Project WoAH (Women of AngelHack). It’s a movement. One led by the amazing Women of AngelHack, who have stories to share. And share we will! Check out the intro below, and tune in LIVE on December 17th (5pm PST) to check out and ask questions during our WoAH Livestream.
Name: Jessica Smith
Role: VP of Strategic Partnerships
Been With AngelHack: 3+ years
Works Out Of: Athens, Greece. For now.
What do you do at AngelHack?
My main role in the company is sales and making sure we are bringing in new clients for our White Label Hackathon and Accelerator services, as well as confirming sponsorships for our Global Hackathon Series. As a member of the Executive board at AngelHack, it is also my job to oversee and help steer certain departments at AngelHack like our, HACKcelerator and Global Hackathon Series. I have great ability to look at a project from a macro POV and have a business like mind that helps keep the company moving forward and making rational decisions.
Can you tell us about your toughest day on the job?
One of my first roles in the company as a full-time AngelHack employee was an Event Planner for our White Label Hackathons. I was organizing a hackathon for one of the largest tech companies in the world in San Francisco and completely bombed it. After the event, they said they would never work with us again, but we had an opportunity to redeem ourselves and now they are one of our favorites and larger clients. I took that as a huge learning opportunity and ever since moved roles in the company and own sales. My Advice- keep at it, you'll eventually succeed. Boo-ya!
AngelHack is a global company, requiring frequent travel. You must have had some memorable experiences. Give us one!
Hmm… I yelled at the Israeli security custom guards because they wouldn't let me through with a box full of tech gadgets. We became best friends after a few minutes but I still had to wait an hour. I also lived in Bali for a couple months and did conference calls in the middle of the night Monday through Friday!
Has there ever been a time you felt discriminated against as a woman? Explain.
Yes, Sabeen and I were leaving a tech meetup that we organized for one of our clients in San Francisco, and we we’re walking out of the venue with our newly hired male intern. A guy came running out yelling "AngelHack! AngelHack!" to get our attention. We stopped and he explained to us, or rather I say our male intern... his reason on speaking with us; he wanting to know more about our business model and how we can work with his tech company(a very well-known one that is). The whole time he was directing all his questions to our intern, who had no clue what to say! I immediately interjected and gave him the best responses I could. It was like a sales call on fire. We exchanged contact info and parted ways. When he left, I think we all started to laugh at the whole situation. This kind of thing happens all the time consciously or unconsciously in business meeting with my male colleagues. At first I would get angry at this type stuff but I like being the underdog and proving people wrong.
What challenges have you faced because of being a female at a hackathon or in business?
I know this is simple and is probably more of a personal challenge but the sound of my voice and speaking pattern on conference calls used to really bother me. For me, it's really easy to listen or speak with a male colleague that has a deep velvet voice or has a British accent. I'll believe anything you say if you have a British accent. Weak spot... I wanted people to be intrigued in me like I was intrigued by them. For a training exercise, I would record my calls and play them over after to learn what to do, and what NOT to do. It was excruciating but a great tactic. I've naturally always had a strange accent and so I usually play it up. I've also learned to speak with my diaphragm rather then my throat. I feel much more confident. I'm an Aquarius so my ability to adapt in certain situation is fairly easy.
What about the startup culture do you like?
Flexibility. I wouldn't survive in corporate culture in front of a desk all day. For example, right now I'm on a small Greek Island, at a cafe sitting in front of the sea writing this to you. Don't get me wrong, working for a startup is a lot of fun but also a lot of work and hours you spend dedicated to this company. I think it takes a certain kind of person that can really handle this life/work style, which requires a lot of self motivation.
What about the startup culture do you dislike?
Your life is dedicated to it. Also - I lived in San Francisco for three years, and I ended up making great friends but every time you went out, the first thing people asked is, "what you do"? Then you end up in a conversations about tech and your job and then I have to do my sales pitch, when all I want to do is talk about Lord of the Rings or nothing really at all.
How does it feel that 80% of your community is male based?
It has its advantages and disadvantages. I think the media makes too big of deal about a female CEO. Like "good for her, she can run a company!”
What do you love about working for AngelHack?
I love the people I work with and how much this company has helped me grow. I also love how much we get to travel and make new friends all around the world.
What’s your spirit animal?
What’s one word you would use to describe yourself?
What’s your favorite thing in the world?
I love this place near Bali called, Gili Air.
What’s your definition of success?
I know everyone’s definition of success is different but mines about independence and reaching self-actualization. Success to me is achieving my goals, having f@ck you money, traveling the world and always learning.
The stage is set, December 17th at 5PM PST. Submit your questions ahead of time using #ProjectWoAH or through the YouTube LIVE chat on December 17th. Mark your calendars, and make sure you tune into the livestream!