From STEM to Money: Women Lifting the Future of Women
Join us for a heartfelt, down-to-Earth discussion as we hear from women who have made waves in their respective fields, so we can inspire women everywhere.
Looking for more? You'll find dozens of CFTV episodes celebrating Women's Empowerment Month right here .
Hello, we are live. My name is Shannon and I've been on the business team here at Cloudflare for over three and a half years.
I am honored to be the moderator of today's panel for Women's Empowerment Month.
So Cloudflare is an Internet security company and I personally came to work here because I believe that the Internet can be used as a powerful tool to advance human rights, which includes all intersectional women's rights.
And I also love that Cloudflare has a female co -founder and a female chief product officer, female heads of many departments like legal security and policy.
So I just think there's something to be said about seeing yourself reflected by the person that's at that next level.
It just inspires you to dream bigger and do more.
So for this panel, our goal is to share stories from women who have made waves in their respective fields so we can inspire women everywhere.
This is an open discussion to have a conversation about all topics and tangents as they relate to the central theme of empowerment.
Each of these women that you see on the screen is unique and inspiring.
So I'm very excited to dive in and ask them some of my questions.
I will start by asking some questions and we also welcome the community to submit your questions as well.
So if you have questions and you want to be involved, please email your questions to livestudioatCloudflare.tv.
So let's get started and we're going to take an hour and just dive in.
So let's start by having each of you introduce yourselves.
Who are you? And please just share a little bit about your work history and your life.
Let's start with Monica.
Thanks Shannon. Hi everyone. My name is Monica Akomboka. I am based in Nairobi, Kenya and I'm a software engineer.
My journey is one of chance really and luck I'd say.
I grew up in Nairobi where I'm currently based but after I finished high school I didn't have the opportunity to go to university so I really had to figure it out per se.
While in high school I heard about a community hall in one of the slums in Nairobi called Dandora and I used to hang out in that hall all the time with other group of people.
Then one day there were many initiatives coming to slums in Kenya.
Among those were acting, modeling and I just decided to take a stab on all of them and see what sticks at the moment.
So I tried everything but one that stuck with me was one that was organized by AFIA plus and it was about sensitization of the community, teaching our people about sexual health, HIV and AIDS treatment care.
So I did that for a while and through that I got informed about a program created by one of the NGOs that was there called Nairobi.
So I decided to join the NGO. At that moment I was just trying to say run away from poverty per se because when you grow up and you have dreams like I had, I had a to becoming a nurse but that couldn't happen because I didn't go to university.
So there's no way I would have fulfilled the dream that I had as a kid so I just had to try and try and try.
So I joined Nairobi as a way of okay let me try this.
I did try it but at that time my mom was moving away from town and I knew if I get into this there's no more trying.
I have to see it through because I can't go back to my mom's house and I can't really quit this and try something else.
So I kept on going and one year into it I got an internship in a company called Berowitz.
Basically that's where my tech started. At the moment I did not really understand what I was doing.
I just knew that there are designs and there are websites.
You take the design you make a website out of it and that was exciting to me.
It instilled the curiosity and it was fun being in a community of people who grew up, you grew up with people who you just met for experiencing the same things that you are.
So community was the thing that kept me pushing. So after that I joined, I got an opportunity to join a boot camp called Moringa School here in Nairobi and I did that for four months.
Four months in I did an interview with another company called Andela.
Their headquarters is in New York and luckily enough I got in and I got to work with awesome companies like Cloudflare and I met amazing people like Shannon.
Last year after the pandemic my four-year contract ended and I was lost for a bit but then again with the Internet being what it is there was another community that I could have joined which was called Mozilla Developer Community.
In that my friends and I started a wellness platform called Ray where we'd provide people with advice because at that time people were going through, to date people are still going through a hard time because the world changed so fast.
So it was an opportune time to have the skill that I had and give back to the community again.
That inspired me to start looking for a company that I would join and that I would make an impact and that turned out to be Chippa Cash where I'm currently working.
Chippa Cash is a fintech company meant to transfer money across Africa and I believe in connection.
I believe in community and I'm so glad to be working there right now.
So that's basically my story. Monica you are so multifaceted.
I'm so grateful to Andela and Cloudflare for bringing us together and connecting us and ready for your second act as a nurse and an actress and a model.
Sheila over to you. Well thanks. So I am a woman in finance and I come to work every day because I really believe that a woman who is empowered financially has freedom.
So that's really what drives me and I guess that's why I'm here today. I spent 25 years working on Wall Street mostly in New York and San Francisco.
My focus was the Japanese markets and then the Asian markets.
So I spent 25 years in those markets following Japanese Asian companies and about almost 10 years ago now I pivoted to working with individuals and families.
I work with a lot of dual career families who have complexity and are looking for financial advice.
I lead business development for private ocean wealth management and we're really a holistic wealth manager and it really brings me joy every day to help people find their financial empowerment, their financial freedom.
Thanks for inviting me today.
Thanks for being here and thank you for connecting me with a financial advisor.
Shout out to Jane Yu. If it wasn't for you I would not have been as prepared when Cloudflare went public to be able to manage the experience of going public.
So thank you. Well you know it's funny I my first company went public when I was in my early 30s and it really changed the course of my life and I think understanding that trajectory I just I have that experience and so there are a lot of experience that I've experienced that I can share with my clients.
I know where they're coming from and so hearing your story it just you know again that's why I come to work every day.
Thanks for sharing. Well thank you for being a really solid advocate and connecting people and not just doing your job within the context of the office but also outside by connecting people in in really large ways.
Marina let's go over to you. Hello I am honored and grateful to be here today.
My name is Sejong Ahn. I also go by Marina which is my baptismal name. My parents and I moved to America when I was nine and a half from South Korea and my life as an immigrant is a really big part of who I am and who I've become.
But basically fast forward to 2010 I moved to San Diego for college.
I went to UCSD which is where I met Shannon and I ended up staying to get my master's in biology there studying pathogenic bacteria and how cigarette smoke alters their resistance to killing bioimmune cells.
And that got me connected to the company that I currently work for in Hibrix which I started out as an infectious diseases researcher developing an antibody therapeutic for MRSA and our team also worked on other pathogens.
And then around two years ago our company decided to focus all of its resources on developing biotherapeutics for cancer targets and that's how I became an immune oncology researcher today and that's where I am in my work journey right now.
Thank you for sharing that Marina. I don't know who I would be without having met you in college.
You are such a solid support system and I learned so much about just the world of infectious disease and cancer research through you.
And now more than ever we know with COVID how important that is and just everyone has someone in their family who has cancer so thanks for all the work that you do.
Yeah Amira over to you to round out this beautiful question of introduction.
Absolutely well first off thank you so much Shannon and Cloudfair for allowing us women to tell our story.
My name is Amira Raven-Obey. New York born and bred but I moved out to the SF Bay area and I've had a career in fintech and real estate.
So similar to some of the women here I have found myself working for companies such as like Citibank or Trulia or Zillow and then I most recently when I went to NerdWallet I had the opportunity to work with Shannon and work very closely to see her in action and but to be able to do something really powerful which is helping consumers learn more about financial literacy and education through technology.
And then I moved on to work on an open door and most of my career has always been around like helping consumers understand the products and services that they're that are there for them.
Helping people just be more educated what what the what companies are bringing to them and making sure consumers understand the freedom of choice that we have that each thing is different and you have to find the right product that's for you and that kind of led me to my next pivot in my career which I've just started off this past year and running my own company.
I'm the CEO of a company called The Home Dispatch which is around helping empower consumers again around the the pressing need of what do you do when you just now have a home.
And so there's a lot of home ownership can be a wealth management tool for many people and for generations before but it's really just about knowing what you need to do to be able to protect the asset you have and just simple tips.
So that's what I'm spending my career on that's what I'm doing and all through the line of that I'm you know with my career a mom and a wife and all the great fun stuff we'll talk about later.
Thank you Amira. Yeah I met you early in my career and I saw your leadership and action and you really were a north star and a guiding light through a lot of the stuff that we did together at NerdWallet and you also inspired my transition into sales for marketing.
So thank you for being a mentor and and just really leading the way when when we had a lot of ambiguity.
So transitioning here a little bit a question for the group.
How did you get into your field and why do you stay?
What has helped you to get where you are? Amira we're going to start with you.
Absolutely. I mean I actually started my career early on in an internship and that internship essentially led me to another internship in high school to college and then fundamentally led me into my first job at Citibank.
And so that was like a huge game changer for me because it enabled me to like learn and grow in a safe place which I'm a big fan of internships and giving people the opportunity to like learn and see what they like and what they don't like.
I entered another company I was like oh my gosh get me out of here and it was great to do without having the the needs of being able to be fully committed to it.
But I would say like there's like key things that have kept me there.
A lot of it has just been like seeing the opportunities that are in front of you and not letting myself get in the way of like fear or concern or doubt and just like taking the leap and saying it's an opportunity go for it.
There's curiosity around it and so I kind of call it like following the clues.
I meet so many people that are like I know exactly what I want to be in my career and then being in sales and my customer operations like most people don't wake up and say I really want to be in sales it's typically not what happens.
Most kids say they want to be you know lawyers, doctors, hey they might want to be a tech CEO, they might want to be a YouTuber.
They do not say that they want most other jobs and so I think it's really about understanding what you like, what you're interested in and following that clue and that opportunity and so that's just kind of helped me get to where I am even to now where I'm probably the most nervous about stepping in and like running a company and yet I have to trust the fact that all the things that I've learned of leading a team and scaling a team of you know 100 and 200 people and doing partnerships in my past have clearly must have led me to this next inkling which is like solving a human problem of helping people just manage their basic assets and there's so many people flooding today and having the opportunity to buy homes now with COVID which has totally changed the way the world looks at what a home looks like now so that's a little bit about me.
Yes this is such a ripe time for people to be buying homes with interest rates being so low so I'm so excited to see your company take off and see you take that leap into entrepreneurship.
It's so inspiring.
Marina, let's go over to you. How did you get into your field and why do you stay?
So I have to say that my grandparents were my primary influencers like ever since I was really little I grew up watching my grandparents help keep our family healthy and keep their loved ones healthy through their knowledge and insights as pharmacists and this like made a really deep impression of me on me and it inspired my own desire to serve by helping others live healthy lives and be a resource for my loved ones and I would say that's how I ended up pursuing biology in college and kind of each stepping stone in front of me kind of serendipitously got me into cancer drug discovery research but now I stay because of my love for the people I work with and the cool science things that we get to do and on top of that I just have a feeling in my gut that there is more for me to learn where I am currently not just as a scientist but also in my personal growth journey and I feel like I'm still becoming the person I need to be to get to where I want to go where I am right now so yeah like that's what keeps me staying and keeps me excited and I also have to say that I'm here because of the love and the help that I got from other people like not just emotionally but also literally I will forever be thankful to my master's PI Dr.
Laura Crotty Alexander who connected me to my first boss at Inhibrix Dr.
Andrew Hollins who is now a wonderful mentor that I have so yeah that would that would be my answer.
You lead with so much love Marina it's amazing and your relationship with your grandparents is inspiring it's awesome and soul excavation takes a lifetime so I love that you keep learning and growing.
Sheila over to you.
Well I love the thread of how our parents or grandparents influenced us. My father worked in the government we lived both well we lived in Asia and between the U.S.
my whole life and I always thought as a kid I wanted to have that kind of lifestyle and so I studied political science in Japanese in college because my original career target was to join the foreign service and then I was fortunate enough that during my junior year in college I went to Japan and that's when I really started to learn about Wall Street.
I hadn't been exposed to it at all but I met a lot of New Yorkers and East Coasters while I was doing my junior year abroad and started to hear about Wall Street, New York, the financial markets and so my first Wall Street job was with a firm that was looking for a salesperson who could speak Japanese and they needed a Japanese speaker who could speak with the trading desk in Japan and so my language skills definitely helped me get my foot in the door and so you know and that just the minute the minute I stepped foot on my first trading floor I was home.
I just love the energy, I love the intelligence, the exchange of ideas and it's just a real synergy of understanding what's going on politically, economically and then translating that into understand how the markets are work so that's how I got there.
I studied political science and I studied the language and that helped me get in my first opportunity.
Wow yeah shout out to our elders, our ancestors, all the people that came before us.
I think we all have so much appreciation for our families and I always feel like Sheila we have such a mirrored life, definitely relate to you on interest in foreign service and political science and just Japan and Japanese culture so I just I think that's great and you have so much energy it makes sense that stepping onto a trading floor is home for you.
Yeah Monica over to you, how did you get into your field and why do you stay?
I resonate with everything that everyone has said. Amira mentioned following the clues and I just got into a community where people were kind enough to come and give us an opportunity to learn and grow and I seized that opportunity and out of curiosity I tried so many things.
When it came to the realization that I will not be able to further my education I just knew I had to try and follow the clues so I did that and I got into tech and I realized that there's so much to learn and there's so much growth there.
A lot of things change every single day and being that had transitioned from so many things it felt like home just like Sheila said.
So things change every day and you get to learn new things every day so it's a continuous growth you never really get bored you have to keep up with the tech because as I said it grows and that's it and that's why I keep staying because it's endless and it's amazing and the community is really really good and being with people who you share interest with and having the Internet to communicate with them and keep up with the change is awesome.
If we are ever stranded on a desert deserted island together we're gonna look to you Monica you're gonna be our leader we're gonna follow your clues and I just I really appreciate what you say about like there's always more there's always more there's just infinite potential and possibility and I see you always just taking on new projects working multiple opportunities at a time and it's inspiring to see you in action.
Yeah so just a reminder to everyone that we if you have any questions you can email them to livestudio at Cloudflare.tv and we will field those so feel free to send those our way.
So the next question we have here is when you think about leaving a legacy on earth that will inspire and uplift women what does that legacy look like?
Sheila let's start with you.
Um that's an easy question right? Super. I'd say that definitely my number one legacy is the relationship I have with my family and I think as a working mom that was a huge huge struggle for me um but I I finally got to that where that was my priority and then beyond my family my mission is really fostering female financial empowerment and I just I mean here we are you know a year into the pandemic and the financial implications have every single day have just been overwhelming and overwhelming and there's such a bifurcation between those who have and those who don't and so that mission of financial empowerment equaling freedom that is something I want for every woman everywhere.
I mean it's what I want for everyone right um yeah so I'd say my legacy is you know helping people understand their options, helping people manage their financial their wealth and it's not about riches.
I think so many people think financial freedom or financial empowerment is about having a lot of money.
It's not. It's about having enough that you can take care of yourself and the people that depend on you and so that you can do things with your money you know give to your community.
If you ask almost anyone what would you do if you had all the money in the world to take care of all your needs?
What would you do next? Every single one of I think every single person always says I would give more away and so you know one of the messages that has resonated with me is it's important for all of us to make the money because so often we're generous with it.
We give it to the people who need it and so that's what my legacy will be is financial empowerment so that we can impact ourselves, our families, and our communities in a way that is in line with our values.
Yes yeah I mean we can vote with our wallets and there's power in that.
You have this mission of inspiring women to write large checks and you've really helped me to visualize how I can do financial planning and think about setting a portion of my income toward community efforts so thank you for inspiring so many women of all ages but especially me at such a young age years ago to do that and to think about that and to financially plan for that.
We can all be philanthropists.
From day one. Okay so Amira over to you.
When you think about leaving a legacy on earth what does that look like?
Yeah it's very similar to Sheila right it's really around not wealth abundance but wealth creation and so it's not about the accumulation of something it's actually the utilization of it and so I think about how can people create and specifically for women I think you know we're just generally typically a caretaker whether it is innately or just by role or definition in the role of where we are in the ecosystem and so I think about how do we do that in a way that makes people feel to the same word empowered to like think about doing more and I think everyone has a gift I truly believe that and so I think about my legacy of showing this person who didn't you know have maybe like the clear path or track but just being able to figure out a way to create the opportunities for yourself so that you feel as if that you have everything that you actually need not the abundance right but things that you need to to live the life that you want to live and so it's really around like wealth creation and inspiring that it's about mentorship it's about making sure that just as someone probably helped you get to the next level that you make sure you don't forget and help the next person and doing that and not just saying it but doing it in my work and so again really happy to be here today because I remember very clearly as an intern very clearly in my career where there was me sitting there trying to like find all of the the panels or find all the sessions with women who are like years ahead of me to learn and glean from them those are the clues that enabled me that I was able to take to go to the next level and so I think it's really just around the legacy of being the right person that you want to see in the world as well.
Yes yes modeling that and money is an energy and we can use it as fuel to put into things that we think matter and I always remember the first the first work trip I ever took was with you to the NAACP train the trainer conference where you led a session teaching about financial empowerment and training the trainers so that they could go out into the field and help their NAACP branches so you've always walked the walk with that.
Thank you it's just all about sharing the knowledge quite frankly right when you know you can actually do more and essentially what we're doing which is telling them something that they just didn't know and now they have the ability to do more with their lives.
Yes exactly teach a human to fish.
Let's see so Monica over to you legacy what's yours? I personally have struggled with that question for a while now being very young in my career I've been working as a software engineer for six years now and as an individual contributor it's it's a very tough position to be because most of the time you feel like impact and should start from the leadership going down but it's I came to the realization it's also a really good place to be because change can also start on the grassroots right so it's my dream to see diversity in the tech industry to see women of color someone who I can look at and say oh that looks like me I wish I had that but since I did not I'd like to be that for so many people I'd like to be that to the kids who I meet in the streets I like talking to them about what I do most of them don't understand really but I try and in that small situation in that small conversation it's I believe it's going to make an impact it's just one one step at a time once one one child at a time and I try as much as I can to be involved in the community because that's where I came from if there was no community that led me into this career that I am in I wouldn't be here really so it's my mission to give back to the community to teach people about the possibilities in the world like you can do what I do it's just not for a specific gender or for a specific group of people everyone can so that's that's it yes you do so much in the community I'm curious how do you when you ask or when you tell younger people in the community what you do how do you describe it I mostly describe using phone because it's an amazing time and everyone has a phone or you know a phone or you've seen your parent with a phone so I tell them you see that application that you use I try and create that my my friends and I we sit down we come with a design you see this color we make it happen so that's just I just try and make it so that they can understand and be impressed and be intrigued because I just met someone who told me about an NGO that was doing this and I was intrigued and once you spark that curiosity in every kid it might hit them one day when they're big and that's my hope that one day they look back and be I met this chick who told me this and this and now I want to do this and it's just it will bring me so much pleasure even if it's one kid and I feel like that's where we come in with my experience again six years it's so it's so demoralizing sometimes because you feel like that person who has power they're doing this but I decided I could do this from where I am so taking these small opportunities really helps yeah yeah it's such a push and pull between um you know things happening from top down versus bottom up but you're modeling the bottom-up approach by being it being what you want to see in the world like you want to see diversity in tech and you're out there showing people that you meet what that looks like and inspiring younger kids that they can do that so it's it's beautiful very synchronous marina over to you um what does your legacy look like I am feeling so inspired by all of the words that I just heard um I actually had a lot of fun um thinking about this question and just like listing out everything that I could think of and I think that the three things that I um that are at the top of my list right now one is finding a cure for cancer um this was actually a forgotten childhood dream that I remembered after I became a cancer scientist um and it still blows my mind that it it's happening um the writer Paulo Coelho has a quote about how if you really want something the universe will conspire to help you achieve it and I feel like this is my like life's example of how that came true for me and um yeah and then the second thing a second legacy would look like becoming a multi-millionaire and being an example of a woman who makes a lot of money doing what she loves um I have always dreamt of being able to give back to my parents for all of the love they've given me for all of the sacrifices that they've made for me and what I know is that the more money I have the more options I have to be generous um the more options I have to enjoy this one life that I have with the people that I care about and the more I do that the more other people get inspired to do that for themselves um because that's how I found my inspiration was by seeing other people doing that for themselves um and ultimately I dream about um being a voice in the world that helps other people manage their minds and their emotions um to help harness their inner power and create their best selves and the life that they truly want and desire and deserve and yeah that's that's where I spend a lot of time thinking about um how I want to be in the world what I want to contribute in the world is I love that like we all have such immense limitless like potential as long as we don't get in our own way and we are really good at getting in our own way I should speak for myself I'm really good at getting in my own way so um I have gotten a lot of inspiration from other people who show me other ways to be but getting in my own way so that's that's how I want to contribute wow isn't it amazing when you have a childhood dream and then you forget it and then you remember it it's like oh my god I've always wanted this like and here I am it's happening and you've manifested it you've made it happen for sure um so the next question we have and also pretty marvelous how time flies we are halfway through and we've got about 27 more minutes so I'm excited to ask some more questions and really enjoying all of your thoughts so far um so can you please describe some of the challenges that you've all faced as women and how have you overcome these challenges?
Monica we'd love to start with you um challenges are endless they're there and I believe the word makes us stronger um so one of my biggest challenge has been fear I am afraid I become afraid sometimes and when when I look at fear I tend to go back to the root cause and sometimes it's just imposter syndrome um that's the the outcome not really the root cause and the root cause could be um biasness racism and not finding the mentorship that you require and for me is finding someone who looks like me in the tech industry to inspire me and educate me right and it's hard for you to myself to maneuver through the tech industry without having someone who I can be directly in contact who will inspire me and um help me through this day -to-day challenges and again challenges bring growth and that's where I come in I can be that person to so many people right so that's what makes makes me overcome them like I do my best every single time when I face a challenge like I need to learn this if I'm able to I need to document this for the next person who's going to face this challenge I also need to put myself in the position where I'm accessible and I need to fight my way through all the biasness I need to fight my way through all the things that um the perceived notion that maybe women are not better than men at coding um I need to fight through that and I need to make my voice heard and in that way I get to inspire more people yeah so resonant yeah I mean you remind me of this Janelle Monae song um I'm so afraid she just it's like I'm so afraid what if I lose like it's like we we have this fear that we're gonna lose or we're gonna die like that's usually what it comes down to um and we often put blocks up that are called imposter syndrome and we we do get in our own way but we have so much potential and it's amazing that you work through those fears and just like break down all those barriers um let's see so Sheila over to you um you know there's definitely been a lot of challenges things like bias and sexism and racism but one of the lessons I learned really early uh I had a great boss uh at Lehman when when where I worked at one point uh Nick Howard shout out to Nick Howard um and I remember I was making a presentation I was really nervous um had to go out on the whole trading floor and talk about it I feel like I my blood pressure goes up just sharing the story and um at some point he stepped in because I was just so nervous and um afterwards I said to him oh what a failure I can't believe I you know completely um did horribly there and he he looked at me put his hand on my shoulder and he said Sheila take it like a man go in the bathroom and throw up that's why I looked at him I'm like Nick is that when men what men do and he's like yeah it's not because you're you know he said you're nervous people get nervous men women he completely normalized that the guys get nervous too he's like why do you think people go for a drink at end of the day why do you think they kick their dog go in the bathroom and throw up you'll feel better and it and it was the best sort of like message I needed because it suddenly made me realize that it wasn't because I was female at all I was just a person on a trading floor who was nervous about something and it and I was new at it and that you know so like the longer I'm out here I'm convinced that the challenges that I face are not unique and that actually gives me solace and um because I'm not alone and sure they're hard absolutely but I keep finding a path through challenges and my friends my family my supporters I've had champions that have helped me sometimes yes sometimes no but you know what I really had to learn was that I did not have to fight these battles alone and when I look at my community you know Wall Street is is certainly there are more women now but there were not a lot of women when I was on but there were always some other women and I will say I have a group of female friends that I worked on trading desks for years and we are tight you know they are godmothers to my children they stood up for me at my wedding they I am growing old with them they are my rocks and so I'd say that I am at this place where I'm like you know what yes I'm going to continue to have challenges but they are not unique and so find the friends find the support that helps me get through it and um I don't know it just makes me feel like any hard thing that comes along I can find a community that will hold me through it and that has been a tremendous learning for me in terms of those challenges.
Wow yeah it really is a biological response it's a stress response there's adrenaline it comes down to evolution of like is there a lion chasing me am I gonna die right now no you're on the trading floor it's okay so just demystifying stress and fear and finding community are very powerful ways to overcome challenges um that's great Amira over to you how um like what are some of your challenges and how have you overcome?
Yeah I mean the question you asked was like challenges around being a woman and I think that I think about in two ways right there's external and internal right I think externally uh it's what I think people perceive and you know people use their eyes to see what they want to see and and so I think um that's a reality that you have to understand and so there's also like some some um focus on like what representation matters I think Monica hit on it representation matters because it shows people that someone else did it right and I don't care how hard it is they figured it out and they did it and so I think that is really really important um but it also impacts on the same way that if people haven't seen it done that someone that looks like you then there's like a question of like can this person do that um and that's just a reality that you have to understand that may live in our society but that doesn't change anything whether or not you can or can't do it and I think the second thing that's been really important for me is around like expectations like it's kind of related but expectations that other people might have um and the same expectations that I have for myself um and so that both stories Monica and Sheila kind of resonate it's like sometimes our own expectations of what we think it we should be maybe we need to reframe or rethink or maybe it's just okay and it's normal um so that's hugely important so I kind of try to bucket like what's happening here when I have challenges um is it me is it external is it internal um what are some of the core pieces and to the question of how do I solve it I think really it starts about knowing yourself um for me personally there's two ways that I that help me through it and it doesn't have to be working be anything in life sometimes I just need some solace to be by myself to kind of like reflect on it understand like what the core issues are or give myself compassion around whatever the thing that is hard and then the other thing is like sometimes I just need some good friends that will totally understand what I'm going through or give me a different perspective um to say have you thought about it this way have you thought about it that way and that's usually what kind of helps me navigate whatever the challenge that I think it is and you know my example would be like right now you know I'm trying to think about fundraising and everyone the stats are horrible for women and women of color like horrible like it's like 0.02 and people like are you sure and I'm like sure why not right there's there's some possibility right and the only way you can change that is if you don't already um make the expectation that you won't and the only way you make representation change is if you got to be the person that maybe you got to be the person that helps push it along so um sometimes it's just really for me reflecting on like you know my own what what is it what is okay for me and not let the world tell me who I need to be and let me define it yes yeah self reflection and resetting expectations and and defining your own story can you actually dive in and share a little bit more about the fundraising experience it seems like that's fresh um in your business cycle and in your process so how what has that been like for you yeah we're just early on and kicking off and as a typical woman I will stereotype a little bit and say like we love to be over prepared um we believe in like being a plus students because that's just the way we've been kind of trained and it is a woman's trait that we kind of send a notice and so I actually have to be like okay I'm gonna put my guy hat on a b is okay right like I don't need to like do everything even though I feel like it and I've said this story to myself many times in my career actually I had a good it's always great to also have I'm big fan of male mentors because they give you a different perspective of yourself and so to that question I had a male mentor who said to me he's like who said that you need to do all this stuff like yes there's lots of information about being with this overly prepared and absolutely but like know yourself like you're going if someone asks for something that you don't have you'll figure it out and get it done in time like you'll do it part of the decision is about like understanding um what companies or fundraisers funders want to see they want to understand like do you understand the problem how well do you understand the problem you've lived it and breathed it they want to understand like do you have enough expertise in this category right can you it's really like what they call founder market fit and that's something that either you have or you don't in many ways right like your ability to tell the story of how you became who you are in this moment is a skill and you've got to figure out how to do that it's like you've already figured that part out like your career tells a story and then it's just having a little bit of resilience right and I think luckily I've been in sales so I've had enough nose in my life but it's a numbers game right I've just got to get in front of people be bold and courageous to show who I am and then realize that I might not be the right fit for one but I'm all you need is one right and once you have one the door opens and so I'm telling this to myself mentally every day to get prepared when I get up and take a call or reach out to someone and I need to do that because at the end of the day you know you just do your best and let the chips lie where they are.
Wow I love what you say also giving shout out to men that we can really get great mentorship from men and they can be mirrors and remind us of even better ways to be ourselves so yeah shout out to all the men it's great good luck with all your fundraising I can't wait to hear how that goes yeah Marina do you want to round out this question so please describe some of the challenges you've faced as a woman and how have you overcome these challenges?
Yeah I feel like I'm just going to be echoing everybody else I really agree with you Amira that there are the internal challenges and the external challenges and I feel very fortunate to work at a workplace that's very egalitarian and there are lots of women figures in the leadership positions and things like that but I kept finding myself in the statistics that describe women in the workplace like you know they there's a ton of stats about like women are likely to ask for less likely to ask for raises how women are less likely to negotiate a salary or self-promote and I kept finding myself like being a part of that kind of statistics and I kept finding myself keeping myself small in many ways and ultimately I feel like it was it's like two things one one sort of force that helps me overcome challenges is the help from my support system like people like my husband and my amazing friends and colleagues and parents grandparents like the people that encourage me and lift me up when I feel like I don't deserve to you know be up or I feel like I just can't do it anymore kind of a thing they lift me up when I am just so hard on myself and then the second force is myself I keep choosing to be somebody who falls in big or small ways and keep moving forward anyway like I keep choosing to be the person who keeps moving forward and I like to remind myself it's kind of become a mantra but I like to remind myself that like at any point in my life I am exactly where I need to be to learn what I must learn to become the person I need to become to go where I want to go and that really helps me put all of the challenges that I'm experiencing into perspective and show me that this is something that I can use to strengthen myself if I choose to and I keep choosing to and also like after having you know chosen that path several times I've learned something about myself which is that I always experience the most resistance right before a breakthrough or right before I an opportunity to grow in immense ways and so that's just something that's just like a knowledge about myself that I like to use now to help myself and I think Sheila also you said something that I didn't really think about before which was like normalizing human experiences like I thought that I was wrong for the way I was because I feel so anxious so much and I because I have panic attacks because I have so many thoughts of self-doubt and I thought that like unless I can overcome these things like like until I overcome all these things I am not a correct human being and you know like taking one step and being vulnerable with somebody like helped them be vulnerable with them and then we got to connect about all our vulnerabilities and human characteristics and we're just like you mean this is just a human thing and I feel like just like knowing that was so healing and so encouraging so yeah wow yes yes like we talked about earlier growth and comfort don't go together shout out to my brother for for that one um and just yeah finding a way to break our habit with feeling like we are wrong or we are incorrect when we feel these ways um amazing so uh we've got about 10 minutes left in this beautiful conversation I'm going to um kind of let's see we've gotten a couple questions from the crowd um let's see here I'm going to combine a couple questions so um considering that Cloudflare is an Internet company uh just kind of curious like how has the Internet changed or improved your life as a woman and tacking on to that um as as closing remarks um are there a person in the crowd has asked are there books you'd recommend um that have helped you in your personal career development so I I'd like you to respond um just by sharing those thoughts and um and closing remarks all at once we've got about nine minutes left and we will start with Monica um so to the first question about the Internet my journey as I had mentioned earlier I just got an opportunity to get resources and that's that's it that's all we need the Internet is there to connect people and community is really important to me and um you can find any community in the Internet like if you're a developer if you're looking to start a finance business if you're looking to if you're curious about release it or anything the Internet is where it all begins and knowledge is power right uh to the second question I top of mind I'll just go to a book that I'm reading currently and I've talked about this situation and it's called Untethered Soul it's not really about tech but it's more about personal growth I would really really highly recommend that book yeah excellent thank you I've also heard Untethered Soul is great from cousins and family members so excited to read that at some point soon um Sheila over to you um so for the first question in terms of the Internet I mean productivity you know I can get so much more done number one and then just reach I I here we are right we're all over the place and I yeah productivity and reach I'd say more than anything and in terms of resources that there are libraries full of books about personal finance and um I'd say start with Google that's where I and and the other thing too is finance companies like Schwab, Vanguard, Fidelity, our company website Private Ocean um we have so much information about how men and women can embrace their financial lives so there there are countless books one of my favorites is On Your Own Two Feet by Sharon Kedar I love that one she wrote it it's 20 years old but fundamentally and she's updated it but there the fundamentals are really there um but there are just so many resources for me to shout out on one book would not be like doing anyone a service I'd say go on Google go on some of these company websites and start to educate yourself and you know what if you have a question reach out to me I'm happy to talk to you yes yes how can they reach you Sheila Schroeder at yeah Sheila Schroeder at privateocean.com okay I love how I have your email address is it sheila.schroeder at privateocean.com go to privateocean.com and you can find me on the website yes oh books books podcasts Google I love it Marina over to you yes um for me the Internet has improved my life because it gives me endless access to content that I I need my soul needs to um fuel my inspirations to um help me believe in myself um I love listening to podcasts by like people like life coaches or spiritual leaders um one podcast that I really love is called The Life Coach School Podcast by Brooke Castillo and she is just somebody who um really is an example to me of somebody who thinks really big and dreams big um she inspired me to want to become a woman who makes a lot of money like she just really challenged a lot of my um self-limiting beliefs that I had and so yeah like podcasts and videos um I get access to through the Internet um it also helps me stay connected to the people that are important to me um for example my mom is my parents moved to Korea a couple years ago and my mom is currently in the hospital and she just got a surgery this morning that went really well um but it helped me stay in touch with my parents and it was really nice to be able to see their faces as I like talk to them every day and it makes it a little bit better for me to that that I'm not able to be there with them but it feels as close as it can be that way um so the Internet is has just been an amazing resource um one book that I'm reading currently is called The 15 Commitments of Conscious Leadership by Jim Dethmer um I came across this book because I heard a podcast where Jim Dethmer was interviewed by I believe it was Oprah um and yeah and that's how I came across this book and the teachings are really resonating with me so far um yeah wow yeah Brooke Castillo is amazing um really good recommendation that life school pod uh life school podcast that's great um Amira over over to you yeah so how the Internet has changed our worlds man I think of it like there's three things right like it helps me discover it helps me learn and it helps me meet new people right so it's a game changer um and it can really accelerate so anything people are curious about if you want to learn more about or you just want to meet people so I'm with Sheila like if you want to meet if you can find me on my twitter or my email amira at the home dispatch.com like meeting people is amazing and quite frankly for me meeting people has been that curiosity like there was something about someone that someone said and then I ended up just like randomly talking to them and it becomes either like a wealth of information or someone really who's been a catalyst in in my life so I think meeting other people because fundamentally I believe people want to help other people um and so like anytime you tell someone that I would love to get your advice they're like absolutely to take advantage of that people enjoy when they when they're seen as someone that can potentially help you um to use the Internet and we have COVID to thank for that that we can all do that on the Internet um to the second part of books like I'm just thinking about a couple books that have like really resonated for me um you know there's definitely some business books but I think I have been the more like I know more about myself and it helps me learn I can take all that other content like the alchemist comes into mind of a really great book about the journey um looking at a book at my desk here um business model you right to the design thinking book that I got um written by Tim Clark a friend of mine let me borrow just about reinventing your career and so just thinking um strategically about what I can learn about myself and what how can I level up myself uh just a little bit is how I kind of think about it yes ah the alchemist is great um thank you so we do have two minutes and 49 seconds left um I'd love to do a very quick lightning round um so this will be a quick one um I tell us about an unfinished dream you are working on and what yeah so what's your next ambition Sheila over to you definitely to get on a corporate board um everyone's talking about you know diversity inclusion finding women I am a woman who is interested in getting on a corporate board that is my professional next step yes which what type of company well fintech makes the most sense because not only have I been in sales but I've been in finance my whole career and both internationally and locally so that's probably the best fit or the first fit but uh I have a broad a broad resume so I'd be interested if they're interested I'd be certainly interested in having that conversation okay maybe Amira's company see you on the website in a couple years yeah Shannon don't tell her my secrets yes so Amira over to you yeah I mean I think uh this big hurdle for me has been like building trying to build a business and I think one of my unfinished dreams is I actually haven't always envisioned like owning multiple businesses being able to like solve different problems and solutions and not just being about one and so we see men do it and I've seen men lead multiple businesses and I'd love to be one of the women that can do multiple ah yes lead an empire Amira I'm ready to follow Monica over to you um my unfinished uh dream that I'm working on is myself I feel like I have a lot of growth and to do and the heights are just endless and uh the my next ambition is in turn from me helping myself I'll be able to help others yeah yeah oh there's so much work to do on the self and there there's always more to do um Marina just texted she said oh Internet issue so hopefully she'll be able to reconnect she's trying um but uh we've got you know just one minute left so I just want to wrap this up and um I would like to thank you all so so much for joining us today thank you thank you uh for sharing your insights and your inspiration it's been amazing hearing from you thank you to the Cloudflare TV organizers Fallon, Christina, everyone um for making this platform possible and thank you to the WomenFlare leaders WomenFlare is the women -centric employee resource group at Cloudflare um so thank you for all the work that you've done organizing amazing events for Women's Empowerment Month um and until next time um just hope everyone has a super inspiring Tuesday uh and a beautiful just a beautiful life on earth thank you for inviting us absolutely thank you Shannon thank you Cloudflare for allowing us to have this platform yeah