A quick Google search of CEOs and founders of tech companies will likely lead you to men like Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg, and Tim Cook—but they aren't the only faces of the industry. Meet four women who are not only creating and running their own companies but investing in them too.
Michelle Kennedy is the founder and CEO of Peanut, a social networking app she created in 2017 for mothers to connect and learn from like-minded women. Rose Stuckey Kirk, the chief corporate social responsibility officer of Verizon, spoke at last year's Glamour Women of the Year Summit about bringing her heritage and legacy with her to the workplace. Nisha Dua is the cofounder of BBG Ventures, a venture capital fund that invests in products and services that have at least one female cofounder. Alex Friedman is the cofounder of Lola, a direct-to-consumer tampon brand.
Glamour brought these four women together for its annual Women of the Year Summit to talk about the best career advice they've received—and how they're tackling the issues important to them in 2019. Here are the biggest takeaways from Kennedy, Stuckey Kirk, Friedman, and Dua's panel to apply to your own career.
Alex Friedman on solving problems for women through business: "To us, it just didn't make sense that there wasn't a way to get period products delivered to your door every month, in the way that you wanted them. So there were two main innovations that we [at Lola] introduced to the technology to get your products delivered. One way was a subscription format that was customizable for her, so getting a box of tampons delivered to your door, however many you wanted, at the cadence you wanted. The second thing was that we wanted it to be a consumer-friendly subscription. So when we started the business in 2015, a lot of the subscriptions on the market weren't consumer friendly. You had to call to cancel your subscription if you didn't want it anymore, and for us that was just unfriendly business. We ourselves were our own consumer, and we knew that the products that were out there weren't good enough for women. There had been stagnant innovation in the industry and there was a lot to improve."
Michelle Kennedy on how she used her personal experience to found an app centered around motherhood: "I've been working in the dating industry for a long time, and I had my little boy. All of a sudden I was kind of launched into this world where there's been a seismic change in my life. And yet the products that were out there available for me to use have not changed. So I was like, Well, what would happen if we could take everything that we know about dating in terms of the algorithms that connect people, but also what I've learned in terms of friend narrative and how to build a product for women, and how we can take that and apply it to motherhood so that we can start to really create a product where women resonate with with what we're building? [When I became a mother, I saw that] everything can change and nothing has changed. The best part of her might be motherhood, but it's not the only cause. I'd say there is a social discovery element where you can find basically female friends around you. But there's also a very active community element to its idea and [that can be] geography based or Internet based or topic based. And that for me was just the stepping stone to create this kind of wider network for women."
Rose Stuckey Kirk on using a large corporation's access and resources for good: "As a company the size of Verizon, you recognize you have incredible assets that are available. But the flip side of that is everyone wants access to those assets. About seven or eight years ago, we made a deliberate effort to go into the education space and to adopt some of the most underserved middle schools in the country and to give them for free an entire tech innovation overlay. And what that means is that every single student, teacher, administrator in that school receives free access to connected devices and a curriculum to actually further their learning 24/7…. Because what was important to us was that little kids who really have the ability to dream big—who want to innovate the way you're innovating or innovate the way you're innovating—they need access and opportunity to do that, and it needs to start in school."
Friedman on creating a business that stands by its values: "My belief is that you can build strong revenue and also have a big impact to drive change. And I think that brands who realize that and who are trying to do that are winning. Brands themselves understand that they are a platform for change, and that's something that's changing over the last few decades. You see more and more brands that understand they actually have that power and therefore that responsibility."
Kennedy on turning your ambitions into actionable goals: "If you set yourself targets, it's much easier to kind of keep focus and think about where you're trying to hit, because the worst thing in the world is having this huge, huge vision and not being able to get there because you're not breaking it up. And also, it means that hitting milestones, you still get that sense of achievement because sometimes it's going to take years to get to the big stuff. So just having those kind of achievements along the way makes it all more attainable."
Stuckey Kirk on making a career pivot and sticking with it: "I think about seven or eight years ago, I made the decision to move out of what would've been a profit-and-loss part of the business into this role. And it was always supposed to be just a rounding opportunity, just a couple of years. And what I realized was that I had this amazing platform and all of the assets of one of the largest concentrations company in the world. And I could use that as a force for good. And fundamentally, look at big societal issues that needed to be addressed that no one was addressing.… Every, every time you want to try something, you work where you need to change your boss or your manager. You need to build a business case for it."
Nisha Dua on standing out during the job application process: "I think whenever you're pursuing a career opportunity, it's about doing your homework. It is about making sure you understand what that company's mission is. How are they hiring and what's the profile of the individuals that they're bringing into that space, and then pitching yourself in that regard to fit that profile. But you've also got to network everywhere you can."
Find out more about Glamour's 2019 Women of the Year summit here.
Originally Appeared on Glamour