She’s Got Moxie: 3 Local Leaders Driving Excellence in Tech

Meet the women who are bringing resilience, creativity and change to the San Francisco tech community.
Written by Adrienne Teeley
June 16, 2021Updated: June 17, 2021

Determination. Courage. Ownership.

When we asked three local leaders to describe traits they embody at work, the answers painted a clear picture: After a rough year, women in the workplace are refusing to undersell themselves. 

And with good reason. Whether switching careers mid-pandemic, seizing control of a bumpy integration or quickly rising through the ranks, women in San Francisco’s tech scene have a lot to be proud of. These hard-fought accomplishments were driven by resourcefulness, passion and talent — a powerhouse combination that can be summed up neatly in one word: moxie. 

To learn more about how women have excelled in the tech industry over the last year — despite the hurdles and hardships brought on by the pandemic — Built In SF connected with leaders from Medium, Calm and PitchBook. We discovered how each woman embodies moxie in her daily life, how it’s impacted her career and a few tips for how you can find your inner moxie, too. 

 

Built In's 2021 Moxie Award WinnersMeet more rising tech stars

 

Janet Srey
Account Manager, SMB

PitchBook is a data and software company that analyzes public and private financial markets.

 

What does the word “moxie” mean to you, and how do you embody it in your work? Share an example or two.

To me, moxie means having the courage and determination to go after what you want. 

Less than a year and a half ago, I made a career change from recycling to fintech. This was the best and scariest decision I've made regarding my career. I knew very little about venture capital and private equity, but I knew this is where I wanted to be and I was determined to learn everything I could. 

I took advantage of all the resources PitchBook offers and immersed myself in the company’s values and culture. Fast forward to today, I am able to truly embody our value “customers are king” by ensuring I am able to solve even the most complex business challenges my clients face. This past quarter, I led my department with the highest net renewal rate. It’s truly amazing what you can accomplish when you have the right attitude and the courage to step out of your comfort zone.

It’s truly amazing what you can accomplish when you have the right attitude and the courage to step out of your comfort zone.”


Tell us about a recent project or initiative you’ve led that tested your moxie or pushed you to bring a certain level of boldness, determination and resilience to the table. What were the results?

My goal in 2021 is to be promoted to a senior account manager. The beginning of 2021 has brought some unique challenges as we still recover from the pandemic, so in order to achieve my goal, I knew I had to get creative, stay positive and focus on the value that PitchBook brings to my clients. 

One of the best pieces of advice I’ve received is, “People do business with people they like.” I knew, however, that being liked wasn’t enough. I had to show real value by helping them use the platform to gain insights on issues they were facing. I dug deep, focused on building relationships, and provided the most valuable insights I could during our monthly business reviews. 

Through regular conversation and focused business reviews, I was able to show how PitchBook is an invaluable partner that will help them solve even some of their most daunting business problems. This determination worked, and I finished out Q1 strong with high renewals, and am on track for achieving my promotion.

 

What advice do you have for other women in the workplace looking to develop and embrace their moxie?

Be bold. Everything is a learning experience, so don’t be afraid to fail. There will be many challenges along the road, so remember to ask for help when you need it. Don’t give up easily; always look for different options and solutions. Push yourself and those around you to succeed. 

Nothing is better than building each other up and helping one another realize and embrace their own moxie.

 

Ellen Wong
Director of Engineering

Calm is a health and wellness company that builds apps to help listeners sleep, relax and meditate.

 

What does the word moxie mean to you, and how do you embody it in your work? 

Being in leadership means that you are often in a new situation and you don’t always have all the information you need to make the perfect decision. So moxie to me is taking ownership over the collective outcome, regardless of the situation, and trusting that you and your team will figure it out together along the way.

Find out what you are uniquely good at and what you have the most joy doing, and go for it without reservations.”


Tell us about a recent project or initiative youve led that tested your moxie.

Recently, our Calm for Business product offering rolled out SSO integration broadly. The process was manual and error-prone, and as a result, took up a lot of the sales and engineering team’s time and energy. In the midst of a potentially frustrating experience on both sides, I partnered with the team’s engineering manager and product partner to prioritize automation and investing in making the integration much easier and faster. 

I asked the team to aim high and design something that would support 10 times the amount of our current load. The team went back to the drawing board and came up with a solution that can handle that load, then delivered this new solution within a month. As a result, both sides are much happier.

 

What advice do you have for other women in the workplace looking to develop and embrace their moxie?

Find out what you are uniquely good at and what you have the most joy doing, and go for it without reservations. No need to apologize for all the things you are not good at — no one is perfect — just do what you are best at every day. Success, love and growth will follow.

 

Eugenia Dellapenna
VP, Engineering

Medium is a digital publishing platform where anyone can publish their ideas to an audience of 170 million eager readers. 

 

What does the word moxie mean to you, and how do you embody it in your work? 

I’ve never been someone who was too concerned about the boundaries of a role. I’ve spent most of my time at Medium as an engineering manager, which to me, has meant doing whatever was needed to make my team successful. At times, I’ve fulfilled the responsibilities of a product manager, a data scientist, a full-cycle recruiter and sometimes even an individual contributor, depending on what the team needed the most to deliver on its goals. 

Going beyond the strict definition of what it means to be an engineering manager helped me build a lot more company-wide context, and enabled me to be a lot more impactful in my role. This ultimately helped me level up and progress rapidly as I took on more and more responsibilities across more teams, until I stepped into the VP of engineering role earlier this year.
 

I’ve never been someone who was too concerned about the boundaries of a role.”


What advice do you have for other women in the workplace looking to develop and embrace their moxie?

What people don’t always tell you is that getting promoted often isn’t about doing your current job better. Instead, you often need to fulfill the expectations of a completely different role to prove you can do it before you get officially promoted into that position. 

A lot of this requires having the right opportunities and having sponsors who are willing to take a chance on you. I also think that keeping an eye out for how to maximize your own impact and thinking through how to best make your team and company successful can lead to identifying new needs and opportunities that will stretch you beyond your immediate role. Taking the initiative to solve a few of these problems can act as great learning experiences, and can help you extend into different roles over time as you figure out what career path you want to take.

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