“Behind every great woman, are great women”
With a market capitalisation of nearly $8bn, Okta is one of the largest cloud software providers in the world working to secure connections between people and technology. Founded in 2009 by its current CEO Todd McKinnon and co-founder Frederic Kerrest, the San Francisco-based company has in the last decade become one of the largest players in its space.
Beyond its market reach, within the company’s own walls, other projects are making it one of the leading brands on the diversity in the workplace stage.
One of the initiatives the company has created is Women @ Okta which has been set up to encourage and welcome more diversity within the company’s work teams.
Leading the group is Lauren Havertz.
Havertz has worked at Okta since 2013 and has held various roles in Engineering.
She has finally found her role as a Technical Program Manager where she works with Okta’s Technical Operations team keeping Okta #AlwaysOn.
She is also the Co-Chair of the Women @ Okta employee resource group.
João Marques Lima interviews Havertz on the millennial’s achievements, projects and what she expects from the future.
What is the view of the industry you are in?
The general view in tech is that if you work hard, that you’ll be rewarded in the long run.
In tech, and especially here in the Bay Area, the expectation is that you give your life to your job and you grind it out day after day.
I’ve seen plenty of friends leave jobs because they were completely fried and took a couple of months off and then back at a new job doing the same thing.
I’ll say, in general, all of the stereotypes you see and hear about are mostly true.
Although, there are some real strides being made toward increasing work/life balance or having a work/life “blend”.
There is also the issue on gender and racial diversity in the tech industry, in that there is still a lot of work to do in order to sort these issues.
What has been your major accomplishment to date?
Professionally, I just finished running a two and a half year long infrastructure upgrade.
For a large enterprise company that’s probably not a big deal but at a growing company like Okta, that was one of the longest initiatives completed in Engineering.
On a personal level, discovering the passion that I have for advancing women in the workplace.
I’m currently the cochair for our Women@Okta group.
It’s been an incredibly rich experience to build empathy, community, and courage to tackle the large and small obstacles that I, and others, face every day.
What does a day in your life normally look like?
No day is the same.
As a technical program manager, I am constantly context switching, meeting with folks, figuring out what’s going on, and what’s left to do. Sometimes, it’s discovering what the problem is.
I love my job because it involves constant collaboration with others. The challenges and my colleagues keep things interesting.
What do companies need to know about hiring and retaining millennials?
Please pay us what we are worth. Don’t underestimate us or what we can become.
Be our mentors and our allies. I’ll also add that a compliment can really go a long way.
If we do something that’s awesome, tell us and let our managers know! Those small acknowledgments are things that let us know that our work is appreciated and add fuel to our tanks.
What do you expect from the industry and its future?
I hope that in 10 years we’ll see a lot more women as CEOs, co-founders, and board members.
It’s been proven that diverse companies are not only more innovative, but also profitable.
I think women in positions of power lead to more useful products and services.
We’re able to reach the other 50% of the population.
Every member of our community needs to educate themselves and advocate for diversity, inclusion and equity.
This topic should be deeply embedded in the way companies hire, build products, and create their own distinct culture.
Every person from the mail room to the C-suite should be able to contribute and add value.
Where do you want to be in 10 years?
I love the quote from Jaclyn Johnson, “Behind every great woman, are great women.”
I want to be one of those great women.