Silicon Valley Women In Cloud Leadership Roundtable – Reflections and Call to Action

A recent Women’s entrepreneurship report posted by The Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM)   said that “In 2016, an estimated 163 million women were starting or running new businesses in 74 economies around the world. In addition, an estimated 111 million were running established businesses. This not only shows the impact of women entrepreneurs across the globe but highlights their contributions to the growth and well-being of their societies.” In addition, over half of women entrepreneurs in the innovation-driven group are in government, health, education, and social services and about 2% women are starting a business in Information and Communications Technology sector. 

Despite substantial progress in the number of women entrepreneurs, the “scaleup-gap” between men and women remains huge, which clearly indicates that there are still some challenges that need to be addressed in this space. These include a greater likelihood of necessity motivation (compared to opportunity), lower growth expectations, and higher rates of discontinuance than men. These challenges just imply that support for new and established businesses really is included in coaching, access to capital, education, mentoring, training, and other resources. These are important assets to grow a women-led business and to help bridge that the gender gap.

 Surprisingly this “scaleup-gap” is also prevalent in Silicon Valley, with its sprawling network of startups. This is the underlying premise for the Women in Cloud initiative (WIC) founded by few teach leaders in Seattle, Washington. Women in Cloud is all about inspiring, empowering and accelerating growth for women-led technology companies. The initiative focuses on digital transformation to provide digital access, digital capabilities and connections to customers through leading cloud industry, community and government partners.

Recently the WIC founding members Chaitra Vedullapalli (CMO & Co-Founder Meylah), Carrie Francey (VP, HPE) and Jacqueline Touma (Founder, CEO Curious Enterprises) hosted a Women in Leadership Roundtable at HPE Executive Briefing Center in Palo Alto, with the objective of starting a meaningful dialogue and connecting with tech leaders here in the valley around this topic. The event saw participation from several tech companies such as HPE, Mircosoft, SAP, IBM, Brighttalk, Intel. 

We had an insightful conversation about diversity and inclusion strategies that can help advance Women leadership and entrepreneurship in Cloud Computing. Participants shared their perspective and experience with gender bias in the Tech industry. It was interesting to note that while everyone had varied experiences and career paths, there was a vehement agreement on the need for to foster each other’s strengths and to be advocates to support and empower women on this journey.    

After a brief introduction we started with an icebreaker which was so apt to understand the subtle signs of rejection, resistance, and acceptance, “No, Yes But, Yes And”.  On a day to day basis, we see so many women experience rejection and resistance.  It was enlightening to see creativity and innovation derailed with words like “ No”, “but”, and set free in using the qualifier “and”. In today’s world when personal development and success are often driven by innovation “yes, and” can open doors and pave ways for new women-led technology companies. 

This was a great segway into the charter for the WIC initiative. The mission of “Women in Cloud” team is to work with technology startups to change the rejection into acceptance. Through the 6 months immersive Cloud Accelerator program, it aims to assist women-led companies to start and build their businesses with Hewlett Packard and Microsoft distribution channels. 

The WIC team works in collaboration with Industry Partners, Microsoft Corporation, Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE), and Meylah. 

To learn about this program and upcoming Inaugural summit on Jan 19th visit www.womenincloud.com. 

Finally, the breakfast roundtable concluded with the discussion that a program like this cannot be limited to Seattle area. We need to open the doors to similar conversations and support network here in San Francisco Bay Area. In the coming months, WIC team will be working closely with their SV chapter leaders, Sampada Basarkar and Vandana Deep. 

Stay tuned to find out about the local WIC events. 

Together we can be engaged and make an impact. 

Sampada Basarkar has held several management-level positions in her 20+ years of experience in the industry. She is currently working as a Program Director at IBM. She is a passionate advocate for Women in Technology. 

Vandana Deep has over 20+ years of experience working in diverse roles in the product development and management. She is currently working as a lead architect at SAP. She is an avid advocate of STEM education for the youth and women.  

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