Girl Geek X

Girl Geek X

Key Takeaways From The Atlassian Bay Area Girl Geek Dinner

BizeeBee’s Poornima Vijayashanker suggested that “women need to get more comfortable with making the ask.”

By Emily Gonzales (CTO, Bookigee)

The panel at the 29th Bay Area Girl Geek Dinner hosted by Atlassian was an impressive mix of admirable women drawn from the online media, venture capital and SaaS sectors of technology.

Rather than focus on a specific issue facing women in technology today, the panelists discussed various topics and provided insightful advice for the 100+ women in attendance.

Bay Area Girl Geek Dinner organizer Sukrutha Raman Bhadouria kicked off the night and gave us an overview of the growing women in tech community and reminded us that “Everybody has that inner engineer in them. You just have to find it!”

The panel was moderated by Rebecca Buckman, an award-winning journalist, formerly for the Wall Street Journal and Forbes, and is currently a communications consultant and writer based in Silicon Valley Her questions were based on survey results asking how satisfied we are as women in tech.

Here’s what I learned from the Atlassian Girl Geek Dinner:

On Funding For Women-Led Startups

  • Poornima Vijayashanker, founder of BizeeBee and former founding engineer of, told us the story of how she talked to VCs but preferred dealing with angels since her company was pursuing a slower growth strategy than most venture-backed businesses. She found angels through her own networks and raised $500k. She suggested, “women need to get more comfortable with making the ask.”
  • Sarah Lacy, Founder of PandoDaily, raised 2.5M with a baby in her arms during her meetings on Sand Hill Road. She said, “I never set out to pretend I wasn’t a new mom, never hid the fact that I was planning on having another kid soon. I didn’t experience any sexism. Lots of startups don’t get funded – to say that it’s because you’re a woman is weak. I don’t have patience for women who say they didn’t get funding in the Valley for sexist reasons.”
  • Patricia Nakache, Partner at Trinity Ventures, advised that getting introduced to funders through your network is best. She also cites less women applying for funding as one reason for less women getting funded. She agrees that although women receive less funding, it’s not because of the quality of our ideas. Other reasons include the confidence, credibility or qualifications of the founder. She advises women founders to “have more confidence.”

On Opportunities For Women In Larger VS. Smaller Companies

  • Audra Eng, VP of Product Management at Atlassian, stated that at smaller companies (less than 100 employees), “There are more opportunities to make a larger impact.”
  • Catherine Norman, Director of Corporate Communications at Atlassian, added that at larger companies, “It’s political. Can you get the right people to agree with what you want to do?”
  • PandoDaily’s Sarah Lacy told us, “If you are really passionate, there is no better place to be than a high-growth company, if you can absorb lots of pain and take on more and more stuff, you can get anything you want. You’ll leapfrog in ways you never could in any other industry. If you’re lazy, go work at a big company.”

On The Importance Of Having A Mentor

  • BizeeBee’s Poornima Vijayashanker noted that “It’s hard to find a mentor because everyone is busy.” Her advice is to pick a few people you can rotate through who can provide what you need in different areas (engineering, entrepreneurship, etc). She admitted that it’s hard to find a woman mentor and advised to just figure out what you need help with and don’t necessarily look for a woman. Her advice is to “build a support network that will help solve a lot of your problems.”
  • PandoDaily’s Sarah Lacy reminded us that we have a “massive responsibility to give back and actively mentor, especially if you’re a woman. Be willing to take that phone call.”

On Female Role Models In Tech

  • Although we are fortunate enough to have pioneers inspiring future generations of women in technology, PandoDaily’s Sarah Lacy told us that “just because Marissa Meyer didn’t take maternity leave, it doesn’t mean everyone else has the resources to do that.” She is also a big fan of total integration between her work and family life. She brings her baby and nanny to work and doesn’t try to pretend she’s not a mom.
  • Trinity Ventures’ Patricia Nakache takes a different approach and advised us to “Know your boundaries.” She talks about how even Sheryl Sandberg prioritizes being home to spend time with her kids at night. She goes back to work after seeing them, but she has set that boundary. The panelists all agreed that every woman has to do what’s right for her specific situation. While we have role models to admire, we have to take a look at our own lives and make the right decisions for ourselves.

On Sexism In Silicon Valley

  • According to the survey, 20% of respondents think sexism still exists in the Valley. PandoDaily’s Sarah Lacy had a fantastic response to this finding: “Of course there’s sexism but there’s a difference between sexism existing and sexism being an issue. You have to choose if it makes you a victim or if it makes you stronger.”

Photo credit: Courtney Mayeda

About the guest blogger: Emily Gonzales is the CTO of Bookigee, an early-stage startup that builds online analytics and marketing applications for the Book Publishing Industry. Prior to joining Bookigee, Emily was a Director at Expense Reduction Analysts. Before that, she was a Senior Design Engineer at Motorola. She holds a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from The University of Miami and writes for TechFemme. Follow her on Twitter at @emilyshere

Bay Area Girl Geek Dinner #11: Sponsored by Citrix Online

Find out how Girl Geeks, mobile apps, and collaborative technology are changing how, when and where we work!

Join Citrix Online for a Bay Area Girl Geek Dinner on Thursday, September 22, at Jillian’s (@ Metreon) in San Francisco. Learn from our engineers, product line managers, Cloud, IT and Marketing gurus, as we talk about the past, present and future of mobile collaboration.

Event is FREE for all girl geeks. Girl geeks can register a guy geek as her “plus one” above when she RSVPs.

Network with other women in the technology industry, enjoy refreshments, product demos and fun activities.

First 250 at the door get a Citrix Online Girl Geek Dinner coffee mugs. Giveaways throughout the evening. Raffle winner will receive an Amazon Kindle!

Hear a panel of Citrix Online women on their experiences in the tech industry.

Learn the latest about cutting-edge Citrix Online products like GoToMeeting, GoToMyPC, GoToWebinar, GoToAssist, GoToManage, GoToTraining and how we are creating apps for the top mobile platforms!

About the girl geek panel discussion:

Ever wished you could work remote using only your mobile phone, fix your clients’ computers using only your iPad, connect to your work computer from anywhere in the world, or host a meeting online using HiDef video-conferencing? At Citrix Online we are innovating technology that allows our users to connect and collaborate anytime, anywhere, like never before.

In a panel discussion, we will discuss our past, present and future of mobile collaboration technology and the perspectives and advice from women in diverse roles and functions at Citrix Online. Our panelists include: Erin Hintz (VP, Global Marketing & GM, eCommerce), Lisa Reeves (VP and GM, Access and Cloud Services), Cat Allday (Product Line Director), Elizabeth Cholawsky (VP and GM, IT Services Line of Business), Sukrutha Raman (QA Engineer), Beth Gilbert (Product Line Manager, GoToTraining).

Schedule of events:

5:30pm – 6:30pm: Registration, heavy appetizers & drinks, fun activities, demos and networking.

6:30pm – 6:40pm: Welcome

6:40pm – 7:40pm: Short Presentations

7:40pm – 8:30pm: Networking, more demos and fun activities

8:30pm : Raffle drawing, closing remarks

About our featured girl geek panelists:

Erin Hintz (VP, Global Marketing & GM, eCommerce)

Erin Hintz heads the Citrix Online global marketing team, which includes responsibility for the division’s marketing, eCommerce and public relations around the world. Prior to joining Citrix Online in 2011, she was vice president of worldwide consumer marketing at Symantec Corp. During her tenure, Symantec’s consumer division grew from $350 million/year to $2 billion/year and Norton became the world’s most trusted brand for consumer security solutions, valued at $3.3B on a recent top ten tech brands report. Erin joined the Symantec team in 1994 through the company’s acquisition of Delrina Corp., after which she held many executive roles in product management and marketing, with a focus on SMB, enterprise and consumer customers. She holds an honors bachelor’s degree from Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, Canada, and a post-graduate diploma in Business Management from Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. Erin is currently an Advisory Board member for Zuberance, a venture-funded advocacy marketing platform, and a Board of Directors member for the non-profit Resource Area for Teaching.

Lisa Reeves (VP and GM, Access and Cloud Services)

Lisa Reeves joined Citrix Online in 2010 to oversee the access and cloud line of business. She is currently responsible for product development and marketing strategy for the company’s GoToMyPC remote access brand and for all initiatives related to cloud computing. Before coming to Citrix Online, Lisa was a general partner at Vista Ventures, a venture capital firm targeting early-stage investments in companies in the software, digital media, and network sectors. She previously led SAP Ventures, the corporate venture investing arm of SAP AG, and spent 9 years in senior operating roles at SAP America, including sales, marketing, business development and consulting. She began her career in the automotive industry. Lisa holds a B.A. from Kalamazoo College and an M.B.A. from the Thunderbird School of Global Management.

Cat Allday (Product Line Director)

Elizabeth Cholawsky (VP and GM, IT Services)

Elizabeth Cholawsky is vice president and general manager of Citrix Online’s IT Services line of business. In this position Cholawsky leads the strategy, vision and focus of the GoToAssist and GoToManage product lines, cornerstones of Citrix Online’s number one position in the remote support market and its innovative SaaS-based IT services for small and medium-sized businesses. Previously, as vice president for products and services, She elevated the Citrix Online customer experience to the highest level of excellence and satisfaction and oversaw unparalleled product growth, establishing Citrix Online as the world’s third largest SaaS company. Prior to joining Citrix Online, Elizabeth held executive-level positions spanning product management, marketing, customer service and business analysis at companies such as Commission Junction, ValueClick and Move, Inc. She holds a Ph.D. in political science and statistics from the University of Minnesota and a B.A. in government and statistics from Franklin and Marshall College.

Sukrutha Raman (QA Engineer)

Sukrutha Raman completed her MSEE degree from USC in December 2007. During her time at USC she was an active board member of the USC chapter of Society of Women Engineers. She joined Citrix Online in January 2008 working in the company headquarters in Santa Barbara, California. In May of 2010 she moved to San Francisco and joined the fast growing Citrix Online office in SOMA. As a QA Engineer, she currently works on a team that operates in an Agile manner to release the highest priority improvements and fixes for Citrix Online’s award winning and enormously popular collaboration tools, GoToMeeting and GoToWebinar. She is responsible for maintaining the high quality of the products with each release. Sukrutha enjoys travelling, swimming, and trying new restaurants in San Francisco.

Beth Gilbert (Product Line Manager, GoToTraining)

Beth Gilbert joined Citrix Online in 2007 as a Product Marketing Manager responsiblebeth gilbert for directing and executing the go-to-market strategy for GoToWebinar and GoToTraining. Over the past four years, Beth has immersed herself in Web events and corporate training space resulting in a deep understanding of the current challenges and evolving needs of this market. As Product Line Manager for GoToTraining, Beth has utilized her experience and expertise in this area to manage the product strategy for the GoToTraining product line. Prior to joining Citrix Online, she was a Product Manager and Product Marketing Manager at InfoGenesis, where she developed and implemented the global product strategy for one of their hospitality product lines. In this role, she proactively supported sales and marketing efforts through ongoing training, coaching, customer presentations and Webinars. Beth holds a M.A. in Organizational Design and Effectiveness at Fielding Graduate University and a B.A. in Sociology from the University of California Santa Barbara. She enjoys singing, dancing, cycling and roller derby.

About Citrix Online

Citrix Online is a fast-growing division of Citrix Systems, Inc. (Nasdaq: CTXS), based in Santa Barbara, California, with satellite offices and data centers around the world. Every month, more than 17,000 new customers start using Citrix Online’s services to work from anywhere with anyone – using our remote-connectivity tools to save time, get more done and connect to others around the world.

A small business owner is able to work from home thanks to GoToMyPC.

• A project manager collaborates with remote co-workers using GoToMeeting.

• A trainer cancels her flights and conducts live online training with GoToTraining.

• A marketer generates a list of eager buyers by inviting prospects to an online Webinar.

• A support agent fixes a customer’s PC remotely on the first call using GoToAssist.

At Citrix Online, we believe in creating products that we ourselves want to use. Our goal is to offer services that are:

• So easy to use you could learn them without a manual or training.

• So reliable you can count on them every day without a second thought.

• So secure you can trust that your data is safe – fully encrypted end to end.

• So fast the experience is like being there in person.

Read more about our latest news, our management team and our community outreach programs at

Bay Area Girl Geek Dinner #9: Sponsored by Genentech

Ever wonder what a bioreactor, Chinese Hamster Ovary cells and a Girl Geek have in common?

To find out, join Genentech for the latest Bay Area Girl Geek Dinner to celebrate Women leading Innovation in Biotechnology & Healthcare!

Please RSVP here.

Network with other women in the technology industry, enjoy refreshments, fun raffles, activities and a photo booth. Participate in interactive demo booths and play with cutting edge technologies used in the development and manufacture of biotechnology drugs. Hear from a panel of Genentech women on their experiences in the Biotech & Healthcare industry. Learn about the lifesaving drugs and applications being developed at the intersection of technology and healthcare!

Genentech Girl Geek Dinner Agenda:
5:30pm – 6:15pm: Registration, heavy appetizers & drinks, photo booth, networking.
6:15pm – 6:20pm: Welcome
6:20pm – 6:40pm: Keynote by Ann Lee, Senior Vice President at Genentech
6:45pm – 7:15pm: Short Presentations: Perspectives and advice from women in diverse roles & functions at Genentech
7:15pm – 7:35pm: Moderated Q&A
7:35pm – 8:15pm: Demos and more networking over appetizers & drinks
8:15pm: Raffle and closing remarks

Genentech Girl Geek Speaker Bios:

Ann Lee is Senior Vice President at Genentech and Head of Global Technical Development at Roche. She is responsible for developing process and analytical technologies, scaling-up, manufacturing, control and delivering GMP clinical supplies for all products in the pipeline. Prior to joining Genentech in September 2005, Ann worked for 16 years at Merck & Co., Inc., where she held several leadership positions in vaccine development in the Merck Research Laboratories. She was project leader for a number of vaccines including PedvaxHIB, COMVAX, 2nd generation PNEUMOVAX23, and GARDASIL. She also served as Vice President, Chemical Technology and Engineering in the manufacturing division. Ann holds a Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering from Cornell University, and a PhD from Yale University. She is a member of the National Academy of Engineering, American Institute of Chemical Engineers, American Chemical Society, Society of Women Engineers, Sigma Xi, a Fellow of the American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering, and serves on various academic and scientific advisory boards. She has been Associate Editor of Biotechnology and Applied Biochemistry, organizer of numerous conferences and an invited lecturer at various meetings and universities. Ann is actively involved in company-wide recruiting efforts and mentoring boys and girls in science.

Elisabeth Warren is currently an Associate Director in Strategic Pricing and Contracting. In this role, she oversees development of pricing and contract strategies for the GMET therapeutic areas and customer segments that optimize the value of Genentech’s portfolio, which includes providing leadership and management for cross-functional strategy development teams, scenario analysis/modelling for overall financial and legal viability, as well as ongoing pricing and contract performance assessment/analysis. Lis joined Genentech in 2001, and has held positions of increasing responsibility across the Research and Early Development, Medical Affairs, and Portfolio Strategy groups. She is co-chair and South San Francisco Founder of Genentech Women Professionals, a collaborative and supportive forum aimed at educating, supporting, and mentoring on issues unique to women in biotech. She is also a member of Out and Equal, Genentech’s group for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community and their allies. Prior to joining Genentech, she held multiple roles across companies in the pharma/biotech industry including Quintiles and ePocrates. Lis received her BA with honors in Human Biology from Stanford University, and her MBA from the University of California at Berkeley Haas School of Business.  Lis lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her partner and their 75-lb lapdog.

Tina Larson is Director of Process Development Operations and Engineering at Genentech. She leads an organization responsible for bioprocess technology development, automation engineering, pilot plant operations, and strategic planning. Tina has held positions of increasing responsibility in Engineering, Manufacturing, and Process Development during her 15 years at Genentech. She spent 11 years providing direct technical support to Bioprocess Manufacturing, as both an Automation Engineer and Manufacturing Scientist. She has worked with every commercial product at Genentech, and many clinical products. She also led the purification technology transfer for a contract manufacturing project. Tina is recognized in the pharmaceutical industry for her leadership in bioprocess analysis and control. Tina is also known for her commitment to mentorship and talent development, including her role as founding officer in Genentech’s Women Professionals group and her mentorship of emerging leaders through the NextGen program. Tina holds a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from Colorado State University. In her free time, Tina enjoys sharing her passion for gardening with her 3-year-old daughter, Kendra. Kendra has her own set of gardening tools and she has successfully cultivated her own flowers and peas.

Melissa Mun is an engineer in Genentech’s Late Stage Cell Culture department, which is responsible for developing, characterizing, validating and transferring cell culture processes for the production of therapeutic proteins. Melissa joined Genentech in 2004 after receiving B.S. and M.S. degrees in Chemical Engineering from Stanford University and recently transitioned to a management role in late 2009. Last fall she hit her six-year mark and spent her first sabbatical traveling in Europe.

Kristin Lowland Lanzi is Manager of Genentech Informatics Systems Operations. Kristin has been at Genentech for a little over six years in both Project Delivery and Management positions. In her current role, Kristin manages a team of Wintel/Unix System Administrators in the 24x7x365 operational support of computing systems (validated and non-validated) for Genentech’s global IT infrastructure. Kristin holds a bachelor’s degree in political science and business from California Polytechnic State University, SLO, as well as, certifications in Project Management from the Project Management Institute and Stanford University (PMP and SCPM). She has a great love for the outdoors and recently climbed Kilimanjaro as part of her sabbatical.