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Women in Tech

“Finding Your Avenue”

WIT WNY Interview with Amanda, Sales Enablement Training Facilitator at Google

Women in Technology WNY is here to feature the stories of women of our local community and the various technology roles they fill, traditional and non-traditional. TechBuffalo is here to highlight these women to encourage others to not only explore technology opportunities but to take advantage of them. Amanda’s journey in digital marketing has led her to many places, and although she doesn’t currently reside in Buffalo anymore, she is willing to help others in our community navigate their path.

A little bit of background. Can you tell us a little about yourself?
My name is Amanda Henry. I was born and raised in Buffalo NY, graduated from City Honors High School in 2010. It was at City Honors where I was first introduced to the idea of pursuing a career in Tech. I remember going to my guidance counselor seeking advice on which classes to prioritize in high school. She encouraged me to take one of those personality profilers and the assessment revealed that Marketing would be a good fit given my skills in graphic design, analyzing data, and communications, so I just set my eyes on that path. With that pathway identified, I pursued my undergraduate education at the University of Pennsylvania at Wharton Business School specifically and my graduate education at Boston University, both in the field of Marketing. Through my experiences both in and out of the classroom, I connected with great people who were willing to mentor me and educate me on what I didn’t know and how to navigate “corporate America” because I’m what you would call a first-generation professional. Fast forward to 2020 and I’ve had the pleasure of working in Media & Entertainment, Telecom, and now in Technology at Google in Sales and Training roles based out of California.

You spoke a little about having people open doors for you. Was there a particular person or a time frame in your life that influenced you to pursue marketing?
Yes, I mentioned before the impact my high school guidance counselor had in just listening to me and helping to point me in the right direction. She worked with me to craft my high school schedule to best prepare me for what I’d experience in college to set me up for success. I didn’t realize it until my senior year of high school, how different my experience was vs. other black students. It taught me an early lesson in the importance of advocating for yourself, because people invest in those who invest in themselves.

In addition, it’s imperative I acknowledge Carol Cunningham, VP of Consumer Insights at BET. She was my manager of my internship sophomore summer and is still to this day the biggest influence on my professional journey. Carol is the embodiment of Black Excellence in Leadership. I learned so much from her during that summer that still pays dividends in my career today from how to build an impactful presentation, to translating data into insights, to the importance of a strong work ethic, to recognizing your power and being unapologetic in knowing what you bring to the table and walking in that truth.

Not many people may understand how marketing is part of technology. Can you elaborate on how your job is related to tech?
When you don’t know how the tech industry works, your first thought is “Oh, I need to be an engineer”, or “I need to be in computer science”. Yes, both fields are essential to keeping the tech engine running, however, there are other parts of the business that are important as well. We all have to do our part. When I joined Google, my role was working with small/medium businesses and helping them advertise their business digitally through Google/YouTube Advertising Solutions. Many do not understand that this is still tech too! Google’s advertising solutions are as effective as they are due to the power of machine learning which is simply a lot of technology working behind the scenes. Digital marketing is therefore also tech. It’s the tech of how we connect brands to their desired audiences.

I’ve seen through volunteer experience that you’ve consistently been a champion for women in technology. What advice would you give to those who are trying to enter into technology?

  • Your network will be your greatest asset at any stage in your career. Whether you’re fresh out of college or a seasoned professional, your network makes the difference in the career and development opportunities afforded to you, regardless of your qualifications.
  • Examine your current network to understand who in your circle is already where you aspire to be in terms of the role you desire to pursue or a specific organization/company. Seek to understand their journey and the key skills & experiences that influenced their ability to get there.
  • With that understanding, map out your plan to get there. Look inward at any skills gaps you may have and seek out learning opportunities (internships, more education, new projects at your current place of employment, etc…) that will help you build up your ability to add value in alignment with your desired role/organization in technology that you’re pursuing

Ultimately, your experience and ability to do the job at a level of excellence is crucial in an increasingly competitive market. Make those connections, seek ways to add value, and be sure to always document your accomplishments so you’re prepared to shine when the right opportunity comes your way!

There’s a myth we were talking about a little bit earlier, that tech is only for people who know computers and coding. How do you think we can remove the stigma, especially for those underrepresented in technology?

Removing the stigma will be an ongoing process as there is a need to increase access in education, access to hands-on learning experiences, and access to mentors in tech to expose individuals in underrepresented communities. I acknowledge that I wouldn’t be where I am today if it weren’t for the university I went to, that provided me access to all of the above, but it should take getting into an Ivy League school for that access.

If I were to give advice to my younger self, I’d recommend making a list of what I’m good at, what I enjoy doing. From there, I’d do my googles on top tech companies just to understand how they bucket their job opportunities to see where my interests align with roles. Of course, there are computer science/engineering roles, but there’s also sales, marketing, communications, and even administrative roles too in these same tech companies. Lastly, don’t be afraid to put yourself out there – the worst thing someone can say is no, but the upside possibilities are endless.

 

Thanks for joining us for another installment of Women in Tech. Read more about Amanda on her LinkedIn.