Editor's note: From Ada Lovelace to the ladies of ENIAC, women have played an important part in driving technology forward. As Women’s History Month winds down, we’re highlighting a handful of women who are making strides, driving change and shaping the future of technology. Today, we hear from Jeanne DeWitt, Head of Americas SMB Sales for Google Apps.
How and when did you first get involved in technology?
I grew up watching my dad sell the first PCs for IBM and alpha testing computer games like Midnight Rescue! and Reader Rabbit, so when it came time to graduate from college, I knew I wanted to apply to Google. I ended up on the Gmail Support team just two months after the product launched. It was my job to answer users’ questions and help diagnose bugs, which ultimately led to me working closely with Product and Engineering to help shape the future direction of Gmail.
What other women do you look up to?
I’ve always looked up to Claire Johnson, one of my first Google managers and now VP at Google [x]. As a manager, she delivered tough love that was both direct and highly inspirational — a skill I’ve attempted to emulate throughout my management career. As a leader, she’s incisive and quick to get to the crux of the issue. She’s a classic “all-around athlete” who can take off her functional hat to lead any team. On top of all this, she’s authentic and incredibly witty.
What advice do you have for women interested or working in tech today?
For those considering tech, don’t be worried about having a non-traditional background. I’m a French major who worked in Support, who’s now leading a Sales organization across two continents. You just have to dive in! For women in tech, realize that the fact that you may be one of the few women in the room is an asset and a differentiator. Embrace your unique perspective and style. It contributes to a better outcome.