Women in Tech: Olivia V.
By: Beau H., Content Manager
In a continuation of our women in technology series, Olivia V., a Sr. Manager in IT Product Management, discusses her career journey at Schwab. Keep reading to learn about her experiences as a Latina in tech and her advice to other women who are looking to start their careers in the field.
Finding Support, Opportunity, and Representation at Schwab
As a Latina professional with experience in finance and technology, Olivia has first-hand knowledge about the “lack of female representation” in these spaces. But rather than placing this deficiency on hiring bias, she attributes it to a general ignorance about role availability at Schwab. “When most people think about “tech,” they assume we only have roles for developers or software engineers, and often don’t consider technology product management opportunities,” she explains.
For the majority of her 13 years with us, Olivia’s work in finance was typically overseen by male leaders. This did not, however, lessen her confidence or effectiveness – instead, she details how her managers consistently took the approach of “supporting and encouraging me to grow in my career or learn about other departments and roles.” Adding to this, Olivia mentions that the warm, human-centric atmosphere at Schwab made her to feel valued – even if she was often one of the few women carrying out duties in client service or at the trading desk. “I’ve come across many male leaders and have never felt like I was being treated as ‘less than’.”
It wasn’t until Olivia made the major career transition to technology product management that she felt a greater sense of representation. After bringing her talents and client-facing exposure over to the new role, she was happily surprised to find that her leaders were often women. For her, the experience was “very refreshing,” and further compelled her to continue chasing career advancement opportunities on the product team.
Olivia’s Career Journey at Schwab
Olivia’s initial path didn’t lead directly into the tech sector. Instead, she began her career in Customer Service and Support (CS&S) and obtained licenses to work on the trade desk, where she focused most of her time on options trading.
Then, in 2017, plans were made to relocate the trade desk to Westlake. This change presented Olivia with a unique opportunity - she found herself with about 18 months to consider her next move and decided to take a risk by embarking on a total career shift. “Being fond of Schwab, I began looking internally and came across an associate role in Product Management in the schwab.com/research domain. Given my background on the trade desk, moving into a digital space that still had a direct impact on clients intrigued me.”
The product team turned out to be an excellent fit for Olivia. Her unique perspective as a former client-facing professional ensured that changes to the website were made with clients in mind. Any production issues were not just technical glitches; they were understood empathetically, from the client's point of view.
As the months passed, Olivia's career continued to progress within the ranks of Schwab. In 2021, she was approached for her current role as a Senior Manager in IT Product Management and readily accepted the promotion. “Transitioning to a tech role has been instrumental in my growth, starting from entry-level positions to my current senior manager role. In all, my journey has been shaped by networking, inquisitiveness, openness to change, and the perseverance to continually learn and evolve.”
Advice for Women Entering Tech
For women looking to begin their career in tech or transition from another area of our firm, Olivia offers this advice: “For aspiring women joining the tech or finance sectors, especially within Schwab, I encourage you to expand your networks. Approach professionals for informational conversations, even seeking the chance to "ghost" or observe their roles. For example, I engaged with individuals interested in my background during a Latinas in Tech panel. Initiating these conversations can spark thoughts about alternative roles you might not have initially considered.”
She continues: “Also, explore the openings listed on Schwab's job platforms. Embrace unfamiliar roles, and don't hesitate to reach out to hiring managers to gain insights into positions that pique your interest. Communicate your willingness to learn and adapt, even if it means entering a room as the least knowledgeable person. It's crucial to understand that not having all the answers initially doesn't imply you'll never acquire them.”
What has kept Olivia at Schwab for 13 years
Beyond the abundance of growth opportunities she’s encountered, Olivia has remained at Schwab because of the consistent appreciation her managers have shown and the genuine friendships she’s fortified. She explains that “these connections extend beyond the realm of colleagues into personal relationships. Trips, bachelorette parties, and ongoing conversations with friends who were once colleagues have fortified my attachment to the company. Schwab's commitment to its employees resonates with me profoundly.”
She adds that the famous adage, “People don't quit companies; they quit bad managers,” holds true, and that she’s still here because, “to this day, I have not had a single bad manager at Schwab.”
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