Job Title: Founder & CEO, Sweb Development
Company Website: https://www.swebdevelopment.com
Years working in the tech industry: 10
I grew up in Spain and my parents were Peruvian, but I always went to an American School in Madrid. So it was quite a mix. Although my parents never expected us to do much more than marry well — my sister and I somehow internalized the opposite: make something of yourself.
On influences — and the biggest determining influence on success:
My sister, a very successful writer, taught me to go after what I want. Even in its most difficult form — don’t stop.
It’s interesting because I tend to reject the gender divide when I’m inspired by someone. I obviously see how it is harder for women but I actually think the divide is less about gender and more about access (driven many times by gender, race and birthright.) If you don’t have to worry about how to make your rent money, and you are driven, then you have more possibility to make it happen faster and better.
On being passed over for opportunites:
I don’t think I have been passed over based on gender. I think sometimes I haven’t been considered for jobs based on my passion. My lack of conforming to business norms is usually seen as lack of professionalism. What people seem to miss is that if they choose me, all that passion is transferred to their brand and they win!
On lessons learned working for an (un-named) female President/CEO:
I swore never to be like her. I had my first child working in that organization and I was given 6 weeks UNPAID leave earning 25k/year while my husband was still a student. That marked me. All of my employee benefits stem from the way that made me feel.
On the road to tech, through advertising:
I fell into advertising first. My boss was a friend, and he pulled me into production. I loved it but new that it wasn’t a long term path for me. By that time I had two daughters and I knew I wanted something different. But could I pull it off? That was the eternal question. It kind of still is — can I continue pulling it off?
On the challenges of starting a business, as a female/ethnic minority:
The challenge in my case was not knowing the industry well enough. Later, it became an asset to be a Latina woman in technology - ‘Great story!’
On establishing an open, inclusive work culture:
It has been such a great advantage to be a woman leader. I take care of my team as if they were my family. Do they feel listened to? Cared For? Thought of? Included? Loved? Yes?! Then I have done my job! Anyone that takes advantage of it is singled out and let go.
I love to mentor. I sometimes don’t have enough time to do it as much as I want — but anyone that emails me or wants to hang out, I always say YES!
On the perils of the BRO mentality:
Our industry is still lead by a BRO mentality, unfortunately. What men don’t realize is that it’s less about the money and much more about the teams you form. Women know how to lead and build teams much better than men. That is where we have the advantage.
On the possibility of change in the culture:
Unless more women are ready to play in the arena, we won’t see the change we are seeking.
On future hopes:
I do see hope for my daughters! We are standing up. My daughters are standing up!
On what every Founder, CEO and Senior Executive in America should read:
So many books! The two best: The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Ben Horowitz; and Rocket Fuel: Gino Wickman