It really does take a tribe to make WTF a reality. We’re excited to highlight the women of Stream Data Centers who were instrumental in helping us host our PTC 2019 event as supportive sponsors.
Five-year PTC veteran, Katie O’Hara, attended the WTF event again this year and reflects on her time there as well as her experiences throughout her career. She is also joined by her colleagues Mary Morgan and Danielle Rountree, who also share some of their thoughts as well.
MEET THE WOMEN OF STREAM DATA CENTERS:
KATIE O'HARA: Vice President, Business Development
MARY MORGAN: Vice President, Marketing
DANIELLE ROUNTREE: Director, Client Services
What were your overall thoughts on PTC this year?
[Katie O’Hara]: PTC 2019 definitely grew in comparison to past events. Over the past five years, I’ve seen the conference evolve and shift to become more data-center centric, with colo providers establishing a solid presence, and industry veterans evangelizing the event itself.
It seems that the general consensus among the WTF community is that PTC has become the go-to place to get business done with C-level executives in our industry.
What did you think of the WTF event at PTC? Did it help facilitate meeting new women in the industry?
[Katie O’Hara]: I thought it was great! The event setting on the Garden Terrace at the Halekulani Hotel was beautiful and I took full advantage of meeting new women in the industry, and bonding over Mai Tais and poke bites. At huge industry conferences like PTC, it’s refreshing to be able to go to an event where I feel safe and comfortable and can exchange ideas and experiences with women that I might otherwise not have gotten a chance to interact with.
What’s something that has helped you tackle the gender divide in our industry and succeed in your career?
[Katie O’Hara]: Having started my career in commercial real estate and then tech, I have often had the experience of being the only woman in the room. But it wasn’t until later in life — and fairly recently — that I started viewing this as a negative. Growing up, my mother and father always treated my brother, sister and I equally, expecting us all to do the same chores like shoveling the driveway and placing the same expectations that we would all get our college degrees. I’m grateful to have grown up in an environment where my parents enforced gender equality and didn’t give my sister and I a leg up or cut us slack because we were girls but rather enforced the same rules and principles for all of us. That atmosphere at home as a kid has helped me shut out the notion that my gender would hold me back in any way and has prevented me from experiencing things like ‘imposter syndrome’. Unfortunately, I’ve since then gradually realized that the workplace does not abide by the same gender equality practices I grew up with so I now feel passionately about making sure I’m never the only woman in the room again.
[Mary Morgan]: Something that has helped me is focusing on results. I always try to set goals and focus on solutions that “move the needle.” Since data can’t lie, I try to lean on my performance for earning the respect of the men and women I work with. I’m honestly not in the habit of making gender part of the conversation, so I think hearing from other women about their experiences — both successes and struggles — will help me even more along the way
[Danielle Rountree]: Although I’m fairly new to the tech industry, I have been in the real estate industry for over 14 years, which can also be male dominant. I learned quickly that it was important to stay educated and research facts so that I could contribute to meetings. Sometimes I would call up friends who are subject matter experts in a particular area on my way to a meeting so that I can better understand the content. One thing I have learned is that women love helping out other women, so don’t ever be afraid to utilize key contacts. Don’t allow yourself to feel pride or fear if you do happen to be the only woman in a meeting.
What’s one thing you wish you could teach your younger self upon entering your career?
Patience. I used to think of success as mainly having a certain title and being at a certain level. Therefore I’d grow anxious in when I could attain that and be “successful”. And while those things can certainly signify success, I know now that your title is not everything and it’s important to enjoy the journey at every stage of your career. That’s something I still have to remind myself to this day.
I would remind my younger self that the learning process never ends and to always seek out mentorship and educational opportunities from others. It’s not like you ever reach a symbolic peak of the mountain with learning and go, “welp, I know everything now so I’m done learning.” Even now in my career, I am always asking questions and not afraid to admit that I don’t know something; something I wish my younger self had done more of vs. viewing it as a sign of weakness.
Speaking up. Early in my career, it could be intimidating to voice my opinions—especially if they differed from everyone else’s—and ask questions in meetings and other group settings for fear of others judging me. But over time, I’ve learned the importance of sparking conversations and not being afraid to make my voice heard. It has really helped me develop my own thoughts and ideas while, most importantly, attaching value to them.
How do you see WTF helping the gender gap in our industry?
I love that WTF encourages the practice of women supporting and promoting women. By bringing more visibility to talent among women through meaningful networking, the better the chances are that we can place qualified women in the right roles on our own teams, within our organizations, or in other openings within the industry that we come across.
What is a WTF - in the original meaning (: - moment you had to endure as a woman in your career and what did you learn from it?
Yep I’ve seen my share. My least favorite moments are when women “beat each other up” in the workplace. From my experience, I do think women support each other more often than compete with each other. But unfortunately it does still happen whether it’s competition, insecurities, or sadly having the belief that there isn’t room for us all to be successful which couldn’t be further from the truth.
There have been some scenarios where I have been treated differently by a client because I am a woman and have even had the client admit it! They may have even had good intentions and thought they were “protecting” me from a harsh reality. We cannot control the circumstances in life that we encounter, but we absolutely can control our reactions, emotions, and what we gain from the experience.
Can you relate to any of this? Be sure to comment below.