Highlights from the CTA Women in Technology Conference
Now In its seventh year, the Colorado Technology Association (CTA) Women in Technology Conference did not disappoint.
This year, I had the honor of participating in the conference as a “luminary.” These are women who have recognized as leaders in the Colorado technology community, and they’re responsible for leading “fluid, positive, engaging and fun” discussions at their assigned tables throughout the day. Diversity and inclusion, STEM, and leadership were underlying themes of conversation.
Here were the top highlights for me:
The opening remarks. Dan Caruso, CEO of Zayo and one of the handful of men attending the morning session, stood in front of 700 women and said, “Now I understand how you feel in business meetings." It was funny—but also a candid acknowledgement of the work that needs to be done to encourage more girls to pursue careers in STEM fields and leadership roles.
The mountainside chat. The First Lady of Colorado, Robin Hickenlooper, and Meg Whitman, CEO & President of HPE, have a dossier of business accomplishments that rival the most successful people on the planet. Meg Whitman was incredibly funny and humble as she shared some of her successes and failures—such as being fired from her first CEO job or her unsuccessful bid for California governor. But rather than considering those failures, she said the experiences made her a much better CEO. She attributed some of her success to her network of close friends and allies, her formal education, and ability to build great teams. I was inspired by her down-to-earth humility and her willingness to take risks.
The mindful moments. Throughout the day, Rita Devassy, a Mindful Leadership consultant, led us through exercises that help remind ourselves to be present and dedicate a few minutes each day to situational awareness. According to some research, regularly practicing mindfulness can help women, in particular, to perform better and worry less.
The breakout sessions. Beth Boettcher of Accenture discussed “intelligent enterprise” and how we can shape technology to fit our needs. Andrea Guendelman, CEO of BeVisible, spoke about “exercising our risk muscle.” She walked us through risk assessment and different ways to overcome fear. She also made an important point about not mistaking experience for potential. Even today, women aren’t always offered the same opportunities or encouraged as much as their male peers. As a result, they may have less experience—but not diminished potential.
The closing sessions. Kyle Schwartz, a teacher, author, and education advocate, encouraged us to approach our work like teachers—by giving everyone a voice, being present, and authentically caring for the people we work with.
I personally left the conference feeling motivated and empowered to become even more involved in advancing women in technology—not only in Colorado but globally. The quality and quantity of organizations that sponsored this event shows that Colorado companies are ready to take part and be on the forefront of change for women in tech. If you’d like to get involved, consider donating to the Women in Technology Scholarship Fund. Be sure to check out some of the photos from the event too!