4 NYC Women on How They Found Their Calling in Tech

by Janey Zitomer
October 16, 2019

Not everyone’s professional calling is readily apparent in grade school, college, or even well into adulthood. Many people identify their career path as a result of straying from a route they thought was “right” or scratching an itch that turned into a rash. 

These four NYC women certainly belong in tech. But they didn’t all end up there following a straight line or specific trajectory. We spoke with them about their career journeys and what excites them most about the work they are doing today. A common thread? Making people’s lives easier through product design and implementation. 

 

Kim Li of Eden Health
Eden Health

Senior Product Designer Kim Li designs digital products for companies with missions to do good. That said, it’s fitting that Li works for primary care and insurance navigation platform Eden Health. There, she’s tackling issues that have very real consequences for customers and clients, like insurance navigation, virtual primary care consultations and workplace pop-ups. 

 

Why did you decide to pursue a career in tech?

I was first introduced to product design by chance while working as a junior graphic designer. I was pulled in to fill some design needs for a short-staffed product team and was immediately delighted by the experience. I began my career in tech because I was fascinated by how thoughtfully built products can shape behavior, improve accessibility, and empower individuals. I’m still in tech today at Eden Health. It’s been a humbling ride that has taught me how to be scrappy, develop a vision, and understand human beings during their most vulnerable moments. 

The more context and knowledge I can gather from my teammates, the more I can develop product and design synergies.’’

 

What do you love most about your tech career? Any specific aspects of your job that really make you light up?

I love being able to wear many hats and work closely with smart and motivated individuals across multiple disciplines, from engineering to sales to clinical operations. I’m an avid believer that cross-pollination helps us all improve continuously, so it’s reassuring to see how frequently and effortlessly this happens at Eden Health. The more context and knowledge I can gather from my teammates, the more I can develop product and design synergies. These synergies help me play a more effective role in our goal to provide amazing healthcare — which at the end of the day, is why we’re all here. 

 

Spruce employees
Spruce

Courtney O’Connell, director of design at Spruce, is using her talents to improve the lives of both users and consumers. Spruce helps homeowners and lenders coordinate efficiently with each other so that making a real estate investment is more exciting that fear-invoking. O’Connell told us why that work drives her and what she values most about the role.  

 

Why did you decide to pursue a career in tech?

Throughout my career, I’ve been guided by a singular focus: simplifying complex problems to empower users. I’m passionate about industries that are core to peoples’ lives, like job search, finance, and real estate. All are notoriously complex. These products focus on modernizing and simplifying concepts, facilitating better outcomes, and saving people time and money. I believe this is where the true democratization of technology exists. 

Throughout my career, I’ve been guided by a singular focus: simplifying complex problems to empower users.’’ 

 

What do you love most about your tech career? Any specific aspects of your job that really make you light up?

I pursued a career in tech because I love fast-paced and collaborative work environments, iterative approaches to solving problems, innovative work, and ambitious missions focused on enabling and empowering people. The abundance of opportunity is thrilling. However, my greatest privilege, honor, and joy always comes back to seeing the impact of my work on peoples’ daily lives.

 

Pico CTO Vota Vor
pico

Pico allows customers to nurture audience relationships through website conversions, segmentation, newsletter signups and more. And CTO Vota Vor helps make it all possible. Learn how she came to identify her expertise by way of necessity and later, passion. 

 

Why did you decide to pursue a career in tech?

I switched from audio engineering to software engineering in the late ‘90s out of crazy desperation, but quickly grew to love it –– and then got really good at it. I rose through the ranks in the NYC interactive agency zoo in the 2000s and then caught the entrepreneurial bug, joining and founding various startups in a lot of industries. I gradually took on leadership roles in hardcore seed-round tech plays, which I love!

Guiding and watching engineers synergize clever solutions around those outcomes is a beautiful thing to behold!’’

 

What do you love most about your tech career? Any specific aspects of your job that really make you light up?

Being at the storm’s eye and wrangling a lot of simultaneous and seemingly disparate human effort toward an astonishing goal or outcome is worth every moment. Guiding and watching engineers synergize clever solutions around those outcomes is a beautiful thing to behold!

 

Amy Harris, VP of marketing
payfone

You could call Amy Harris, VP of marketing at Payfone, a superhero of sorts. Her favorite part of the job includes being part of a team that prevents fraudulent villains from thwarting online businesses’ privacy barriers. That sort of excitement is what led her to a career in tech after holding a senior management role at a more traditional organization. She shared more about what gets her out of bed every morning, below.  

 

Tell us a bit about your career journey. Why did you decide to pursue a career in tech?

My career has always been in marketing. I’ve done everything from strategy to product development to marketing communications. For the lion’s share of my career, I was on the client/buyer side, creating new first-to-market solutions. It soon became obvious that the real innovation and excitement was happening at tech startups, which is when I made the move from a senior management role at a tier-one financial institution. While keeping my home base in NYC, I’ve run marketing at tech startups in Silicon Valley (ground transportation), Israel (the loyalty space) and now my current role at Payfone (digital identity authentication).

It soon became obvious that the real innovation and excitement was happening at tech startups...’’

 

What do you love most about your tech career? Any specific aspects of your job that really make you light up?

My passion for working at tech companies comes from the collaborative culture with smart colleagues who are creative, ambitious, and want to make a difference. At Payfone, our focus has always been on creating customer experiences that engage consumers and make it easy for them to interact with brands. This requires being one (or two) steps ahead of fraudsters while creating deterministic ways for brands to identify their customers. 

My favorite part of the job? Being part of a team that focuses on important topics such as privacy, inclusion and stopping the bad guys from ruining great customer experiences. 

 

Jobs from companies in this blog15 open jobs
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