woman holding a like a boss mug, kickstart your career

5 Tips for a successful career in tech

woman holding a like a boss mug, kickstart your careerArticle by Valerie Junger, Chief People Officer at Quantcast

The tech industry is always changing and evolving. That’s what makes it an exciting, challenging, and rewarding sector to work in.

While there is no one formula for success, here are a few tips I’ve found to make getting a head start easier.

  1. Be inquisitive

A curious mind is your number one asset. In tech, everything is constantly evolving; new technologies, products, and business models can sprout up overnight to reshape the landscape. To be a part of the change, you need to understand it, and that can only be achieved by staying curious and asking questions. Never think, “But it’s not part of my remit” – you never know how that knowledge will serve you later on.

  1. Embrace lifelong learning

Getting your college degree no longer signals the end of your education; today we are all students for life. Research suggests that 85% of the jobs that will exist in 2030 haven’t been invented yet. With technology advancing at a faster speed, we will all need to upskill and train as we progress in our careers. Thankfully, online courses are making it easier and more accessible. It’s not just invaluable to your professional development – it can lead to personal growth as well.

  1. If at first you don’t succeed…

Tenacity is key to success, especially for women in tech. Today, only 19% of roles are filled by women, and this figure decreases to just 5% for Asian women and 3% for Black and Hispanic women. More progress is needed, but we are headed in the right direction. However, that doesn’t mean the road will be easy. Expect challenges, but hard work and determination do pay off.

  1. Nurture a support system

No one succeeds alone, and working mothers especially require a support system. Strong personal networks and communities enable women to better confront the challenges of juggling work and home life. It’s great to see companies step up by offering greater support and flexibility as well. All of these relationships are important and will help empower you on your path.

  1. Expect the unexpected

Your career path might not turn out as you expected – and that’s okay. If anything, it’s good to explore and experiment so that you can discover what truly excites you. It doesn’t matter if what you do doesn’t align with the life plan you had at 22: the important thing is to enjoy the work and find ways to continue growing everyday.

The key to a successful career in tech? Always remember that you don’t know what you don’t know. Keep learning, keep questioning, and keep pursuing your interests. It will pave your path to growth – both on a personal and professional level.

Valerie Junger featured

Inspirational Woman: Valerie Junger | Chief People Officer, Quantcast

Valerie JungerValerie Junger leads Quantcast’s People & Places team.

She is an experienced Human Resources leader who has led HR functions for more than three decades and has a track record that demonstrates consistent success in a range of high-growth, technology organizations.

Before joining Quantcast, Valerie served as Chief Human Resources Officer at Hillspire, LLC the family office for Eric and Wendy Schmidt. Prior to that she also served as VP, HR & Real Estate at Aerohive. She’s also held HR leadership roles at companies including Model N, Space Systems/Loral, and Risk Management Solutions.

She has her Bachelors from San Jose State University and her juris doctorate from Santa Clara University School of Law.

Valerie resides in the Bay Area and is the mom of two young women and a golden retriever.

Tell us a bit about yourself, background and your current role 

My name is Valerie and I’m the Chief People Officer at Quantcast, which means that I oversee our people, culture, and workplace strategies worldwide. I’m originally from Belgium, came to the US as a foreign exchange student – and never left!

I studied journalism because I wanted to be a writer. After working in journalism for a bit, I fell into HR and realised that I really enjoyed it. From compensation to learning and development to leadership training, there’s something new every day. It’s kept me interested for 30 years.

Over the course of my career, I’ve worked for many tech companies in Silicon Valley – private and public, big and small, and across several sectors, including financial services, SaaS, hardware, and aerospace. When I explore opportunities, I like to look for something different, but first and foremost, I consider who I will be reporting to. At Quantcast, I am working in ad tech for the first time and our CEO, Konrad Feldman, is an empathetic and team-oriented leader – something I greatly appreciate.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

Never. I was never that deliberate about anything in my career. I think the key is to keep an open mind and be prepared to capture opportunities when they present themselves, even if they aren’t what you expected – because that’s life, isn’t it?

Have you faced any career challenges along the way and how did you overcome these?

Absolutely. There were times where I had to confront difficult team cultures, and there were also times where the organisation of which I was a part had to adapt to changing markets and priorities. Many of us have had to face this lately with COVID, as well as the shift in employee expectations regarding their jobs. Transformation is not a sprint but a marathon: you have to keep up your energy and maintain your drive.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

I am very proud to have been on the team that took Model N public. Helping ensure the company’s continued success post-IPO was a big achievement for me.

I’m also proud of what I accomplished at Aerohive. When I joined, they hadn’t had any HR leadership for over 9 months and the team was really adrift in a sea of change. It was a case of completely rebuilding the culture from the ground up, and we did it.

What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success?

Listening. It’s easy for me to come into any organisation and tell you what needs to change, but how we’ve actually gone about affecting change has been different everywhere I’ve been. It’s all about listening to the business, and making sure you’re working on the right problems. If everybody is talking but nobody is listening, how can you get anywhere? After all, listening builds trust and change moves at the speed of trust.

What top tips would you give to an individual who is trying to excel in their career in technology?

Be curious and ask a lot of questions. I’m fascinated by how companies work, and being prepared in my role means understanding the organisational dynamics. I’ve always made it a point to ask questions – even if it’s not necessarily part of my remit – because having that broad understanding enables you to seize opportunities and grow within your position.

Do you believe there are still barriers for success for women working in tech, if so, how can these barriers be overcome?

There’s been so much progress, and I have great hopes for the next generation and for the future of women in tech. At the end of the day, the most important thing is having a support system at home and in your personal life. Today, women have the opportunity to climb the career ladder and get to the very top, but we as a society still need to figure out what we can do to support working mothers.

What do you think companies can do to support the careers of women working in technology?

Companies have an important role to play in providing women with the support they need to achieve both personal and professional success. At Quantcast, we offer a mentorship program and leadership development training aimed at just that. We also run the Quantcast Women’s Network, which holds regular workshops and peer circles that bring our female employees together to help them connect, share learnings, and grow their skills.

Quantcast actually has an extraordinarily high number of women in senior roles, with more than 50% women in its C-Suite (the average in technology is 9%). This is something we’re proud of, and we hope to see more tech companies move in this direction.

There are currently only 17% of women working in tech, if you could wave a magic wand, what is the one thing you would do to accelerate the pace of change for women in the industry?

Many efforts have been made to nurture female talent within the STEM space, but there is still work to be done. Careers are still thought of through a gendered lens, with women often encouraged to go into psychology or other humanitarian sciences. We need to focus on educating parents and teachers to not reinforce stereotypes, and normalize careers in science and tech for women.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech?

Networking is very important. I encourage everyone to join networks in their specific fields. It’s important to get that wider industry perspective as well, and for that I love the Harvard Business Review and TED Talks. I participate in their webinars and events all the time. It’s been a great way to discuss the problems and opportunities facing our industry  with fellow CPOs.