Women in Tech Offer Inspiring Career Advice

Six Punahou alumnae working in the technology industry shared their experiences at the recent Women in Tech virtual event held on April 6 and 7. The two-day event featured Chloe Mai ’10 of Tesla, Denise Ho ’93 of Google, Valerie Galluzzi ’05 Liptak of Amazon, Alicianne Rand ’03 of Venmo, Beth Liebert ’01 of Apple and Rochelle Higa ’89 King of Netflix.

While each woman had her own unique journey from Punahou to their current career, there were many similarities in their stories. Each had drawn on life experiences, both professional and personal, to help define their passion and purpose.

Mai used an internship in China to hone her soft, interpersonal skills, a valuable competency she taps today when dealing with international colleagues. Similarly, Liebert drew on a study abroad experience in Japan playing tennis on a women’s team to help her through times when she was a minority among work colleagues. “The answer is not always blending in – sometimes being an outsider has served me well,” she said.

All the women expressed moments of vulnerability and even insecurity, as they occasionally doubted themselves and their abilities. The term “imposter syndrome” was brought up several times during the discussions. Higa recalled feeling inadequate as a jack of all trades in a field of technical experts. However, many of the women were eventually able to identify their unique “superpowers” to understand the value they brought to their teams or projects. “It is important to find a company or manager who values you for the same things you value in yourself,” Higa said.

Participants who tuned in to the Zoom sessions appreciated the women’s candidness. One viewer wrote in the group chat, “Mahalo nui for your time and mana‘o! (You) blew my slippahs off! I learned so much, mahalo!”’ The sessions were not able to be recorded because of agreements the panelists have with their employers. The all-volunteer planning committee – Allen Murabayashi ’90, John Hogan ’08, Malia Kiang ’18 and Noelle Nakaoka ’20 – is already working on the next session featuring Punahou alumni working in venture capital.

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