Winning ‘Rising Star’ helped Lindsay Siovaila grow Girl Develop It and spotlight tech diversity
Lindsay Siovaila is the graphic designer and self-taught software developer who accelerated her career into full-time development at Salesforce after creating an app on her own that caught the attention of then CEO Scott McCorkle and influenced the Marketing Cloud’s enterprise email tool.
Today she’s a lead solutions developer with Salesforce and she’s a well-known advocate for diversity in tech as chapter founder of Girl Develop It Indianapolis, a non-profit organization that offers affordable and judgment-free opportunities for women interested in learning web and software development.
Lindsay was selected by the independent Mira Awards judges as last year’s ‘Best of Tech in Indiana’ Rising Star award recipient. Winning the award shined a spotlight on Lindsay and Girl Develop It that increased awareness and swelled the organization’s membership ranks past the 1,000 mark — a significant milestone making it one of the largest meetups of its kind in Indianapolis.
We caught up with Lindsay this fall to find out how she’s been doing, what it was like for her winning the Rising Star award, and what impact winning the award has had on her and the organization she founded over the past eight months.
Did you or Girl Develop It experience any immediate gains after winning a Mira Award?
LINDSAY: Winning a Mira award definitely put a spotlight on Girl Develop It and validated the importance of increasing diversity in the Indianapolis tech community. The award is a testament to our incredible community of leaders, teachers, volunteers and students who have created a place where women and minority groups in tech are welcomed and embraced at all points on their learning journey. Our brand awareness has also increased as a group and enabled us to reach more women in the city who want to explore tech and learn how to code.
Since winning a Mira award, how has Girl Develop It grown or transformed?
Right after the Miras, our membership on Meetup surpassed 1,000 members, which was a great milestone to achieve as we’re now in the ranks of some of the biggest tech meetups in the city. In general, I think the group as a whole has matured a lot this year, and we feel more confident in our mission and what we’re doing. More stories continue to come out of our group of people who have changed their lives by getting involved with GDI. We are now known as a place where women can connect with others in the community who will genuinely help them navigate the tech landscape, whether it’s getting help with a coding exercise, figuring out what coding courses to attend, or making an introduction to someone at a company they’re interested in. We’ve also had several students become volunteers in the classroom, and begun paying it forward to the next generation of women learning how to code.
What role do you feel winning the Mira award played in this growth/transformation?
Today, when someone says they are involved with Girl Develop It or say they have taken a class with us, I think it means something in the context of Indianapolis and the tech scene now, whereas a few years ago when we were just getting started, no one really knew who we were or what we were doing. Most of our awareness was through word-of-mouth and people generally just trusting us when they decided to attend one of our events and classes. Having a Mira award backing the GDI mission has only solidified our brand and given us more credibility in the city which, I think, gives our students and team more confidence in what we’re doing to transform the landscape of what it looks like to be a person in tech.
What advice do you have for people considering applying for the Mira Awards this year? Is it worth it?
The Miras truly are “the Oscars for Tech” and it’s a huge honor to be nominated for an award. If you’re an individual thinking about applying, you should absolutely go for it. Honestly, last year people were encouraging me to apply, and I almost didn’t. I think it’s easy at times to undervalue your own story when you compare yourself to others, but I would challenge anyone who is doubting their accomplishments to throw their name into the hat for a Mira anyway, because your story carries more weight than you probably give yourself credit for or even realize, and it’s worth being heard.
What is it like hearing your company name called out from the stage at the Mira Awards gala?
I was so overwhelmed with gratitude when I heard my name called out from the stage at the Mira Awards gala. While the award was an individual recognition, I felt like winning was a huge testament to everyone in my life who has been there for me as a mentor, teammate, and friend over the years as I have navigated my career. Many of those people were in attendance that night, and it was the greatest feeling in the world to celebrate with all of them.
It also felt like a huge win for women in tech, as well. It was a great feeling knowing that the judges valued the work we’ve been doing with Girl Develop It and the community we’ve been building, and saw the importance and value in that.
What’s next for Girl Develop It? How are things going?
Things are going great for Girl Develop It! This summer, we hosted our largest event to date, which was a conversation with leaders from the city on how we can recruit, retain, and promote more women in tech. It was the start of an important discussion that everyone needs to have if we care about building up talent at all levels in the workforce.
We’ve also been growing our leadership team and volunteer base so we can scale our operations in 2018 and continue to offer more events and classes that will impact the community.
Learn more about Lindsay and Girl Develop It in this story from last year’s Mira Awards winner announcements.
Applications and nominations are now open for the 2018 TechPoint Mira Awards. Visit https://techpoint.org/mira for more.