As part of our “Chatting with Female Leaders” Series, Girls in Tech NYC recently sat down with Anna Chalon, Sr. Director of Talent and DE&I at Frame.io. Anna joined the company as the 50th employee, and it now has over 250 employees globally. When it comes to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I), it’s something she has been passionate about from a young age. When she got into tech, Anna realized she could have a real impact on helping change the landscape and allowing more people the opportunity to be considered for positions. Read our full conversation below.
Girls in Tech: Tell us about yourself.
Anna Chalon: I’m originally from Paris, France, where I studied Law before moving to London for a year to study guitar and songwriting.
I moved to NYC 9 years ago to pursue a singer-songwriter career, which I did for about 3 years, among many other side jobs! Eventually, I got approved for a Green Card and landed my very first corporate job at Unilever where I worked on a contract for 9 months. I later transitioned into tech as a Recruiting Coordinator at a marketing SaaS company called Percolate, where I worked for about 3 years.
I started as a Coordinator but quickly moved to a Full Cycle Recruiter before being promoted to lead the Recruiting team (across NY and SF).
I was then recruited over by Frame.io, at the time, a Series B video collaboration software company with 50 employees. They were looking for someone to build the recruiting function pretty much from scratch, which I was really excited to do. 3 years later, I’m now the Sr. Director of Talent and DE&I and lead a team of 7. The company as a whole has scaled up to over 250 employees with plans for a lot more growth!
GIT: How do you see the future of work – remote or hybrid?
AC: I think it will continue being more and more remote but that some people will still want some face time with others. So some kind of hybrid solution seems like it could become the new normal. I personally think it’s a good thing because it expands the pool of candidates and will allow candidates outside of the traditional tech company location like SF and NY to have better access to these kinds of opportunities. My hope is that this could make tech more accessible to a wider group of individuals from diverse backgrounds.
GIT: If you could go back to when you were just getting into the field, what advice would you give your younger self?
AC: I feel like so much learning comes from experiencing things first hand, making mistakes and learning from them. As someone who is a bit of a perfectionist, it was hard to understand the importance of not getting everything right the first time and the value that taking risk and learning on the job can bring. So my main advice would be to be comfortable making mistakes and not knowing everything and remember to ask questions!
GIT: What’s the most rewarding project you’ve worked on?
AC: Anything related to increasing diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace really. I don’t know if it is one specific project but more the little things like someone pinging me to say that they felt heard and seen for the first time or someone sharing openly something personal to them because they felt safe doing so in the environment that was created. I can’t really think of anything else that brings me this type of fulfillment. It is hard work and never ending since we can always do more and be better, so these moments are precious to me and a good reminder to keep going and try even harder the next day.
GIT: What has been the biggest change you’ve seen in the industry in the last 5-10 years?
AC: In the last 5 years, I’ve seen diversity and inclusion topics come up more and more in the industry. It’s been interesting to witness especially since I’ve been a big advocate for it for a while now. My only hope is that all of the talks around it will actually lead to actions. As we know, DE&I can be talked about a lot with little to no follow through. So I’m hopeful that it will lead to something productive and impactful but waiting to see the results before getting too optimistic.
GIT: What changes do you anticipate in the future?
AC: My optimism wants me to say I’m anticipating the tech industry to become a more diverse and inclusive space, which would allow people from all backgrounds to see themselves represented and see people who look like them thrive in that field, but again, I’m cautiously optimistic.
GIT: Any tips and tricks for getting into tech?
AC: I would recommend getting a good understanding of all the different roles available within the industry first. Sometimes people assume they have to be highly technical in order to break into the industry whereas there are a lot of different paths like sales, marketing, design, recruiting etc. So a good place to start is to think of your skills and traits and see what role/focus seems most aligned. And from there making sure to update your resume and LinkedIn profile to reflect the focus you chose and then start applying.
I would also recommend connecting and reaching out to people on LinkedIn who work for the company you’re applying for and try to understand from them what it takes to work there etc.
The last one would be to be persistent and try to get better after each interview and then role play with a friend or in front of a mirror.
Before getting into tech myself, I applied to over 200 jobs and had no prior relevant experience so I understand the challenge for sure!
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This post was written by Stephanie Loewenstern, voluntary board member at Girls in Tech NYC.