WITness Success 2023 was undoubtedly empowering. As a first-time attendee, I found the experience to be quite remarkable. A gathering of women in tech and allies in Minneapolis, Minnesota, offered me and fellow Sercante employees the opportunity to learn and network with like-minded Salesforce professionals.
WITness Success is an annual event planned and hosted by the Salesforce Women in Tech user group with a mission to “empower, support, and invest in Salesforce Women in Tech.” With membership at 4000+ members and continuous growth, I only see this conference becoming more prominent and better as we move toward the future.
Empowering Women in Tech
There were a multitude of moments that left me feeling truly empowered, but there are a few that specifically stand out to me. I had the honor and privilege of being able to speak at WITness Success, which left me feeling like I could do anything, alongside an inspiring session I was able to attend that left me feeling a sense of renewed energy and confidence.
Accessibility in Digital Marketing
I was honored to be chosen as a speaker for WITness, and not only to be chosen but to be able to speak on a topic I am passionate about — accessibility in digital marketing.
Was I anxious? Absolutely! Was I terrified I would mess up, or no one would show up? 1000%, yes! Did I power through, have a wonderful presentation, and have amazing discussions afterward? Sure did! The unknown can be fearful but also bring you to new heights.
Women in Tech showed me that by allowing this experience and inspiring me to continue speaking and sharing my thoughts on such an important topic.
Microaggressions as a Woman in the Workplace
Shahida Robertson-Davis’ session on microaggressions left me in a state of awe. I never truly realized or registered what microaggressions were or that they were happening to me, and more importantly, they were happening to others around me, and I was silent.
Shahida offered relatable examples, and insightful conversations during and after the session and gave us the tools to speak up for ourselves and others if needed. Overall, this was a great session to kick off my experience at WITness and left a lasting imprint I will carry with me.
Supporting Women in Tech
We ended our first day of the event with a tradition that spouted nothing but support and honor of fellow women — the Ally dinner. And at the end of that dinner, the Trailheart Award was presented to someone so deserving it came as no surprise. This was the icing on the cake to an eventful first day and left us feeling proud to be who we are doing what we do.
The Ally Dinner and Women’s Entrepreneur Panel
The cocktail hour and dinner to follow was a wonderful experience full of networking and exchanging of stories, hard truths, and a peek into the future. For me, it was the panel of female entrepreneurs that stood out to me. The panel was composed of Hayley Tuller, Tiffany Spencer, and Marisa Hambleton.
These women shared about their support people and allies, and how they have achieved success in the world of technology, and how they continue to support and mentor other women in tech.
Tiffany is the founder of a non-profit, Tech Forward, runs her own consulting business, Tech Forward Solutions, and is the founder of Dreamin’ in Color; through this work, she inspires and mentors young men and women daily.
Founder and CEO at MH2X, Marisa strives each day to empower men and women as they seek their best by helping them implement Salesforce solutions.
All three left me feeling inspired and wanting to do more to support my fellow women in tech.
Guilda Hilaire Presented the Trailheart Award
Following the amazing panel of women, the Trailheart Award was given out in honor of the legacy Tami Esling left behind. This award is given to a woman in the Salesforce ecosystem who “gives to this community wholeheartedly and without the expected reciprocation of notoriety.”
After speaking about the award, it was no surprise to anyone in that room that the recipient for this year was Guilda Hilaire, Director, Product Marketing at Salesforce. I was fortunate enough to have met Guilda for the first time at this conference (I was starstruck!), and she is everything that this award signifies and more. To see so many people recognizing and sharing their support for Guilda, was something to behold.
Investing in Women in Tech
When investing in women, that was the entire conference. Every opportunity and session presented itself as doing just that, providing support and guidance to invest in our future and our roles in tech overall and specifically within the Salesforce Ecosystem. However, two specific sessions stood out most to me and resonated with me as an investment — the networking and the coloring sessions.
Mentor/Mentee Speed Networking
Talk about making a spin-off of speed dating; this event crushed it! So many participants joined, and somehow, we worked out to an even number of mentors and mentees. The session was 90 minutes, but it flew by as we went down the line, collaborating and speaking with one another. I was looking for guidance on expanding my footprint within the Salesforce community and was driven to be a mentee for this round, though I could see myself joining as a mentor the next time.
The entire experience was uplifting, and I got such great advice; plus I met a few people I could connect with. This session should be offered across all Dreamin’ events, allowing new and up-and-coming Trailblazers to network without pressure to create small talk. Dive into the conversation and get valuable feedback that you can expand upon beyond the conference setting.
Mental Health + Illness Group Coloring Session
Who doesn’t like to color? What an incredible experience it was to step away from the hecticness that every conference has to take a breath, talk in small groups or work alone, and simply color or do a puzzle, or fill in the crossword puzzle.
This was exactly what I needed, a break in my day to calm my jitters, and I was fortunate enough that this session took place right before my speaking session, so I was cool, calm, and collected until I stood up at the podium and the nerves went all wacky again. But seriously, I think this was an awesome session sponsored by the Mental Health + Illness community group, and based on attendance, I was not the only one who felt that way.
Taking time to invest in ourselves goes beyond our learning and growth, it includes our physical and mental health as well. We can’t be great women in tech if we aren’t taking care of ourselves.
WITness Success final thoughts
Was WITness Success worth it? Yes! Will I be attending again next year? Of course! The only question left to answer is whether or not I will see you there. I hope the answer is ABSOLUTELY!