January 26, 2017 - by Angie Chang

12 Women CTOs To Watch in 2017

Redfin CTO Bridget Frey

#1 - Bridget Frey, Redfin CTO (Seattle)

Bridget Frey is the CTO at Redfin, an online real estate company based in Seattle that provides real estate search and brokerage services. Bridget joined the company in 2011 as the director of analytics engineering, and quickly worked her way up to VP of Engineering, and then SVP of Engineering. Bridget earned an A.B. in Computer Science from Harvard University. Follow her on Twitter at @SVBridget.

Bridget's advice for new engineers:

OWN SOMETHING: “This advice is especially true for engineers who are early in their careers. Find something that you can really own. Whether it’s a line of code, a technical area, a whole project — find something that you can be the expert on, that you can own over a period of years not weeks, something where you set the vision and then make it happen.”


Stitch Fix CTO Cathy Polinsky

#2 - Cathy Polinsky, Stitch Fix CTO (San Francisco)

Cathy Polinsky is CTO at Stitch Fix, an online platform providing a personal styling service to women and men. Cathy leads engineering for all customer-facing software and warehouse/back-end services, and she joins a start-up executive team that is three-quarters women (Cathy is one of six women on an executive team of eight). Cathy joined Stitch Fix from Salesforce, where she was a VP of Engineering for its search division. Prior to Salesforce, Cathy worked at Yahoo and Amazon. Follow her on Twitter at @cathy_polinsky.

Cathy's advice for developers:

TALK TO CUSTOMERS: At a CTO summit, she shared: “Devs build empathy by talking to customers. When something goes wrong, hold a blameless post-mortem and share information to build trust.”


Nylas CTO Christine Spang

#3 - Christine Spang, Nylas CTO (San Francisco)

Christine Spang is CTO at Nylas, a next-generation email platform. She is leading the engineering team building a new platform for email-powered apps, starting with simple REST APIs and infrastructure for developers.

Christine got into software development via contributing to the free software operating system Debian GNU / Linux when she was 15. She earned her B.S. in Computer Science at MIT, helped start the Boston Python Workshop, worked as an early Linux kernel engineer at Ksplice (acquired by Oracle), then helped start Nylas in 2013 to fix IMAP, MIME, and the fragmented world of email systems. When she’s not working on making email suck less, she loves to trad climb. Follow her on Twitter at @spang.



#4 - Gerri Martin-Flickinger, Starbucks CTO (Seattle)

Gerri Martin-Flickinger joined Starbucks in 2015 as the company’s CTO and EVP, and she plays a key role in shaping the company’s technology agenda and global IT strategy. At Starbucks, Gerri has been emphasizing the intersection of Internet of Things (IoT) and Big Data as a way to improve the customer experience. This is one reason why the barista at Starbucks may be remembering your name! Prior to Starbucks, Gerri was Senior Vice President and CIO at Adobe, where she helped to lead Adobe’s successful shift to a cloud-services company. Gerri holds a B.A. in Computer Science from Washington State University. Follow her on Twitter at @GMFlickinger.

Advice from Gerri:

FORMULATE STORIES: “It’s not to say you don’t have the deeper conversations, but you have got to find whatever formula works in your company to get to the deeper message."

RECOGNIZE OTHERS: At Adobe, Gerri employed a simple, yet powerful, “thumbs-up note” program which has become a source of pride with her employees. Every time she received a kudos note from a business partner about something someone has done in IT, she sent out a little recognition email from her personally.

More tips from Gerri on how to manage a digital transformation at your company can be found here.


Greo CTO Elizabeth Davis

#5 - Elizabeth Davis, Greo CTO

Elizabeth Davis is CTO at Greo, a mobile video platform based in Palo Alto, California. Designed to enhance millennials’ online conversation with the mission of building technologies that empower everyone to discover, create, and exchange meaningful ideas to awaken a more just world, Greo is a new type of social network.

In today’s political climate, focus has shifted to spaces - to building an online community that crowdsources knowledge and empathy, and advances both conversation and action. Greo's goal is to build for the people that are often left forgotten when designing for innovation. Prior to Greo, Elizabeth was an intern at Pinterest and Google. She holds a B.S. in Computer Science from Stanford University. Follow her on Twitter at @lizfordays.


Jane Gilmour

#6 - Jane Gilmour, Coca-Cola International CTO

Jane Gilmour is CTO for Coca-Cola International in London. Prior to Coca-Cola, Jane was Head of Technology Services, Enterprise Architecture at Barclays Bank, and CTO of GE Capital EMEA where she worked for over seven years. Follow her on Twitter at @jaenn.

Jane offers candid advice on Quora, and here are a few highlights:

LOOK FOR GENDER-NEUTRAL INSPIRATION: “I think you should look for inspiration everywhere. My role-models and coaches from an IT career perspective have all been men but I have benefited and grown from advice, guidance and inspiration from some excellent women and men across all levels and walks of life.”

ON GROWING INTO LEADERSHIP: "Thinking back, early and mid-career felt like it was a more difficult time to be a female in an IT leader role - on occasion it can feel that your technical and/or leadership abilities are being questioned by business leads / engineering colleagues / managers / leaders / sales-people / recruiters / your mum / yourself, etc. Probably an age and experience thing but once you get to a CTO level you know your abilities and have confidence with that. I'm sure that's not particular to being a woman."


One Medical Group CTO Kimber Lockhart

#7 - Kimber Lockhart, One Medical CTO

Kimber Lockhart is CTO at One Medical, an innovative primary care practice funded by Silicon Valley venture capitalists. Her role includes leading software engineering, product management, design and product support -- all focused on delivering a top-notch user experience in a highly regulated space.

In college at Stanford, she started a company which was acquired by Box. At Box, she was a Director of Engineering before she was promoted to Senior Director of Engineering. Kimber is a thought leader on building and scaling technical teams, with a focus on crafting culture, developing leaders and effectively addressing technical debt.  Follow her on Twitter at @kimber_lockhart.

Here are two of Kimber's career hacks:

FEEDBACK IS CRITICAL: "Continually ask for ways to improve. Hearing critical things about yourself can be difficult, but just say thank you and then go cry in the bathroom if necessary."

REHEARSE FOR KEY CONVERSATIONS: "Find a buddy, someone who understands the context you're in. That way you can talk through your ideas and feel confident about them by the time you walk into a big meeting."

You can find more of Kimber's career tips at Self Magazine here.


Rathi Murthy

#8 - Rathi Murthy, GAP CTO

Rathi Murthy is CTO at Gap in San Francisco. Prior to Gap, Rathi was SVP and CIO for Enterprise Growth at American Express. Earlier in her career, Rathi was a Senior Director of Engineering at eBay Marketplaces, where she managed a team of over 250 engineers, and led QA teams. Rathi earned a Masters in Computer Engineering from Santa Clara University, and undergraduate degrees from Bangalore University and Visvesvaraya National Institute of Technology. Follow her on Twitter at @rathi_murthy.

VALUE FEMALE RELATIONSHIPS: Rathi has spoken at several events about the power of women helping women in tech, and the value of those relationships throughout one’s career. Check out this Working Mother Magazine profile on Rathi.


ThoughtWorks CTO Rebecca Parsons

#9 - Rebecca Parsons, ThoughtWorks CTO

Rebecca Parsons is CTO of ThoughtWorks, a software application development company headquartered in Chicago. She has more than 20 years’ application development experience, in industries ranging from telecommunications to emergent internet services. Rebecca has published in both language and artificial intelligence publications, served on program committees, and reviews for several journals. She also has extensive experience leading in the creation of large-scale distributed object applications and the integration of disparate systems. Follow her on Twitter at @RebeccaParsons.

Nuggets of wisdom from Rebecca:

FORMAL SCHOOLING NOT NECESSARY: “These days there are thousands of opportunities to learn anything and everything you’d ever want to know. Don’t think because you didn’t study something in university you’ve missed your chance,” Rebecca recommends in an interview.

LEARN NEW THINGS: “Make sure you keep current and learn new things. You don’t need to know everything about every subject. Instead, keep an eye on the broad topic, and then dive into detail when the need arises," she suggests in the Thoughtworks blog.


Cisco CTO of Networked Experiences Susie Wee

#10 - Susie Wee, Cisco CTO of Networked Experiences

Susie Wee is CTO of Networked Experiences and Vice President at Cisco in San jose, where she's leading the development oftechnologies and architectures for software-defined networks that provide improved operational, end user, and developer experiences with the network. Prior to Cisco, Susie had a 15 year career at Hewlett Packard where she was CTO of Client Cloud Services.  She has over 50 publications and 45 granted patents. Susie completed three degrees (B.S., Masters, and PhD) in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at MIT.  Follow her on Twitter at @SusieWee.

Susie's take on how sports and your career are related:

THERE'S NO "I" IN TEAM: “Teamwork is very important to me, and that’s what I like about this sport,” she told IEEE. “It’s a dynamic, fast-paced game where you depend on others to win.”


Nest CTO Yoky Matsuoka

#11 - Yoky Matsuoka, Nest CTO

Yoky Matsuoka joined Nest again in January reported ReCode, this time as CTO. She recently left Apple, where she was working on health tech. Prior to joining Nest before its acquisition by Google, Yoky was an assistant professor at Carnegie Mellon University and an associate professor of Computer Science and Engineering at the University of Washington, director of that university's Neurobotics Laboratory, director of the Center for Sensorimotor Neural Engineering. Yoky is a 2007 MacArthur Fellow, commonly referred to as Genius Award. At UW, her research combined neuroscience and robotics—sometimes referred to by Yoky by the portmanteau neurobotics—to create more realistic prosthetics. Yoky earned both her doctorate and master's degrees in electrical engineering from MIT, and B.S. in EECS from UC Berkeley.

Takeaways about Yoky's passions and career:

FREEDOM TO CHOOSE: “There is no way I ever could have succeeded in Japan. People there told me, ‘you’ll never fit in, you’re too weird.’ I’ve had universities there tell me, ‘don’t come back.’ It’s difficult for a girl growing up there because you can’t know what is possible. But as soon as I got here [to the United States], I felt something – that here I could be different.”

CAREER ADVICE: “I've never left a position because I was unhappy. I always had to make a choice between something exciting and another thing that’s exciting. Life is short and there are a lot of people’s lives I want to improve because of things I can contribute in a way that’s different from others. And there is a lot to do.”


#12 - Yvette Pasqua, Meetup CTO

Yvette Pasqua is the CTO at Meetup, headquartered in New York. She leads the engineering team in continuous learning, invention, and launch of quality software and systems to Meetup members around the world. The tech exec was first introduced to Meetup as a first-time pug owner in New York back in 2004. Prior to joining Meetup in 2015, Yvette’s engineering career included leadership roles at startups and technology development firms, most recently overseeing Product Engineering and Design at Tinypass. Before that, Yvette spent 10 years in technology leadership roles at Schematic/Possible and AKQA, managing large teams. Yvette was responsible for leading the team who built Grindr during the early days of Grindr’s most rapid growth. She earned a bachelor's degree in Biological Basis of Behavior (Pre-Med major) from University of Pennsylvania.

Advice for new engineers from Yvette:

GET OUT THERE: "There are about 30,000 tech Meetup groups on the platform, with about 200,000 members,” she says. “Those are some of the best ways for younger women and women transitioning from a different field to get out there and network or learn new skills, to gain confidence and to meet people. They can find mentors and sponsors to help throughout their careers.”"

IT'S NEVER TOO LATE: “It’s never too late. Nor should women feel they can’t do it. There are so many great organizations out there teaching technology and software engineering to younger women, as well as older women who want a career change. There’s great opportunity for women who want to work hard, who are smart, and want to learn. We hear all the time about people who learn new skills at Meetups.”

Check out the full interview with Yvette here.


Want to see more women CTOs? Check out our new 2017 list of the next generation of future women superstars in tech who may become CTOs.

Inspired by the women on this list? Learn more about how to become a software engineer through our 12-week fellowship program for women.

Looking to hire brilliant female engineers? Partner with Hackbright Academy!



Are there other female CTOs you think should be on this list?

Let us know in the comments below!


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