CEO, Women Who Code, San Francisco
Alaina leads an organization whose primary purpose is to help women break into and thrive in the tech world. This undertaking is not for the faint-hearted. Currently Women Who Code is in 20+countries and over 60 cities. Do you live in Kiev and want to connect to influential tech experts and investors? No problem. Accra? Sure. From Santiago to San Diego, Women Who Code values mentorship and female empowerment combined with honing in on the necessary skills required for professional development and career advancement. For a woman who travels between continents on the montly/weekly basis, Alaina struck me as a pretty grounded person. She is kind and passionate about her goal to grow and insists that "while the big picture is important, it's even more important to remember that the services she provides aim to inspire and empower individuals". And if there are any doubts whether she is hopeful about the future of Women Who Code, check out the last image in the series. Hope you peruse the website and spread the word to your friends across the globe. Empowering women in STEM professions is something I'm passionate about as well, thank goodness the outlook is pretty good for Women Who Code community. Thank you Alaina for your hard work and dedication.
2. Where is your hometown?
3. What is your profession/career/title/self-label/designation?
CEO and Board Chair, Women Who Code
4. What was the journey like to get where you are (career wise)? When was the mental shift to start the journey?
My background is in marketing and brand management. However, when I moved to San Francisco I was inspired by all of the amazing things that were being done with technology. That motivated me to immerse myself in the culture of tech, learning to code, while also connecting with incredible people.
5. What did you study in school?
I have a bachelor degree in International Business Relations and an M.B.A. from Georgia State University, and a Masters in Organizational Management from the Sorbonne, Paris.
6. How is your life different from what you pictured at 20?
Like many women I didn't think about technology as a field when I was younger. It wasn't until I started meeting amazing women engineers and saw the things that they were doing, that I started to see the possibilities and feel connected to the industry, so I decided to get involved.
Now I'm helping to fundamentally improve a field that affects every facet of society, by making it more dynamic, and sustainable through inclusive practices.
7. Biggest accomplishment since making the (physical/mental) move?
My biggest accomplishments are individual in nature. Whenever I hear that someone's life has been positively affected, or that their career has improved as a result of being a member of Women Who Code, I'm more proud than I can possibly express. That's what our real goal is, and while the big picture is important, it's even more important to remember that our service is to inspire and empower individuals.
8. What was biggest disappointment and plan to overcome it?
I don't find dwelling on disappointments to be a useful process. Sure you have to be willing to admit mistakes, to understand where things went wrong, and to try and correct them. However the focus should always be on what can be learned from mistakes rather than past regrets.
9. Advice for other women?
You do belong. Don't be constrained by a mental image of what you are supposed to be. You can do anything, you can accomplish incredible things, and you aren't alone. There are so many of us out there already conquering the world. All you have to do is have faith in your abilities and you can help write the future of humanity.
10. Knowing what we know now in current political climate, can women be "all that we can be" in today's world? What is the way forward, as you see it for "feminist values"?
Women can do anything and they've been doing it all along. Just in technology alone you have pioneers like Grace Hopper, Anita Borg, Jean Jennings Bartik, and even Ada Lovelace who basically created the technological revolution we are living in. It's vital that we keep that in mind and remember that women are a force to reckon with, and that they only need to be given the time, tools, and opportunity to succeed.
11. Where in the world do you feel “tallest” (i.e. where is your happy place)?
An adventure is trying something new or seeing a new part of the world. Women Who Code is a global organization that is growing and reaching more people around the world every day. I’m thrilled my passion has finally found a match with my career.
12. What extra-curricular activities/hobbies are you most proud of? Why?
I love to travel and have been to nearly 70 countries. This isn’t what I’m most proud of, but it is a big part of who I am.
13. What do you want to be when you grow up? Future goals/challenges?
I’d love to start or lead a for profit company and I want to be on the board of a public organization. I’d love to continue to excel in my career and become a role model for other women and girls.
14. Anything you'd do differently (if you had another go at life)?
I don't believe in regrets. You have to live the best you can and your choices help make you who you are. If I had to choose, I’d have learned to code early on.
15. What inspires you?
I'm inspired by people. They're so different, so varied, each with a perspective and a voice that is unique and wonderful. When I meet someone new I become a fuller person for having had the chance to experience in some small way their view of the world. And the more people I meet, the more I am amazed by what they can think, do, and become.
16. What are you hopeful about?
I believe in people, in their capacity to grow, in their capacity to change, and in the ability of all of us to succeed, better, together, than we ever could apart. That will lead us into the future.
17. What are some ingredients to a good life?
Chocolate, champagne, hope, inspiration, travel, my family
18. What are you reading now? (what books do you gift most and what are your favourite reads?)
Honestly, baby books, they aren’t my thing, but I’m having one and need to increase my knowledge. The book I’ve given away most often is 1000 things to do before you die
19. Who is a “WOW Woman” in your life who inspires you (and why)?
Anna Thomas ;)
20. Where can others find you/your work (links to websites, blogs, etc.)?