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Yael Kahn, Senior ISV Partner Development Manager at Amazon Web Services, is passionate about mentoring the younger generation of girls, helping them find their voice and have the courage to share, then act on their big ideas.
She furthers this quest through the AWS GetIT program, which focuses on 12- to 14-year-olds with visions to problem solve.
Yael and RevOps Therapist and CEO and founder of Greaser Consulting, Jordan Greaser talk about the importance of women breaking into tech and shattering outdated ideas about their limitations and ingenuity.
Hi everyone, this is Jordan, the owner and CEO of Greaser Consulting. On this episode, we have Yael coming back. Oh man, last time we talked about her experiences working internationally. And this time, we have her on to talk about a program called “GetIT,” specifically designed to get younger people, especially young women, into tech, educate them, give them access to all of AWS and all this, all the greatness that ensues there. And so we talk about that program; we talk about the importance of mentorship, and in really mentoring women into these leadership positions. And what’s that sort of transition look like? So I think it’s a really, really good episode to lean into and listen and think about how can we impact and empower the next generation, especially the women who are raising up here. So lean in, enjoy, and here we go.
Say you want some clarity in sales and marketing and SEP? Well, we have just the remedy: Our podcast, RevOps Therapy. Yeah.
Hi, everyone, welcome. And thanks for listening in. I have Yael with me again. Why don’t you go ahead and reintroduce yourself?
Hi, good morning. Good evening. Good afternoon. Thanks again for hosting me. Great to be here. I’m talking, currently, I’m in Tel Aviv, based in Israel. My name is Yael Khan. I’m a tech leader. I’m working at AWS. I’m focusing on leading ISV partner, part of the Amazon, Amazon partner ecosystem network. I’m helping to… customers to migrate, modernize everything related to data and to help them to basically build the business and create more SaaS solutions and helping them to increase revenue leader in the European market. I focus mostly on DACH, Israel, and South Africa. And I’m working in a global team. Super excited about it. I’ve been in a part of like, Business Development ecosystems since 2010. I’m focusing on the European market. I was living in Germany; we spoke about it in the previous episode, and my passion and is to scout new opportunity, creating long-term partnership to facilitate, help companies with strategy, relationship-builder. And I like to take projects from, you know, scratch and making them happen. And yeah, and basically, I know, it’s a challenging time now in the market for everyone. And what we focusing nowadays is how to be more creative and dedicated, supporting customers, how to become a quick learner with all the changes, and of course, to keep the passion about combining people, ideas, and technology. Yeah.
Yeah. I appreciate you coming on again. And given a little bit about your background there, for everybody listening, I can’t, I can’t really overstate this, that Yael’s kind of a commodity in the international space in the sense that she does great work, has built fantastic programs, and really, is highly respected in the different circles that she, she walks around in. And I know the last podcast we focused heavily on just, you know, what was your experience going, going abroad and living in these different… and getting that whole side of things. And today, we’re going to shift gears; we had such a good conversation, we thought, “hey, let’s, let’s do this again.” And let’s talk about another… You said one of your big passions is partnerships and going and getting that new business and working together. But I know another one is just the concept of women in tech and experientially in some ways, but also like what are the things that are going on there? What are the programs that exist, and what does, like, real mentorship look for women that are upcoming? So that’s, that’s what we really wanted to tackle today. And so for everybody listening, that’s where we’re heading, but I just want to start with asking you, you know, what has your experience been being a woman in tech, being in some of these really high profile positions and interacting with people, really just all over the world? Talk to me about it.
Yeah. Yeah, so I’ve been, I’ve been the only female, like I remember when I worked at HP like 10 years ago, I was the only female in the sales team. And afterward, I worked in Germany in a startup, and I was also the second female from 30 employees. And it can be very challenging. I can also speak about the army; in Israel, it’s a mandatory time for, like, serve the army; I was in a secret unit, if you watch Fauda on Netflix; that’s a part of the unit I served. And I was the only woman as well. And if you were growing up 200 years ago, you would not have known a single woman in business, right? If you’re growing up today, you know, some, and I really hope that our daughters, right, that are going to grow up in the world. They’re like the future coming. Also babies. Where there are a lot more. And they will and I see today, like, I think around 35 percentage of… is the amount of women in the tech industry. And it’s growing, slowly, but it is growing. I see more Solution Architect and really techie women coming more and more in the startup, more leaders, female leaders, more entrepreneurs. Even in the venture capital, I see more principal partners, leaders, and hopefully sooner in the government. Yeah, that’s our wish. You can see it in the Nordic and in the Nordic area in New Zealand in Australia, but today, we’re not going to speak about politics. So yeah, that’s, that’s my experience. I must say that in the Amazon organization, more and more female are becoming leaders. And, and yeah, and I will, I would like to talk today about the GetIT program, which is a dedicated, funded educational program for 12, 14 years old students’ skills. I will be very happy to share my experience.
Yeah, so one of the, one of the big things you’re noting on there, is just, there’s this growing presence. But it’s, it’s still very much the minority. Right? And there’s a lot of conversations that we could have about, well, what’s the experience of being the only woman in the room? What’s the only… and that’s a worthwhile, very valuable conversation. But from what I understand, you’re really here today to talk about, but here’s how we’re like, we’re tackling this right? And so with that in mind, like tell me more about this program, like what’s it doing for kids? What are they getting access to? What doors is it opening up? And really like? What does it, what does it mean for the future running a program like this?
Really good questions. So first, the career of other female leader inspires women to know that they can lead and they can develop. And that’s the message that I want to share today in general, and regarding the program, so it’s as I mentioned, it’s, it’s two years old program at AWS. It’s not so easy to get in. There are only 10 females for each country that are getting in. You have interviews; there are, there is an amazing team that is basically leading the program; the GetIT program… you can check it online, and the idea is to empower students to get into tech. So first we asking them like what do they know about tech because they when you’re talking to young girls, they really think that tech is a lot of them they think that it’s for for male, like if you ask like in India, in Europe, like even in the state and even in Israel, that Israel I must saying, it’s really the same Silicon Valley for startups. Many of them and they really think it’s, it’s the majority are like basically for males. And the idea is to consider a future of sign Technology Engineering mathematics for for girls. And the program helps schools and educators to bring tech role models to their classroom. So we meeting the, the teacher, the students, their managers of the school, and give them access to how to design and how to help students build fundament, fundamental skills. How to learn about the cloud tech; what is the cloud? How to design apps, ideas. They have so many ideas; you want to help them to develop them; you want them, to support them, and to show them that they can speak it out. And how to solve problem today. That’s the next generation. Right? So there are new problems in the world, like when we were 30 years ago, 40 years ago, there are other problems. And they talking about, for example, how to make more money, because they understand that life can be very expensive today. They understand about how to save gas and electricity, how to become more green in their concept, how to build community of people, how to better, how to basically create better communication in the world. They speak about sign, they have really amazing ideas how to connect between the neighbors, how to save water. And the idea is really to design to run through the academic year; it’s one-year program. And you meet this the student, the girls couple of times, and basically, by the end, there is a competition where they present their like around 10 schools for each country. And they sending their… what they prepare, they created a presentation and it’s only in English, it doesn’t matter which country. So it also, it gives them maybe in the States for granted and in the UK, but like think about like Germany, or any other country that they need to speak English and to present their solutions.
Yeah, that’s not a small, that’s not a small task. That’s… takes a lot of courage.
And as well to prepare a presentation, that’s an amazing task for them to design it and to, and basically, after completing the program, schools have the option to submit it up to 2 students, the app ideas for consideration in a countrywide of the AWS GetIT competition, and teams in semifinals and finals present to a judging panel of experts in the tech industry. So I’m talking about leaders from AWS like, like leader tech, that working in the industry for 20 years, the kids are going to present them their solution. And they’re going to get scores and get questions about their thought, the way they thought to develop it.
So it’s like Shark Tank.
Exactly. And the students dive into design their app idea how they start learning about concept, how to design, what is their female leadership thinking? How does it work in tech? They asking me question about like, why to invest in this kind of solution. I’m helping them to brainstorm how to solve problems in their school, or the community they thought, they thought about, and how to design. Yeah, it’s a really excited program for, for the girls. And think about it, they are going to present it during the Amazon Web Services Summit, which is thousands of people event. So that’s a big step for everyone. Really excited.
What I thought was interesting, like, right when you started, you said, you know, many of these young girls are saying, “I thought Tech was just for, for the boys or this wasn’t really for me.” And even thinking about my own hiring days, specifically in tech sales, for every 10 applications, 15 applications we’d get from a guy, we’d get one from a girl. And there’s certainly arguments to be made that maybe you’re marketing in the wrong places; you’re not advertising in the right way. And sure that’s true. But I think to your point, there’s also a huge part of this, of just, I don’t know if it’s lack of awareness, or it’s even just sort of like a gap there to think “well, no, I couldn’t apply for that” or whatever else. And so I think even this program, right out of the gate, letting people know even though it’s such an elementary thing, like “well, no this is a path that you can pursue.” Like that information alone is incredibly valuable early on in the lives of these, these, these girls to know, “hey, this is a potential path.”
Exactly and how important is the diversity in tech in the power of like strategy, right? It’s very powerful as a broader range of mindset and background leads to better thinking and how to innovate and along with improved ability to overcome, like stairways from walking and truly connect with, with like, female and male together, and not like only thinking that male can lead.
So, you, you meet in the schools, you help sort of develop an idea, you work with the teachers and use you craft this together. Is this something where you’re showing up once a month; they have a class once a week? Like, how involved between the school and AWS are you really?
So that’s a very good question. We have a presentation; first, we meet the class, I introduce myself, I meet the teacher, I then, after a couple of weeks, they come back to us with their idea, we’re doing like brainstorming, we’re helping to develop the idea together, then after a couple of weeks, they’re presenting a presentation they sending out. And then we have kind of brainstorming, a day with all the schools coming together and presenting the presentations, sharing their ideas. And then there is the competition. So we are sending the presentation to the leaders. And basically, during the competition, there are like 3 scores that are chosen, then that’s the semi final and then the final is during the summit, the Amazon Web Services Summit.
So, if you, if you win the whole thing, what happens?
So they’re going to visit the AWS office. They’re going to meet leaders, asking questions, showing like, how, like, giving them their vibe, like to understand the atmosphere and the vibe in the tech world. And they can meet different tech leaders and even sometimes customers and showing like, what, what is the drive behind with sales team and, and, and like how developers looks like. You’re also explaining during the presentation, like, like how they wake up in the morning, they use the app for school, to taking the bus. When they’re using Alexa, who is developing it behind the scene, right? When they watching the Disney film, who is the marketing guy who is thinking about how to sell it, the design, how to design it, and how to write the code like all the frame that behind the daily, the daily routine for them, that connected to the tech world.
So I know the program, you said it’s about two years old, right?
It’s the third year, right? And it’s going to develop in more countries slowly.
So it’s too, it’s too soon to have like, a long term, and “Here’s what happened.” But is there any early indicator so far? I’m thinking about even though the individuals, the girls here that were involved, but maybe they didn’t get to make it all the way like, has there been any outcome so far of “Hey, we’re seeing, you know, the people that are in this program they’re applying to universities.” And “Hey, they’re actually applying for software engineering at a higher rate,” or is there any kind of early indicator so far?
Yeah, so I can share that some of the girls already like, developed some apps, and they’re using it and also the first… many of them improve their English level, which is an amazing achievement. And as well, they, they feel more comfortable with themselves about like first expressing their ideas, their thoughts. They have the… even if they didn’t win, they have the feeling of the champion diversity, feeling of how they positioned itself as girls and coming even home and tell to the family that they developed the idea they thought about, like in a presentation. And also now, their way of thinking they understand better the concept of the cloud, the concept of the tech and every kind of device they’re touching, or they read, or they see; they understand slowly and better, their idea behind and not like observing it as an item. Like, they really think… they really changed the way they thinking and understand it and connected the dots.
It sounds like a lot of the program is, like, really focused on giving them the behind-the-scenes look, let’s give you an opportunity to see how this all works. And you’ve touched on… they’re speaking, they’re learning, they’re working on their English, and they’re getting some of that. And so how much of the program is also just dedicated toward the idea of mentorship, of, of even, I know the whole thing is mentorship, but even related to like, okay, as a woman who’s going to have leadership aspirations, okay, here’s things that you need to think about, here’s some obstacles you may need to overcome, like, here’s, here’s what that looks like, do you cover any of that as part of this program? Or is that something?
Definitely, that’s something that I’m doing as a part of the mentorship at AWS with women. So I’m a senior partner development, and I have experience, as I mentioned, so I really like to as well train and help to women, other women to develop their career and inspire them. And that’s something that I also bring to the GetIT program. So for example, sit at the table; you don’t need to, like, sit at a table and really write your thought; don’t run away from your wishes and your ideas. And also, you don’t need to be loved by everyone, you know, girls, it’s like kind of maybe a Disney movies like 20 years ago, like how everyone needs to love us, because we are girls. Don’t be afraid to work hard. Don’t ask for people to be your, I mean, don’t be afraid to ask for mentorship and for help, and for feedback. Don’t be afraid of getting feedback, and ask for feedback. Always tell the truth and seek for your truth. Right? And yeah, and you don’t need to be perfect or good on everything. I mean, we all fail; it’s a part of the journey of life. And, and don’t forget to look on the winds as well, and what you have, and what you want to get. So that’s really inspired them and make them like strong.
So this is part of like, in the, the GetIT program, like these are conversations you’re having. And you’re also having these same conversations, even in your own sort of mentor relationships with, with folks. You know, not young girls, but actually women working in tech today that are looking for leadership positions. And you know, a lot of the conversation is just about, again, what’s your experience as women in tech and all of this, but thinking specifically about women who are aspiring to be leaders, okay? You know, you’re not coming in and you’re going to be the individual contributor, you’re now going to be in charge of leading this team, leading this initiative, leading this idea. Are there like 2 or 3 conversations, as you think about preparing women to step into these roles that you find like, these are the most common conversations, the most common things that you really need to kind of work on with women to get them ready to take on those leadership positions?
Yeah. So, yeah, first really think, I mean, the message is really think about what are the things that you value. And what are the things that you need and look for a work environment? And what will, let’s say, what will value your right to pursue those things that you really want to do? And I mean, things should happen in time and really think about what you want to achieve. Yeah, I mean, for example, think about the strategy, for example, the what is the differentiation between you to others? What is the value that you bring about? Like, for example, I’m very strong in networking. I know how to develop relationships. I’m really good in creating projects; I’m really good in bringing ideas and working in partnership; I have, I’m helping them to create like the Outreach tactics. And what, and to help them to understand what is their nature, successful business relationship that they can develop. And also to believe in themselves and to take the step like to create a business plan to, to understand the market analysis to organize their thoughts to like to be more specific in what they want to achieve, and what are the obstacles they see and help them to really to, to see how to, to solve those obstacles, and not to and to see them as a as a challenge and not as a blocker. And really, to organize their thoughts and their future steps.
What I feel like I’m hearing you say, and you can correct me if I’m wrong, is it maybe you’re not saying it quite this way, but how I’m hearing this is, is don’t be passive. And just get in the mindset of take what you can get, like, get some goals and go chase those goals, right? It’s not well, “oh, man, I made it to manager like, thank goodness, I even made it this far,” like, well, no, you could, you could aspire, not that that’s a bad title or role. But yeah, find what you want, and go chase it.
Exactly, and adding also value to your relationships, make sure that you have some ideas and concepts in your mind. And to add value to your core proposition and the value that you bring. And, and also don’t forget to dress your success, right? That’s something that people can easily forget: how to make a huge difference between their winning confidence and trust, and make sure that, make sure to deliver the message, and to, to see your success and not only thinking about the next step.
I think the… I’ve had conversation with, with women in the past who are breaking into tech, and it seemed to me, like, the first sort of fundamental thing that needed to happen was you need to find your voice. And be confident in that voice like, like, it’s, this is going to be, not to put you in a corner. But to actually say like, “this is how you’re wired; this is the way you think; speak confidently in that wiring, and be willing to add that to the conversation, because it’s going to complete something that nobody else can.” And, and I would say this is true, not just of women, but of all people, but like, finding your voice is a really powerful thing. And that’s what I feel like I’m hearing you advocate for here is like, is find that voice, okay, and then be confident to go walk in it. And like you mentioned, hey, not everyone’s gonna like you, whenever, whenever you speak out, right? You’re gonna, you’re gonna make an enemy along the way, right? But, but that shouldn’t be something that gets in your way of adding your voice to the conversation.
Exactly. What are your voice? What is your voice? Like? What are your tips for the voice from your experience?
Oh man. What, are you talking about my voice in particular, or when I’m talking to someone?
In particularly yours. Because I know also you have lots of experience in sales and, and tech. And I’m just curious, but you don’t, you don’t have to answer.
Yeah, well, so I’ve always had the… I would say, I’ve always, I’ve always kind of had an outsider’s perspective for two reasons. One, I come from Farming, USA. So I’m not from Tech City. I wasn’t thinking about tech. I wasn’t whatever about tech. And then second, my wife and I actually did humanitarian aid, and were teachers and all kinds of things. And it was later that we came into the tech world. And so I’ve always been somebody who’s, like, very inquisitive. I want to know and I want to understand. So literally everything in a tech organization down to why do we do SDR, AE, CSM? Why don’t we just have one, one salesperson? Why don’t we do messaging like this? Hey, why is there a solutions consulting team and a professional services team? And I would like, I question everything. Number one, because I just don’t know. Number two, right? Number two, because once I come to that understanding, it helps me understand how to do my job better. Right? But number three, having that sort of humanitarian background, I understand that a business has to run on dollars and cents and all these kinds of things. But fundamentally, I think a business can’t perform well, if we don’t think about the human first, like, who’s the human customer? Who’s the human employee? Who’s the human leader? Right? Like, sometimes our leaders feel like these, like, sort of faceless people that just say “do this,” but like, what do they care about? What are they? So I, I tend to bring the humanity into all the conversations, and I’m also the pain in the rear that says, “But why do you do this?” So that tends to be my voice, which is sometimes loved, sometimes hated, but as with any other voice, right, it, it brings important topics up that need to be discussed.
I will also add like to give yourself, they, they will like to give yourself the way to be flexible. And like, it’s very important like to work on time that you more focused and to, to think like, in a broad way that really helps your brain to, to work better and to bring additional business benefits and ideas, and also to mentor your, your, yourself like to give yourself credit, and, and always asking questions; you just mentioned it, it’s very important. Ask a question others and not always also getting answer. It’s also a way to, to understand because we like, it’s a longer journey. And we all, everyday we learn something new, right? At AWS, we always say it’s, “It’s day one.” And, I will…
Yeah, we’ve heard that one. Day one. Here we go.
Exactly. And yeah, stronger networks, and more and more role models, that’s something that I always like to inspire in mentorship is really to, like, really think about high profile and, and think, think far, right? I mean, think about the impact that you want to bring, the image of what’s increasing, basically opportunities and inspired other people in your team, or in the industry, or in the local business you’re working. What do you want? What do you think the customers want to achieve? And what is the new solution they’re, the tech industry is looking for? So those are also questions I like to ask customers as well.
Yeah, I think you, as we’re rounding out here, well anytime I chat with you, like you’ve got kind of an innovative mind, right? How are we innovating, how we think, how do we iterate? How do we keep moving? And with that in mind, we started on the GetIT program. And I want to, I want to wrap out this way. If somebody’s interested in that, somebody wants to know about, you referenced the website. But is there somebody that folks should be reaching out to should they contact you? Just you know, sounds like a great program we really want to push people toward. And so what’s, what’s the right next step for anybody that’s listening? I know, I know, we’re probably not talking with the 12 and 14-year-olds, but how do we get this message out to the folks that are going to talk to that age?
Yeah, that’s a very good question. So I mean, every time you meet female orange in general, like a young generation, please share from the tech world or in general, inspire the next generation and give them the confidence and they can really develop the ideas. On a personal level, I really like… mentor the mentorship and coaching women and also males, and, and, like remind them of never stop learning. They can also contact me on LinkedIn. And they can also go to the AWS GetIT and learn more from there. I also, yeah, I also sharing the ideas in the communities in the like customer’s community and the Amazon Partner Network Community. And yeah, and basically, I’m trying to attend more and more industry events to share the ideas and visiting like schools and volunteering different young generation community, if it’s related.
What I’m hearing is, they can, if somebody is interested in this, like you’re more than happy to chat with them about it.
Oh, that’s for sure. And I’m happy to share my ideas and to also to bring them and help them to educated on a new direction and how to navigate them. Yeah.
All right. Before we, before we officially sign out, I just want to give you an opportunity. Is there anything else that, that you want to say or you feel needs to be said before we hang up today?
Yeah, I mean, don’t, don’t be afraid to try, and don’t think about gender, age or anything that is blocking you, or about any society, or other challenges that you’re getting into. Just really try, develop, and always think that you have the best support, and look for the support, the lots of organization today that for young generations and supporting the ideas, even, even in remote, and I’m happy to, yeah, I’m looking forward to get from the audience, any kind of questions. Feel free to reach out on LinkedIn. It’s Yael Kahn. And yeah, and thank you for, for the opportunity.
Thanks for coming on. And for our listeners, we hope you enjoyed today’s episode, and we’ll see you next time. Thank you.
Perfect. Thank you.
Hot dog. That was a great episode. Thanks for listening. If you want to learn more about Greaser Consulting or any information you heard on today’s episode, visit us online at www.greaserconsulting.com. Be sure to click the Follow button and the bell icon to be notified on the latest here at RevOps Therapy. Thanks and see you real soon.