Georgene Huang & Romy Newman - Geek Girl Rising
Georgene Huang & Romy Newman

Georgene Huang & Romy Newman

Founders

Fairygodboss

“Don’t be afraid to go for it — whatever ‘it’ is at the moment. There’s just no substitute in life for doing something you’re interested in.”

Years in industry?
We’ve been working on our start-up for a year and a half. Our careers have both involved “tech” before this but I’m not sure all our employers would be traditionally categorized as “tech” companies.

Who or what inspired your career in tech? How so?
Georgene: In building Fairygodboss, we obviously gravitated towards the internet because, well, “information wants to be free”. And we think that gender equality at work, and how women feel about their jobs is a corner of the internet where information is not freely available and should be!  

What’s been your best hack ever?
Romy: I think it’s setting goals for the day, the week, the month and staying on top of them. Especially working on a startup, it’s so easy to get distracted as surprises crop up. And, you have to be flexible and change your goals. Still, it’s important to document your goals and come back to them often to make sure you are getting to where you thought you should go.

What has been your greatest career challenge and how have you handled it?
Georgene: Being fired while pregnant was not easy. But if I hadn’t had that experience and the challenge that came with interviewing at companies without knowing their maternity leave policies and culture for women, Fairygodboss would never have been born. So I view the company as the “lemonade” that’s come out of an initially difficult experience.

What is your biggest career success to date?
Georgene and Romy: Getting Fairygodboss to where it is today has brought us an incredible sense of accomplishment. We know it’s only going to get better!

Who are your role models?
Romy: The professional woman I admire most is Mary Barra, CEO of General Motors. I’m quite certain she has the hardest job in the business world and she handles it with grace, focus and aplomb (which can’t be easy when you’re trying to run a huge business and deal with Congressional hearings at the same time). She has shown the world how a woman can do a superb job running a major industrial company with great success. In 2015, she led the third year of record sales in a row, in the wake of a major crisis no less. Most of all, she is deeply invested in advancing women in STEM through her charitable pursuits. What an amazing lady! Mary, if you are reading, I would really love a chance to meet you one day.  

If you could go back in time, what’s one tip you’d give your teenage self?
Georgene: Don’t be afraid to go for it — whatever “it” is at the moment. There’s just no substitute in life for doing something you’re interested in.

What do you do when you’re not kicking butt at work?
Georgene and Romy: Spending time with our families — we have 4 children between the two of us and they are fun and awesome. Also, Georgene is working on her cartwheels and Romy is working on her handstands.

Flats, heels or kicks?
Romy: I used to be all about heels, but lately it’s kicks for me.

Best career advice book?
Georgene: I don’t really read career advice books, per se, but I think biographies can often function in a similar way. For example, you can really learn about people that you admire and the career paths and choices they’ve had to make. I love biographies because they allow you to live in another place and time, and many biographies of people who have achieved a lot showcase various career decisions, junctures and triumphs and failures — all of these provide a lot of career lessons even though it’s not technically “advice.”

Who are the women in tech that you most admire and why?
Georgene and Romy: There are obviously inspiring executives who’ve supported other women and been role models (e.g. Sheryl Sandberg, Padma Warrior, Ginny Rometty are just the best known ones) but there are many women that have contributed to making technology more accessible or fair for women and we feel they are just as important. Here are just 3 examples: Ellen Pao for her bravery, Kara Swisher for making reading about the industry more fun, and Reeshma Saujani for making it a point to help girls who want to code.

What do you love about your job?
Georgene and Romy: We love working on something we believe will create positive change in the world and workplace.

What do you think the tech world will look like five years from now?
Georgene: Every year, the barriers to entry fall in terms of starting a website, or building an app. There are a lot of things that make it easier: social media for getting the word out, better access to information about how to do things, increasing numbers of freelancers and marketplaces where you can find help with design and social media, crowd-fund your idea, etc. I think there will be more people able to pursue their passions and interests as a result — which is great.

What are a few apps or tools you couldn’t live or work without?
Romy: As a salesperson, I absolutely love sidekick. It’s so useful to have some information about what happens to a cold email after you’ve sent it. It gives a lot more clarity to the process. I also have to confess that I’m obsessed with Google Analytics.

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