Kaina Lisibach, 21 – FUNDED

Kaina Lisibach’s professional dream is to become a product marketing manager and work towards making tech products more inclusive. She’s a senior at Babson College in Wellesley, Massachusetts, where she’s majoring in business administration and management. She’s so grateful that her journey has been supported by mentors, educators, family, friends, and organizations who have invested and believed in her. “Being a New Face of Tech means a lot to me; it’s a sign that I’m going in the right direction and the resources I will receive as part of this grant will be priceless as I embark on my career especially at this pivotal moment,” she says.

What does being the New Face of Tech mean to you?

It means being an advocate for those who come after me, as I receive resources that allow me to get closer to my goals. Personally, I’m honored to receive this show of support as I pursue my dreams to work in the tech industry.

Women are underrepresented in STEAM. How can we change this?

There are many things that must be done if we want to accomplish equity and equality in STEAM. According to data from Pew Research, this sector has outpaced the growth of overall employment in the country, growing 79% since 1990. Yet, women only make up 25% of the tech workforce, and “Asian women make up just 5 percent of that number, while black and Hispanic women accounted for 3 percent and 1 percent, respectively.”

It’s obvious that there’s a disconnect between this boom of opportunity and the accessibility provided to historically underrepresented groups. One way to improve this is to ensure that HR teams reflect the talent that companies wish to find.

Forming recruiting partnerships with organizations that aim to build talent pipelines of high-achieving individuals from diverse backgrounds, such as Management Leadership for Tomorrow (MLT) which I am actually a part of, can also go a long way in bridging these gaps. Furthermore, promoting mentorship and committing to sponsorship is vital to improving equity in the long term. In other words, those who hold a seat at high-powered tables must advocate to bring others there. Personally, one of my goals is to be able to leverage my experiences as I progress through my career to help other women who aspire to break into technology and assist them in achieving their goals.

What are some of the challenges you have faced along the way?

As a first-generation college student and daughter of Venezuelan immigrants, access to knowledge has definitely been one of the biggest challenges I have faced. Even when I was applying to college, it was an obstacle to figure out how to navigate the whole process. Then, when I arrived at college and started realizing everything I would need to do to get to where I wanted to go professionally, it took years of trial and error to understand how to break into corporate America, specifically the tech industry.

In fact, I didn’t even find out about business roles in tech like product marketing until my second year in school. There were also many semesters when I was juggling three jobs/internships and spending countless hours building my network from scratch in order to make myself competitive for the type of positions I wanted to obtain.

How do you stay motivated and focused on your goals?

While I believe I have been able to stay focused on my goals mostly due to the work ethic that I developed as a result of my background, there have definitely been moments of doubt when I questioned if my hard work would ever pay off. I once came across the saying “you didn’t come this far to only come this far” and that mentality is one that has guided me during difficult times. I also remain motivated by the possibility of, one day, having the resources and being in a position that allows me to empower others from my community; others who have big dreams, but who might find it hard to access the opportunities that can get them to their dreams.

How will funding from the 1,000 Dreams Fund and HARMAN help you reach your goals?

It will go towards the cost of finishing my business degree as well as educational pursuits to bridge any gaps in my technical knowledge. My education will allow me to excel as a CEO of a digital services business and in my full-time product marketing role which I will be starting in 2021. This, in addition to the career coaching generously provided by HARMAN, will help kickstart my career in technology.