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Want to enable women to lead in tech? Encouragement and acceptance are key
The technology industry has gotten a bad rep of late for being unwelcoming to women, especially at the senior management level. Monica Eaton-Cardone has broken through this glass ceiling not once but twice, first as founder of the tech start-up Chargebacks911, which helps merchants reduce credit-card charge-backs, and now as CIO of Global Risk Technologies, ChargeBacks911's parent company. In a conversation with The Enterprisers Project, she explains why, in spite of obstacles, the tech industry is a great place for women to have a career.
The Enterprisers Project (TEP): How does the tech sector compare to other industries in terms of opportunities for women?
Eaton-Cardone: Only 3 percent of tech start-ups have women owners. The technology industry is growing at an exponential rate, yet it has proven to be very difficult for a woman to break into, let alone achieve a leadership role.
However, many start-ups evolve from the desire to fulfill a need or solve a problem that no one else has successfully tackled. The easiest way to find a solution in the consumer marketplace is to have experienced that problem yourself. Women lead the way in consumer spending — Nielson reports that women are responsible for between $5 trillion and $15 trillion in consumer spending a year — and so women are the ones who will find consumer solutions.
TEP: You're in a CIO position without having an education or background in IT. How do you make this work?
Eaton-Cardone: Women don't need computer science degrees to enter and advance in the IT field. My background in art and architecture led to employment as an interior designer, and later I launched my own business, Resort Furnishings. I cultivated skills in direct-response techniques for customer-retention campaigns, operated multiple call centers, and became an Internet retailer. I had to teach myself to apply and develop relevant technology.
After serving merchants for 15 years, I became a merchant and gained education in payment processing. Chargebacks911 evolved from that firsthand experience as a merchant. The name was forged based on our own want and need for a company we would have called to come to rescue us from charge-backs.
TEP: So experience trumps education?
Eaton-Cardone: Yes. I'm self-taught and an expert in managing charge-backs, analyzing risk relativity and helping businesses create sustainable models for payment processing. My goal as CIO is to leverage the innovations in technology at Chargebacks911 and further solidify Global Risk Technologies. My experience is why I have expertise in what I do. If you ask doctors how they learned to be good at their work, they will tell you: through first-hand experience! This is a reality in every walk of life.
TEP: Are there tips you would share for women interested in tech leadership careers?
Eaton-Cardone: One of the key ingredients to enabling women to take leadership roles in business and tech is encouragement. They need encouragement from men as well as other women, and there is a need for acceptance as well. Women need to know that men accept and respect them in leadership roles, so this acceptance and encouragement go a long way.
There is space for each and every woman who wants to be involved in the tech industry. By supporting, encouraging, advising, and enabling each other, women allow for their own growth as well as the growth of all women. This leads to power in the industry and to them establishing their own leadership positions.
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Monica Eaton-Cardone is an entrepreneur and business leader with expertise in technology, e-commerce, risk relativity and payment-processing solutions. She has co-founded a number of successful companies, which globally comprise 350-plus employees. With the advent of “friendly fraud” expanding from the US to other countries, Eaton-Cardone recognized the necessity to protect the global economy from illicit charge-back threats, hence Global Risk Technologies (GRT) was established. She currently serves as the CIO of GRT, the international organization with subsidiaries in the US, Chargebacks911 and eConsumerServices. She still continues to hold the position of COO of Chargebacks911. Eaton-Cardone has earned a reputation for creative business solutions, helping merchants and banks to achieve sustainable payment-processing practices and supporting consumers in resolving transaction issues. She is a champion of women in IT, and hopes to contribute to an expanded presence of females in technical professions and leadership roles.