Women's Month Celebration: Women of haku Discussion

Written by Luis Estrada

Diversity is one of our calling cards at haku. We’re proud to say more than half of our team is comprised of women, and every department is filled with fantastic stories and paths into the tech world. As part of our celebration of women’s month, we sat down with five women of the haku team, representing different roles within the organization, different backgrounds and career experiences. We explored their paths into tech, their inspirational figures, and their views on the challenges facing women.

Our panel consisted of:

Ally Maass - Director of Customer Experience

Melissa Andersen - Director of Customer Experience

Mariely De La Cruz - Software Engineer

Shay Chase - Participant Experience Representative

Samary Rodriguez - Director of People Experience


Can you describe your path into the tech industry? How or when did you feel this was something you wanted to pursue?

Mariely: I initially worked in marketing, managing a website, content management. Every now and then I would make edits to the website and I realized it was something I really enjoyed. I attended a one-day bootcamp for coding and tech, I really liked it, and the thought about making a career out of this stayed lingering. I decided to join a 3-month bootcamp where we studied, did projects, and it was really intense. Once I finished that, I was able to start as a software developer here at haku, and I’ve been here 4 years now.

Melissa: From a different perspective, because I’m not a coder! But I had taken an IT course in college, and my professor worked at Facebook and she was amazing. From that course alone, I knew I wanted to pursue a career in technology. I was fascinated by not only how challenging the industry was but also how rewarding it was. You can really make a difference in people’s lives. It’s ever changing and evolving - in tech I feel there’s always something that can be built or improved upon, and long story short, I’ve now been here 4 years also.

What advice would you give the you of 5-10 years ago?

Samary: Be patient with yourself and trust the process. Keep your goals in mind. With hard work and determination, everything will fall into place. I would tell myself that life has obstacles but you’ll learn and grow from them. Continue to network and seek mentors.

Who is your female inspirational figure?

Ally: Professionally, I think Erica Nardini is an inspiration. She’s the CEO of Barstool Sports. I think she’s not just a woman at the table, she’s the woman at the table. She’s fearless, a disruptor in the space and took a successful business and is making it skyrocket to the top. She empowers women’s sports and women across the industry. Her podcast has a ton of inspirational guests so yeah, she’s doing great things.

Mariely: My mom. She sacrificed her career and moved to the U.S so that my brother and I could have a better life. She kind of had to start all over again and I truly thank her for that.

Samary: I was also going to say my mom. I grew up in a single parent home, so she was the dad, the mom, and our sole provider. She taught me a lot about business and independence and to not rely on others. That was very inspirational for me growing up. I am the first of my immediate family to graduate college and do my masters, so following her lead definitely inspired me.

Melissa: Beyond my mom, I have one other, Melinda Gates. She’s such a highly regarded businesswoman, especially in the tech space. What stood out to me most was that she uses her platform to help others and increase women’s roles in tech. She really goes above and beyond to do philanthropist work and it’s so powerful because she could have used her wealth for anything but she uses so much of it to make a good example of how technology can be so impactful.