NYIT School of Engineering and Computing Sciences regularly invites industry leaders to speak with students about their expertise. Last semester, NYIT Board of Trustee Caroline Watteeuw (pictured below, fourth from left) spoke with six female students to share her experience in the technology industry. Watteeuw served as the technology officer at the global private equity firm Warburg Pincus, where she was responsible for IT diligence with prospective investments, as well as for providing ongoing advisory services to the firm’s existing portfolio of companies. Watteeuw also served as global chief technology officer and senior vice president, business information services, at PepsiCo.
Caroline Waateeuw with NYIT students.
The students who attended the meeting included Vanessa Newman (Electrical and Computer Engineering Technology, B.S. ’16), Fatimah Elsayed (Computer Science, M.S. ’16), Audrey Knowlton (Electrical and Computer Engineering, B.S. ’16), Rochelle Dawkins (Computer Science, B.S. ’16), Jinye An (Electrical and Computer Cngineering, B.S. ’18), Jia Min He (Electrical and Computer Engineering, B.S. ’17).
After introducing themselves, the students discussed their work and ambitions. Elsayed spoke about her work in the financial sector: “I worked in a financial ratings company that billed customers in the European Union who could only accept electronic invoices with the specific requirements of their respective countries, so I developed a process that followed all requirements. I am now working on a start-up that will perform electronic invoicing conversion for U.S. companies.” Newman spoke about her work running STEM programs in elementary schools in high-risk, under-privileged communities and her interest in becoming a teacher. In addition, Knowlton spoke about her internship at IBM while An revealed her plan to intern at the Long Island Railroad.
Watteeuw gave the students advice on how to succeed in the technology industry, emphasizing that working their hardest was more important than meeting their goals. “Never let anyone say you didn’t try your best,” Watteeuw said. She also advised the students to start building up a network of classmates, supervisors, and professors as professional contacts and references in order to open up opportunities for internships and jobs.
When asked about the challenges she faces as a woman in technology, Watteeuw spoke about her experience and style as a female boss. She discussed the different expectations employees have vis a vis female and male bosses, explaining that certain behavior from male bosses can be perceived as acceptable when the same behavior from female bosses can be perceived negatively. Student Jinye An said she learned that “it’s critical to first confront these issues and find ways to prove that women are just as capable and competent as men.” Watteeuw emphasized the importance of maintaining strong and clear expectations for employees, even in the face of these challenges.
She also gave the group advice on how to stand out during interviews, stressing the importance of knowing what to be passionate about and what one wants to contribute to the company. She suggested that the students use the Anita Borg Society as a resource, apply for Google Graduate Fellowships, and work with Girls Who Code.
“The meeting with Trustee Watteeuw was very inspiring, and I appreciate and value the thoughts and stories she shared with us,” Dawkins said.
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