Powerful Women in CT Share Successes, Hardships, Importance of Mentorship, and More
The Powerful Women in Consumer Technology (CT) panel kicked off on Wednesday afternoon at CE Week with a diverse group of female leaders across several segments of the industry. Susan McPherson, founder and CEO of McPherson Strategies, LLC led the important discussion alongside panelists Eden Goldberg, vice president of marketing and business development of InMotion Entertainment, Alex Harding, director of vendor management of Ingram Micro, Aparna Behari, head of retail distribution of Google, and Dawn Pratt founder of Tech Up for Women
All of the women on the panel are seasoned veterans in the consumer tech industry, having had their fair share of successes, failures, and hardships. As they recalled moments that stood out throughout their careers, they spoke mostly about the good including promotions, anniversaries, driving product launches, and more but they also touched on times when they felt undervalued as a woman in the CT space. Alex Harding confessed that she struggled to get promoted in one of her early roles, and admitted that she became complacent with only receiving small raises here and there. It wasn’t until she took the initiative to explore greater opportunities that her career in consumer technology took a turn for the better.
The male dominated industry was also evident in Aparna Behari’s experience at Apple. During her time of employment, 50 percent of Apple customers were women, but the majority of the products had been designed for men. When discussions arose amongst her team about how to better tailor products to the female audience, the most common solution was to “shrink it and pink it.” From her experience in women’s retail at Walmart, Behari knew this solution wasn’t the best road to take, and suggested a more data-driven approach.
While looking back on the difficult parts of their journeys, the group also shared a few key pieces of advice that they wish they’d have known at the time. Eden Goldberg said to “embrace the unique offerings you bring to the table” which is done by understanding your strengths and weaknesses, and owning them. Susan McPherson said to listen twice as much as you speak, and Alex Harding said to be passionate and take risks.
The women also stressed the importance of seeking mentors, as well as offering mentorship to others. Dawn Pratt attributed much of her success to those who came before her saying that if it wasn't for her mentors, she wouldn't know where she would be today. She also stressed the importance of having mentors throughout various industries with different backgrounds to truly gain an unbiased, diverse view. She concluded by saying "learn new technology, educate yourself, and constantly be moving forward."