Continuing from International Women’s day in March, we would love to continue to be able to share stories of women in tech, in the hope that it will inspire young women thinking of starting out, or women who are trying to find their way against the odds.
In this blog, we highlight Chiara’s experience as a woman in tech. Chiara is a Head of Technical Recruiting at Carvana. She discusses what made her involved in the tech community, her career highlights, and shares advice on what can be done to encourage more women to start in tech.
"First of all, let me start by saying that, as a female in the tech industry for over 20 years, I have seen a drastic and welcome evolution regarding how we are treated and respected in this industry. Whether it is because we are seeing more enlightened CEOs and other leaders or whether it's because of things like the #metoo movement, there has been a marked change in environment and opportunities for women. OR... maybe we are just continuing to kick so much ass and everyone is finally noticing that empathy and inclusion really are great ways to get things done!"
What made you want to be involved in the tech community?
I stumbled into it. I was in insurance sales over 20 years ago, right out of college, and I was biding time a bit until I figured out what I really wanted to do. One of the former employees of the insurance company I worked for had quit his job to start working as a tech recruiter. About eight weeks later, I got a call that started with, "Hughes! You really need to consider dropping your job and becoming a tech recruiter." After I absorbed the randomness of that statement, I asked why he thought I should try it. His response was that while it is still a sales role - for which I had and have an affinity - it is more humanitarian, as it helps people find their ideal careers. He knows that I was always interested in technology in general - first person to have a cell phone, first person to tell the agents in our insurance office that we should switch most of our correspondence from paper mail to email, etc. So he knew that I had a genuine interest in all of the cool things that technology could do to make our lives easier and to help humans stay more easily connected. He knew that I was all about the connection and inclusion vibe, even then.
What was your first role within a tech company?
Well, I did quit my insurance job, and I moved from Pittsburgh to Phoenix and I started applying to jobs as a tech recruiter, but I had no experience. Finally, one of the more well-known tech recruiting agencies hired me and trained me... and then I started hustling from there. So my first job was at an agency. My second tech recruiting job was at a small consulting firm, and it was during my time at that company that I really learned about software development and programming languages, because I was responsible for recruiting and marketing that company's full-time consultants. That was in October 1999. And that job was HARD! Then I went to two more agencies after that, then I had a stint for about two years where I owned my own small recruiting agency. Then I was hired by a Microsoft Partner to be their in-house recruiter for software and infrastructure consultants. I have had three jobs after that, with my last position being my current position at Carvana.
Any particular highlights of your career?
Oh wow. So many! And they may not be "highlights" to a lot of people, but each new achievement was a step toward doing the next really interesting thing. I would say that successfully staffing two locations in London and Singapore when I was at IO Data Centers was a cool accomplishment. I would also say that the first time I left my job to take a new job and one of my team members left to follow me was a really flattering and humbling event. But, to be honest, if I have to name one main thing that is what I personally believe to be my most dramatic highlight is basically the body of work that my team and I have accomplished at Carvana. When I started five and a half years ago, there were 850 people in the entire company, and now we are at around 25,000. My peers and I started with a skeleton crew of some really amazing people, and we just kept skyrocketing from there. It has been an incredible ride, and I am so proud to have been a part of it.
Is there anything a woman can do to get started, such as courses, conferences to attend etc?
Yes - again, so many things! My first bit of advice for any woman who is looking to get started in the tech industry is to take a bit of time to take stock of what you really WANT to do and what your strengths are. Take an honest look at what you want to do, get those key words together, and then start doing some research on which jobs in the tech community use those skillsets... or what is closest to it. Then REACH OUT TO YOUR NETWORK. People are always willing to help, so you should ask to speak with people you know - or connections of people you know - who have some insight into those types of job opportunities. Finally, especially if the roles are more technical in nature, I would suggest taking classes or completing a boot camp so that you can establish some fundamentals before you start applying for roles. If you are going to work hard at something, you should enjoy it. Where your passion meets your skillset is truly the sweet spot for any job.
What can be done to raise awareness and encourage women to work in Tech?
What you are doing now. Talking about it. Getting women who are currently in tech - especially those in leadership roles - to tell their stories. Set up webinars and forums where women can feel free to ask other women about their experiences - and get the unvarnished truth.
Best piece of advice?
TAKE A SHOT. You never know if your ideal position is out there, and you don't have to be "perfect" and match every single line of a job description. Use your resume and an excellent cover letter and get out there and tell employers why they should want to hire you!
We’d like to thank Chiara for her insightful contribution to this blog. Based on her experience, insight and knowledge, we hope that her story will inspire and motivate many women in tech, or women thinking of joining the tech industry.
At UMATR, we encourage diversity in the workplace, and work with tech companies that share the same values as us. We’re happy to say that we’ve placed several female software engineers across many companies, and we continue to do so.
Are you a female engineer looking for a new Scala role, or a tech company looking for talent? Get in touch with firstname.lastname@example.org and work with us today. At UMATR, as tech recruiters, we are committed to helping you find your dream role, or finding your ideal talent Because You Matter.