Inspiring and Accelerating Female Entrepreneurship

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Marissa Iannarone

The second annual Women in Cloud Summit brought together over 1,000 women and male allies in technology from start-ups to large players like Amazon, Google, and Microsoft. The hashtag #SheSoars was used to emphasize the momentum of the event and the passion of everyone to amplify the talent, skills and capabilities of women in all capacities - from developers to tech-adjacent roles in marketing, product management and senior leadership. I couldn't help but notice that the themes and recommendations throughout the day had strong connections to the approach I experience within my own organization, Forum Solutions. Here are my 4 takeaways and recommendations:

1.       Leaders Lead by Example. Forum has incredible female leadership that motivates every associate to demonstrate grit and resilience when facing any challenge. The fact that we are over 60% female as a firm is due in large part to our female founders who show the importance of female leadership by building a firm where motivated and driven women like myself want to work. This in turn brings an incredible diversity of backgrounds and skillsets to the table, and our client delivery is stronger for it. The determination that I have to face any challenge comes from our female founders and their passion and fierceness - both qualities highlighted at the Women in Cloud Summit as being needed to close the gender gap in cloud and technology.

2.       Mentorship is Intentional and Abundant. Mentorship and its ability to move women forward was a highly discussed topic at the Women in Cloud Summit. During my career at Forum, I have been on engagements with both Forum female founders, working side by side with them to support our clients on various technology-related engagements. Their poise, presence, and strategic approach in action created more learning moments and opportunities for me than any work environment I've ever had before, and was infinitely more valuable than any classroom/training setting that larger firms may offer.

3.       Healthy Feedback is Crucial. Every associate that joins Forum participates in our Navigator Program, connecting new associates with those that have been at the firm for over a year to help them navigate the firm, consulting, and client needs. Through this program, I am an active participant in the success of other associates – which makes me stronger. This desire to help each other to grow and learn has fostered an incredible culture of feedback. Every associate knows we are here to learn, and we are all better for it. Honest and candid conversations occur across all levels within Forum, making our culture and our ability to serve our clients stronger.

4.       Find Your Voice and Amplify Others. A technology leader in the Women in Cloud Summit encouraged every person to express opinions and thoughts before they are 100% formed. Her message was to throw perfectionism out the window and share your thoughts so that others can build upon them. Forum gives us many opportunities to collaborate, brainstorm and let our thoughts be heard even if they are still forming. We have monthly all-firm meetings where we discuss and collaborate on a variety of topics from our approach to growing our internal business to supporting our local community. We also have events to connect with leaders in our network to learn from them and how they think about challenges in their business. All of these are opportunities for us to share, build upon, and solidify ideas together as a team.

Marissa Iannarone is an associate with Forum Solutions where she helps clients execute their most critical initiatives. Marissa is the founder of Lean Into Blockchain and a Blockchain Hyperledger Community Member where she advances cross-industry blockchain technologies around the world.

Forum Solutions is a management consulting company that works with Seattle’s business and nonprofit leaders to build and implement effective strategies for transformative growth and sustainable results. Forum offers clients the right skills for every job: strategic expertise, lean execution and agile resourcing – improving businesses at any level – from the executive suite to the individual contributor.