Thanks so much for taking the time to speak with us, Happy! Firstly, please introduce yourself!
Hey everyone, my name is Happy Wang, I’m SVP of Engineering at Everbridge, a mission-driven company in the resilience technology space where our goal is to keep people safe and keep businesses running. At Everbridge, I lead the global engineering team of over 600 people across the world.
I have been based in Silicon Valley for the last 22 years and have been deeply involved in technology in the product area for my entire career. I started my career as an engineer and gradually moved to leadership roles. In the last 20 years, I have been leading technology teams in various companies all the way from Series A startups to big public companies.
What are you looking forward to at Women of Silicon Valley?
This is the first time I have attended Woman of Silicon Valley and I am just amazed at the content and I am super excited to interact with all of the extraordinary women attending. I think it’s our opportunity and also it’s our job to continue promoting women in technology.
So for me, this is a really great opportunity to network, especially as an in-person event. After the pandemic, a lot of these events are still virtual and I always feel it’s not the same as meeting people in person. So, personally, I am really looking forward to meeting a lot of women leaders, and doing anything I can to help support them and promote women in technology.
When you think about our theme for 2023, The New Frontier, what excites you about the future in tech, business and/or leadership?
Well, this is an excellent theme because right now the tech world is a bit unstable. You can see a lot of companies going through restructuring because they were over-hiring and growing too fast. Now, they have to cut cost. But overall, the future of technology is still very promising, because where we are right now in the world, everything is about automation, everything is about how we can do things efficiently, and make operational excellence. There has been a lot of tech knowledge involved to make that happen.
I particularly know a lot of companies especially in different industries, for example, the healthcare industry, still a place needing the use of a lot of technology to help leverage all their data, to leverage technology to help physicians create more time just talking to their patients. You can use a lot of machine learning to make the process from administration, from the scheduling, from just finding people a hospital bed done more easily. So I think there is a lot of work that still needs to be done on the technology side.
Even with some uncertainty right now in the tech world, there is a lot of opportunity and also a lot of research required from a lot of people from different technology backgrounds, to put in the effort to figure out what’s going on and plan for the future.
One of the things I am personally very passionate about, is how to use technology to kill cancer. Both my parents died of cancer and I know a lot of my friends, colleagues, and families go through those kinds of tragedies and there’s a lot of things that we can do to help people live a better life.
What would you say to your younger self about pursuing a career in tech and the future of women in tech?
I think there are two types of engineers; there is a theoretical engineer and there is a practical engineer. I think of myself probably more towards the latter half, the more practical engineer. Some people have a very academic approach when they’re solving a problem, but there’s a lot of engineers who can think outside of the box to really figure out a creative way of solving problems. So I think one thing I would tell all the young folks is to think out loud and don’t limit your potential.
When I do a lot of outreach programs with school girls, they think the STEM field is very hard to reach. Traditionally women are taking a lot of marketing or creative subjects, as they feel the engineering field is maybe too hard to get into. A woman might be self conscious about how to compete equally with men in the tech field. But one thing I always encourage people is don’t limit your potential and don’t think the ability to be able to achieve something extraordinary is more than you can think of. You have to give yourself a try, put yourself out there, and you never know what you can reach.
Also find a really, really good mentor. I look back on my career and I have a lot of great mentors, men and women. They believe in you, they sponsor you and they give you the opportunity to try things differently. I think finding a great mentor and sponsor is also super important.
What would be your one piece of advice to our attendees who might be feeling anxious about the insecurities of today?
I’m a lifelong learner, so I believe you have to learn every day, no matter what job you do or what field you are in. Especially in the tech world – if you look at the technology, almost every few years there’s new technology that comes out. There’s a new library, new framework, and a new way to do things. Right now, almost all companies talk about AI/machine learning.
If you don’t have AI/machine learning, you probably won’t even be able to survive as a business. But this only happened in the last 10 years. Every few years there is a shiny new object out there, every few years people are marching towards something new. So as a leader and also as an individual, if you stop learning you are running behind. When an opportunity is presented to you, you need to take it.
There’s a lot of people out there right now who are in between jobs, but don’t be too stressed, because I always think opportunity is really waiting for the people who are most prepared. So just take some time to refresh yourself, if you’re not working, to learn new stuff.
You never know, you may actually pivot to a completely different career! Even within technology there are all sorts of different types of engineers, all sorts of different types of skills that are needed.
So my one advice is keep learning and package yourself. The more comprehensive package you can present yourself in will most likely get you a great opportunity.
Women of Silicon Valley is built on community; what advice would you give to our attendees on building your network and furthering your presence?
I know sometimes you can feel overwhelmed when you get a lot of network requests but I think Linkedin is a great opportunity if you have a good following to post articles, to share your thoughts and share your problem solving.
The other thing is to help get more women joining these networks, to support each other. If you can’t afford to front the cost, it can actually help to talk to your company. If they really care about women in leadership, they will help to cover the cost.
Also attend events, virtual or in person. I or you don’t need to be the speaker all the time, but I love to attend those events, just to connect with all the other leaders who actually help support and promote the community.
Register for your place at Women of Silicon Valley now and join Happy for her fireside chat “Creating Valued Customer-Enabled Technical Teams” on May 25!