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 Aarti Manwani of Good Luck Ventures. With 12 years as a product manager, Aarti is heavily involved in the healthcare and fintech. As an advisor at Parralel18, Blueprint Health, and Pager, among other growing startups, Aarti stays active in multiple industries, making her a valuable voice and resource in the NYC Tech Ecosystem.
What’s your background and how did you develop your career as a female entrepreneur in the NYC tech ecosystem?
I was born into an entrepreneurial family, defining your own career, the pressures and the risks associated with the start-up scene were a natural environment. As I grew up, my family encouraged me to explore career in science and technology, specifically STEM. I received a bachelors and masters in computer engineering and began my career working in fintech. Since then, my portfolio has grown to include companies focused on healthtech, shared economy and more recently co-living.
I have a passion for problem solving with a focus on frictionless customer experience. I am often seen conducting my own focus groups, being the power user and helping organizations scale products and teams.
What are the advantages of being a woman in tech?
I’ve been fortunate to have always been supported by both the women and men in my life. My advisors include both men and women as well. At the given moment, there is a focus and people are increasingly trying to help women find roles in technology and are incredibly willing to provide mentorship. I believe access to such strong advisors and opportunity is what’s most needed and appreciated.
What can be done to further promote female entrepreneurs and women in tech in New York?
Success really is driven by the number of opportunities one is given. In order to best promote female entrepreneurship, we need to provide females with access to opportunities. Opportunities that encourage women in all shapes and stages of life whether it’s encouraging young girls in STEM or creating opportunities for working mothers.
We need to ensure that there are the right opportunities in place for women in all roles within the entrepreneurship and technology ecosystem.
What is diversity to you and do you see it evolving in tech?
To me diversity is ensuring that everyone has equal access to opportunities regardless of their age, sexual identity, gender, financial status, or race. We still need to continue to add more opportunities to help people from all demographics have access to opportunities. I’m incredibly encouraged by the range of opportunities that have been arising over the past few years to drive diversity in tech. There is a lot of conversation surrounding the subject, we need to continue and enforce more action oriented strategies.
Why do you think it’s important that women retain, grow, and develop into senior roles within their organizations?
More than ever, it’s important for everyone to be have financial independence.
Generally speaking, women tend to scale back from work at different points because the effort required to push for upward mobility with a capped financial incentive is not lucrative and doesn’t make economical sense.
There are very few Sheryl Sandberg’s and Indra Nooyi’s who have been able to push for financial, career and personal success even after having families. We need to ensure equal pay and equal opportunities exist for women.
How do you see the future of teams and interactions in a diverse environment and what implications will this have?
We are operating in a global world, selling products and services globally but at a micro level there is opportunity to employ and engage with diverse talent and realize the full potential of a connected workforce. The empathy and exposure of a diverse team is often reflected in our products and services. Airbnb hosts is a great example, where local teams and diverse talent has helped build a global product operating in local market(s).
How can women rise in the ecosystem and what are the unseen barriers?
The first step is to understand the value of an ecosystem, learn how to use it and continue to build it. The goal is to understand who is who in your ecosystem and how to best ask for guidance. For e.g. It’s important to understand who in your ecosystem can be a sponsor and open doors for you versus a strategic advisor who can help come up with a game plan to achieve the defined objectives etc. It’s important to continue to recruit and align with the right advisors. You are as good as your network.
Please tell us about a few organizations that you are involved with or respect that are promoting women in tech.
I am involved in a range of organizations that promote women in technology. One of my main ways of getting involved is by leading product development at Landit, an organization, which focuses on helping women through career transitions. I love that my work with Landit really supports women in thinking strategically about how to progress in their careers.
What can men do to participate in this discussion?
I believe, to solve any problem you have to first understand the problem. For. e.g. Executive teams need to truly try and understand why women prefer flexible work hours, it’s not because we want to go to soul cycle at noon but maybe because you have a sick kid at school that you have to take to the doctor in the middle of the day. So there needs to be more empathy and a deeper understanding about the core problems.
Once there is a deeper understanding a more tactical approach would be greatly beneficial. I truly believe in the power of advisors and ecosystem. As mentioned above, my advisors are one of the main reasons behind my success. Mixed gender mentoring is wonderful because individuals of different genders have unique perspectives on the world so male mentors can really add strategic value and support to females.
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.