We love getting fresh perspectives about PDXWIT from women who are just joining the group. Leslie was also very open to the idea of telling us about her career path and what kinds of projects she pursues in her time off. Don’t skip the video at the end—it’s worthy of celebration!

Leslie, you’re new to PDXWIT. What’s your takeaway?

The Airbnb Happy Hour was my first experience. I was thrilled to see such a big turnout. It is inspiring to have such a large community of women who are there to learn from and support each other. I will keep coming back because I truly believe that together we can impact the advancement of women in the technology space and lift up our local economy and communities. This is a powerful bunch!

Tell us about your work and how your company is handling gender and diversity issues. 

I am a Principal Consultant at Slalom, a technology and business management consultancy with 25 offices and 4,500 employees across the US, Toronto and London. We focus on a local-first model, meaning we have a strong presence in each of our markets. In Portland we are 100+ people and growing. 

As a Principal Consultant I oversee client accounts to ensure we are solving their business and technology opportunities and challenges. I also do direct delivery work as a consultant focused on Program/Project Management, Agile coaching (including Scrum Master), Strategic Planning and Organizational Design. Recently I helped a client begin their transformational DevOps journey, re-imagining how their technology organization functions and delivers value to their internal and external customers.

Slalom has a very entrepreneurial and supportive environment. In terms of gender and diversity, we have several groups and initiatives to support an inclusive workplace. You can read more about them here: https://www.slalom.com/about/inclusion-and-diversity. As a women at Slalom, I feel welcomed and supported by my company and my colleagues. 

How did you end up with a career in tech and how have you gained the skills you use everyday?

It wasn’t a direct path. It started with a summer job helping my Uncle and Aunt sell flowers. As commercial flower growers they sold to florists via the Portland Flower Market. Three days a week I got up before dawn and headed to Swan Island to spend time with local entrepreneurs trying to make a living through flowers.

I thought becoming a florist and owning my own business was what I wanted to do. But the florists encouraged me to learn about running the business end. The flowers were the easy part, they cautioned, it was everything else-- managing expenses, employees and operations that was difficult. I took their advice and got a Business degree at PSU and Copenhagen Business School. 

I learned I really liked helping others make their entrepreneurial vision a success. That led me to the PSU Business Outreach Program (https://www.pdx.edu/business-outreach/) where I both taught, coached and mentored business students to be consultants and helped entrepreneur learn how to run a business.

I have a great passion for my clients and truly care in their personal/professional success, the success of their initiative/project, and their organization. Each engagement is an opportunity for collective learning, growth and development where we all learn from each other. It is very much a two-way street.

This skill set is something that I’ve built over time by 1) having a natural curiosity about people and things 2) by being a great listener and 3) being okay with ambiguity. As consultants, we initially believe we are going to solve one particular business problem, but through exploration we learn a different root cause and/or factor needs to be addressed. I have learned to be okay with not having all the answers all the time.

Leslie has one of the most amazing side gigs we’ve ever seen. Watch this short video and enjoy!