Celebrating Boston's Young Leaders in Tech

Juliana Casale • Jul 18, 2017 9:00:00 AM

Boston has a booming tech community that often goes unrecognized outside the east coast; ditto for the stellar pool of talent that powers our most innovative companies. To remedy the situation a little, we recently joined forces with General Assembly to shine the spotlight on some of the all-stars that make this city such a vibrant place to work. 

First, we asked people to nominate young leaders in the tech space. As the submissions poured in, here are just a few examples of the raves we received:

"He is an innovator, and more importantly, a motivator. I (and many others) have personally observed him inspire people of different backgrounds and skills to achieve outcomes, from poets to administrative support staff to designers to college students to startup entrepreneurs."  

"She displays organizational brilliance and the ability to bring many people together to promote collaboration. Dedication in particular for raising the voices of women in the tech community."

"He is making a splash by mentoring new UX practitioners in various stages of life on how to enter the field and make an impact. At work, he empowers his colleagues to learn and grow to meet the demands of a fast paced product team, while leading by example and conducting research with precision and professionalism."

After a careful selection process, we invited four finalists to participate in a panel around the topic of leadership. If you weren't able to attend, here's what you missed. 

Kickoff Group Discussion: What Makes a Leader?

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Leaders are also:

  • Not afraid to take on a challenge 
  • Empathetic
  • Adept at managing up and creating change within their organizations
  • Able to articulate ideas, and also acknowledge other perspectives
  • Continuous learners
  • Comfortable taking a backseat and letting others lead (unless thing start going in the wrong direction; then, feeling comfortable stepping back in)

Meet the Panelists

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Pattaya Hongsmatip 

Product Manager at GrabCAD

@pattayto

A Brief Bio

Pattaya Hongsmatip currently works as a product manager with a background in electrical engineering. Formerly a network design engineer at AT&T, she made the transition to product at software company GrabCAD, thanks in part to General Assembly's Product Management course. She also received undergraduate and graduate degrees from Boston University. In her spare time, she started the Boston chapter of ChickTech, and currently volunteers as a community builder with CreativeMornings Boston.

What She Wanted To Be When She Grew Up

A cowgirl, a lion, and a mermaid.

The Moment She Recognized She Was a Leader

She led a group project in 7th grade, and heard from her teacher years later in a grocery store that she had motivated students who never completed homework assignments to participate. 

A Few Key Insights From Pattaya:

On What Motivates Her To Lead

"As a woman of color working in STEM and coming from an engineering school with no women, I never had a role model. My goal since college is to propel other women and give them the confidence to come up. I'm trying to empower girls that don’t have people in their community to tell them they have the capacity to succeed."

On Leadership

"Anyone can be a control freak; but if you have the best interest of your team in mind, you'll enable them to succeed. It's a balance of having a good attitude, being encouraging, and reminding them 'we can make good work.'"

"Companies should take a cue from nonprofits. They often try to remind you why you’re there ("our mission is x, y, z"). This appoach is useful for empowering organizations and teams."

"Wellness is important. Have a sidekick who is there to tell you if you’re acting insane, and suggest that you take a step back."

On Role-Specific Leadership Traits

"A product manager has to lead others without technically being their boss, and be able to subtly shift them in a certain direction."

"A c-suite needs to be a good storyteller. A co-worker that was directing engineers found some bugs, and the way he got them to take their time and iron it out is by making an analogy - 'If you had a million dollar suit but a wrinkly shirt on underneath - would you still walk out of the house?'"


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Arpit Gupta

Senior Product Manager at Wayfair

@arpitgupta

A Brief Bio

Arpit Gupta works as Senior Product Manager at Wayfair, where he is responsible for their iOS mobile app. He is a product manager with over eight years of experience leading technology solutions from the ground up for the healthcare, mobile advertising, e-commerce industries. He is also the COO of the largest ever AR/VR hackathon taking place at the MIT Media Lab during the Columbus Day weekend (Oct 7 -10).

What He Wanted To Be When He Grew Up

A soldier.

A Few Key Insights From Arpit:

On Becoming a Leader

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"If you ask a question, people will realize there’s a problem. Then they’ll ask you to fix it, or give you the chance to solve it." 

On Exhibiting Leadership Qualities

"At Wayfair, we have a concept called 'psychological safety' - you want everyone to be able to speak freely, express concerns or make suggestions humbly."

"You need to have persistence when there are challenges. Things don’t come easy to leaders."

"A lot of bosses give you a task; a leader gives you a goal. Instead of me saying, 'This is what I want,' I ask, 'What are your aspirations? What do you want to be?' and I try to find opportunities to give them."

"Make sure people understand your vision, and what the end product should look like."

"A good leader can be gone for a few days, and everything still runs smoothly."


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Rose Williams

Technical Writer at Threat Stack

@ZelWms

A Brief Bio

Rose Williams (she/her) is a technical writer for Threat Stack. A Boston native, Rose ventured a whole hour west and received her BA & MS from Clark University. She returned to Boston in 2014 as a technical writer. She started organizing Boston Write the Docs (WTD) in 2016 after attending the WTD Portland conference. She enjoys the active community and the emphasis on continued learning. Outside work she spends her time partner dancing, biking, and playing DnD. 

What She Wanted To Be When She Grew Up

The pink Power Ranger.

The Moment She Recognized She Was a Leader

As a child she was enrolled in a study on introverted and extroverted children. When another child was crying, she brought a toy over and cheered her up. 

A Few Key Insights From Rose:

On Becoming a Leader

"If your ideas aren’t being heard, make a friend in the company and have them advocate for you."

On Being a Leader

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"Know your bandwidth, and practice saying no. It’s simple, but it’s also very difficult. If someone asks, 'Will you organize this for me?' say 'I can’t give that my full attention, so I have to say no.'"

"People forget to celebrate. Tell people how they’re good at things; that they did a good job. People will want to interact with you if you tell them that they’re awesome."


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Michelle Berman

Marketing Communications Manager at ezCater

@Michelle_Berman

A Brief Bio

Michelle helps companies tell their story. At ezCater, a high-growth online marketplace for business catering, Michelle leads marketing communications, public relations, brand management, and social media. She’s a data-first marketer, using data to drive strategy and improve results. Michelle holds a B.S. in Business from the University of New Hampshire and is pursuing her M.S. in Organizational Communication from Northeastern University.

What She Wanted To Be When She Grew Up

A marine biologist.

A Few Key Insights From Michelle:

On Becoming a Leader

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On Being a Leader

"There's a big difference between being aggressive and assertive; it’s about expressing yourself without putting the other person down. As a natural born listener, it takes a lot of work for me to be assertive. I work on it every day."

"When you hire someone new, give them the tools they need, then let them run with it. If they need to, they’ll come and ask you questions. Accept that failure happens sometimes, and guide them."

"Wellness is important. I take a couple hours a night to disconnect and focus on myself."


Do you have any leaders that you look up into the Boston tech space? Comment below to let us know!

 

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