Category Archives: Adventures in Consulting

tweet where the ladies?

Is It Still Sexist If You Objectify Both Genders?

There was buzz at EMCWorld this week about how many women were there.  Of people who voted, nearly half thought the ratio was 100 men for every woman.  

I attended EMCWorld as CDW’s digital correspondent.  I interviewed keynote speakers, attended sessions, did live tweeting on the CDW twitter account, wrote content and checked out the expo center.

Thoughts on EMCWorld’s Dual Gender Ushers

First thing at Monday’s EMC keynote with Joe Tucci and Pat Gelsinger, I noticed something interesting,  attendees were greeted by futuristic ushers dressed in uniforms you would see in an episode of Star Trek TNG (The Next Generation).

As you can see there were both women and men ushers dressed like this.  As a woman in tech, I was happy (overjoyed!) to see this equal opportunity placement of both genders in this role.  Is it still sexist if you objectify both genders equally?

I will keep my thoughts about the attractiveness of the male model in the photo out of this blog post.

I did see several men taking photos with the women ushers which is a  common thing at tech conferences since they’re usually overflowing with scantily clad “spokespeople” who are women in tight, low cut blouses and 5 inch heels working for the vendors to attract attendees.  Not sure I’d ever want to take photos with a hot looking guy who’s being paid to look that way at a conference but as you can see, this usher’s pectoral muscles are…uhm..very well developed).  

First impressions are a big deal so this made me feel more comfortable as a woman attendee of this conference.

No EMCWorld Booth Babes

The other thing I noticed is since nearly all the booths were EMC run, the women had on very reasonable polo shirts.  In fact, vendor and partner booths also had women working in shirts and clothing that were pretty much acceptable.  The only one that caused me to raise an eyebrow was the Hawaiin booth handing out drinks and those flower necklaces known as Leis by pronounced “Lays”.

Are the women of EMCWorld feeling left out?

Still, there were several tweets from women asking about the number of women at the conference, reaching out to connect or looking at the upside of there being so few women at EMCWorld (like no line in the bathroom:

The first one was from Robin Perry:

Chad Sakac (the guy who demo’d on stage with Gelsinger) and is EMC SVP of Global SE, replied:

What Twitter thought about #EMCWorld The Man to Woman Ratio

EMCWorld event did a Twitter poll asking the ratio of Men to Women:

I estimated 200 – 400 women for the 13,000 in attendance putting the ratio at about 40 to 1.  Ironically, on the same day this poll was shared out (and yes I retweeted it from the CDW twitter account) I was participating in a panel about diversifying your tech teams via the 4th annual Women Who Tech conference.

I estimated there were 40 men to every 1 woman making the total number of women around 325. Most of these women appeared to either be customers or EMC employees (the light blue shirt). The ethnicity most represented at EMCWorld by the women I saw: 79% White and 19% Black. That leaves 2% for everyone else. There were very few Asian or East Indian women. Yes, there were a lot of Black women at the conference! What is it about tech, engineering and Black women?

EMCWorld posted the results and it looks like nearly half of the people who voted felt the ratio was 100 to 1

There were several more tweets including a Women meetup at EMCWorld.

You can check out the tweets I captured in Storify about this:

  • Is this true?
  • What is being done to change this?
  • If you attended, how do you feel knowing this conversation was going on?

I’ll Be At EMCWorld Next Week Interviewing Keynotes As The CDW Digital Correspondent

I’m excited to announce that I will be serving as the Digital Correspondent for CDW at EMC World next week in Las Vegas!

The conference runs from Monday May 21st to Thursday May 24th, 2012 and is being held at the Venetian on the strip.  Working with CDW, I will help curate content and raise visibility for the products offered by EMC including storage, security, cloud and disaster recovery solutions.  This means you’ll see me interviewing keynote speakers, live tweeting from the @CDWcorp account and writing up blog posts on conference highlights and announcements all next week.

Keynote speakers and interviews will include:

  • Pat Gelsinger, President & COO EMC Information Infrastructure Products
  • BJ Jenkins, President EMC Backup & Recovery Division
  • Jeremy Burton, EMC’s Chief Marketing Officer

During the live tweeting from the keynote sessions, you can submit interview questions via Twitter to win great prizes. Follow @CDWCorp and the conference hashtag #EMCWorld for full details and contest rules.

Conference Information
Dates May 21st – 24th, 2012

In addition to Twitter, make sure to check out the videos, articles and discussions on CDW’s Facebook and Spiceworks pages.

See you next week in Las Vegas!


sendgrid logo

I’m Joining SendGrid As Developer Evangelist

I will have a new, full time role starting in April: Developer Evangelist at SendGrid 

How do I feel about it?  Amazing!

What will I be doing?

I will help developers adopt SendGrid as a platform to help them be more productive.  How?  By helping them focus more on their app and less on email.  This will take shape as I attend conferences, meetups, hackathons and network with startups in the Bay area.

I will be part of the Developer Relations teams at SendGrid which is currently four strong (five counting myself).  I will build awareness, customer relationships and cool apps with SendGrid to showcase the power of the platform.  I will help to improve and documentation, resources and social content around the product.

Am I leaving San Francisco?

While SendGrid is based in Boulder, Colorado and I will visit the offices frequently, I will stay right here in the Bay area.  What you will see is an increase in my attendance to even more local events that are developer focused.

What is SendGrid anyway?  

It’s an email platform for developers to improve the number of emails that get delivered to the inboxes of their customers.  What type of emails?  Transactional ones — for example, one of SendGrid’s clients is Pinterest.  Every time someone repins an item of yours, you get an email notification about it (unless you’ve adjusted the settings).  Well, in the case of Pinterest developers, they don’t have to spend hours building out and then maintaining an email system to send out those notifications.  Instead Pinterest hands off the notification emails to SendGrid’s servers to do the heavy lifting of getting all those emails into customer inbox’s.

Added benefits for the developers include analytics on delivered, opened and bounced email plus clicks.  There are actually several API’s including the event API, the parse API, newsletter API and more!

What is a Developer Evangelist?

When I redesigned my site here at a few months ago, I wanted to think of a new tagline that represented my passion, skills and experience.  What did people remember about me?  Well from technology to hair to moving to San Francisco, it’s my contagious enthusiasm!  Combine that evangelical skill with a target audience of developers and you have the role of developer evangelist!

Now wait a minute Adria!  Aren’t you a consultant?  

Haven’t you been helping companies solve all sorts of problems for the last six years?

Yes, that is true.  I have been a problem-solver-for-hire since 2006 helping companies big and small with technology, the cloud, email management, social content strategy and more but — since last year, I have been seeking something more tangible.  Something I could point to and say, “I was a part of that.  I built that.  I created that.”  Last year I wasn’t really sure what that looked like.  I explored a lot of different options.

Over time, I took a look around my circle of friends, peers and mentors.  I examined what they did for work and how they spent their free time.  I know I looked up to Scott Hanselman, a friend and mentor of mine.  Scott works at Microsoft and while for many years I thought this was like working on the Star Wars Death Star, I finally took a look from a different angle and realized how much Scott enjoyed his work and how he was participating in things that mattered to him.  He’s been making his Hanselminutes podcast for several years, started up a new podcast called This Developer’s Life

I also took at look at Sasha Laundy (in the yellow), a friend of my roommate’s had been making some nice moves as well.  Not only had she been cutting it up at Twillio, her Women Who Code group was doing an amazing number of events with solid attendance.  She’s now moved to working at Codeacademy in NYC doing what she’s most passionate about: education.

Through these new lenses of people employed full time by their employer yet making things happen, I decided that working for someone else wasn’t the the problem after all but finding the right company to work for was.

You can maintain your identity, values and a balance between life and work.

Founders Panel: How to Build Your Startup Team

Once I was able to process that, I began exploring what I loved most about consulting and looking for a job that would allow me to do those as often as possible.  I saw Eric Koger, CEO of ModCloth, speak a couple weeks back on how startups should go about building their dream teams.  On the panel with Eric was:

  • Julie Hartz of EventBrite
  • Rick Marini, Founder of BranchOut
  • Christian Wiklund, CoFounder of Skout

and Liz Gannes of AllThingsD was the moderator.  My biggest takeaway was something that Eric said about halfway through and that was to let talented people focus on their, “genius-level skills” like they do for the founder of ModCloth Susan (who is also his wife).  Susan isn’t burdened with administrative tasks; she focuses on what she does best – finding amazing pieces and artists that match the style and essence of the ModCloth brand.

I held values close to my heart and it paid off.

One thing that has been important to me if I ever were going to work for another company full time is the culture.  After visiting Zappos in 2010 with Mig Pascual late one Saturday evening after Blogworld in Las Vegas, I realized people could still be happy at work.  As Mig named off the ten core values at Zappos, I saw his eyes saying, “I love my job and I’m supremely happy to be here”.  I asked myself how I could find a company that I could feel that happ about.  The Zappos Culture Book simply reinforced this reading story after story from employees who had been with the company two, three, eight, nine, ten years.  Could I find the same thing in the tech sector?  In a startup?  I knew from then on that how people felt at work still mattered.  I continued to consult for companies but never forgot the look in Mig’s eyes that night.

Was I asking too much?  How does one find a unicorn anyway?  Shouldn’t I just buckle down and do the work regardless of the culture?

It wasn’t until last November that I experienced something similar as I had with Mig but this time it was Emmanuel from SendGrid telling me about his experience.  I was impressed that he’d had such a positive experience in seeing the culture of the company transform in a short period of time.  Accountability throughout a company and putting development first is important in a company that well…develops!

I network with the intent to build good connections with people doing interesting things.  I am happy to announce here on my blog that for the first time in six years, I am accepting a full time position with a company!

What’s next?

With a narrow focus on building value through communication at SendGrid, I will be spending a lot more time programming in rails, php and other languages.

You’ll still see me around the Bay area and at conferences so make sure to stop me and say hello!