At Ember we believe in the power of science, tech, and innovation to improve people’s daily lives.
For International Women’s Day we are celebrating this belief by spotlighting incredible women in STEAM who are making a lasting impact in fields of Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics and paving the way for future generations of young women to get involved.
Meet Jessica Naziri, tech expert and creator of TechSesh, an online community for women, elevating and inspiring the next generation of leaders in technology.
Q: How would your friends describe you?
A: You know that one friend you have, who you always go to for tech tips, the trendiest gadgets, or the best apps to organize your life? That's me. Just don't ask me to fix your computer.
Q: Your industry quite literally speaks in code. You’ve found a way to distill the complexity and simply communicate to your audience, what’s your trick?
A: I’ve always been a storyteller, and I even earned the nickname "creative developer" because of how often I get called in to explain to the creative teams how their concepts work from a technical perspective. I like to think I am someone who is a bit creative, has experience with technology and bridges the gap between the two.
Q: Talk to us more about being a storyteller in the rapidly changing world of technology.
A: Often I have to deal with stress and pressure of working with brand new technologies that I may not know super well and trying to learn on the job. Timelines are tight, things don’t always work and I won’t know why, but at the end of the day these projects often aren’t actually for the client. They are for their client — their customers, the users. My goal is to make a connection with them. To tell the story.
I have experienced subtle and not-so subtle discouragement, outright harassment, being stereotyped as someone who doesn’t understand tech simply because I am a woman. This only challenged me to keep hustling and working harder.
Q: What is your earliest memory of wanting to pursue a career in STEAM?
A: My dad bought me a vocabulary computer device when I was really young (to help me learn English) and I remember taking it apart and assembling it again. At that time I didn’t know something like that would later become a job. Neither did my parents. To this day, my Jewish mother and father still think I’m unemployed.
Q: What gets you up every morning?
A: My 10 month old son, Jordan is my WHY.
Q: If there’s one small step we can take to get more women involved in STEAM, what is it?
A: As a woman in technology who never expected to be in this industry, I have now spent more than 11 years working with some of the most amazing tech outlets, brands and start-ups on the planet. I have experienced subtle and not-so subtle discouragement, outright harassment, being stereotyped as someone who doesn’t understand tech simply because I am a woman. This only challenged me to keep hustling and working harder.
...change at scale starts with individuals daring to be brave, one by one, like little prisms of courage.
For every time I’ve been told “no” and been flat-out rejected, I’ve been lucky enough to benefit from the goodwill of others to help me pick myself up and get to the next step of my journey. We all need to help each other without expectations. That is what TechSesh is about. If there’s no seat at the table, make one and invite all the badass people you know. TechSesh was created to empower women in STEM and inspire the next generation of leaders in tech. There’s a shift coming and success will be measured by our collective efforts.
I know it can be scary to take some of these taboo conversations out of the shadows. But I truly believe that change at scale starts with individuals daring to be brave, one by one, like little prisms of courage.
Q: Advice to young women interested in pursuing careers in tech?
A: I encourage girls to gain confidence in themselves. I’m okay with knowing that not everyone is going to like me, especially in a male-dominated field.
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 someone bumping into you, being passionate, asking for permission, raising children or saying no.
Q: Outside of work, what are your favorite ways to de-stress and/or find inspiration?
A: With running a business, taking care of my baby Jordan and big baby husband I need to make some time for myself and recently have been working out at Platefit. I am obsessed. 30 minutes of non-stop exercise on a vibration machine-- it's perfect!
Q: Coffee or Tea?
A: My love language is hot water. It cleanses my body and it’s my favorite thing in the morning. After that, it’s coffee, two or three of them.
Q: How do you take it?
A: First thing I do in the morning is boil myself hot water. If my husband is feeling thoughtful, he’ll bring it to me in bed.
Q: What’s your ember° number?
If there’s no seat at the table, make one and invite all the badass people you know.