Dads, Let’s Mentor Our Daughters to be Future Tech Leaders
Look at the current crop of emerging technology companies and you’ll see many similarities like leverage of the social graph and disruption of media channels as we currently know them. They also have another common element, lots of dude leadership. Facebook, Zynga, Twitter, Linkedin and newcomers Pinterest and Instagram are all mostly led by men.
Where are all the women tech leaders?
With the exception of Facebook all of the high profile newcomers are led by primarily male teams. The inherent problem is we’re missing out on a significant source of brain power and innovation that at the end of the day will make these businesses less competitive. Additionally, as most people over the age of 2 have realized, men and women approach opportunities, problems and innovation from different angles. Leveraging both genders will build stronger, more vibrant companies.
I’m involved in a new media company, and as a father of an inquisitive daughter, I believe I have a responsibility to prepare her to be competitive for the future. In her career, the traditional path to success would be college, grad school coupled with lots of internships and then into the business world. By the time she is in her early 20’s, that simply won’t cut it. That path gave me a competitive advantage when I was entering the job market, but she will face millions more who will be similarly educated and trained.
Experience being the best teacher, I’m trying to expose her to as much of the business world as I can with hands-on experiences. I really hope she benefits from the direct exposure from living through a start-up and catches the entrepreneurial bug. I recently attended the Food Marketing Institute Leadership Conference in Orlando. Mary Catherine is always asking to go on business trips with me so I brought her along. Orlando is easy since her grandparents live there and can help with child care but on the plane we discussed the presentation I was going to give and the retailers I would be meeting with. On her next trip, she’ll attend the meetings with me.
The effect is amazing. She has a great recall for the brands we work with and will frequently call them out when she sees them in store or in a commercial. She and I will often work together at my desk. My goal is to have her experience first hand the challenges and excitement of being an entrepreneur so that if she should catch the bug, she can begin preparing herself now. This exposure will be so much more important to her than getting into the “right” school. The skills and knowledge she will hopefully gain from this will be invaluable.