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By Nuria Alonso Lamamie de Clairac

I recently had the opportunity to participate in the first Tech Women Alumni Dinner with nine other Kellogg women. We were very lucky to have three Kellogg alumni join us for dinner and share their experiences with us. It was great to have a wide variety of backgrounds represented, from professionals at IBM and Google to employee No. 1 of a startup that now employs 20 people.

The dinner environment was perfect to allow real conversations where we got to know these tech professionals. During dinner we talked about the challenges of the tech industry across different areas.

We were able to discuss new tech retail trends with Dawn Goulbourn ’12 (Lead Account Partner for Retail Top Accounts at IBM). We discussed how data analytics is disrupting the industry, allowing for more targeted promotions and changing the store experience. We also got the opportunity to teach her about Tilt and Venmo.

I also had the opportunity to talk with Mina Arsala ’06 (VP of Marketing and Operations at Medtelligent Inc.) about the challenges of introducing technology in traditional industries such as health care, where resistance to change is high. She also shared with us that the biggest challenge of being the first employee of a company is having to take all the strategic decisions on your own without being able to brainstorm with other people. She mentioned this was both a challenging and rewarding experience.

They were all very open to talking about challenges for women in tech. It was very comforting to hear that companies in this industry are making a lot of progress to increase women retention and facilitate a better work-life balance. This conversation was just after Mark Zuckerberg announced he was taking a paternity leave and increasing paternity leave at Facebook to four months.

As we have heard before from several alumni, Michelle Devereux Schumaker ’06 (Head of Sales Development, Retail and Technology Sectors at Google) shared how Kellogg’s managerial classes helped her navigate her path to — and through — Google. She has had six different roles in five years, rotating functionally, vertically and geographically.

It was stressed that a lot of tech companies are organized internally as startups, despite their current big size. With that in mind, it is important to develop leadership, networking and managerial skills to succeed in this type of environment where your career path is not pre-defined.

I left the dinner feeling even more eager to pursue a career in tech — with all the changes the industry in facing — and excited to be part of this challenge.

Nuria Alonso Lamamie de Clairac is a first-year student in Kellogg’s MMM program. Prior to Kellogg, Nuria worked in Operations at British Telecommunications in Madrid, Spain. After graduating, she is looking forward to pursuing an Operations role in the tech industry.