Conversations #89: Women Who Code Podcast Anniversary – Celebrating Our Hosts
Sarah Healy, Digital Design Manager at Women Who Code, sits down with four recurring WWCode Podcast hosts who have also been guests: Faith Pueneh, Frontend Engineer/Technical Writer at CAD Consulting Limited, Noelle Notermann, Senior Engineer at Target, Stephanie Rideout, Digital Community Specialist at WWCode, and Deepali Chouhan, Product Owner at Ping Identity, and WWCode Vancouver Network Director. They discuss their time on the podcast and what it has meant to them in celebration of the Second Anniversary of the WWCode Podcast Relaunch!
Can you tell us about your experience as a Women Who Code Podcast guest?
Faith Pueneh: I was actually nervous when I first got the email asking me to come on the podcast and be a guest. I wanted to do it right and say the right things. I practiced in front of my mirror a lot, but it came out well at the end of the day, and I was excited about it.
I knew I would be speaking to many people and needed to impart value and pass on something important to them. While preparing, I kept asking myself, “What will you pass on?” When I got on the show, I got excited about it. I was a guest with others, and it was really fun.
Noelle Notermann: I can relate, Faith. At first, I felt very nervous. Being someone newer to tech, I wasn’t sure anyone would want to hear what I had to say. I listen to podcasts to hear experts and people with name recognition. That’s one of the things that I love that Women Who Code does. We're giving voice to lots of different technologists. I felt honored and wanted to ensure that I was giving some value and telling my story in a way that communicated with people.
Deepali Chouhan: Being a guest on the Women Who Code Podcast was fantastic. It’s an excellent opportunity for us women to speak about our struggles and challenges at work. It’s also an opportunity and a platform to inspire other girls and women seeking tech opportunities because we're still a minority.
I've also switched careers, moving into product management, and it was an opportunity for me to share my experience with people who might be looking to do something similar and break into a completely different domain. We are all scared to make a move like that. As a Women Who Code Podcast guest, I could share my experience and voice with other women and the community and hopefully help at least one person.
Stephanie Rideout: I had the opportunity to talk about organizing the Women Who Code Hackathon for Social Good 2022. That's a program that I'm incredibly excited to host again this October with our new cohort of Leadership Fellows. The Hackathon was an opportunity for the community to create a technical solution for social good. The podcast was an excellent opportunity to share something I'm passionate about with the community and how we organized it. I've also had several other experiences with the podcast as a host, with the following guests: Jin Huang of The Home Depot, Sabrina Vega of Microsoft, and Priyanka Vergadia of Google.
Why were you interested in hosting the Women Who Code Podcast, and what was that like?
Stephanie Rideout: I enjoyed the passion of all the speakers I interacted with. I learned so much from them. Both technically, but they also talked about DEI, career navigation, and various topics. I felt very empowered to learn from diverse women in tech about their career journeys and what technical advances excite and inspire them personally. It was also great to hear and learn their pro tips for being an effective contributor and leader in the tech space.
Noelle Notermann: I'm naturally very curious about people. It was a fun opportunity to learn about someone and ask them questions in a friendly, collegial way. You never know what you're going to learn, and yet, every time, it's amazing. There’s also this powerful connection with that other person. I feel like every time I’ve hosted, I've made a friend for life. I've stayed in touch with every guest I've connected with on the podcast. It's been a beautiful way to connect deeply with someone at a time when we don't always get that opportunity. Knowing that our shared connection through the podcast can also help share their story and experience with everyone watching or listening, I felt really lucky to do that part.
Faith Pueneh: I was immediately interested in hosting the podcast because of the ability to learn so many things from the podcast and share that with so many people. It was a chance to meet someone that was interesting and fun. I've always been someone that is hiding behind the scenes. But I decided this would help bring me out of myself and return to the spotlight to meet many people and learn. I've learned a lot from different podcasts. So that's what got me interested in hosting the Women Who Code Podcast.
Deepali Chouhan: What is special to me is that by hosting the podcast, I can see a community where I can connect with like-minded people. You can ask questions about their struggles, progress, and career progression.
I had a really good time speaking to someone who was a CFO, and I learned a lot by asking questions about their struggle and how they overcame it. It was great listening to them and having an opportunity to ask questions and grow my network and connect personally. Sometimes, they share an experience similar to yours, and you feel like you aren’t alone.
What was one of the most memorable experiences you've had with the podcast?
Stephanie Rideout: It’s nearly impossible to choose one because all the guests were amazing. For example, Jen shared her perspective on technical concepts like reinforced learning, social responsibility, and AI. Priyanka talked about visual storytelling with Cloud, using tech to tell visual stories and the intersection of cloud and machine learning. Sabrina spent a lot of time talking about work-life balance, which I feel is so important for technologists at all levels of our careers.
Noelle Noterman: I'm kind of a goofball, and if you've watched any of my podcasts, you might know that. I love it when real life creeps in. That's what I remember most. When the dog runs in, and barks or someone's kid does something. We're trapped in these little boxes, yet, we have so much more in our lives that is so rich. Seeing that reality and how these women handle it with grace is a little gift. They're like, “Well, that's my dog, just keep going.” And that's what we do. That's what we do all the time. We handle all of those things under the box. And I love that little bit of reality.
Sarah Healy: Those are the best moments. We once had a guest, and her dog started going bonkers in the background. She asked if we could pause, and I told her, “No, this is real life. If you were in a meeting, we wouldn't be pausing.” This is the new world. This is what we're doing. We also featured the dog when we advertised the podcast itself. So, it ended up working out well.
Faith Pueneh: All the guests are amazing. One is more interesting than the next, and you learn so much. I’ve learned a lot. I was worried about getting married and how it would affect my career. Meeting people who have been able to handle having a career and a home has been inspiring.
One person, Helen Mary Labao, shared a lot of her experiences as a married person and also as a career person who went through a lot of career change. I learned a lot about getting married. Before that, I was really scared, thinking that I wouldn’t be able to handle being in Turkey, and worrying about my code base and trying to make changes to that, while also handling the fact that I was getting married. After learning from Helen Mary Labao, I was really excited about doing it. I knew that I could merge my marriage and my career.
Noelle Noterman: I had a chance to talk to a guest who was on the other side of the world from me, and she shared how she was learning to code. She would put her daughter to sleep and then from 10 PM to midnight, do that work. I had done the same thing. And that 10 PM to midnight time was so isolating because you're alone and you're doing it in the dark. And yet, there was this other technologist, this other woman who codes across the world, and she had the same story. That connection, feeling together, and feeling like we're not alone, even when we were doing something alone, was so powerful.
Deepali Chouhan: I really loved the part where the guest shared tips at the end. I felt that I could connect to all those suggestions on how to navigate through the career and life in tech as a woman. Because those tips were coming personally from everyone, I was inspired and could connect to every word being said in my podcast. That's something that always stayed and will always stay with me. When I feel like, I don't know what I'm doing, I’m not good enough, I don’t have the skill set to do this job, and start questioning myself, I think of all of those tips and suggestions shared at the end of the podcast from all these women working in various roles, and they’re really helpful.
How do you think being a host on the podcast has impacted your career?
Deepali Chouhan: Hosting or being on the podcast and talking to these various women from various stages in their careers helps in multiple ways. There's no one answer. One woman that I spoke to was a Chief Security Officer. I also want to be in a leadership role, and I learned a lot from her experience, especially when she spoke about changing roles.
I learned so much from that episode, but I learned from all of the episodes. When you’re a woman in tech you’re a minority and you might start doubting yourself or comparing yourself to your male colleagues. Being part of a community of women helps. Don't doubt yourself, continue doing what you're doing, take one day at a time, learn one technology at a time, believe in yourself, and have a mentor.
Noelle Notermann: I haven't thought about it specifically connected to my career because I feel like I do my work at work and then when I wanna relax and have fun, that's when I think about the Women Who Code Podcast. There's a little bit of a separation. I have a job and then I have things that build community and that inspire me. Not that they have to be separate.
I think the willingness to speak up and put yourself out there, to ask a question, maybe even a little bit of a tough question in the hope of learning, in the hope of connecting, in the hope of building community, I think that has helped me feel more confident doing that in my career and my job as well.
Stephanie Rideout: The podcast is an opportunity to follow how the technical landscape is evolving directly from industry leaders and experts and learn so much from that. I was also inspired by what Priyanka shared about the intersection of tech and art in her episode with me.
I started to consider ways of combining these two passions that I have more into my life and my career. For example, I recently wrote a Python program to create a crochet pattern for a project I'm working on, and I'm brainstorming ways to use art to teach code and develop social good products. The opportunities are limitless in terms of what you can do when you're combining technology and art.
Faith Pueneh: Sometimes I feel done, and I go back to those podcasts. I try to go through them, inspiring me to move on and push on in my career. All of the episodes are really helpful. I often listen multiple times and learn one or two things each time, which has helped my journey. Whenever I want to give up on my journey, I go back and see these women doing these things, talking about their experiences in their careers, and it has helped me to push on in my career.
Sarah Healy: I have one memorable episode where I met with this woman, and we talked a lot about imposter syndrome. I feel like that always ends up coming up with the podcast. Maybe that's just me trying to learn from our audience or our community. That's been one of the biggest things. Learning how people might deal with that in their day-to-day. And I take tips and tricks from that into my career.
What podcasts or YouTube channels do you listen to or watch?
Stephanie Rideout: I don’t really listen to podcasts, but sometimes I'll just put on the Women Who Code Podcast in the background to unwind at the end of the day. I am an avid YouTube watcher, and I love watching anything that's about lifestyle, mental health, healthy food, or cooking. On occasion, if I want something technical, YouTube is usually the first place to try to find a tutorial or something to help me. And so many resources are available all over YouTube, including the Women Who Code YouTube channel.
Noelle Notermann: I maintain different lives. I do my job, but outside that, I’m also a professional musician. Many of the things I'm listening to or focusing on are connected to continuing to learn and grow. I love podcasts that push me to think or expand my awareness. I have never listened to an episode of Hidden Brain, the NPR podcast, and not gone, "Oh my gosh. Wow." I also like No Stupid Questions with Angela Duckworth, where people dissect hard questions or interesting topics.
I listen to some parenting podcasts because, you know what? Parenting is a struggle. I'm gonna admit it. I am gonna put in a plug for one that I like, and I think it would be valuable for Women Who Code community members because it's about women in finances called Financial Feminist, which is a newer podcast on the market.
Deepali Chouhan: I try to be physically active, so I listen to podcasts that inspire you to be healthy, start your day with sunshine, and end your day with no tech devices. We are so much into our work, even after work, checking Slack messages and emails in case there’s something urgent.
There is one that I love called the Huberman Lab. He's a scientist who talks about the benefits of getting sunshine in the morning and how it helps with the circadian rhythm and helps you sleep better in the night. I also listen to Adam Grant for some philosophical knowledge.
Faith Pueneh: I listen to GradeStack. He is constantly putting our videos and content for front-end developers. I like to follow up with his applications because he builds great ones. One other person I constantly watch is Adora Hacks. I love what she does.
Sarah Healy: I also love lifestyle YouTube videos. It's a great escape from work to see or listen to what other people are doing. I listen to a lot of non-work-related podcasts, like Celebrity Book Club. I love story podcasts, too, where you have several episodes of one continuous story.
Hackathon for Social Good: https://hackathon.womenwhocode.dev/
Host: Sarah Healy, Digital Design Manager at Women Who Code
Guest: Faith Pueneh, Frontend Engineer/Technical Writer at CAD Consulting Limited
Guest: Noelle Notermann, Senior Engineer at Target
Guest: Stephanie Rideout, Digital Community Specialist at WWCode
Guest: Deepali Chouhan, Product Owner at Ping Identity, and WWCode Vancouver Network Director.