Adrienne McCallister

adrienne

Every month we ask one individual in our network a few questions about their way into tech, their motivation and their lessons learned.

Let’s start from the beginning: tell us about where you’re from!

I was born in Washington DC and lived in Virginia (in metropolitan DC area) until I went off to college..

What valuable advice did you get from your parents?

I received so much valuable advice from my parents over the years, thought the one I’ve been thinking about lately is “It’s only money” (I remember hearing this the first time from my Dad when I got in a fender bender).  It sounds trite, but I took it to mean your family, friends, your health, well-being and safety are really what matters – not material things, not money. “It’s only money” helps me frame a lot of decisions in my life!

How did you become interested in tech?

I caught the tech bug from my Dad, who was a patent attorney and chemical engineer.  He was early on the early adopter trend. We had Atari game consoles and we were one of the first in the neighborhood to get a home PC, and digital camera.  My Dad would replace his own motherboards on this computers (on which I played around on AOL chat rooms), and later one he and I would geek out about the latest iPod innovations.

What aspects of your work are you proudest of?

I’m the most proud of the times I’ve been above to be innovative and work through complex challenges.  I’m drawn to products and technologies that are groundbreaking, first-of-a-kind (e.g. helped launch Chromecast, the first mass-marketing consumer electronics product that Google built, and I’m now working on cutting-edge virtual reality and augmented reality initiatives).  It’s hard to build the future, but it’s darn rewarding when you do (even if it happens over the course of years).

What drives you at work?

In addition to working on never-been-done-before challenges, I am incredibly motivated to be able to work on products and platforms that have the potential of impacting tens and hundreds of millions of people.  There is such a palpable reward from seeing your efforts surface in consumer products and services that delight people and make their lives easier, more fulfilled, enriched.

But I also love working with people and teams.  I derive energy from working with some of the world’s brightest engineers, marketings and product managers, as well, as helping my own team thrive and build successful careers.

What has been your toughest challenge you faced while working in tech?

One of the biggest challenges I’ve had in the last several years was working remotely.  I felt like I had to work twice as hard in many instances to be top of mind to be considered for opportunities, to be included in the conversation.  I’ve got good video-conference game, but it’s just not the same.

What advice would you give other women in tech?

We use this technology. We deserve a seat at the table to build this technology. Full stop.

I’ve been working for over 20 years now (first in finance, now in tech), and to this day, I’ve always been one of only a handful of women at that table.  We have to be the harbinger for diversity in hiring, inclusion in the workplace. Our grandmothers helped us get the vote. Our mothers went to college and helped us earn the right to work.  We need to stop accepting that it’s okay that we’re more often than not one of the only woman in the room. The buck stops with us.

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