For Generations to Come: The 2019 Women in Cloud Summit

By Heather Brewer

“The rising tide lifts all the boats.” – John F. Kennedy

This is a galvanizing time for women. From Hollywood to politics and beyond, the collective voice of women is getting louder and stronger; and that’s creating both awareness and opportunity for many. Now, should anyone out there question how much more rallying is actually needed— in the technology industry alone, women still lag shockingly behind, accounting for just 5% of leadership. The Women in Cloud initiative strives to level this balance by driving community-led initiatives supporting female, technology entrepreneurs. Through their annual Women in Cloud Summit, they have created a powerful platform for women (and men) to speak about the challenges, barriers, and opportunities in technology, and what it will take for women to break through.

It’s a rallying cry that is being heard. In its second year, the Women in Cloud Summit nearly tripled their attendance to over 1,000, and hosted an impressive line up of some 60 speakers, including executives from Microsoft and Amazon (the event’s flagship sponsors), as well as Oracle, RedHat, Google, and IBM (to name just a few).

Moderating the “Your Path to the C-Suite” at the Women in Cloud Summit with Karli Barokas, Kristina Bergman, and Amy Nelson

This year, I also had the honor of moderating the panel “Your Path to the C-Suite” with three outstanding technology entrepreneurs: Karli Barokas, CEO of Barokas, Kristina Bergman, Founder and CEO of Ingris, and Amy Nelson, CEO of The Riveter. This panel, as well as the many talks and conversations had throughout the summit, left me with both inspiration and a sense that we are all in this together.

SPEAK LOUDER

While the topics were far from one-dimensional, the notion that women must find their own voice— and use it— was nearly universal.

KNOW WHAT IT TAKES 

It was an incredible day, hearing so many women and men talk about their professional journeys and what traits they see as the most important in becoming a leader, ramping up your business, and succeeding in an ever-changing world of technology. A few other important themes I took away from the day related to knowing and being committed to what it takes to succeed, include:

  • Authenticity counts. Know who you are, what you stand for, and what you want to be known for.
  • Risk taking is critical. Every single person reiterated the importance of risk-taking for growth. This is the foundation for building a successful business. Be comfortable in the uncomfortable.
  • Growth and comfort do not co-exist. Difficult decisions must be made to keep a team thriving and the company growing. To grow means to take risks. Be bold.
  • Leaders are not people pleasers. Growth does not happen if you try to please everyone. Sometimes decisions can make you unpopular— be OK with that. As a leader, you need to challenge the status quo.
  • Think big. Anyone can make their dreams come true. Go after it. There’s a big world out there that is waiting to support you and to see you thrive.

The support and motivation shared by all emphasized the importance of coming together to grow. At the close of the day, a group of speakers stressed the importance of teams supporting one another, along with the quote: “When the tide rises, all the boats rise with it.” And, it’s true. Together we rise up, for generations to come.

*The featured image in this article is courtesy of Women in Cloud’s Facebook page, which captured images from this years Summit