Gabriella E. Ziccarelli - Geek Girl Rising
Gabriella E. Ziccarelli

Gabriella E. Ziccarelli

Intellectual Property Attorney

Dickstein Shapiro LLP

“Block out lunch and working out in your schedule.  Setting aside ‘you’ time means you’ll be healthier, more balanced, and more prepared to tackle any challenges that come your way.”

Years in industry? 2 years as a licensed Intellectual Property attorney. 4 years total in the tech industry.

Who or what inspired your career in tech? How so?
As a student government nerd in college, I helped a friend run the first beta test for his tech startup on our campus. The energy on the team was like nothing I had ever seen before, and I was hooked. I knew at that moment I wanted to serve the tech community with my legal skills. I learned that embracing one passion–  in this case, Student Government—  can lead you to another one — tech.

What’s been your best hack ever?
Block out lunch and working out in your schedule– whether this be on your phone, your iCal, or even in your written planner. That way, when you go about your week scheduling meetings, you won’t overlap on “you” time. Setting aside “you” time means you’ll be healthier, more balanced, and more prepared to tackle any challenges that come your way.

What has been your greatest career challenge and how have you handled it? 
Overcoming the misconception that I may not be as effective of a patent litigator simply because I do not have a tech degree.  My approach to this challenge is to always be thoughtful, well prepared and aware.  With determination, hard work, and practical experience, I am learning how to be an effective attorney and provide outstanding service to my tech clients.  Most importantly – I don’t let perceptions or misconceptions influence me or my work product.  If I believe in myself and my work product, the work will speak for itself.

What is your biggest career success to date? 
Fostering outstanding relationships with colleagues in tech at such an early stage in my career. These relationships don’t find you, you have to proactively seek them out. It sometimes means grabbing dinner after a long day when there is nothing more you would rather do than go home, sit on the couch and decompress with Netflix.  But, let me tell you, when you surround yourself with outstanding people in your field, and foster relationships with those individuals, it is easier for you to find daily success in your career– success through better understanding, through giving and receiving advice, and through identifying opportunities for growth.  Keep your networks of high quality, and high strength.  You will never regret it.

Who are your role models?
I have several, all from within my beautiful, big Italian family.  First, my mother and grandmother.  They are brilliant women who know what to say and when to say it, and when they do, they always say it with grace. It’s rare to have two female role models who know how to balance the right amount of enthusiasm, sass, intellect, strength and compassion.  Secondly, my father.  He has been a shining example of what it means to have strong work ethic, how to be “street smart” in addition to books smart, and how important it is to plan ahead.  Lastly, my little brother, who exudes patience, thoughtfulness, and compassion and has inspired me to be more of all of those things in my daily life. I am grateful for all of these people because they have inspired me to embrace the multi dimensionality of my personality.

If you could go back in time, what’s one tip you’d give your teenage self? 
Be yourself– it’ll pay off in the future.  There is a reason you turned down the offer to sit with the popular kids at lunch and chose to sit with your friends from Chemistry class instead. This is your personality, and you should embrace it. See how you love AP US History?  It is a passion that will someday take you to Washington, D.C.  You know how you can’t stop thinking about Student Government elections?  Good, keep thinking – it will help you run a big and successful campaign at the University of Arizona.  That desire to run track in your senior year of high school when it’s 115 outside in the Arizona desert? Be glad you did it– it’s going to teach you how to work hard and overcome challenges.  So much of our teen years are foundational to how we grow and who we become.  It’s normal to be frustrated at times, but listen to yourself and what your heart is telling you, and run with it.  It’s a preview of what’s to come.

What do you do when you’re not kicking butt at work? 
I believe you should balance all the seriousness in life with fun.  I have wonderful friends who will have impromptu kitchen dance parties with me, go out and sing karaoke like we are auditioning for American Idol, and scream at the top of our lungs supporting our Arizona Wildcat basketball team.  I love to whip up dishes in the kitchen and pay homage to my love of dance, be it ballet, African Dance and everything in between. I have been developing my yoga and kickboxing practice over the last few years.  Lastly, I love to travel – there is so much to see, so many cultures to learn about, and I cannot wait to get on to my next adventure.

Flats, heels or kicks? 
Heels and flats–  a big purse to hold the pair that you are not wearing at that time.  Versatility is key, both in fashion and in life.

Best career advice book?
There are a lot of good books out there, but to be honest, my favorite source of career advice is from peers.

Who are the women in tech that you most admire and why?
I admire the women who are teaching our future engineers and IP lawyers, and the students they teach. Also, the young women who are tinkering in their parents’ basement with an idea they think is innovative.  I look forward to welcoming them to the “tech” community and hopefully working with them some day.