Female Sales Engineer Talks About Her Role as a Woman in Tech
Kate Lobo is a sales engineer at Ivanti who has been working in the technology field for 16 years. Anyone who works with Kate will tell you a few things: she is always busy, she is a great teammate, she is always learning, and she is incredibly passionate about technology, including women in tech.
Q: Tell us about your role at Ivanti and your background.
KL: As a sales engineer, I demonstrate, support, and technically sell Ivanti solutions to current customers and prospects. I also participate or deliver technical content in our marketing events, conference, and events we attend as a company. A day’s work can be in any number of time zones or office settings.
Before Ivanti, I also worked as a technical consultant, as well as a system administrator. I found my home in technology by way of healthcare administration. I enjoyed healthcare, but found a passion for technology, which made all the difference. Once I found my passion, I got my certifications and experience to continue my career.
Q: Why are you passionate about empowering women in technology?
KL: Overall, I am passionate about technology. However, there are not many women in the field compared to men. This is disappointing, as women are missing out on a rewarding career path, and technical teams are missing great talent!
Many factors influence the rate women go into technology as well as their stay in the field overall. One factor, in my experience, is that of bias. Whether conscious or unconscious, that bias plays a part in whether a female would be encouraged to enter a technical career or even apply for a position. I am passionate about education and removing that bias where possible. Qualified technical people are essential, and we may be missing out on talent due to action or inaction.
Q: What advice do you have for women who are experiencing gender equality related issues in the workplace?
KL: I would start by having conversations with your manager and appropriate supporting team members to raise awareness of the issue. No one is psychic; what may seem obvious to you may not be to others. Similarly, if you are uncertain about how to navigate an issue or a potential issue, ask. At the end of the day, if you’re not satisfied with the outcome and are unhappy, leave. There is a company and team out there that needs skills like yours and won’t hesitate to treat an employee fairly.
Q: What advice do you have for companies striving for gender equality?
KL: First, mind the gap. When it comes to pay, be mindful of competitive pay for skill and education, not gender. There aren’t just gaps in pay; you can also find gaps in bias and opportunities and recognition. Recognize and reward excellent work and create opportunities to succeed overall. I want the opportunity and then show you how I can kick butt. Another pesky gap is inclusion. What ways do you foster a cohesive, mutually respected team? When a situation is down to the wire, my team comes together and we figure it out. There is no picking of sides or favorites.
Flexibility is another way companies can improve. Life has a lot of challenges and sometimes balancing them is one of the biggest challenges. Having flexibility in terms of working hours, practices, and location can make a huge difference.
Lastly, think about how your organization defines its culture and the roles within it. Is your culture supportive in terms of opportunity, education, and learning? Do you have actions to back up those words that define what you do in terms of culture? Do the roles of your organization define and strive for who you want to be versus who you’re not trying to be?
Q: Who are you inspired by?
KL: I am not inspired by a single person, rather a group over my life thus far. Growing up, it was my parents. They always were supportive of my ideas and trials. For example, I was given a Barbie doll as a gift and I turned it into a slingshot. Seeing the slingshot conversion, my mom gave me a toolset instead. My dad handed over his keys willingly when I told him I had upgrades to do on his car.
These days, I’m inspired by my husband and my team. My husband is one of my biggest fans; I appreciate his unique perspective and insight. My team is built on mutual respect, varied skillsets, and lots of tech humor (can’t beat it!).
Moving 26 times, mostly as a military family, has also provided unexpected inspiration. Change inspires me to try something new, different, or just approach things in a different way.
Q: What is the last thing you'd like to leave readers with?
KL: Be mindful of those elements which may discount a qualified female in a role or even project disqualification for participation overall. You may be missing out on your next great teammate. And don’t be afraid to ask or share. There are some great mentors out there, both male and female, that would be happy to join forces with you.