Helping a product go from zero to almost half a million users worldwide, this Canadian-born woman leapt into the tech industry from a background in liberal arts. Now, she’s here to let people know just how welcoming the environment is no matter where you come from, and why learning to trust in yourself is a process worth the effort.
As one of the leaders behind the no-code integration platform Integromat, Jessica shares that for tech companies, having soft skills is just as important as having hard skills. All you need to keep in mind is that you won’t know everything at the start, that you’ll never really know it all—and that’s what makes this industry captivating.
Can you please introduce yourself, your position and the company you work for?
My name is Jessica and I am the Head of App Partnerships at Integromat, the no-code integration platform that allows users to connect different apps together, as simple or complex as they may be. Currently, we have over 500+ apps available on our platform and are releasing new ones every day!
I have been with Integromat for just over three years, starting in communications and marketing and being the tenth member of what is now a team of over 60! I began to work almost exclusively with the different apps we have listed on our platform, working on ways we can co-market and co-promote the integration. I’ve been in my current role since January of this year.
What inspired or led you to enter the SaaS field/tech startup world?
I actually never dreamed I would be working for a tech company, let alone one that is not in my home country. Originally from Canada, I moved to Prague, Czech Republic (where Integromat is HQ’d), to live abroad for a year. Then, through mutual acquaintances, I met a few of the co-founders of Integromat when they were looking to bring a native English speaker on-board. Having previously worked in small companies (like a non-profit in Canada), I knew the experience would be somewhat the same: fast-paced, get to wear many hats and learn a lot. That is what excited me about being a part of a tech company, and (at that time) a start-up.
Did you study technology? Do you feel it’s important to have a tech education in order to get a job in a tech startup?
I did not study technology at university. My background is actually quite the opposite: liberal arts.
I think it takes a lot of different personalities, education, skill sets and backgrounds to make any product successful. I’ve found that my education and background has lent itself well to my position. Being communicative, understanding people and having the ability to create and manage new relationships directly adds value in a different way to my company.
So, in short, no, I don’t think it is necessary. I am a firm believer that having soft skills is just as important as having hard skills for tech companies.
What was the biggest challenge for you when entering the tech field and how did you manage to overcome it?
Everything was new to me when I started; not only the product, but also the tech lingo. Luckily, I had worked in small companies before so I knew the style of working in this environment—and that is just diving into the work, even if you are unsure and asking questions all along the way. I am still asking questions.
Expect that you won’t know everything at the beginning, and you never will know it all. Appreciate that.
Thinking back to your journey and how you arrived at where you are today, is there anything you’d change if you could?
I observe a lot when I first get into a new position, to understand it and to understand others. Because of that, I fail to recognize my own abilities and to believe in what I bring to the table early enough. That goes for any role in my life.
To be honest, I think that is just about growth as people. In any situation we are in, we should trust ourselves and what we know a lot sooner. The observing process will always be needed for me, but maybe I could speed it up or be more transparent about it with others in the beginning.
What piece of advice would you give to your freshman self?
Trust in your abilities and know that your skill set is just as needed. You can see it is a running theme here, and it’s something I stand for now. :)
Only 3% of females say a career in technology is their first choice. Why do you believe working in a tech startup or SaaS is a good career path?
The amount of things you get to try, projects you get to work on and the learnings you receive is so much higher than it is elsewhere. You can excel in your field of study much faster because of this.
There is obviously a prevailing idea that to work in a tech company, you have to be tech-minded. Of course that helps, but it isn’t absolute. I wonder if women, or people for that matter, know that you can work in technology even if you don’t have this background?
I think that the real story to tell is about the type of work involved in a SaaS company. Yes, developers, engineers and tech-savvy people are needed, but so are creatives, marketers and communicators.
From my experience, working at the grassroot level of an organization has been one of the most rewarding experiences. I’ve seen a product grow from the beginning to now having over 435,000 users all over the world.
Do you see a lack of female presence at your startup? If so, how do you think this could be changed?
Not at all. Many of them are in leading roles. I am surrounded by a set of amazing women who are managing teams and projects and excelling in their own individual career paths at Integromat.
We have women on both the development side and on the business side. It’s simple. It’s about if you can do the work and like the work.
And we are in a growth phase, so I see this only growing.
How can male teammates support their female colleagues in growing professionally? And do you have first-hand experience with this positive behavior?
Bring everyone to the table that should be there. That is how we all can grow professionally. What I mean is: If I am bringing value to the conversation and if I am getting value from it, I should be there. If there is no value for me or to the discussion, I shouldn’t be there. This is not a dismissal of my abilities; it’s knowing that you should concentrate on bringing value where you can.
I do see this as thematic in my workplace. If there is a new project that has to do with my team, I am regularly brought in for my view point to be heard. And I do it vice versa.
Our company has an ingrained culture of collaboration, and great ideas come when they are brought through the pieces of many.
People working in startups are usually very busy. How do you manage your work-life balance? Do you have time for some side projects/passion projects?
Isn’t that the truth! Yes, balance is key and sometimes I am better at it than other times. For me, it’s about being flexible with my work and personal life. Work when you have to, even if that means an evening or weekend for a few hours. But if you can, take a break during the work day, too. Scheduling breaks is just as much a part of the creative or development process as doing the work itself.
As an expat, I am lucky to work for a company that allows me to travel and still work. I have been able to go home for longer periods during my tenure, while still being able to hold my position and work remote.
I am also a yoga teacher, and I got my certification while working at Integromat. The company has connections to a popular dance/yoga studio in Prague, where I am able to teach and explore this passion of mine. I also hold weekly classes for my colleagues, which is a way for me to connect with some of the people I don’t necessarily work next to on a daily basis.
Women in SaaS initiative
Did you know that only 3% of females say a career in technology is their first choice and only 5% of leadership positions in technology are held by a woman? With our new initiative - Women in SaaS interviews, we want to inspire more women to join SaaS field & technology and combat prejudges connected to technology.
Every two weeks, you can look forward to interviews with inspirational ladies who decided on a career path in SaaS. In our next article, we will talk to Catherine from Intercom.