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Female alums working at technology companies such as Comcast and Littlstar advised students to be open-minded in their job hunts.

Credit: Mark Shtrakhman

Three female alums who are leaders in the technology field returned to their alma mater to talk about the importance of networking and the power of being the female voice in the room.

The three speakers at the Women in Tech panel represented sectors within tech and media, including broadband, video chat and virtual reality. The panel included Becky Thomas, senior director of digital marketing and media optimization at Comcast, Kimberly Kalb, director of growth at Life on Air, and Elyse Siegel, head of growth for Littlstar.

The panel was hosted by Wharton Women, Wharton Entrepreneurship Club, Weiss Tech House and Marketing Undergraduate Student Establishment, and explored the role of women in leadership positions in technology, business and media.

Responding to an initial question asking about challenges women face in the tech field, the panelists instead focused on the positives, highlighting the increased perspectives and opportunities for women in tech leadership.

“I think there’s a real appreciation for the female perspective. Women working together to empower each other, that’s another piece of the equation. Being a woman means ... you bring a different perspective. It’s a real opportunity,” Siegel said.

They were also asked what drew them to their field. Siegel said she was inspired by the opportunity to help others and solve problems.

“Democratizing knowledge and technology, that’s how you solve problems and advance society,” Siegel said.

She also spoke about the potential for virtual reality to promote connections and novel virtual experiences.

“What really drew me to LittlStar was the opportunity to do something new. Social connectedness is going to be a huge part of the future, as well as virtual reality,” Siegel said.

Thomas emphasized the importance of social connectedness within the tech field and her career, particularly mentorships and sponsorships.

“Mentorship is really important for those coaching moments, or workplace guidance. Sponsorship is equally important. It’s having someone who’s going to pound the table for you, and fight for you,” Thomas said.

Siegel echoed this sentiment.

“From a personal growth perspective, both [mentorship and sponsorship] couldn’t be more important. Find those people who can guide and teach you along the way.” Siegel said.

At the end of the panel, the women offered advice to aspiring businesswomen in the tech field.

“Being proactive is the way to go. Look up people, reach out, go to events like this and talk to us after,” Thomas said.

The panelists agreed in unison that they all wished they had learned to code in college, and Kalb said she wished she had stayed open-minded to smaller companies.

“There are obviously the big brands, but so many opportunities at places you haven’t heard of. If you do your research, there might be a better fit, for more opportunity for you to grow early in your career,” Kalb said.

In considering careers, Thomas encouraged the audience to let passion guide them. “Pursue a career that you’re really passionate about. Not because it sounds really important, not because everyone’s going in consulting or banking. Ask yourself what motivates you, what you do in your spare time, and there’s probably some sort of way that can tie into your career.”

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