Words by Gaby Caplan
In today’s episode of women being revolutionary badass bosses, we talk to Jessica “I’m CEO bitch!” Naziri. At the beginning of her journey in the tech world, Jessica was asked at a tech conference if she was “there to support her husband…”. She realized early in her career that her female perspective was an opportunity, not a disadvantage.
Jessica founded TechSesh with the intention of introducing female perspectives in tech, so that companies are able to produce better products designed and marketed for women (which are not just covered in pink). She quickly curated her own fan base (100k plus followers on all her channels) through social media and mentoring programs, and she is now considered a tech and social media expert, named Inc’s 2017 Top Rated Female in Tech.
Because there was no seat at the table for females in the tech industry, Jessica made her own table. At TechSesh, Jessica insists on a new narrative, a new story to tell ourselves; she wants women to be, in the words of Bumble founder Whitney Wolfe, “the CEO your parents always wanted you to marry” and we LOVE her for it.
What was the tech world like when you first began working?
I started my career as a technology reporter for CNBC and the LA Times and later as a tech exec at a local start-up in LA. I still remember looking around at all my co-workers who were the ones building the product roadmap, debugging and testing the latest version of the app, and I felt inferior. At the time I hadn’t touched a line of code and I felt that I needed to prove myself, because I was female – even further.
So I took more initiative, wore many hats, wrote and pitched content, and was able to make a huge impact in the company. Still, the reality of it was that no matter how hard I worked, the problem wasn’t me. It was my gender. I promised myself that day that I would never allow gender bias to affect me and I would never overcompensate because I was a woman.
How did you create TechSesh?
After seeing the gender gap in technology first hand, I wanted to make a difference by starting TechSesh.co, a modern woman’s destination for all things tech. My mission is to be inclusive, to inspire, to educate, and equip girls with the tech skills and knowledge to pursue 21st-century opportunities. My drive and passion come from the lack of what is out there. I wanted to close the tech creative gap and show that it is okay to be creative, fashionable and involved in the tech industry.I saw this void and I wanted to make a difference in order to encourage people to break the stereotypes in the tech space.
Do you consider yourself a “troublemaker” in terms of upsetting the status quo?
I wouldn’t say I am a troublemaker, but I am okay with knowing that not everyone is going to like me, especially in a male-dominated field. When working at the start-up, I realized men don’t apologize or ask for permission, they just do it. I learned quickly to do the same.
Congrats on the baby! Due date is in April. What’s it like running a company and planning to welcome a baby into your life? Some baby tech you get to dive into?
Thank you! I’d be lying if I said the last 7 months have been easy. My energy is 30% less than what I’m used to, but that hasn’t stopped me from doing it. The minute I found out I was pregnant, my first thought was “oh shit, I just killed my business and career.” To leave the momentum I worked so hard to gain and lose it all?
The truth is, being an entrepreneur means working through challenges. I’m lucky I was able to give birth to the business before the baby comes and that I’m surrounded by such an amazing community. Yes, I lost some business and (followers), but gained a new local TV feature, traveling for branded partnerships, walking 10+ miles around the CES show floor covering the latest in baby tech. I’m exhausted. In particular my feet, and maybe my back too…but I feel stronger than ever.
There isn’t a manual on how to tackle pregnancy and entrepreneurship, but I wouldn’t trade the past few months for the world. It has taught me that I am capable of so much and can continue to pave the way for women in tech and other fellow mom-preneurs. So take it from me and do yourself a favor, eliminate “I’m sorry,” “excuse me,” and “if it’s alright” from your vocabulary. You don’t need to apologize for being passionate, raising children or saying no.
How do we get more women in tech?
If you don’t see what you want — anyone who has a skill set, be that change. Start your own Facebook group or start your own meet-up. There’s nothing wrong with asking for help either.
Awesome. Thanks Jessica.
I went to Rio Carnival’s Feminist Block Party
Undoubtedly, a group of people needing an escape from a life that is oftentimes dangerous, violent and difficult, are the ...
New Chamber Ballet
New Chamber Ballet expands the boundaries of classical dance. Headed by Miro Magloire, New Chamber Ballet not only integrates modern ...