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.
Today we speak with Heather Campbell, CEO and founder of Ready Set Recover, the company aiding you before, after and during your surgery. Prior to starting her company, Heather spent time working for ESPN, where she rose to Vice President and worked as a community advisor and consultant for various in the NYC area. Heather introduced the first branding campaign for ESPN News, changed the New York State budget and has acted as a role model to many on her way to starting Ready Set Recover. Heather is passionate, caring and strategic in how she runs her company and in how she plans to create change for women in tech.
What’s your background and how did you develop your career as a female entrepreneur in the NYC tech ecosystem?
I have an eclectic marketing, strategy background. I’ve found my way into big organizations (ESPN/The Walt Disney Company, Wells Fargo Bank, NYU Stern School of Business) by creating real connections with true mentors. Then I made my way up from one level to another by being inquisitive about what should be done rather than just focusing on what my job description necessarily said I could be doing.
I then became a somewhat reluctant entrepreneur. Why? Because I saw a need that should be filled. It has to be filled. It would be wrong if it never happened. I would be angry if I didn’t try. The fact that it has the potential to be a lucrative piece of the revolution in healthcare made it impossible to look away and say no. So, now I’m the CEO and Co-Founder of Ready Set Recover; giving people the tools they need to change their surgery experience and become a part of the process of getting back to better. We’re using an online platform that doesn’t overwhelm people during a time they are most vulnerable. I like to say that we gently knock on your inbox and remind you that you need to give surgery the time and attention it deserves, or it will take more of your time and create negative attention!
What does that mean for me as a part of the NYC Tech ecosystem?
I’m trying to figure that out. I’m saying yes to as many connections and opportunities as I can to better understand the lay of the land and fill in the gaps of my knowledge by working with incredibly smart people along the way.
What are the advantages of being a woman in tech?
I’ve been a part of male dominated environments my entire career (banking, sports, business school). The advantages of being a woman? Not sure that is clear. I’ve often felt like the underdog or the little sister. Nonthreatening. Humored. But I know all of that can be used to my advantage. Like the little sister that everyone is trying to ignore, I sometimes have to elbow my way in, but I’m not afraid to do that. Here’s a great example from when I was at a big health conference. During the opening breakfast I walk up to a table and…
“Gentleman, may I join you?”
“Of course.” Genuine smile, but then somewhat patronizing nod and warning. “But you’re joining two Canadians talking about hockey.”
“Hockey. Hockey. Okay, I have two great hockey stories. No, actually I have one. My husband and I are in the Bahamas walking along the beach and there is the Stanley Cup on a beach chair. Just hanging out. On a beach chair. So, of course, we take a photo of the two of us and the Stanley Cup all just hanging out.”
The gentlemens’ mouths are now agape. “What? How? Why? What? The real Stanley Cup?”
“Yes.” Confident, yet not gloating smile. “The real Stanley Cup.”
“Who are you? What do you do?”
I’m the person who is going to get into the conversation, get some credibility and then try to get you to help me change the world!
What can be done to further promote female entrepreneurs and women in tech in NY?
The same things we should be doing in every sector. Actively invite us into the conversation. Search us out, because if we aren’t at the table when you are brainstorming what can and should be happening, we probably won’t be there to help get it done. Recognize that people following the linear “shoulds” aren’t the only ones on the path to success. And when people, especially women, need to work in manners that don’t fit a mold, look at the actual inputs rather than judging the fact that they possibly weren’t in the room to begin with.
And for working parents, the reality is still that the woman shoulders the majority of the childcare responsibilities. So – create networking and other events that aren’t just during kid’s dinner/bedtime.
What is diversity to you and do you see it evolving in tech?
Diversity means not looking for the shortcuts to say yes – they look like me, they talk like me, they went to the same school as me, they are me – and so I’m comfortable with saying yes and welcoming them into the conversation. It means letting people out of the simple boxes we all put ourselves and others in.
How do we evolve it? By taking time to look closely for the hidden gems of interest and ability within people, and getting past the resume. It means clearly articulating how success within jobs will be measured and finding the people who can meet those goals. It’s acknowledging what senior managers actually rewarded their teams for and why they scolded them or are disappointed in them. We need to set goals that are fair and clear rather than limiting. It’s by taking the time to ask ourselves, how we can set up the team and the individual to succeed? and then making it so.
Why do you think it’s important that women retain, grow, and develop into senior roles within their organizations?
There are so many solutions to problems and ideas around companies that could bring greatness and expansiveness. It’s a waste if we don’t engage the collective knowledge of more than half of our species for this achievement. Why should we limit ourselves?
Having senior woman within organizations is also interesting because of the differences in biological responses to stress. Researchers have studied extensively the flight-or-flight response to stress. We all get that and we all have that. But the tend-and-befriend stress response is more typical of females and creates a different dynamic that can change and mold organizations. As there are high levels of stress within senior management, having the variety of biologically responses can work to the advantage of organizations as a whole. If you believe that diversity gives you benefits, then this is an important element that can be leveraged for creating culture, structure and strategy within organizations.
How can women rise in the ecosystem and what are the unseen barriers?
If I knew the answer to this I would change it. That would be my new company. And I would make billions!
Please tell us about a few organizations that you are involved with or respect that are promoting women in tech.
I’m actively searching for organizations like this right now. My ears are open to your suggestions.
What can men do to participate in this discussion?
We all have biases and go-to methods of operation. Men, especially those at the senior level, need to take a look at how this affects their day-to-day decisions, who they empower, etc. And all of us, men and women a like, need to have honest discussions in which we are not only speaking, but also listening.
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.