With an impressive panel comprised of Scott Berkley, North America Managing Director and CEO of Simulia at Dassault Systemes, Paula C. Beauregard, Co-Founder, President and CEO at Edge Velocity, and Kate Hoepfner-Karle, VP of Talent and Organization Development at Medtronics, WEST kicked off its 2015-2016 annual programming on Best Practices for Hiring, Developing, and Retaining Women Leaders in High Tech on Sep 28, 2015. Hosted by Dassault Systemes in Waltham, MA, and sponsored by Biogen, the event was attended by over 50 men and women professionals from across MA, RI, and NH.
Matteo di Tommaso, VP of R&D Information Technology at Biogen, moderated the panel for the evening with insightful questions that delved into career paths and support of women in STEM careers.
Paula shared how the loss of lives on 9/11 due to communications challenges, and her dismay at not being there as scheduled, gave her the courage and direction to surrender her life to improve communications. Working closely with CTO, Frank Knox, she is driving innovation at Edge Velocity and making an impactful difference in the communications field. Paula touched on the need to bridge the existing gap between the percentage of women business owners and the percentage of funding allocated to support these businesses. With a striking disparity of over 35%, Paula expressed the importance of women entrepreneurs being creative when looking for funding, and the need to build a support system for women accessing the investment community.
On the topic of diversity, Kate explained that building a culture of inclusion is the first step to retaining a diverse workforce. “It is about people feeling accepted and changing the perception of what a great leader looks like,” said Kate. She encouraged professionals to be true to themselves, and be well-prepared to build self-confidence.
Scott emphasized the importance of educating not only leaders, but the rest of the organization, to support the women leaders pipeline, and using metrics to measure due progress in hiring and retaining women in high tech. “Having a diverse workforce in the technical space leads to innovation, which is at the core of our business,” he explained.
The evening wrapped up with a thought-provoking Q&A that touched on high risk promotions, second-generation gender bias, and the need for women professionals to mentor others climbing the ladder behind them.