48. Leah Jakaitis (she/her) – Head of Marketing Science, Tulco Labs

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“The tech industry is also where some of the largest issues facing humanity emerge: it’s rapidly evolving and shaping our collective trajectory in substantial ways. So, I’m deeply invested in the philosophical, social, and ethical considerations of tech work.”

Tell us a little bit about what a typical day looks like for you.

I travel frequently, so a sustainable morning routine is critical: my best days start with 45 minutes of cardio — the value of undistracted thinking time cannot be understated. This is when I mentally balance competing priorities: professional work, community organizing, creative output, and extracurricular research. The workday formally begins with standup at 9:30am, and finishes in the evening: I meet with internal stakeholders, portfolio companies, demo products, present findings, and prepare marketing strategy. Work-life balance is very important to me: I spend considerable time reading, writing, volunteering, or attending Pittsburgh’s many literary and cultural events.

How do you stay passionate in your career?

A combination of insatiable curiosity and a sense of personal duty keeps me passionate about my career: marketing science presents a rich opportunity for multidisciplinary exploration — coding and statistics, platform knowledge, strategy and tactics. It’s a skillset that transfers outside the confines of the business world. The tech industry is also where some of the largest issues facing humanity emerge: it’s rapidly evolving and shaping our collective trajectory in substantial ways. So, I’m deeply invested in the philosophical, social, and ethical considerations of tech work: I am driven by the desire to learn and deploy my knowledge in ways that, ultimately, create a positive impact on the world.

Did you have a traditional path into tech (i.e.: CS/IT degree transitioned into tech job)?

I’ve had a circuitous, non-traditional path to tech: I did graduate work at Indiana University in Rare Books and Manuscripts and Russian and Eastern European studies. My ‘first’ career was as a rare book and manuscript librarian, working mostly in foreign language collections at special collections throughout the country. I entered tech in 2016: marketing tends to attract interdisciplinary thinkers, and my background in research statistics and design lent itself to marketing science — essentially, a combination of measurable marketing, and data science.

The most useful skill I’ve acquired is, really, learning how to learn: identifying and absorbing critical information and well-developed informational literacy is invaluable.

Are there any apps, software, or tools you cannot live without?

Signal (secure texting) for communication.

It’s common knowledge that women and femmes often face obstacles in the tech industry based on their gender. Have you ever had to deal with this type of experience and if so how did you handle it?

I’ve been at companies that talked a lot about the importance of diversity but did little to implement it. Are there women and femmes in leadership? Are there people of color? Is there a diverse set of identities represented? …When leadership is a revolving-door of cis white men, it sends a clear message that there is a limit on the achievements of women and femmes in the workplace.

I’ve handled it by seeking mentorship from other women in leadership (often outside the workplace), and being vocal about the importance of diversity at every opportunity: I see my role, generally, as leveraging my own privilege to make space for marginalized and underrepresented people.

What’s your favorite thing about being a part of the #womenintech community?

The support: there are so many brilliant, interesting members of #womenintech doing important work, and supporting one another. There’s a lot of power in solidarity.

If applicable, how have you given back to the WIT community?

I make a point of supporting and showcasing other WIT’s work, and hope to speak at a future event.

What is a piece of advice you would give to others wanting to or currently pursuing a career in tech?

Two competing pieces of advice: First: you deserve to be there. Imposter syndrome is real, and it is insidious. Learning to fail forward is essential – seek out environments where failure is an integral part of the growth process. Second: if you’re the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room. Take every opportunity possible to surround yourself with excellence.

Tell us about a time you felt extremely accomplished in the past year. 

Not professionally-related, but in August 2019, I watched the sunset from the summit of Half Dome. Doing this held monumental symbolic importance: ascending up cables on an exposed granite rockface at 8’800 elevation was a recalibrating experience.


• Twitter: @leahjakaitis
• LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/leah-jakaitis-20669213/

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