and Computer Science, I had no idea they were not traditionally female subjects. I then started my Computer Science degree as one of 3 girls in a class of 30. Looking back, I am pleased there was no bias affecting my choices throughout my school years that might have affected where I am today.”
What excites you about technology and how do you stay up to date?
Tsika: “I am excited by the unique and diverse ways technology can be applied to make positive impacts on people’s lives. For example, I find it fascinating how blockchain technology can be used to strengthen a food supply chain so as to reduce E.coli outbreaks and it can also be used to facilitate microfinance lending transactions in emerging economies. The range of applications is staggering! I value working in a field where the landscape is everchanging and innovation is a constant necessity. I like to stay informed by subscribing to email newsletters like The Morning Brew or MIT Technology Review.”
Caroline: “Tech is moving from enabling business strategy to being a key part of the strategy – fundamental to product and service design and delivery. It’s certainly difficult to stay up to date in every area but selecting a few key passions to track such as AI or ERP, while keeping current on seismic shifts and regulations such as moving to the cloud, ESG trends, and Data privacy have been helpful to me. I also maintain a network of technologists and closely follow their passions and postings as well as key publications such as the HBR and CIO magazines.”
What practices do you have in your personal life that affect your professional life?
Jaleesa: “Self-care is a practice that is crucial to both my personal and professional life. It is about making sure that one shamelessly takes care of themselves first. I think of self-care as the use of emergency oxygen on a plane. Before every flight, the attendant briefs that in the event of an emergency, one should put on their oxygen mask before helping a child. This is required because if you run out of oxygen, you will not have the ability to save another’s life. I treat self-care in this same manner and ensure I have enough oxygen in my tank first so that I can accomplish what is in front of me. I practice self-care by having a consistent workout and meditation routine to achieve optimal physical and mental health so that I have the mindset and focus to solve problems and provide impact.”
Caroline: “Over the years, I have noticed that there are many small learnings from my personal life that can serve to realign me in my professional life. They are quite often completely unrelated and the more abstract they are, the better. Here are a couple of examples:
- Celebrate the goalkeepers – two of my daughters are soccer goalkeepers. There have been many games where they have let in goals and been utterly demoralized, not thinking about all the shots they saved. Frequently, the glory goes to the strikers who got the key goals. In professional situations, it’s easy to focus on the technologists that are pushing the creative envelope, those on the key projects, delivering the new products, but we would not have the opportunity to do so if our business partners didn’t trust us with keeping our platforms safe and running.
- If you look at the ground, you’ll hit the ground – This phrase comes from a motorcycle training class I attended. In professional terms, this is about keeping a positive attitude. It’s important to be concerned about possible failures, but it’s also critical not to dwell on failures and look at them as learnings. As for how the motorcycle class went, I did get my license, but not before proving this phrase to be true!”
What would you tell a young person wanting to be where you are today?
Tsika: “I would encourage them to read widely, stay tuned in to tech happenings, sample various paths through shadowing and interviews, fine-tune their communication, speaking, and storytelling skills, and find ways to be a problem solver. These skills enabled me to find the right path while making me competitive for the opportunities that appealed to me.”
Jessica: “First: never stop learning. If you want to learn a skill, find a way to learn it. If you want to work in a particular sector, talk to people in that sector. People are more willing than you’d expect to talk about their professional experiences and connect you with others in their network. The worst they can say is no. And second: bet on yourself. You’ll have sponsors throughout your career, but you still must be your number one advocate. No one is as invested in your career and your future as yourself.”
What mentors or leaders have played a role in your life?
Jessica: “My mentors and sponsors have helped me understand things that are happening outside of the room that I’m in, to get a broader perspective of business and economic factors that may be impacting what I’m seeing and experiencing. That perspective has been crucial in my growth. I’ve also learned from my mentors that I’m in charge of my career and my happiness – and if something is not working for me, I should change it. The last thing I’ll say is that I’ve had some incredible support from sponsors that has inspired me to pay it forward and support other women in technology.”
Jaleesa: “I am a firm believer that it takes a tribe to build one up to their potential. For me, mentorship comes in the form of community. A sense of community has been one of the most valuable influences in my professional and personal life. Over the years, my community has expanded my horizons and has granted me opportunities to develop in ways I would not have been able to do alone. Community for me is about having a network of people that inspire and build each other up. It’s about holding each other accountable and encouraging one another to stand by their values no matter what. There is not one mentor that has helped me become who I am today, but my community that assists in my strides to success.”
About Liberty Advisor Group
Liberty Advisor Group is a goal-oriented, client-focused, and results-driven consulting firm. We are a lean, handpicked team of strategists, technologists, and entrepreneurs – battle-tested experts with a steadfast, start-up attitude. We collaborate, integrate, and ideate in real-time with our clients to deliver situation-specific solutions that work. Liberty Advisor Group has the experience to realize our clients’ highest ambitions. Learn more at libertyadvisorgroup.com and on LinkedIn and Twitter.