Firstly, please introduce yourself
I’m Ann Blakely and I have more than 20 years of technology consulting experience. As the managing partner of Baker Tilly Digital, I lead a team of professionals who leverage their strategic industry insight and advanced technical expertise to uncover and solve digital transformation challenges. Outside of work, I enjoy cooking and entertaining with my husband, Josh, and two middle school kids. When I’m not perfecting my grill-master skills, you can find me on the Peloton!
What are you looking forward to at Women in Tech Texas?
Conferences are a great way for everyone to come together and cultivate new ideas and I think we’ve all missed this connectivity over the last two years. I look forward to the opportunity to connect with like-minded women leaders who are excited about the future of technology and the communities they serve. As a keynote speaker, I hope sharing my journey and how Baker Tilly Digital is breaking the mold will inspire others as they grow in their career and leadership.
What advice would you give to a woman looking to step up their career in tech?
Stay current. Read, network, engage, ask questions of your colleagues, above and below you. Make concerted, active efforts to deeply understand how technology impacts organizations, your own or your clients’, have a capacity to grow, evolve, compete, drive efficiencies and remain relevant.
Rather than focus on the specifications or intricacies of a tool or solution, as many technologists are prone to do, focus on highlighting its practical, day-to-day application. Those of us who can perform that kind of translation, using language your audiences will “get” and providing context to drive deeper understanding, will always have an edge in this space.
What do you see as the biggest challenge currently facing women in technology?
Technology is a fast-paced, constantly evolving space: new concepts, new products, new vendors, new versions, new implementation methodologies — new EVERYTHING! Women may be apprehensive to take on a new assignment or lead an initiative/team involving capabilities where they are not already a master.
The truth of the matter is that working in technology involves considerably more on-the-job learning and trial and error than other industries. It is a fundamental component of the professional technology ethos. I would encourage women to trust in their ability to quickly learn, to carry concepts forward and draw connections, to teach others to build the confidence to raise their hands — and, finally, to say “YES” to that next opportunity, project, or promotion even (and perhaps especially) when it pushes us into a space where we are not yet masters.
The theme of the event is Resilience, as a woman in tech, what does resilience mean to you?
Between the many hats we wear — at the workplace, at home, and throughout our communities — women embody resilience. For me personally, resilience isn’t about stifling emotions to appear stoic or hiding behind a “game face.” It’s about courage. The courage to bring our authentic selves to the task at hand. The courage to (graciously, but unapologetically) make hard decisions on priorities in any given moment, based on what our roles require of us and what those who rely on us need. And the courage to authentically tend to those demands to the best of our ability without letting them take us off course.
Catch Ann Blakely’s session Breaking the Mold at Women in Tech Texas on May 19 - 20th