This blog is part of our ongoing Women in Technology series.

Baraq Wani is a Senior Manager at Consilio. She has over 15 years of technology experience, with the last 10 years primarily within the eDiscovery industry. Baraq is responsible for executing the product roadmap, developing and managing product requirements, and driving the successful delivery of products to market. Part of her success as a Product Manager is attributed to the relationships she has built across the organization, including Engineering, UX/Design, Support, Operations and Customer Success teams. This collaborative approach helps deliver the most effective and innovative solutions to our clients.

Baraq is fluent in four languages and has a degree in International Business from The Ohio State University (Go Buckeyes!). She currently resides in Kansas City, Missouri.

How did you get into this industry?

I didn’t know much about eDiscovery when I started in this industry 10 years ago. Fortunately, Product Management is an industry agnostic career path, and I’ve been in the Product Management space for 15+ years. I started my career at AOL/CompuServe when Netscape was all the rage, and dial-up was still a thing (sadly something my teenager has never heard of!). AOL was expanding its global reach and my small team was responsible for managing the build out of new web portals in Europe, Asia and South America. I really enjoyed being on the innovative side of technology and managing the product lifecycle from start to finish. When I decided to go back to work after my son was born, I was approached by an eDiscovery company that was building out their Product team and was immediately interested in being a part of the growth of this global organization. I quickly dove into the technology side of eDiscovery, helping to build the platforms necessary for our PM and Operations teams to support our clients and their litigation matters. When I was considering a career change a few years ago, there was an opportunity to work for Consilio when there was a need to expand the Product organization to grow our Sightline platform. I was eager to jump in on the fun and I have not looked back since.

What were some pivotal moments in your career that helped to get you to where you are today?

I was fresh out of college when I started at AOL. I was young, inexperienced, and felt like a little fish in the ocean coming into a place where people had been working together for 15+ years. It was intimidating. I questioned my place there regularly, but was committed to proving myself and remained focused. I started to wear different hats and didn’t put myself or my capabilities in a box. After a couple of promotions and a few years of surviving several massive layoffs, my team of 20+ dwindled down to just 3. I realized that my determination paid off. Despite my young age, I felt more confident, mature, and ready to tackle anything put in front of me. This determination has persisted through my career. I don’t limit myself to accomplishing something because I’m in a certain role or have a certain title. I commit myself to the journey.

Have you ever noticed a time in your career where your gender proved to differentiate you?

Most definitely. One example from the beginning of my career is when I was told that the way I was communicating wasn’t professional, that I shouldn’t add more than one exclamation point (!!!) in my sentences and I shouldn’t use smiley faces “:)” in my emails (emojis were still new then). I remember thinking it was because I was just a young bubbly female out of college excited to play in the big leagues and that I should probably listen to this male leader who had far more experience than me. Fast forward 20 years and here we are ALL using emojis every day!!! 😊

Fortunately, I’ve had some great mentors and colleagues along the way who always make me feel supported and remind me of my strengths and value. It’s important to surround yourself with people who will build you up, not tear you down.

What is your advice for someone working in a predominately male workplace?

Advocate for yourself and feel confident knowing you are where you are for good reason. Don’t let gender, race, age, orientation, education or experience define you or what you have to offer. Focus instead on your skills and contributions to the team and continue to give 110% every day.

What do you think companies could do to motivate more women to pursue careers in technology?

Diversity and inclusion should be reflected within any organization, and having female representation at all levels is important. The opportunities for careers in technology are growing globally and companies should continue to hire and promote the right ‘person’ for the job, regardless of gender. Empowering the women on your teams will encourage them to do the same for others. Support and encourage women to find a good work/life balance so they can be successful both inside and outside the workplace.