TECHWomen chapters and members of the TECHWomen LinkedIn group
When Beth Arnholt, in close partnership with the company’s senior technology leaders, set out to close the distance between these talented professionals by organizing our company’s first TECHWomen Conference, even she was astounded by the response. "Our senior leaders, male and female, rallied to show their commitment," says Beth, Vice President of Integrated Talent Management. "And the women in attendance literally didn’t want to leave. They were just so excited to talk about their projects and build off each other’s energy."
Since that inaugural event two years ago, TECHWomen has grown into an ongoing forum for female technologists to connect across business groups, contribute to the broader strategy of our company, and inspire more innovative work. We now have eight TECHWomen chapters around the world: Denver; Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey; Los Angeles; New York City; Orlando, Florida; Philadelphia; Seattle; and London. Each chapter hosts its own events and activities, and three more chapters are soon to launch.
And each chapter feeds the others. From networking events to leadership panels, TECHWomen groups design their activities to forge new connections, provide opportunities to learn and contribute to the business, and "innovate at the boundaries," as a recent TECHWomen Conference speaker said. They borrow from the startup culture — employees discover common ground and generate actionable ideas in collaborative environments. The group’s 2015 conference included an opportunity to discuss the national group’s focus in the coming year, as well as hands-on breakout sessions on emerging technologies in media and high tech, Comcast user experience research, and insight on building connected health systems.
Collaboration between the attendees also resulted in new ideas and business opportunities throughout 2015.
"One of our members from the X1 product development team started talking with somebody from our Comcast Spectacor sports arena business at the conference about new ways to use X1 as a ticket sales channel," Beth says. "We’re creating connections that encourage people to think differently, not only about their impact on the success of our company, but also about how they can influence the future of women in technology."
While Beth’s team is involved with the local chapters, the members set their own priorities in the spirit of the "by TECHWomen, for TECHWomen" philosophy. Local chapters are where the TECHWomen mission is further integrated into the business and tailored to local needs.
"This has been a great opportunity for people to flex their leadership skills and take on roles that they may not normally have in their day-to-day work," says Jane Cha-Lee, who works on Beth's team. "We rely on their initiative to keep the momentum going, and it’s exciting to hear so many women say how rewarding this has been."
Building students’ interest in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) careers — a companywide focus — is also high on the agenda for TECHWomen. "Regardless of whether or not you are a technologist or a woman, getting more STEM professionals into the pipeline is vital for the future of our whole company," Beth says.
"Our members are going out to schools and talking about what it’s like to be a software engineer," she adds. "They’re mentoring girls through Big Brothers Big Sisters. They’re helping coach FIRST® Robotics teams."
TECHWomen representatives have also served on panels and as keynote speakers at industry forums, such as the 2015 Emerging Technologies for the Enterprise conference in Philadelphia. As thought leaders within our industry, TECHWomen members help shape the changes they want to see — for our company, our communities, and our customers.
"TECHWomen challenges us to do things we’ve never considered before," Beth says. "Teams seek out each other’s expertise. We bridge all areas of Comcast NBCUniversal and come up with creative ways to bring technology to life."