Women in Tech: Finding Success in Your Career with Danielle Cox
Head of IT at Divvy, Danielle Cox, shares her expert insights on the unique challenges and opportunities for women in tech and her tips for achieving your goals.
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Danielle is a leader and mentor in the tech industry. Her role is Head of IT at Divvy, a cutting edge FinTech company which was recently acquired for $2.5B.
She has served as United States of America's Ms. Utah 2021 and is a recipient of the White House Presidential Service Gold Award. She was recently nominated by Women Tech Network 2021 Global Awards. She is a busy single mom of a teenager, and in her free time enjoys hiking, reading, and volunteering. Her goal is to create positive experiences for everyone she interacts with in personal and business life. Connect with Danielle on LinkedIn for more.
Talia Kemp (00:00): Okay, Hi! Thanks for joining us. Welcome to Master Sessions with PowerBx. We're so excited to have you all here today. My name is Talia Kemp and I'm the Director of Client Success at PowerBx. And today, I am joined by Danielle Cox. She's the head of IT at Divvy. She is, she is a leader and mentor in the tech industry who strives to create a positive experience for everyone she interacts with. So, let's welcome Danielle.
Danielle (00:39): Hi, guys, I'm so excited to be here and talk with you all today. So, today I'm going to be talking about finding success in your career, specifically as a woman, and my screen should be sharing. Hopefully you guys can all see that now.
Stephanie (00:39): We can see it, Danielle
Danielle (00:39): Yes, OK, great. So, probably my biggest tip with, well, let me introduce myself a little bit first. So, as Talia said, I am the Head of IT at Divvy, so I manage all of the, the technical IT work that's there. And a little something about me is I usually try to accomplish one kind of big thing for the year that I that I want to achieve
So this year, I'm actually United States of America’s Miss Utah 2021. And in past years, I've done various different, various different things that I like to work on. So, on my career, a little bit on my history, I've worked for companies like Ariix, who’s a design studio. They design for, like, video games. Ariix is actually the MLM, Origin Studios designs for the video games, and then prior to that was Jaybird.
Currently at Divvy. Divvy is a card and expense management platform. We were founded in 2016. We were actually recently acquired this summer for 2.5 billion by Bill.com, so it's been exciting being a part of that acquisition. This is the building that we built, so I was there for every part of this building and participated in the actual building of it. So, it's a pretty proud achievement of mine. We're always hiring. So, if you're in the tech industry, you're a woman in tech, you're interested in working for a tech company, check out our website and there's a lot of positions that are available.
Find Your Success
Danielle (2:45): So, as far as finding success, it's important to think about finding your own success and making, making your own path forward. Some of the things that are important in doing that are being on time, and I'm not talking about just, like, showing up on time for work. I'm talking about being on time with your deliverables, any projects that you have, anything that you have set a date for, that you're actually finished with it on that timeline.
Focus on whatever that project is that you're doing and just have that as your line of sight forward. It's easy to get pulled into all these different things and to get pulled into tons of different areas, but focus on your main goal and then getting that done. And, of course, be reliable, so do what your, what you say you're going to do. If you say you're going to finish something, then do it.
If it's a big stretch, maybe somebody else put it on, a pear or your boss, and they, it's a big stretch for you to do that. Speak up and say that. I think we as women sometimes aren’t as vocal about those things or sometimes we overextend. We think we can do it all and we can. We just can't always do it all right now. So, make sure that you are finishing what you say you're going to be able to do.
Danielle (4:16): And always be learning, retaining and refining your skills, especially if you're in the tech industry, it's always changing, it's always being different. So, make sure that you are continually learning that. I know I have some PowerBx products and they have already come out with a new one, even from when we built the building and installed some of their stuff. So, making sure that you're keeping up to date with what's new in the market, what's new with whatever field it is that you're in.
Finding Success as a Woman
Now, some things that I feel like are specific to a woman and in being successful as a female in, really in any industry, probably the number one thing that I think we can do better at is showcasing our accomplishments. This is something that I always strive to do or that I, I have to think about doing, is showcasing what I've actually achieved. So, I now have started keeping a record of everything that we've been working on and I’ll compile that as things that I finished.
I feel like sometimes I just get away for myself. I'm just so focused on finishing and achieving the things that I don't always think about telling people that I'm doing those things. But it's really important to tell people so that they can recognize the value that you are bringing to you are organization.
And always be your authentic self. So for me, I love glitter, I love sparkly things. I wear dresses all the time and I would say when I first started doing that, it was always received positive. And, I just decided I'm going to be my true, authentic self and I'm just going to be me. That's who I am. And literally, sometimes I will leave a trail of glitter. I have sparkly shoes on today, so I am sure everywhere I've gone, people can see, you know? And now I've gotten to a point where I'm really proud of that, and I really feel like I'm comfortable in my own skin. And when I am comfortable in being my true, authentic self, I'm able to achieve more of what I want to get done because I'm not so worried about what anybody else is thinking.
So, another important thing is to balance your work and your personal life. I am a single mother to a teenage daughter, so I'm constantly trying to do things for her and make sure that she's taken care of, as well as handle my own personal life and do work and run a department. So, it's a lot of stuff, and it's been really important to create that separation. Especially after COVID and with us having flex work, being able to work at home or in the office.
Having a dedicated space where you can work and having a dedicated space where you can have your personal life has been really valuable. So that you can get out of the mindset of working or even if personal life is pulling you away from work, get into the mindset of working. Both of those are just as important. But, literally having a separate physical space has helped me in creating that separation and that balance.
And setting priorities. So, one thing that I like to talk about is all of the things that we have to do in our lives, being parents, having responsibilities at work, having a personal life, having family that that we help support or that we're involved with and of course, friendships. All those things are all important aspects of our lives and we're constantly juggling them. So, I like to think about what we're juggling as glass or plastic balls. So, it's important that as you're juggling, you don't drop the glass balls.
Now you've got to stop what you're doing, then clean that up. If you drop the plastic ones, no big deal. You can move on and keep going. So, when you're thinking about what your priorities are, think about what is that most important thing that you need to get done. If it's a deadline for, for a project at work and you need to get it done, that's your biggest focus. Or for me, if my daughter is having a recital and I need to go see her, that's my most important thing, and I'm not going to be answering emails while I'm at that. So, having that balance and those priorities and boundaries with them is really important
And, creating your own path in your career, deciding what it is that you like to do and that you can be successful at and then creating it on your own. I would say when I built the building with Divvy, I definitely wasn't prepared for that, but it was something, I just kind of created the way, created the pathway, and I was like, you know, I'm going to do this, I'm going to build this building.
I'm going to be there like, if I have to run cable lines, if I have to put things up, I'm going to be doing it. And I think it's really important to recognize that we're, we're in control of our careers and we're in control of the direction that we want, that we want to take and all the things that we want to achieve in getting there. So create your path to take you there.
Of course, recognizing opportunities and seeing what it is that, that you could do that can help you in your career. So, technology is a continually growing industry. Several of these top ten categories on LinkedIn are around some sort of technology. So, there's a big opportunity for, for us to come into that space and be successful, and there aren't a lot of women.
There's not a lot of women in technology. There's not a lot of women in finance, there's not a lot of women in leadership. So, what that tells me is there’s space for us to come into and be successful in that. So we belong there, we belong in the room, we belong. We belong in that space, especially if there is no other female in the room, that's exactly the room that you should be in. So, recognize that just because there isn't other people doing it yet; we're, we're opening doors right now, and we're creating opportunities to grow as females in the industry.
Danielle (10:58): Goal setting. Goal setting is huge for me. I believe that anybody who sets a goal, writes it down, and continually looks at it is going to achieve those goals because that makes it be the top of their mind. That makes it be their focus and they're able to put an emphasis on it. And that's how I've been able to achieve the things that I've done, and I always make small steps to get there. If I have a big goal, then I have smaller goals that lead up to it.
I believe if you can dream it, you can achieve it. There are so many people in this world that are all willing to support and help us with whatever it is that we're doing. We just need to know what we want and we can get there. So, think about why it is that you want to get that thing, why you want to achieve that goal, and then you'll figure out how along the way.
I didn't fully know how I was going to win Miss Utah or how I was going to go throughout my rei, my reign. But I knew I wanted to do it and I wanted to make a difference in the world, and I wanted to be a mentor to other females, and I wanted to create a space that women can be comfortable in. And then I figured out how along the way and there were so many people who stepped in to be involved and help me along my journey. And now we are ready for questions.
Talia (12:21): Okay, so we will transition to the Q&A portion of the event. Danielle, could you stop sharing your screen, please? Okay, so, our featured panelists today are Stephanie Kemp and Kate Toronto. So, we'll open it up and get started on the Q&A.
Oh, and please introduce yourselves and your companies.
Stephanie (12:54): Hi, my name is Stephanie. I am the Partner Account Manager for North America and Europe at a company called Bridge, which is a learning management software and performance management software tool out of Utah, also. I live in Colorado and I live in an Airstream trailer. I'm not camping. I get that question a lot. So that is my background. It is real. And Danielle, I was just wondering, you talked about like, always be learning, which is such a value near and dear to my heart as well.
What have been, I think, like something that comes up for me when I hear that is I was, I look back at my 20 year old version and I was just so dead set on like college being the only way to like, have this piece of paper and give me value.
So, what are some ways that you have been able to expand your, your knowledge base or your network through, could obviously be through formal education, but like what are some other like tools and resources that you would recommend?
Danielle (14:04): Yeah, for sure, when it comes to learning, I love audio books. I like to listen to ones on leadership. There's one called the Manager's Path if you're looking at getting into leadership. If you're in technology, you could do the Phoenix project. But I like audio books for that. And then I also participate in leadership training courses. That was something I did back in, I don't remember 2019 or 2020, but the company that I work with, Divvy, they provided us with a leadership training course and it was actually a very intensive course put on by Harvard Business School and really helped level up our leaders within the business. I felt like that was a huge benefit in continuing learning. And then there's always certifications. A lot of careers will have career specific certifications that are helpful in your path. So, those are ways to continue learning.
And of course, like leaning on any, any products that you're actually using, a lot of them offer free training, free training materials, free information on their product. So, if that's your thing that you're using, you can reach out to those vendors and get more knowledge on those.
Kate (15:22): Great to be with you guys. I'm Kate Toronto, I am currently Salt Lake City based. I work for a San Francisco based company called Guidewire. They do insurance, they do technology solutions for insurance companies, and I report to their Chief Diversity Officer.
So, I help with their diversity, equity and inclusion efforts. And I've just been there for a week. I'm new to the role, but I was doing diversity, equity and inclusion leading out on those efforts for another company prior to this. Danielle, thanks for your presentation. It was really fun to hear some of the things that you've learned in your career. One of the things that I would love to hear you speak to is a barrier or a challenge that you faced and how you've overcome it.
Yeah. Careerwise, I think a big challenge was building a building during COVID 19, during quarantine. That was a huge challenge careerwise of like an actual project that I was working on. It was hard to get materials. It was hard to get people that could come on site and work and get the work done. And, so it was constantly changing dates and shifting things around. And the way that I worked with that is everything that I could plan for, I did. Everything that I knew I could, that I could get done ahead of time, was done ahead of time. Everything that was due in a certain date, I always gave myself a little buffer.
So, if I knew this, this portion of setting up the technology in the office had to be done so that they could do something else, I would get it, try and get it done sooner. That way if anything did come up, that was unexpected, like if somebody had to stop working because of COVID and they had to go into quarantine, that I would have a little bit extra time to get that done. So, that was really like a big contribution to working through those challenges and achieving the success of finishing it within our timeline and being able to move into the building.
Talia (17:49): I'd like to put out a little thought starter. I think that as women working in male dominated industries, it can often be hard for our colleagues, I think, to create supportive spaces for us and for our voices. And, and I'm just wondering what, what do you all think about ways that other people can be allies of women in the workplace and create these more supportive spaces so that it's easier for women to move into these management roles and to have success in their careers?
Danielle (18:35): Yeah, I love that. I can start and then I’d love to hear about diversity, equity and inclusion and what they do. But for me, what I found helpful is: getting to know some of the males in the office and inviting them into some of our women's group. We have an employee resource group called Women of Divvy, and we allow any males to join that want to be a male ally and they get to hear about our experiences as women and some of the challenges that are sometimes unique to us. So, it's nice that they understand it.
So, if they witnessed it happening and they see anything that, that might be a female specific issue, they will then help support that, and I have really valued that. I’ve really valued having males in the space that, that recognize and understand and that really have a goal to be an ally and that they know they have a purpose in being a part of that group. And they know their purpose is to help support and try and help break through some of these issues that we experience.
Kate (19:51): Yeah, Danielle, I love the points that you're bringing about inviting men into the space where we can start to educate and bring awareness on women's specific issues because there are so many women’s specific issues. I would add to that that I think it's helpful for men to also understand their identity as men even more. What I mean by that is; the history of America has created a space where women have had to fit a really specific type and so have men. And I’ve found that men understand the idea of advocacy and allyship even more when they understand and recognize how they might feel like they don't fit in totally to the idea of what it means to be male or masculine.
So, so I’ve found really great success in having conversations with men as allies. That having conversations around toxic masculinity and the effects that it can have on a man when they or he doesn't have permission to show emotion, or he doesn't have permission to show up at home as a caregiver, or he doesn't have permission to need mental health access or resources. And starting to talk about those conversations and help them see how the way our systems and our structures have been set up, how those are maybe negatively impacting them as well.
It gives them a greater sense of empathy on how the reverse side of that, which is women not having space to be ambitious or aggressive or career oriented, how those might be just as hurtful. And in that way, we really start to create a deep partnership model where women can be competitive and men can be caregivers. And there's a huge spectrum of both of those, but that in our partnerships, in our relationships, and in our work setting, we're supporting each other in our dual roles as career oriented people and as caregivers.
Stephanie, I'd like to toss it over to you.
Stephanie (22:22): That was very well said, well spoken. I, and I'm going to just speak from I here, and where like I, to your point, I am the woman that has always shown up, very career oriented, very perceived as aggressive, very demonstrative in my delivery. And I’ve had plenty of male managers in my life who have tried to make me feel small in order to be small in order to fit inside of that box that you're talking about.
And I would say that two commitments that I've made to myself are: one, know my voice, find my voice first, I did, took a lot of time to get there. Know my voice and then be empowered to use it and realize that there is no job, career, role, that I am going to allow myself to be small in in order to make X amount of dollars or have X title. And then the other side of that coin is utilizing that voice in a space of being really confident with giving feedback to people. I think that especially as a woman in your career, I think it's really challenging to even be told it's okay to give feedback and then layer that on top of like, giving feedback to men.
And so, I will actually say I worked at Lululemon for quite some time, and a big part of their work culture is empowering individuals to be able to both give and receive feedback. And it's one of the most profound things that has really impacted even my personal life, to be honest. And so, you know, standing in my power, but also knowing that I have the ability to give feedback to others and knowing that that feedback is just information and it's just a bridge to hopefully make our relationship better and make them better, make myself better.
And so, yeah, I would say that those are two areas where independently I have found myself like, really leaning into in order to. I always say that the woman that doesn't speak up is the one that sets the bar. And I never want to be that person because I think that the more we, we empower ourselves and then empower those next to us, we lift that bar together and I think that's like a really beautiful thing.
Talia (25:15): Yeah, I have to say, Danielle, when you brought up the part about sharing your accomplishments. I relate so much to that about not taking the time to like, recognize and celebrate accomplishments and more so focus on just like, achieving that thing, and then that's done. And it's like, OK, what's the next thing?
But I've noticed that it seems that men are often much more eager to, to share their accomplishments and talk about those things and in not doing so we're not giving ourselves, we're not presenting ourselves in that same light that they are, and we're not highlighting the things that we're doing the way that they are. And so, what we do can become overlooked because we're not saying, Hey, we did this, we accomplished this. So, that really hit home for me when you said that.
Danielle (26:12): Yeah, exactly like the last thing that I want as females is for us to be kind of pushed down or pushed aside because we're just going and doing the things, and then it's hard to see somebody's value if you don't fully know what they're achieving and it's up to us to put that out there.
Kate (26:36): And I think women, historically, there's a huge culture of being nurturing and something that I found is as a female ally, really powerful practices, elevating other women and men in the room.
And so by creating a culture where I'm elevating other people to executives or across the company, it gives other people permission to shine, and it also gives them permission to shine the light on me.
Talia (27:10): Yeah. Well, do we have any other questions?
I mean, in that case, then we can wrap it up right here unless there's anything else anyone wants to ask, but thank you so much, Danielle, for presenting today. And Stephanie and Kate for participating in our Q&A panel.
If you all want to hear more insightful tips each month, we're going to be doing another master session with experts on the future of work. And if you sign up for our email list, you’ll be the first to hear about that.
This session has been recorded, so everything that we discussed is going to be transcribed and we'll be sharing a video on YouTube and the transcription after this, with links to everything discussed so you can, if you watch on YouTube, you can find the transcription, the registration link, and all the other info in the description box below. And thank you so much, everyone, and until we see you again, have a wonderful month.
Resources from this session
Divvy 👉 getdivvy.com
Bill.com 👉 bill.com
Zapp Pad 👉 Powerbx.com/pages/zapp-pad
Zoom 👉 Zoom.us
Zoom Solutions 👉 Powerbx.com/pages/zoom-solutions
Bridge 👉 getbridge.com
Guidewire 👉 guidewire.com