The first presenter of the night was Katrin Loodus, one of the Tech Sisters co-founders, who opened up the evening by reviewing what the organisation has achieved so far, sharing the plans for upcoming events and, most importantly, introducing Tech Sisters as an organisation. “We want to get more women excited about technology,” she said.
This goal feeds into making the technology industry a more diverse world. That means that even if our focus is on women, we are happy to get everyone in. From organising Garage48 hackathons to Digigirls, a project focused on introducing tech industry to teenagers, the variety of our events is growing and so is the attendance. So if you feel you want be a part of the tech community in Estonia, get to meet the most influential movers and shakers in the industry and hang out with other like-minded people, we encourage you to join our volunteers. And yes, men and non-techies are all welcome!
Our second speaker was Neta Haiby-Weiss, who flew in from Israel to talk about her beginnings in the tech world, the startup panorama in her home country and her current role as CTO in Microsoft Ventures Accelerators.
Neta explained how she noticed the low number of women participating in certain industries from a very young age. From high school she went onto majoring in Mathematics, Physics and Chemistry, and while in the earlier school years there was usually a proportion of 50:50 men and women, in this particular major there were only 3 girls. Though initially a strange experience, she got used to it and found herself fitting into the community.
Before going to university, where she studied Industrial Engineering, she went to the Israeli Defense Forces where she learned that most of the startup ideas in Israel are born in the Intelligence Forces. As an example, there was ICQ, created to be used in the army and afterwards turned into a startup.
She also shared some of the lessons she learned about the startup world from her first job at VocalTec, the inventors of Internet Telephony. Some of the most important lessons:
When you want to change disciplines it is easier to do it within the company you are working with, where you know the product and the people.
Our last speaker of the night was Kaili Kleemeier, an ex-Skyper, currently the CEO of her own startup Deekit and a true believer in the Tech Sisters cause. Needless to say she is one of our volunteers.
Kaili’s presentation was a warm conversation with the audience. Her first job was at the age of 16 when she started painting for money. Not long after, she went to work for Tartu city government on projects aimed at helping the less fortunate kids and teens. A very challenging job, given many of the teens she helped were even older than her. She did the maths and concluded that if she liked teaching and if she liked English she should study to become an English teacher, but it didn't take her long until she realised she’d much rather be somewhere else. She decided to move to Tallinn.
Kaili joined Skype as a customer support agent in 2005, but was soon offered more exciting projects. Skype’s payment systems needed to be redesigned and they needed all hands on deck, so Kaili joined the team responsible for revamping the payments.
She soon had a baby and was ready for a long maternity leave, but was asked to come back early. She then found herself at work with a 6-month-old baby and being on call 24/7. She called it “interesting”, but we all know she’s secretly a superhero.
From her experience, she told us that:
To be a successful professional you do not need a major. You just need to make sure you do something you really like, and be ready to learn really fast. You can always study later if you’d like.
She then shared some of the lessons she has learned and continues to learn for good teamwork. Some of these lessons she learned during her period in Skype:
Good communication is key. For this, teams need:
- To have a common goal (to communicate).
- To know how to communicate using different channels.
This realisation is what got her and her team of co-founders to come up with Deekit. They all spent years researching ways to improve the collaboration problems they had identified. But most importantly, she knows
For a great team, you need people who compliment each other’s weaknesses, because nobody can know everything.
She keeps this in mind when hiring new people, and she also makes sure that the personality of the candidates is a fit for the rest of the team.
The technical stuff can always be taught, but not the attitude.
Overall, it was a great event. We hope that everyone enjoyed it as much as we did. We will be back with a new event on September 30th, so keep an eye on our feed!