Power Women of DC Tech: Part IX
You can be entrepreneurial without being the one in the biggest cube. (Who sits in a corner office anymore?) This next set of Trending 40 profiles proves it. Don't forget to sign up for our Oct. 15 event to honor all 40 entrepreneurs. Early bird price expires today!
Director and Head of Product, Capital One Labs and
Capital One Labs: Capital One’s tech innovation and experimental product development arm. Operates like a lean start-up within a large company and is made up of entrepreneurs, engineers, product managers, designers, and data scientists.
mor.sl: Integrated recipe recommendation and grocery delivery platform that makes cooking delicious meals doable for urban professionals. It’s like Pandora for recipes with a seamless-like ingredient delivery experience.
Capital One Labs’ latest news: Capital One credit and debit cards have been integrated with Apple Pay, Apple’s new mobile payments platform on iPhone 6 and 6+ devices including Apple Watch. Excited to be leading the industry in m-commerce technology.
Inspiration to launch a startup: Dabbled with other start-up ideas, but was most passionate about mor.sl., which tackles a big human problem (eating well) and simplifies an overly complicated and antiquated system into an intuitive and elegant user experience.
Why a tech career: At Corporate Executive Board, helped build and launch an IT infrastructure service delivery benchmarking business. Gave me a strong appreciation for the role of tech as a core enabler of simplified user experiences, better customer service, and increased productivity.
Biggest challenge: The roller coaster—learned to live with that sick-to-your-stomach feeling while keeping that "I'm so excited about this roller coaster" face to my team, investors, family, and friends. Also, learning to take failure in stride, find the positive in each day, and finding new ways to measure your own success.
Career milestones: Launching new line of business at Corporate Executive Board; launching mor.sl and being featured in TechCrunch and Mashable; and joining amazing Capital One Labs team.
Grew up: Princeton, NJ, but also lived in three countries and six states.
Current home: Columbia Heights.
Why DC: Corporate Executive Board job. Left to get MBA, and came back because husband was starting masters program at Georgetown.
School: Duke University, London School of Economics, and UC Berkeley Haas School of Business.
First job: Rental car agent at Alamo Rent-a-Car quickly followed by Research Associate at the Corporate Executive Board, where I advised chief HR officers on their talent management and leadership development strategies.
Greatest fear: Losing loved ones. And an irrational fear of numerous underwater creatures.
Favorite vacation: Trekking through the Andes, watching the sunrise over Machu Picchu, and surviving a 7.2 earthquake in Peru with one of my best friends.
Favorite restaurant: Gregoire's (Berkeley, Calif.)
Daily habit: Cup of Peet’s coffee every morning when I get to the office.
Bucket list: Eating at (at least one) 3-star Michelin restaurant.
Family facts: Three sisters, three brothers-in-law, a plethora of nieces and nephews, two loving parents, and an incredibly supportive husband without whom I’d be lost (literally and figuratively).
Hobbies: Reading, cooking, dancing, hiking, singing, and writing.
Advice to 18-year-old self: Don’t worry so much about what other people expect of you. Worry more about what you expect of yourself. And be nice to your parents!
Anthea Watson Strong
Civic Innovation, Google
Company: Organize world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.
Job focus: Ingesting data and building products to help users find the information they need for the US midterm elections in November and the Brazilian general election in October.
Why a tech career: Didn’t choose a career in tech. Chose to spend career building tools to help people solve problems and tackle social challenges. Opportunities to make the most impact are in tech.
Biggest challenge: To design technology that considers all the needs and diverse motivations of users. We’re constantly working to learn more from the people who use our products, and making sure their needs, not just as a collective, but as different kinds of people, are being met.
Daily habit: Every morning, write up a list of the previous day's work and the current day's to-dos. In each list, if I can't link to something new that I produced or that I'm currently working on, for example, a doc, a spreadsheet, or a tool that launched, then I'm spending too much time in meetings or writing email. It's easy to mistake meetings for making forward progress.
Career milestones: Successfully growing the Voting Information Project data standard and launching the Open Civic Data Identifiers with the Sunlight Foundation; electing President Obama in 2008; and launching the Google Civic Information API in 2012.
Hometown: Liverpool, UK.
Current home: H Street.
Why DC: Obama inauguration.
School: Principia College and Boston University School of Law.
First job: Swim instructor for 5-year-olds. (Still my favorite job ever.)
Greatest fear: Leading cause of death for women in my age group is "unintentional injuries."
Favorite vacation: Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.
Favorite restaurant: Toki Underground (H Street).
Bucket list: Visiting Denmark and biking on the Copenhagen cycle super highway.
Family facts: Married to Reid Strong, a civil rights attorney at USDA. Wallace the cat claims me as his human.
Hobbies: Making cakes, collecting vintage sunglasses, and hosting dinner parties.
Advice to 18-year-old self: Oh honey, twelve different baggy "No Fear" t-shirts are too many. And, in any case, it's not the best look on you.
Karolyn Abram Dector
Product VP, Optoro
Company: Enables retailers and manufacturers to sell returned and excess inventory through Optoro’s software and e-commerce marketing solutions.
Job focus: Since joining a year ago, have been helping figure out what we need to do next and working with developers to do that. Oversee product management team of six and work alongside development team of about 30.
Latest news: Working on product for wholesale and bulk goods.
Inspiration to work at Optoro: Was working remotely for Evernote, while pregnant. Wanted to get back in a DC office, working with founders and entrepreneurial people. Was excited by the people and market opportunity at Optoro.
Why a tech career: Mom had gone back to school to study computer science during the recession when I was in high school. She insisted I take a computer science class and ended up enjoying it. Studied it in college during the dot com boom, which was very exciting.
Biggest challenge: Finding enough time. Stuff is moving quickly and making sure you can juggle the day-to-day and the bigger picture.
Career milestones: Helping build Parature and seeing it go from a tiny company to recently getting sold to Microsoft; seeing Evernote grow from 10 million users to over 60 million; and being part of Optoro’s growth and proving out a business.
Hometown: Murrysville, Penn.
Current home: Tysons.
Why DC: Came for a Microstrategy job. Bonus that DC was the closest large city outside of hometown of Pittsburgh and older sister was living here.
First job: Babysitter.
Greatest fear: Solitary confinement.
Favorite vacation: Paris.
Favorite restaurant: Cava Mezze's brunch.
Bucket list: Launch my own company.
Family facts: Married six years; one daughter (age 2.5)
Daily habit: Read Flipboard.
Hobbies: Soccer, daughter, hiking, and biking.
Advice to 18-year-old self: The people you work with and the friends you have matter the most.