Are you a woman in NYC Tech and interested in participating in this series? Make sure to read the whole article…
Much has been said and written about the lack of women in the tech sector, be it as investors (or associates), founders, or in management positions at major companies. Is the problem the old boys network – or that success in technology is seen as a young man’s game? In this series, we speak with some of the top women in tech in New York as they discuss the challenges they face, the perceptions that need to be changed and the work that’s being done – or not – to help to promote women in tech.
Today we speak with Alicia Williams, the CEO and founder of FullSight Health Analytics, an AI-driven solution for pharmacies in hospitals to manage costs. Initially, working as a pharmacist, Williams slowly become more interested in the IT side of healthcare, landing a role at New York Presbyterian Hospital while earning her MBA at Baruch. During this time Alicia was drawn to the NYC Tech scene and discovered a keen interest in helping the healthcare industry transition to value-based health care. Founding FullSight Health Analytics in 2016, Williams has been able to address important issues such as introducing efficiencies in drug cost for providers and the misuse of drugs leading to the opioid epidemic through the platform.
Alicia Williams, FullSight Health Analytics
What’s your background and how did you develop your career as a female entrepreneur in the NYC tech ecosystem?
I am a pharmacist with over 15 years in the Health IT industry. I originally chose a non-traditional path for my career because of the opportunity to utilize both my Pharmacy and my other science-related knowledge. In fact, there was a choice I had to make between attending Pharmacy school or a college for Electrical Engineering. Ultimately, my choice of Health IT made the best career sense. In 2016, I launched FullSight Health Analytics, a company that provides Artificial Intelligence software to help hospital pharmacies track inventory and save money. Prior to launching, I spent time networking within the NYC tech ecosystem, learning more about innovations happening within this high demand community by meeting other entrepreneurs and thought leaders. I also attended workshops specifically for female entrepreneurs that addressed important concerns, including funding and building businesses in a male-dominated industry. The entire process was not only educational but inspirational in my preparation for this current phase in my career.
What are the advantages of being a woman in tech?
Technology is a field where the pay can be lucrative, and the work hours can be flexible. For women in tech specifically, careers in this field can offer both financial stability and flexibility in work schedules to allow for time with our families. Another advantage of being a woman in tech is that we are now in an era where our talents are being showcased through conferences and other events, which is critical to our success. Also, there are now more women in positions of influence – as business leaders and as investors – who can help and continue to promote other women’s ventures.
To me, diversity entails a full spectrum of characteristics that makes each of us individually unique, including race and gender. It is this range of differences that contributes to fresh ideas in this tech ecosystem. I do see more diversity in tech, particularly due to the number of new organizations and associations that are geared towards developing STEM initiatives for women and underrepresented communities. However, I do believe there is still more work to be done to be more inclusive within the tech industry. The statistics based on race and gender show some change, but the rate of that change is not as fast as I believe it should be.
Why do you think it’s important that women retain, grow, and develop into senior roles within their organizations?
It is important that the tech industry have women in senior leadership roles because it showcases our talents and ability to achieve high levels within these organizations. Also, women in leadership roles are in a unique position to hire and promote other talented women within their organizations. I was hired into my first IT position by another woman, who held a senior position within the hospital that I was working at the time. I believe in “paying it forward” as it is one of the avenues through which women can break into the tech field and build their careers and launch businesses in this industry.
What can be done to further promote female entrepreneurs and women in tech in New York?
It is critical that we continue to create a platform for female tech entrepreneurs to pitch their ideas and products. Also, another key in helping us grow our companies and position us for success is granting access to programs and educational opportunities along with funding for women-led businesses.
It’s statically proven that women-led companies are more successful than their male counterparts. Why do you think they still only get 2% of funding available for new ideas?
I think women only get 2% of funding available because there are still stereotypes about women being competent to run successful businesses. I also think there is a perception by some investors that women, particularly those with families and young children, may not able to balance a career (or a business) and family life. Some funders are hesitant to invest in women-led companies because they are concerned about the ability of the woman to devote the needed time to grow the business. However, there are a number of successful women in tech who have both thriving businesses and a balanced family life.
How much do you think casual sexual harassment and misconduct affects a woman’s career?
Sexual harassment and misconduct is harmful to a woman’s career because it not only affects her ability to be promoted, but also affects a woman’s perception of her own ability to succeed in this industry. The professional, mental and emotional impacts of sexual harassment cannot be understated, especially in the early stages of her career. But with the #metoo movement and the multitudes of women taking a stand and speaking out against sexual harassment, more women are being empowered to speak out about their experiences in an effort to stop to this conduct.
Please tell us about a few organizations that you are involved with or respect that are promoting women in tech.
I think Google’s Women Techmakers is providing a great service in this space by promoting women-founded businesses. I also respect Digital Undivided for their work in helping Black and Latina women entrepreneurs in technology.
What can men do to support this movement and/or participate in this discussion?
In fighting against sexual harassment and misconduct, we need to call on men to speak up publicly against this behavior alongside women. Being respectful of women’s ideas and values isn’t enough. We need men to be vocal in expressing the value that they see in women’s contributions to society as a whole. In doing so, this will prompt other men to see our contributions and to celebrate them with us.
Men can support women professionally by advocating for women-led initiatives. Their support is very important in encouraging other men to be open to our business ideas and ultimately to invest in our ventures and help to further our careers and companies. We want a fair chance to do innovative work in this industry and men can be our partners in helping us to accomplish our goals.
The team at AlleyWatch believes it’s important to have an inclusive discussion around the challenges facing women in tech along with highlighting the work of the female entrepreneurs that have made NYC one of the best places for women in tech according to some recent studies. That’s why we are running this series that showcases women in tech in New York.
If you are a female founder in NYC working in tech and interested in participating in the series please visit this link or click on the image above.
Please feel free to pass this on to any women in NYC that you feel should be considered for the series. Thank you.