March is all about celebrating the accomplishments of women. It’s an opportunity to reflect on women leaders and their many contributions to our industries, our society and our world. And for us at Roadie, it’s a chance to talk about the amazing women on our leadership team shaping the present and the future of our organization.
In honor of Women’s History Month, we’d like to introduce you to three wonderful women who help make Roadie tick every day: Kayla Duperreault (Head of People Operations), Mary Frances Jones (Head of Marketing), and Valerie Metzker (Head of Partnerships & Enterprise Sales).
Why is it important to have women in leadership roles, especially in the tech industry?
Valerie: We come armed with our own unique experiences. Women bring a different perspective and view things through a different lens… in all fields, but certainly in the tech industry. It’s one of the reasons why it’s so important to have a lot of different voices at the table.
Mary Frances: We all know diversity can’t be achieved unless it’s reflected at the top. But for women specifically, I think it’s about more than visibility; it’s about modeling behavior. Everyone talks about emotional intelligence being a woman’s superpower at work, but I don’t think we want to be in that box. Sure, we’re usually better at communication, collaboration and leading with compassion. But I also see some brash, bossy, badass women out there running the show and I think that’s awesome, too. You do you, girl.
What are some of the factors or obstacles that deter women from actively pursuing leadership roles?
Mary Frances: I think a big issue is that the culture of business was built by men, for men. We’ve all read the studies by now about how boys learn to compete and girls learn to play by the rules. I think there are a lot of potentially strong women leaders out there who think the price of entry into the boys club is just too high. So they choose behind-the-scenes roles instead. Or, as in my case, they start their own business, which was the path I was on for nearly a decade before I joined Roadie.
Kayla: There’s so much research indicating that women are less likely to ask for what we deserve or speak up to make our point heard, but then we look around at leadership teams and wonder where the women are. I read a study recently which shows girls start conforming to stereotypes at a very young age, developing a huge gender gap in skills like negotiation. Women are expected to be caring and nurturing, so when we assert ourselves, we can get labeled as “aggressive.” Meanwhile, men are expected to be confident and ambitious so that assertiveness fits the bill and is seen positively. Gender inequality is so deeply rooted, but we can mitigate it and start closing the gap by increasing awareness of it and creating a space where all voices have weight. I’m so proud to work for a company where women’s voices are heard, respected and valued.
What’s one important leadership lesson you’ve learned in your career?
Kayla: There’s so much power in fostering psychological safety among your team. This means building an environment where people can speak up with a new idea or admit when they’re wrong, or even when they just don’t know the answer, without any fear of judgment. By building a culture of openness, you create a place where everyone can bring their best, whole authentic selves to work — and I’m not sure why we wouldn’t want anything less than that. We even codified that in our core values at Roadie: “Bring yourself.”
Valerie: Absolutely, don’t be afraid to say you don’t know the answer to something. Finding the confidence to speak up is critical. Showcase your strengths. And try to listen more than you speak.
What motivates you as a leader?
Mary Frances: Ugh, I hate to give a textbook answer, but without a doubt, it’s my team. They’re all so smart and kind and excited about the bright futures they have ahead. I feel incredibly lucky to work with them and what drives me most is supporting them and helping them grow. Not only to hit the goals they’ve set here at Roadie, but to get to whatever’s next on their path.
Valerie: Teaching my team. And also, winning! I’m motivated by seeing success in all kinds of forms — for our customers, for my team, for our vendors, for me personally.
Did you have a female mentor or important role model at any point in your career? If so, how did that impact you?
Kayla: I’ve been fortunate enough to have several strong female role models in my life — some who were formal mentors and others who didn’t know that I was looking to them as role models! I think having multiple mentors is important because they each had their own strength. I have unique takeaways from each of them, whether it’s how they grew their careers or how they balanced the demands of work and life. I take those learnings, lessons and feedback that they’ve given me and continue to use them on my own leadership journey.
Mary Frances: I did! I started my career in an ad agency run by two women. They both rocked a pantsuit like nothing I’d seen before! More importantly, they each had very different leadership styles. Both were strong leaders, but one was assertive and quick to lead the conversation; the other was a great listener and a strong analytical thinker. I’m incredibly lucky they both took an interest in me at a really formative time in my career.
What’s one piece of advice you would give to young women just starting their careers?
Valerie: My advice is simple: Find a job that you love and stick with it as long as you love it.
Mary Frances: Get as much exposure as you can to as many things as you can, as early in your career as you can. That’s one of the things I’ve loved most about my time here at Roadie. In a small start-up, young people can see into every corner of the business — from the CEO’s desk to the engineering team’s daily scrum. And within our own department, they get to wear different hats, and work on projects that would be outside their lane in a larger org. That kind of exposure is priceless, and I’ve seen multiple people — all women, in fact — who’ve jumped to a new career path based on those experiences.