Celebrating Women’s History Month: 5 Minutes with a Tech Exec | Leslie Daigle, Chief Technical Officer

Celebrating Women’s History Month: 5 Minutes with a Tech Exec | Leslie Daigle, Chief Technical Officer

Written by Manda Frederick

DEI Observancestech leadership

In honor of Women’s History Month, we’re proud to present our blog series, “5 Minutes with a Tech Exec.” We’ve engaged in insightful conversations with tech executives and chief technology officers to give you the unique opportunity to gain wisdom and career advice from experienced technologists. 

Uncover personal and professional journeys, from career inspiration to overcoming challenges on the path to executive leadership. These articles, adapted from personal interviews, offer insights into mentorship, leadership styles, and the future of women in tech. Join us as we amplify the voices of women in tech, celebrating their achievements and inspiring inclusion. 

Leslie Daigle is the Chief Technical Officer and Director of the Internet Integrity Program at the Global Cyber Alliance. Her early affinity for technology stemmed from a simple joy in experimentation. “I got into technology because I always liked pushing buttons and seeing things happen,” she shared. From programming calculators in her childhood to pursuing a career in tech, Leslie’s passion remained unwavering. Reflecting on her journey, Leslie highlighted the importance of supportive communities: “Having a community… where if you were saying sensible things you were heard… was massively important in building up the courage… to carry on.”

Navigating executive leadership presented unique challenges for Leslie, particularly in a startup environment where promotions often preceded adequate preparation. Recounting her rapid rise to a VP role, Leslie reflected, “It was really too much too soon… we really weren’t executives, although we sort of figured it out as we went along.” Despite the steep learning curve, Leslie’s resilience and adaptability paved the way for growth.

Transitioning to larger corporations posed its own obstacles, with Leslie’s focus on results often conflicting with corporate politics. “I like to focus on getting the work done and not playing the games,” she asserted. Despite the challenges, Leslie’s pragmatic approach has guided her toward environments where action trumps rhetoric.

Leslie’s observations on gender bias in leadership selection processes shed light on systemic issues within organizations. “If you don’t actually have a list of qualified women on your desk, you’re not gonna think of them,” she emphasized. Leslie advocates for proactive measures to combat bias to ensure fair and unbiased selection processes.

In fostering inclusion, Leslie underscored the importance of creating neutral environments that embrace diversity. “Just don’t make assumptions,” she advised, emphasizing the need for inclusive practices in collaborative settings. 

Pro-Tips for Diverse Technologists Inspired by Leslie

  • Leverage Supportive Communities: Seek out communities like the Internet Engineering Task Force that prioritize meritocracy and provide a supportive environment regardless of gender or background. These communities offer opportunities for networking, sharing ideas, and progressing in your career with authenticity.
  • Embrace Challenges and Learning Opportunities: Don’t be afraid to take on new challenges, even if they seem daunting. Executive leadership roles may come with steep learning curves, but with resilience and adaptability, you can navigate them successfully. Embrace opportunities for growth and learning, even in environments where corporate politics may seem overwhelming.
  • Advocate for Inclusive Practices: Combat bias in leadership selection processes by actively advocating for diversity and inclusion. Ensure that qualified candidates from diverse backgrounds are considered by creating transparent selection criteria and actively seeking out potential candidates. Encourage inclusivity in workplace practices by avoiding assumptions and fostering neutral environments where everyone can thrive.

💝 Invest in Women in Tech and Support Women Who Code: You can empower the vital work we do to help diverse women excel and thrive in their tech careers. Give to help us raise $30,000 during Women’s History Month and inspire inclusion in tech. Donate now.