Currently, only about 1 in 4 employees in the tech industry identifies as a woman. So what does it take to create a successful career as a woman in tech? In this interview series called Women in Tech, we spoke to successful leaders in the tech industry to share stories and insights about what they did to lead flourishing careers. We also discuss the steps needed to create a great tech product. As part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Avanlee Christine.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before diving in, our readers would love to learn more about you. Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
I would watch my mom go to work, field calls from my grandmother, make trips to the pharmacy, stop at the grocery store, the communication always rushed—everything was high-stress and high-intensity. Then she’d come home to her husband, be a wife, be a mom, juggle her family, all in a state of exhaustion. When you add up all the time it takes to care for another, and then streamline that through technology, getting that time back for yourself, it’s a pretty incredible experience. The emotional, financial and physical burden for family caregivers is heartbreaking. I want to change the status quo for caregivers. We need to change the narrative around how caregivers are cared for and implement solutions to help them. The sacrifice caregivers make is honorable.
What do you feel has been your ‘career-defining’ moment? We’d love to hear the lead-up, what happened, and the impact it had on your life.
Establishing our brand presence with major retailers and partnering with them to ensure caregivers and seniors have the ability to easily get food, medications and essential products. This was a huge accomplishment for me and my team. Caregivers are our unsung heroes and I love that we are working with major partners to shine a light on the 54 million caregivers in our country.
Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey? Did you ever consider giving up? Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?
I was just about to give birth to my first child, and I found myself in a situation where I was a new mom, a single mom, and a startup founder—all at the same time. It was a really challenging time, with issues to solve, funding to secure, and this new motherhood journey layered on top. My inspiration came from each person on my team who stepped up and stepped in to ensure we were successful.
We’d love to learn a bit about your company. What is the pain point that your company is helping to address? How does your company help people?
Caring for the Caregivers.
More than 65 million people, 29% of the U.S. population, provide care for a chronically ill, disabled, or aged family member or friend during any given year and spend an average of 20 hours per week providing care for their loved one.
We understand—that’s why we created the Avanlee App.
If someone wants to lead a great company and create great products, what is the most important quality that person should have, and what habits or behaviors would you suggest for honing that particular quality?
(Be) mentally tough, make pragmatic and reasonable decisions not based on emotions, give credit where credit is due, and get in the habit of lifting the team up as they are helping to make my dream a reality.
Next, let’s talk about teams. What’s a team management strategy or framework that you’ve found to be exceptionally useful for the product development process?
The agile framework has worked well for us in product development.
If you had only one software tool in your arsenal, what would it be, why, and what other tools (software or tangible items) do you consider to be mission-critical?
Obviously the Avanlee Care App. It helps me care for my grandmother and keep my family informed of her status. This is definitely mission-critical for me and my family.
Let’s talk about downtime. What’s your go-to practice or ritual for preventing burnout?
Swimming laps in the morning and taking time off to go on fun adventures with my 6 month old son.
Based on your experience, what are your “5 Steps Needed to Create Great Tech Products”?
1. Find an important problem to solve.
2. Make sure you fully understand the problem and how it impacts your potential users.
3. Assemble a group of talented people who are passionate about solving that problem.
4. Hard work.
5. More hard work.
Are you currently satisfied with the status quo regarding women in tech? What specific changes do you think are needed to change the status quo?
Women leaders need to be able to be open and honest about the amount of help they need to keep their home-life organized and positive. It's upsetting to me that women leaders don't feel comfortable asking for help when they are leading companies and the CEO of the family!
Hope we can change the narrative!
Is there a person in the world with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why?
Jo Ann Jenkins, CEO of AARP. To create a “Caregiver Council” which will do everything it possibly can to change the way we care for the caregivers in our country.
For more content like this, subscribe to The Product Manager newsletter.