Meet the D.C. chapter’s newest board member: business development lead Sowjanya O’Neill.

Managing Director Baan Alsinawi, who is president and founder of integrated risk management firm TalaTek, is happy to begin filling her board positions. “I couldn’t be more excited to add Sowjanya to our board. We are looking forward to doing great things together as we begin our journey to support girls in tech in the D.C., Virginia and Maryland areas,” said Baan.

Baan recently sat down with Sowjanya O’Neill, CEO of SugarDX, to talk about her interest in joining the board and helping to relaunch the local chapter. They also discussed why promoting women in tech in the D.C. area is so important. Read the full Q&A with Sowjanya to learn more.

What interested you in joining the D.C. Girls in Tech (GIT) board?
I see a skills shortage in cybersecurity and I think females could fill this gap. Cybersecurity requires analytical, technical and creative skills which I believe makes it a great fit for girls. Through GIT’s D.C. chapter my goal is to attract more women to this field. In my role as a board member, I will focus on business development and outreach. The DC chapter is partnering with tech companies in the DC metro area and I will help manage those partnerships. Cultivating and fostering long-term partnerships is essential to the chapter’s outreach and growth efforts.

Tell us about yourself and what you hope to accomplish with GIT.
I have over 15 years of experience delivering product marketing, industry marketing, and sales goals for technology companies. I have successfully launched multiple software products and services for Fortune 500 companies and startups. For the past eight years, I’ve focused on cybersecurity solutions and am passionate about getting other females engaged in the field.

Have you been involved in other leadership roles outside of work? If so, please share details and if not, why now?
I have always been an active volunteer in my kids’ schools. For the past few years,  I have been serving as a mentor to MACH 37’s cybersecurity startups and I am also on the board of McLean Youth Athletics.

If you were able to give advice to your younger self, what would that be?
Don’t eat out and with the money saved learn another language!

What do you love most about working in the tech world?
I love that it’s ever changing. New technologies and uses for them are sprouting up every day. What do you dislike the most? I dislike that it’s a male dominated field.  When I attend conferences there’s no pink in the crowd.  When I meet with CIO’s or CISO’s they have been always male at least for me. Having a more diverse workforce definitely would benefit tech.

What do you believe is the biggest hurdle women face in pursuing a career in Technology?
I think finding the right fit is a struggle we face. There’s so many ways to engage in technology but finding what you enjoy and are passionate about is a challenge.  That’s why it’s important to try different roles in tech. There’s more roles than being a developer or coder.  You can be a sales engineer if you enjoy solving problems for customers. You can be a product marketer if you like writing about technology and how the products and services work. It’s about exposure to the different areas  within the field.

How can your role with GIT help address these hurdles?
GIT is about providing an open forum to share, collaborate, mentor, and learn from each other. The GIT community we are building will help girls overcome some of these hurdles through mentorship, career support and sharing our experiences.