Women are helping lead Best Buy’s tech transformation

Engineer. Scientist. Manager. Intern. Vice president. These are just a few of the many roles at the forefront of our tech transformation.

But to us, these leaders are better known as Linda, Naomi, Melissa, Faiza and Meghan.

While most of these women experienced being the first or only woman on a team at some point in their careers, they’re now helping drive change in the field of technology — through their groundbreaking technology work and a shared passion for mentoring young women interested in the field.

As we celebrate Women’s History Month, we recognize the ways these women — and countless others — are leading our tech transformation as we shift to a digital-first focus, invest in new platforms and accelerate development of new products and services that enrich lives through technology. On top of that, they’re also making our workplace a more vibrant, inclusive place.  

Linda Kateley, a web engineer working in the cloud, joked that she’s “worked on the internet almost since there was one” and shared stories of a past job where she was only one of six women in a role held by 4,200 men. Now she  helps empower other women by participating in events and dialogue with Best Buy’s Women in Tech employee resource group.

Melissa Irving, a senior manager on the team, has a trove of stories about the many ways she had to prove herself as a woman in tech throughout her career journey to Best Buy. Today, she continues to speak up for herself and other women to break down misconceptions in the workplace.

“I take pride in my work and always aim to improve the space that I’m in,” Melissa said.

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Changing the trends

Technology is an industry that tends to be dominated by men, but we’re working to change that. In 2020, we announced a goal to hire 1,000 new technologists, with 30% being women and people of color.

“I like the quote, ‘We all do better when we all do better.’” says Meghan Condon, vice president of tech transformation and planning, whose team is responsible for this ambitious hiring goal. “Having a swath of different individuals that represent the technology that we’re building and things that we are working on allows us to have the best products we can make.”

Forming teams that reflect the diversity of our customer base is crucial as we move toward artificial intelligence and machine learning, as diverse teams can better pressure test from different vantage points, Meghan said. It’s also a business imperative, as it helps us serve our diverse customer base better and become more customer obsessed.

Best Buy’s commitment and investment in Teen Tech Centers is one way we’re helping promote technology as a career path for young women. These centers help teens from disinvested communities explore technology, develop critical skills through hands-on activities and receive guidance from adult mentors about future opportunities.

We also launched an Field Infiltrator Program that gave Geek Squad Agents and retail employees with an interest in technology opportunities to work on the corporate technology team. The three-month program gave each of the 18 participants the chance to learn more about roles in engineering, product development and enterprise risk and compliance. Some were hired to permanent roles on the team.

Mentoring and development

While getting women in the door is important, continued support and development are crucial to retention and growth. Mentoring — either having a mentor or being one — came up again and again as a way to positively impact job satisfaction, encourage leadership opportunities and promote personal growth.

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Naomi Hachen researches and tests devices and sensors for Best Buy Health, working out of our Boston Health Technology Center to provide seniors with the confidence and tools to live independently. She said support and mentorship are two of the main reasons she enjoys working at Best Buy.

“I feel like people want to support me and my career growth. That’s a big deal for me.”

Naomi Hachen

Faiza Khassin, an engineering tools intern, said her interactions with mentors have also impacted her future career goals.

 “When I first started, I didn’t think I wanted to be a leader,” she said. “But Best Buy and this internship have really helped me open my eyes to leadership opportunities.”

Growing allies

Hiring women and mentorship opportunities will only go so far, though, without strong allies from the majority male population on our technology teams.

Naomi spoke about a male colleague who attended a conference on how to be an ally to women in tech and how much it meant to her to have that shared experience and support.

“To have somebody to talk through those things with, to develop that common language and to have the opportunity for reflection together meant a lot,” she said.

Meghan said has been the beneficiary many strong female and male mentors throughout her technology career. That includes Brian Tilzer, our chief digital and technology officer, who is a huge proponent of women in tech.

“Even though there are still calls I’m on where I’m the only woman, I feel equally respected and my voice is as loud as, if not louder than, some of my male counterparts,” Meghan said. “I think we’ve got a really great culture and foundation at Best Buy to allow for women in technology to thrive.”

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Sometimes, it’s even the small gestures that help foster an equal environment.

“My boss says my name in spaces where I’ve made a contribution,” Naomi said. “He’s really good about that across the board, and that makes a big difference — giving acknowledgement and credit where it’s due.”

The way forward

Hiring more women, promoting technology careers, building allies and providing leadership opportunities are just the start of fostering and promoting a more gender-diverse workplace for technologists.

“I think we do have a very long way to go as an industry,” Melissa said. “But I think we’re making strides forward.”

And although she’s one of the youngest members of the Best Buy team, Faiza said she’s already looking forward to “creating spaces that have a positive impact on younger generations.”

We have no doubt that she — along with Meghan, Linda, Melissa, Naomi and all of the other amazing women at Best Buy — will continue to inspire women in technology for years to come.

Click here to learn more about careers at Best Buy.