Voices of the Community

Sticking Together: How Our Community Leaders are Empowering Women in Tech in Austin, TX

Now, more than ever, we see the power of communities coming together to support each other. What 2020 has clearly shown us is that role models and relationships help us carry on during uncertain times.

Pam Perkins and Sophie Gairo exemplify those role models as AnitaB.org Local Community Leaders in Austin, Texas. They started the Technical Executive Engagement Program, designed to create a pipeline of talented executive women in technology by offering strategic career development programming where members can level-up their skills and expertise.

Pam’s journey to STEM started at Dell over two decades ago, after graduating from Southern University A&M College with a Bachelor of Science in Accounting.  She spent the first 12 years of her career in various progressive Accounting/ERP super user roles. Then for the past 10 years, Pam has strategically blended her Accounting, IT, and Security experience to build secure ERP solutions on-prem and in the cloud at Hewlett-Packard and Accenture.  She is a certified Professional Google Cloud Architect.

“I took a non-traditional pathway to technology, so it means the world to me to have the support of other women in tech.  It’s very exciting to build a nurturing community of women empowering and supporting each other to continue growing and advancing our careers in technology.  I feel a genuine sense of belonging and I know that I have the support needed to not just stay in tech, but to soar in tech!”

As with any initiative, it takes a village to enact real change. Sophie Gairo works side-by-side with Pam to expand the women in tech ecosystem in Texas. As the AnitaB.org Austin Community Events Lead, Sophie is the glue when it comes to event logistics.  She is a software engineering manager at The Home Depot in their cloud infrastructure group, and is extremely active in making policy changes with local government leaders in Austin. As such, she is the mayor’s appointed commissioner to the City of Austin’s Community Technology and Telecommunications Commission.

“I joined the AnitaB.org Austin local group in its first year and was immediately inspired. After attending one event, I saw the meaningful impact this group and it’s leaders had on women technologists at all stages in their careers. At the time, a leadership position was open to organize volunteers and I joined. I’m now in my second year of working with the group and get to help organize and host a variety of fun, empowering events!”

Looking ahead, Pam and Sophie are both focused on taking the Technical Executive Engagement Program to the next level.

“I was inspired to start the program after I participated in Selena Rezvani’s ‘Turning Up Your Executive Presence’ session during the Senior Leaders Summit at GHC19. Selena Rezvani (Pushback) and Minda Harts (The Memo) continue to inspire through their books. I’m looking for High tech partners who are interested in increasing the number of executive women in tech and supporting their career development and advancement.”

During these uncertain times, it is comforting to know communities are still coming together virtually to connect and support each other. Learn more about AnitaB.org Local Communities and attend one of our upcoming events.

Author Note: Pam Perkins is the Founder and CEO of VouucHER, a digital career development and recognition platform with a growing social presence of individuals supporting women.  The VouucHER Model enables individuals to strategically engage their network in support of their career development and growth.  It is a framework for women to learn how to Vouuch for themselves, then Vouuch for others, and ultimately ask others to Vouuch for them. Learn more and connect with Pam on LinkedIn.