Women in Cloud (WIC), a Redmond-based initiative, recently hosted it’s second annual women’s tech summit featuring keynotes from Sen. Patty Kuderer and several prominent women in the tech world.
WIC was founded last year as an initiative to support women-led businesses and assist female entrepreneurs in finding success. This year’s summit was the initiative’s first all-day event and saw more than 1,000 attendees who listened to multiple keynote speakers and participated in numerous workshops throughout Jan. 26.
“We’ve heard back from over 100 participants telling us how much the event has changed the way they think about their place in tech and the possibilities they can help unlock for themselves and others,” said WIC co-founder, Karen Fassio. “We continue to be inspired by the community and the passion to make a difference.”
Fassio is also the marketing director for Microsoft’s One Commercial Partner group. She and her fellow co-founders decided to start WIC in an effort to address financial inclusion, the gender gap and provide women with resources to reach their full potential as entrepreneurs or business leaders.
“We knew we couldn’t do it alone, we had seen too many women associations, groups, and network meet-ups come and go in our area,” the founders wrote in a blog post. “Other groups had a ‘special session’ on women but we knew that they didn’t go far or deep enough. We needed to get tech leaders, women entrepreneurs, community leaders and associations involved to get to impact and provide a long-term offering that helps not a few but hundreds if not more.”
WIC aims to speak to the United Nations (UN) in September to spread the initiative to hundreds of women in 10 countries.
“We will launch the next version of the Women in Cloud accelerator which will be designed for both offline and online instruction,” Fassio said. “We will have more community gatherings and opportunity circles leveraging the ‘networking-with-action’ approach.”
The accelerator is a six-month program designed to guide business leaders through a short- and long-term shift to cloud-based strategies. The accelerator launched March 2018 and graduated 12 women the following October. WIC plans to launch the next accelerator later this year.
Introduced by Fassio, Kuderer gave the opening remarks at the event, discussing her proclamation in the state senate.
“The proclamation for Women in Cloud made in the Washington State Senate is a significant milestone enabling all of us to have a reference point for the state of women in tech, which is dire,” Fassio said. “It’s a proclamation that something must be done and Women in Cloud is a leading community to contribute to changing the state of women tech entrepreneurs and women in tech generally.”
Thai Lee, co-founder, president and CEO of SHI International, followed Kuderer with the opening keynote and offered advice for up-and-coming entrepreneurs. According to Fassio, Lee had encouraging words that were one of the biggest takeaways from the entire summit.
“Sometimes you must be an entrepreneur because it is the only way to ensure you are serving at your highest potential,” Fassio said, quoting Lee.
The rest of the day included breakout sessions, workshops and talks from various industry leaders including Gavriella Schuster, corporate vice president at Microsoft; George Sifakis of IdeaGen Global, who appeared on behalf of the UN partnership; and Chaitra Vedullapalli, another co-founder of WIC.
”I enjoyed the many facets of women in tech who were represented,” Fassio said. “Hearing that we provided access to each other to build business ideas and take actions forward. That is one of the most rewarding things to hear in a community event like this.”