Empowering Growth: Women's Career Journeys in LA's Tech Scene

These women in tech are constantly finding new ways to grow their careers. We asked them what they’ve learned along the way.

Written by Conlan Carter
Published on Feb. 15, 2024
Empowering Growth: Women's Career Journeys in LA's Tech Scene
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For many professionals in tech, a career journey is almost never a straight line.

The tech industry, by itself, is an ever-changing environment. In the past few years, tech has grown significantly, with several waves of downturn and layoffs in-between. And since the number of new businesses has risen to over five million in both 2022 and 2023, as reported by the US Census Bureau, there are more opportunities than ever for agile tech professionals to seize opportunities and stretch in new environments.

According to Forbes, women represent less than a third of all tech-related jobs, and a 2022 McKinsey report found that only 52 women compared to 100 men are promoted to manager roles in tech. However, women in tech are paving the way by building community, sharing skills and advice, and providing mentorship opportunities for future women.

Two prominent leaders in the tech industry, Edwina Loh VP of Marketing at Ylopo and Emily Seto, Manager of Planetary Protection and Contamination Control at Honeybee Robotics, are honing their expertise and offering invaluable guidance to aspiring women in tech. Built In Los Angeles recently had the privilege of speaking with them, where they shared insightful career advice for women aiming to thrive in the tech sector. 

 

Edwina Loh
VP Marketing • Ylopo

Ylopo is a next-gen complete digital marketing solution designed to help real estate agents and teams across the US make more money and save time.

 

Tell me how youve grown during your time in the tech industry. Where did you start, and where are you now?

I started my career on a digital marketing team focusing on lead generation for realtors at a real estate tech company. In the first few years, I was primarily learning the ins and outs of digital marketing and team management skills. Then, I decided to return to school and get an MBA from UCLA which led me to work at H&M where I worked as a financial controller. Shortly after, I realized that I enjoyed the pace of a startup, and I joined my present company, Ylopo LLC, where I've gotten the chance to wear many hats over the last five years.

Some of my prior roles include running the finance team when the startup was in its infancy, and, at present, I oversee the marketing and call center team. Having had experience in multiple departments at Ylopo, I bring a unique perspective in partnership with product and tech as we work towards developing products for our customers.

 

 The Ylopo team poses for a group photo at a tiki-themed group bonding event.
Ylopo

 

What resources are available at Ylopo or within your community to help women grow their skills and learn from others?

Ylopo is a tight-knit community, and I’ve organically found mentorship within the company. What I've also found to be really helpful is learning from colleagues in other departments. Although we don't have defined programs, I think the organic approach works better at smaller companies like Ylopo. I’ve also had the opportunity to attend conferences, local user groups for specific tools — like Netsuite — and take online courses.


 

What I’ve also found to be really helpful is learning from colleagues in other departments. I think the organic approach works better at smaller companies like Ylopo.”


 

What advice would you give to other women interested in leveling up their career? What are some of the biggest lessons youve learned?

Early on in my career, I was asked the question, “Do you want to be an individual contributor or a manager?” While this isn’t the be-all, end-all question, I feel it helped me figure out over time what my strengths were and enabled me to find roles that best suited my skill set.

I would encourage other women to look for opportunities to work on a new project and find ways to deliver value to the company. One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned is that while it's important to put in the work and have the tenacity to pursue difficult projects, it’s also important to consider the value you’re delivering to the end customer or the company.

 

 

Emily Seto
Planetary Protection & Contamination Control Manager • Honeybee Robotics

Honeybee Robotics develops and produces ground-breaking robotics that enable the exploration and utilization of space.

 

Tell me how you´ve grown during your time in the tech industry. Where did you start, and where are you now?

I navigated a non-traditional career path, transitioning from the medical field to the aerospace industry. It all began when I discovered a parallel between microorganisms found in the cleanroom and those in the medical field.

During my time at NASA, I collaborated with engineers to support high-profile flight missions such as Mars 2020, Europa Clipper and Mars Sample Return. Despite lacking an engineering background, I proactively immersed myself in the engineering domain, adopting a humble mindset and avidly absorbing information. By actively engaging with engineers, familiarizing myself with research and taking on additional responsibilities, I overcame challenges in a field unfamiliar to me. One of the most notable achievements was introducing a new field of research at NASA that has implications for future sample return missions.

Currently, at Honeybee, I continue to grow and seize opportunities in leadership by leading projects, writing, securing NASA research grants and leading a Planetary Protection and Contamination Control team.

 

A Honeybee Robotics employee poses in lab gear behind a large piece of machinery.
Honeybee Robotics

 

What resources are available at Honeybee Robotics or within your community to help women grow their skills and learn from others?

Our mentorship program is a cornerstone of our commitment to professional development. Women at Honeybee Robotics have the opportunity to engage in one-on-one mentorship, where they are paired with company professionals who offer valuable insights and guidance to their respective fields. This approach allows mentees to receive tailored advice and support as they navigate their careers within the company. The mentorship program is structured to address career aspirations and personal growth objectives. This initiative not only accelerates the professional journey for women but also supports a culture of collaboration and knowledge sharing within the organization.

In addition to the formal mentorship program, Honeybee Robotics hosts Women’s Network Luncheons, serving as platforms for knowledge exchange, collaboration and relationship-building. The Women’s Network Luncheons are carefully curated to provide a casual yet purposeful environment where women can share experiences, discuss challenges and celebrate successes. This network not only supports the career growth of individual women but also contributes to the overall diversity and inclusivity of our workplace.

 

What advice would you give to other women interested in leveling up their career? What are some of the biggest lessons youve learned?

A commitment to a mindset of continuous learning entails staying updated on industry trends, acquiring new skills and actively seeking opportunities for professional development. In the research domain, staying on top of evolving trends is essential, as scientific advancements and funding priorities can significantly influence the direction of research.

 

One of the most impactful lessons I've learned is that you are your own best advocate. It is crucial to proactively highlight your achievements and effectively communicate the impact of your work.”

 

Attending conferences and seminars serves not only as a means of staying informed but also provides opportunities to develop partnerships and connect with other professionals. One of the most impactful lessons I’ve learned is that you are your own best advocate. It is crucial to proactively highlight your achievements and effectively communicate the impact of your work. This approach not only reinforces personal contributions but also positions individuals for success in their professional endeavors. Individuals are the architects of their own careers and play a pivotal role in shaping their professional trajectory.

 

 

Responses have been edited for length and clarity. Images provided by SHutterstock and listed companies.

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