Meet the DC chapter’s new Managing Director Baan Alsinawi, who is president and founder of integrated risk management firm TalaTek.
We recently sat down with Baan to talk about her interest in relaunching the local chapter and why promoting women in tech in the D.C. area is so important to her. Read the Q&A to learn more.
Q: Why is it important to have women in the tech industry?
Women provide crucial leadership, skills and talents to the tech industry. It is a well-known fact the tech industry is predominantly male, yet it has been proven some of the most successful companies are run by females. Diverse cultures embracing females can provide a fresh, balanced perspective to organizations and provide better problem-solving capabilities. Tapping into the female workforce for tech can also help with the talent and skills gap existing today, enabling U.S. based companies to continue to grow businesses stateside and compete in an increasingly competitive global marketplace. In addition, women bring a fresh point of view to innovation and multiple product categories given they are often the chief purchasing agent for their families.
Q. Why do you think a GIT chapter will be successful in the D.C. area?
The tech industry is prospering in the greater Washington, D.C. metro area, particularly Northern Virginia which is home to a number of successful high tech companies, such as VeriSign, Invincea and Appian. Other businesses, such as Airbus, BAE and Intelsat, are among many companies who have large regional offices in the area. It is an ideal setting for companies given their close geographical proximity to the federal government, the largest area employer, and politicians and lawmakers who regulate tech among other industries.
Given the large population of the area coupled with several colleges and universities (Virginia Tech, Howard University, George Mason University, American University) multiple government agencies and a large private tech sector, a GIT chapter makes perfect sense to foster GIT’s charter and mission.
Q. What are the biggest needs in your community and how will creating a GIT chapter help facilitate change?
The D.C. metro area provides a tremendous opportunity for an organization such as GIT to provide support, mentorship, educational resources and networking efforts to connect and bring women together in a supportive and nurturing environment. The opportunities to attract more women to the tech industry are truly limitless. There is also opportunity to support those who are already a part of this community and to motivate young women to explore opportunities in the field. There is a great need to help disrupt the status quo, while pushing along a powerful agenda and bring more autonomy and leadership opportunities to women.
Q. What inspired you to apply for the position of Managing Director and what impact do you hope to achieve in your local community?
I am passionate about encouraging and mentoring young woman to enter the tech industry. It offers them a great deal of opportunity in terms of jobs, pay and leadership, as well as a greater propensity for job satisfaction, higher wages and self-fulfillment. There are many untapped market opportunities for women especially in the markets where men dominant today. The time is now to foster a better understanding of the tech landscape among girls and young women so they are prepared to enter the tech workforce.
Q. Tell me about your current work. What have you found most satisfying? Most frustrating?
I am currently founder and president of TalaTek, a cybersecurity firm that provides solutions to the public and private sectors. I am no stranger to being in the minority (11 percent of all cyber workers are female). Since 2006, I have paved my own way in tech as the leader of my own company so that I can be both a mother and a business woman seeking the hard-to-achieve balance between work and home. It has been incredibly satisfying to build a business and to watch it grow and to support my team and mentor them to achieve their goals. My frustrations generally come from setting a very high bar and sometimes not hitting my own targets for excellence. I also find it difficult to persuade clients on the best ways to protect data; there is a reluctance to try new, better approaches especially those grounded in the principles of risk management.