Internet Week NY: Why Being a Good Executive has Nothing to Do with Being a Woman

by / ⠀Startup Advice / May 24, 2012

On Tuesday May 15th, a panel event was hosted at New York Internet Week HQ in Soho, Manhattan, titled “Why Being a Good Executive has Nothing to do with Being a Woman”. Panelists included:

Hayley Barna, Founder & Co-CEO, Birchbox
Sharon Feder, COO/Publisher, Mashable
Catherine Levene, Co-Founder & CEO, Artspace
Caren Maio, CEO, Nestio
Alexa Von Tobel, Founder & CEO,

Laurie Segall, Tech Reporter, CNNMoney was the moderator and asked the following questions to the panelists:

What do you think about the topic “Women in Tech”? When people talk about it, does it perpetuate the problem?

Alexa: I never really talked about being a woman at the work place, it’s more about my performance, not about me being a woman.
It’s important for women in tech to find other female role models in the industry. I wish people talked more about my business than being a woman.
Sharon: I see myself as not just a woman in technology, but as a woman in business.

You are all successful women owning businesses, what do you think are the qualities for women being successful?

Alexa: When pitching to investors or going into a big meeting, confidence is key. Other than that, be the most prepared for every situation and be extremely hard working.
Sharon: Ask for what you want. I asked Mashable’s CEO, Pete Cashmore to take chances on me and my ideas, then proved myself to be successful at implementing those ideas.
Hayley: Know what you don’t know, don’t pretend you know something when you really don’t. Ask the right questions.
Caren: Be passionate at what you’re doing. Ask yourself: is there anything else I’d rather be doing right now?
Catherine: Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Find role models and learn from others.
Alexa: Focus on being a good person. Be respectful to your peers and people who report to you. When the team trusts you, that’s when loyalty develops.

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What are some advice when trying to raise money as women?

Hayley: My fist experience was not the best, but then I learned what I had to do better. “Women have to be comfortable with our own styles, we don’t have to act like the stereotypical confident male figures.” Know what your style is and deliver that.
Caren: My company was one of the first startups that was accepted to TechStars NY. I had the opportunity to have investors work alongside my team, which then they became mentors and guides. It’s important to build relationships with investors.

Facebook is about to IPO. How do you feel that there are no women on the board?

The entire panel suggested that Sheryl Sandberg should’ve been on the board. Since 50% of users are women, the board should understand and have representation of their user base.
Catherine: Women have to want it. It’s not what’s happening to us, it’s what we go for.

Shirley Yang is a digital media product gal and on-camera tech reporter for BnetTV. She’s worked at Fox, Sony, Amazon and NBC to launch digital products across the web, mobile, TV, and game consoles. She blogs about startups and industry events at Follow on twitter @ScyShirley

About The Author

Matt Wilson

Matt Wilson is Co-Founder of Under30Experiences, a travel company for young people ages 21-35. He is the original Co-founder of Under30CEO (Acquired 2016). Matt is the Host of the Live Different Podcast and has 50+ Five Star iTunes Ratings on Health, Fitness, Business and Travel. He brings a unique, uncensored approach to his interviews and writing. His work is published on, Forbes, Inc. Magazine, Huffington Post, Reuters, and many others. Matt hosts yoga and fitness retreats in his free time and buys all his food from an organic farm in the jungle of Costa Rica where he lives. He is a shareholder of the Green Bay Packers.


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