Women Talk Tech and Innovation: Featuring Hari Berzins and Nikki Broitman

Hari Berzins and Nikki Broitman talk about how their journey, sometimes simultaneous, brought them to the world of tech. 

Today, women in the tech world comprise only 33% of the industry makeup. However, as women leaders continue to expand and inspire within the industry, at ACF we are not only confident that women will break the 3:1 ratio in years to come but are players in making that happen.

Let's dive right into the stories of Nikki and Hari, two burgeoning Systems Analyst talents at ACF Technologies. With backgrounds steeped in education and a shared passion for learning and development, their transition into tech underscores the diverse paths that lead women into this field.

Their conversation reveals a journey filled with challenges and triumphs, highlighting the resilience and adaptability of women navigating the tech industry. Nikki's recount of transitioning from a decade-long hiatus as a stay-at-home mom into a tech role is nothing short of inspiring. It serves as a powerful reminder that the barriers to re-entry can be surmounted with dedication and with the right opportunities for growth.

Hari's reflections on the mutual support between colleagues shines a light on the importance of fostering an inclusive work environment. Their stories highlight the value of creating spaces where learning from one another isn't just encouraged—it's celebrated.
Both emphasize the critical need for continued education, mentorship, and policies that support work-life balance, particularly for working mothers. These elements are crucial in not only attracting but retaining talent in the tech industry.

Their advice to young women venturing into tech is poignant—don't be overshadowed, be proactive in learning, and always be true to yourself. Their journeys are not only about personal growth but also about paving the way for others.

The narrative of Nikki and Hari is a testament to the power of resilience, the importance of support systems, and the boundless opportunities that the tech industry holds for women. Their journeys provide valuable insights and encouragement for anyone looking to carve their path in this field. 

Check out the Q&A below to see how Nikki and Hari naturally showcase the way women support each other in an industry predominantly run by male counterparts, as well as the friendship surrounding their journey. 

Q&A with Hari and Nikki

1. Can you tell us about your journey into the tech industry? What inspired you to pursue a career in technology?

Hari: My path to my current career started with my first computer. I found I was natural with it; my friends and co-workers would come to me for help. I became a teacher and moved on to video production and training and the combination of my skill set in teaching, technology, and training adults helped me to land a position in Product Training with ACF.  I learned the product as thoroughly as possible and then there was a need for help with configuration on a large enterprise project, so I offered to help. Soon, I was teaching internal classes in configuration and when an opening came up for a Systems Analyst, I applied and was promoted. I was inspired to pursue a career in technology because it is a field that is always changing and there is no shortage of opportunities to learn and grow. I enjoy this aspect of it because I’m the type of person who can get bored with repetition, and I don’t see myself ever getting bored in tech.

Nikki: I grew up with technology and have always been fascinated by it. My father kept a computer in our home, and always bought the latest tech gadgets.  I recall a friend of mine’s father had a phone in his car, one of those giant foot-long monstrosities, and I thought that was just so cool.  In college back in the early ‘90s some friends introduced me to a talker site, Foothills, where I spent some of my spare time. Those were the early days of chat rooms! When I joined the workforce, I worked in management in a variety of roles: talent, restaurant, classroom, office, and Mother. Over the years, as technology evolved, the increased access led me to be more effective in each of my positions.

Then one day you reached out to me about an opportunity here at ACF!  We are former middle school teaching teammates, and you just knew I would be a great fit as a Product Trainer.  As has been the case with us, our careers have mirrored each other, and we both moved into the Systems Analyst role at the same time.

Hari: One thing I really appreciate about working with you is that we support each other in our learning and development, first as Teachers, then Product Trainers, and now as Systems Analysts. Mutual support from colleagues is priceless!

2. What challenges have you faced as a woman in tech, and how have you overcome them?

Nikki: I believe my biggest challenge was getting back into the workforce after my years as a stay-at-home mom. I was worried that tech had left me behind. It was intimidating. My first job after 10 years as a stay-at-home mom was working in the Media Center at the local elementary school which was great because there were many opportunities for professional development in emerging technology. I took advantage of it as much as possible, regained my confidence, and realized that even though tech had come a long way since my last job, it would always move fast, and I could catch and keep up.

Hari: I can relate! Being a mother is the most important job I’ve ever had, and yet it did cause me to feel behind. It’s pretty empowering to realize that the things we do as mothers are actually quite valuable in the workforce.
Nikki: Yeah, our ability to maximize a full day of responsibilities and activities, all while navigating the many conflicting emotions of 3 different individuals!  *laughing*

3. How do you think companies can better support women in tech roles?

Hari: Support continuing education, certifications, and mentorship programs within the organization. Offer time for collaboration and team building, giving women (and everyone!) a sense of belonging. Employees perform better when they feel they matter. Notice skill sets that can transfer; many women are very oriented to details which is important in the tech field.

Nikki: Ideally, all companies should offer policies to support working mothers, through family leave, flexible work arrangements, and even on-site child-care facilities (for in-person offices).  This would support women, not only in technology, but any field.  That’s why I feel so fortunate to work for ACF.  I work remotely, and although I’m working most of my day, it’s nice to see my kids come and go from home.  In my last job, I left before everyone, and came home after everyone.  I felt like I missed out on my kids during some impressionable years.

4. What is one piece of advice you would give to young women just starting their careers in technology?

Hari: Don’t let yourself be overshadowed. Stand up, speak up, and let your voice be heard. It can be intimidating getting started in tech but remember everyone must start somewhere and most people are figuring everything out as they go. Ask questions! When other people get the opportunity to share their knowledge, that helps them, so you are helping others by letting them help you!

Nikki: Be sure to absorb all that you can, meet as many people in many as many other professional facets, and be true to yourself no matter what your focus.  Life is a journey and sometimes the best surprises are the ones you least expect. Like when a former colleague calls and tells you about a job you would be perfect for!

Hari: I’m so glad that worked out!

5. Are there any specific individuals in the tech industry who have been a source of inspiration for you? If so, why?

Hari: I admire some of our co-workers who were onboarded with very little knowledge of our Q-flow system and didn’t let that stop them from asking questions, taking courses, and getting up to speed very quickly. Now they are leading meetings and mentoring others. I admire their ability to see their potential beyond being a beginner.

Nikki: I agree! The people here at ACF have been absolutely some of the most driven, hard-working, supportive team members I’ve ever worked with! I feel very fortunate to have gotten involved with ACF.

If you want to connect via LinkedIn, you can reach Hari here.

Don't forget to check out our social channels for more involving women in the workplace, as well as more on diversity, equality, and inclusion. At ACF, "bringing customers closer" extends beyond an exceptional CX solution!