Originally aired on August 13, 2020 @ 6:00 PM - 6:30 PM EDT
Join Womenflare each week to hear about vital experiences and insights from women in technology roles, including those who are not in traditional engineering roles. We'll discuss a range of topics including challenges or wins as it pertains to supporting each other as women, day-to-day experiences, career development, and mentorship.
This week will feature Angela Huang, Kayla Prettitore, Nicole Ellis, Talea Seyed, and Anna Astakhishvili for a roundtable discussion and introduction to the women behind CFTV’s Womenflare: Unfiltered.
All right, welcome everyone to our third episode of Womenflare Presents Unfiltered. I'm joined today with the steering committee for Womenflare Presents Unfiltered and we're excited to talk to you today about how this came about, what are some of our goals, a little background and insight into each of the women that's on the planning committee for Cloudflare TV's Womenflare Presents Unfiltered and you'll get to hear a little bit more from everyone on the panel. So maybe we'll start by just doing introductions. Nicole, do you want to start? Yeah, I'm happy to start. So I'm Nicole Ellis, I'm our office operations coordinator here at Cloudflare on our Places team. Thanks, Nicole. Anna, would you like to go next? Sure. Hi everyone, I'm Anna from the marketing team. I help our customers stay informed about all things they have going on with their products and learn more about what others that can use. Awesome. Angela? Yeah, I'm Angela and I work on our customer success team in SF and I do exactly what my title says, I ensure the success of our customers. Excellent, thank you. And Talia? Hi, I'm Talia, I work on programs for our sales organization. Awesome, thank you and I guess I should introduce myself. I'm Kayla, I help run our global physical security program here at Cloudflare. I'm really excited to be joined by the rest of this roundtable today. So I'll moderate the session and we'll love to hear from all the women here on the team about more about Unfiltered and Womenflare in general. So maybe that's where we'll start. Talia and Angela are our co-founders of Womenflare and they're going to tell us a little bit more about how Womenflare got started, why it was created in their own words. Yeah, so I'll get us started and then Angela, as she always does, will fill in the gaps of anything I'm missing. I feel like she's the second half of my brain a lot of the time, but I think we got the idea. I remember when Cloudflare was probably a little less than like a tenth of the size that it is right now and so it was really easy to have a sense of community amongst the women and when, you know, fast forward to today, we're a lot bigger and you, we wanted to create a community for the women at Cloudflare and help figure out what was important to them, how we could help support them and so we launched ourselves formally at our International Women's Day celebration this year in March and then we went straight into shelter in place, which was a really strange experience when you're trying to figure out how to foster a sense of community for like what you might consider maybe like half, what makes up like half a population and we wanted to keep things light at first so we did some social events like spa sessions virtually and game nights and now we're kind of reeling back in, back to our mission and goals and really defining out what we want to do, this being one of them and so we're just really excited to be able to create that community and help get this group on it, like up to what we think that's possible to do. Yeah, I second everything that Talia said. Just in terms of how Unfiltered got started, when Talia and I were coordinating kind of like how to bring about Cloudflare, create events and opportunities for those of us that were in quarantine and tackling all the challenges she just mentioned, we knew that we wanted to have some sort of initiative that allowed those in Womenflare or really anyone at Cloudflare the opportunity to develop professionally or any sort of skills and we knew we wanted to do something like this. Fast forward a couple, like a month or so later and the Womenflare chat had a lot of great conversations that were going on. One of them, if you recall Kayla, was where you kind of mentioned that it'd be nice to have a Cloudflare TV series where we brought certain important topics that a lot of the women at Cloudflare wanted to discuss and I think that was probably the first moment where I realized, hey, I think we can combine these two ideas and create a forum for anyone that really wants to get involved and participate and generate content for an episode and moderate or interview others, the chance to do that. So here we are. Awesome. Maybe can each of you touch on a little bit about what's kind of the mission or the real drive behind Womenflare? Is there one thing in particular that Womenflare is focused on or is there a broad spectrum of things that Womenflare wants to focus on? So I think there's a variety of things. We have this much more like written out in a lot more concrete detail, but I think the gist of it is that we want to foster a sense of community because I think as women we deal with a lot of the same challenges and I want to know how Kayla and Nicole and Anna and Angela all deal with these things because we can learn from each other and I think that just like a lot of the culture that we've grown up with sometimes can sometimes lead women to think that there can only be one of us that's successful and I think it's really important to send a clear message that we're all here, we're all here to support each other and that's the culture I hope to foster is that we're all here to be there for each other, be a resource for each other, and I think beyond that we'll do some things with the community because I think that it's important to a lot of what the members express interest in and we want to make sure everyone is successful professionally at Cloudflare and they feel supported and so we might do some activities there as well. So kind of a variety of things covering a broad scope of different initiatives which is in my mind really fun because it lets us have a lot of creativity, but I think those are the main things. Awesome. I think an important part of Women to Flare along with any other ERG is really being able to take a lot of the questions and concerns of the group overall and being able to elevate that to our executive team so that they're aware of these are the things that we consider important and provide our feedback in terms of where we feel like the company should move towards. Excellent. Maybe that's a good topic to start diving into is there's a ton of different employee resource groups at Cloudflare, Women to Flare being one of them. Anna and Nicole, I'm curious what drew you to Women to Flare? Maybe we'll start with Anna. Sure. So I recently joined Cloudflare but I remember going through the interview process and having this impression of everyone that I met through the process that people here were proactive, obviously super smart, but proactive, humble, curious, and I just remember very clearly having this thought like when I join, I want to be part of that and not only just engaging in different events, but be a proactive member of continuing that culture. And so I think it was right after my onboarding week, I figured out what all the ERGs were and I joined Women to Flare right away. And very shortly, I got involved with this unfiltered project as well, because I just thought this is an area where A, like I care about a lot and I feel passionate about it. And B, there's an area where a couple of us can come together and brainstorm what are some of the topics that we should dive in deeper, as well as invite everyone else to give us those ideas and opportunities. And I think we even have a survey going out right now where we're asking for more topics. So I think it's an excellent opportunity and I'm so grateful that I got involved right away. That's awesome. That's such a good answer. Nicole, what about you? What drew you to Women to Flare? I hope I can live up to the answer. So I've been at Cloudflare for a couple years now and I've been a part of Women to Flare, but kind of more as like a taking a backseat and just observing. And one of the huge changes that came this year was I've noticed there's just been a lot more conversation and a lot more connecting in like our chats and like even like our video meetings and connecting with each other. And so I've become a little bit more active and just like communicating with my co-workers because normally like in doing facilities, I'm usually just running around and I've always seen that Cloudflare has these great ERGs where people can find their space with their people and be connected to their people. And so I always love that we have so many of these different ERGs, Women to Flare being one of them. The one thing that finally got me to jump onto Women to Flare was actually they were hosting Angela and Talia put together a game night. And so like games is the thing that like totally pulled me in. That's what I'm all about. And so and as for the Women to Flare CFTV event, I love the idea that was being talked about in our chat and I was very excited about it because I want to be able to have people go through my same experience where you're so excited about a place where you can converse with others but you got to like bring people in. And so I want to help bring people in and talk about everyone's story. That's amazing. Yeah, I feel similarly. You know, it's amazing to be a part of this and it's so cool how out of our group chat, you know, with the entire Women to Flare organization, this idea kind of just spawned out and there was so much interest in it. And I'm so excited for the future episodes that we're going to be able to have and all the different women we're going to be able to feature on this program. It's such a cool opportunity. Maybe going into that realm a little bit, I'd love to know from each of you kind of who or what inspires you every day. What's kind of that thing that keeps you motivated, keeps you going? And maybe we'll start with Angela. So I think it's less of a who and more of a what. I'm definitely inspired by individuals that are fearlessly passionate and compassionate. It's something that I think that any part of that I kind of strive to be but put that all together and you've just got this like incredible person that I would love to become one day. Awesome. Talia, what about for you? So for me, I think it's, I just, when I look at the world, there's just so many things that I feel like I want to do to make sure that it is something that I'm inspired by more and more every day. And I think that there's a lot to build and there's a lot to do. And so I think it's just constantly like, what can we do to make a difference today? What can we make a difference today? And just you keep going and you keep going and you just don't give up. And that's kind of what drives me, I guess. I love that. Having like a something that forces you every day, a constant motivator. I was going to say, similarly to, I guess, both of you, I have a word that on daily basis, I think about and that's legacy. And so a lot of the times I'll ask myself, like, am I on a mission that I believe in? And does that mission contribute to me leaving an impact, me leaving some sort of legacy and change? And that varies from what part of life I'm looking at. But I think that is like a theme that I think about that kind of gets me up in the morning. And it could vary based on like what energy level I'm in from day in and day out. Like not every day I wake up and say, I want to leave legacy in every part of my life. But at some level, no matter where that is, that range, it's still that thought and question that keeps me going. Awesome. For my inspiration, I'm so inspired by our teammates and all of like our partners and vendors and our friends. I love like just being a supporter and I love like kind of helping like, you know, hold others up and bring them up with me and making sure that like everybody gets a chance and everybody can, you know, have their say. And so I'm just inspired by everyone's hard work. And I'm always looking for a chance to say like, how can I help you? You know, how can I help you get to where you need to go? Like that's, I'm all about it. I love just like joining in and making the excitement catch on. Not like a virus, but like a virus. Can I just add that I'm inspired to get to Nicole's level of organization? Yes. Oh my gosh. And her enthusiasm level. She's working with Nicole on a daily basis and that enthusiasm level is not just a one-time thing. That's a constant day. I appreciate it. You all inspire me too. Amazing. I love it. I love this conversation. So let's take that in a little bit different direction. We're, you know, we put this program together. This is just episode three. We have a lot more coming, a lot more to look forward to in terms of episodes that we're going to be featuring in the future. But what is, what's maybe your, what's one thing that you hope to see as an outcome of this series? You know, what, if you had to put, you know, if you had to say one goal that you'd love to see out of this Women Flare Unfiltered series, what would it be? Anyone who wants to start? I'll jump in. One thing is very tough to determine, but I think the very first thing that comes to my mind as you ask that question is like courage to have difficult conversations. And I think we all talked about like how tough conversations are tough to have. That's why they're tough. They require so much compassion and passion back to Angela's point. And also it requires a platform. So if there's one thing that I would say I would love to see this Unfiltered series take on as a, you know, one big goal is to make that attempt to be courageous and to take a step. And it's not going to be perfect, but if we are continuing to bring up topics where we're going to feel slightly uncomfortable at the end or as we are going through it, then we know that we are hitting that mark because these are not supposed to be something that just like rolls of our tongue or we have perfect answers that are scripted, hence the name Unfiltered. Yeah, I love, I always find this quote really inspirational, which is like get comfortable in the uncomfortable. So I love that you brought that up. Yes. Yeah. Sorry, Angela, you were going to say something. Yeah, no, I totally agree with Anna. I mean, I would love for us to really broach some of those uncomfortable conversations, get comfortable with the uncomfortable. Since we're just kind of getting started, I think my initial desire is just more participation, right? I want to see more people at Cloudflare, within Womenflare, wherever just utilize this opportunity really to not only get to know your fellow Cloudflareans and Womenflareans, if that's a word, but also just like seize the opportunity to really talk about things that you're passionate about that you want to share with others. So yeah, excited to see what's to come. Awesome. Yeah. And there's really, we should probably say there's really kind of a no limits to what can, what an episode on Womenflare's unfiltered could be about. Yeah. Nicole or Todd? I'll jump in. Yeah, I think my desired outcome for our program is to really just, you know, everything everyone's saying and also to just validate, you know, the experience for women in the workplace. We want to provide a very inclusive and comfortable space for us to share our stories and to also maybe hopefully give advice to others who may be in similar positions or in a position where they're looking for what's next and to be able to provide support to, you know, other women out there who are looking for a place to be. Absolutely. Yeah. And just to echo a bit of what everyone's saying, and I feel like I've also been saying this a lot. I think it's really important to find your voice and then use it. And I think opportunities like this give you a chance to really think. And I know, you know, with the pandemic and everything going on right now, it's been hard, but one of the things I really appreciate is the time to really just look inward and find that voice because you find more and more about who you are and you get comfortable and you can learn from other women and just be inspired to, you know, figure out like who you are and just be that person and use your voice and like fight for the things that you want. There's a lot. There's a lot to do. That's for sure. There's a lot of work to be done. Awesome. I love, I always love our chats and even just when we're planning for these episodes, everyone is so inspirational to me. So we get a lot out of this. Cool. I think the other, the other thing that we, you know, kind of staying in the same theme, those are definitely great goals that we have for unfiltered. Even looking a bit more broad, what are some of your, what are some of the things that you'd like to see change for women like throughout the world? You know, we don't have unlimited time. So maybe we'll just stick to one thing or one change that you'd love to see in the future. Maybe we'll start with Anna. All right. I was going to say courage. I'm going with courage again. I think we know what we want, but maybe it's about courage of asking for it and also then holding everyone accountable when we do make the ask in all of our interactions. Great. Angela? I mean, I would love to see a day when we as women are not looked upon for any of our stereotypes and that people approach us as we are for what we can do, what we can contribute and share with them. Right. I would love for a day for that to happen for everyone across the globe. So. Absolutely. Yeah. Double that for sure. To not always to feel like we're having to prove ourselves, you know, and, you know, be above the stereotype, be trusted as an expert in our field. And I want universally globally for everyone to understand that, you know, no is a complete sentence. That's for sure. Talia, what about you? This one is a hard one for me. I think to really quickly before I give my answer, I just feel like there's a lot of gender based issues in the world, especially against women. And we have to educate ourselves about them because I think in tech, especially you kind of are in a bubble, but there's so many things that we still need to work on. I think the one change I want to see is, you know, I feel similar to Angela's answer, but like when someone sees a woman, like their first reaction is like, oh my gosh, she's so strong or oh my gosh, she's so intelligent. And we're just, you know, seen like that, I guess. Yeah, I agree. You know, not seeing women as one dimensional and that women can be so many more things than just strong, just intelligent. Definitely second that. You talked a little bit about, you know, the tech world and how it's definitely a different and difficult place for women compared to some other industries. I'm curious, and maybe some of our viewers are curious, you know, I know coming into the tech world for me was not something I ever really planned, kind of happened by accident, but I'm curious how everyone else kind of got involved in the tech world. It's definitely, it can be an industry where people feel, you know, uncomfortable or maybe that's not for them because they're not a tech expert or a software engineer. I know a lot of us have different roles and not necessarily traditional roles within tech, so curious maybe quickly if everyone can kind of just go through, how did they get into tech and how did they land at Cloudflare? Maybe we'll start with Angela. Yeah, without sharing or divulging too much of how old I am, I got introduced, I think, into tech in college. Prior to that, I just didn't have a lot of opportunity because my brother Bogarted the one computer we had in the household. So when I finally went off to college and I was able to get a laptop or computer all to myself, I really started to dive into like the world of websites and communities online and just found a whole new world that I had never really ever seen before. And so, you know, I built my first web page like freshman year of college and I think that was the bug that bit and there was no way around or getting out of, you know, wanting to be involved in the tech space. So fast forward several years to, you know, getting to Cloudflare. I actually was lucky enough to know one of the recruiters here at Cloudflare. I had known him from a previous opportunity where we'd worked together and he just could not stop talking about how great Cloudflare was. He had moved up to LA, to San Francisco just so he can work at Cloudflare and I was sold from that minute on. And so, honestly, I didn't even try to land anywhere else. My sole focus was getting in at Cloudflare and I'm so glad that I did. I've met so many great people and learned so much more in the tech and Internet space. So happy to be here. Awesome. Talia, what about you? Yeah, so I actually, tech never really scared me, I guess, because I grew up in Silicon Valley and so I was just surrounded by it my entire life. My dad was a product leader at Cisco for also a majority of my life. And so, that just never, it never occurred to me that it was like scary or foreign or anything. And I think when I tell people sometimes, they're a little bit surprised because I also, like, I didn't major in computer science or anything technical. I was a philosophy major. I spent most of my undergrad interning in the government. But there's always kind of like different roles and things to do in tech and you definitely don't have to be an engineer. And it's exciting because there's so much technology and there's so much to learn. You can go down a rabbit hole just like reading and learning how things work. And so, that part of it is just so interesting to me. You have an opportunity to be, like, as curious as you want to be. So true. I actually got introduced to tech also in college and then started my career in tech. And then I had this time when I thought that I wanted to step away from it. So, then I freelanced for a little bit and I missed tech so much. And I was like, oh, this is why I was there and I was happy. I need to go back right away. So, I will leave that story on that note. Cool. What about you? Yeah. Definitely tons and tons of dabbling. So, like, as a kid through school, I definitely was that person that was always hogging the family computer. It wasn't until I finally could say I entered, like, you know, in between, like, facilities jobs or office jobs, I finally entered into the tech world starting off in fintech or financial tech. You know, I did quality control there. I was coordinating, like, vendor relationships, setting up, like, you know, a lot of organization, like you all referenced, for all of our co-workers there in a couple different fintech companies. And it wasn't until, you know, I had heard about Cloudflare for many, many years from tons of friends, partners, things like that. And, you know, I saw that just how, like, a tech company can be something that's doing a lot of good for the world. You know, you see a lot of stereotypes with tech companies where they may not exactly be contributing a lot. But I feel like I finally joined a company where we really are contributing so much good. And so, I feel really proud to finally, like, be here. That's awesome. Yeah, that's what I think I love most about Cloudflare is we don't fit into any of those stereotypes or, like, typical tech company molds. I know because that was something I was definitely fearful of when I started interviewing here was, like, I know nothing about the tech world. I'm like, it was so scary for me. You know, similarly to Talia, my undergrad degree was in public relations and had nothing to do with tech. So, I learned technology throughout my career, but it definitely wasn't a huge focus in my life. But I'm happy to be here as well. It's definitely been a great, great experience so far. Well, we only have a minute left. So, why don't we wrap up with just a quick rapid-fire question. You know, during quarantine, everyone's kind of stuck staying at home. But I know we all have those guilty pleasures. So, what's a guilty pleasure that you've indulged in during quarantine? I'll start with Angela. Cinnamon croissant bread from Trader Joe's. Talia? Lots and lots of ice cream. So much ice cream. Same here. Anna? Lots and lots of candles. Oh, that's a good one. Nicole? Endless cartoons and anime. It's all I watch. Ah, love it. Well, thank you all so much for being part of this roundtable. I think it's been a great insight into Womenflare, especially Womenflare Unfiltered. For future show ideas, or to be featured on a future segment, please email us at livestudio at Cloudflare.tv. Or you can click below on the email into the show button, and we'd love to have you on. Thanks, everyone.