WIT Series: 7 Questions With RingCentral’s Jennifer Caukin
By Amy Townsend
Women-In-Tech (WIT) Series: 7 Questions With RingCentral’s Jennifer Caukin
While our 2022 winners won’t be announced until December 8th, we would like to give some special appreciation to our winners from 2021.
Keep reading for Jennifer’s answers to our 7 questions!
1. Please list 3 qualities or characteristics that you are most proud of.
1. I’m trustworthy and authentic, meaning that I am who I say I am and do what I say I’ll do.
2. I am an active driver of processes; I get things done and motivate others to do so.
3. My inclusive approach to working with others stands out; I look for opportunities to think beyond my core area and function to cross-pollinate more and to help others have opportunities to shine. Being nice is a factor in this; we all want to work around people we like.
2. What do you enjoy or find interesting about the technology field in which you work?
What I enjoy best about working in UCaaS at RingCentral is helping to power faster, better ways of doing our work–helping people and companies be more productive and more efficient.
This industry is super fast-paced and always evolving, so, to succeed in it, I have to thrive in its pace of innovation and amid constant change. It’s both challenging and immensely rewarding.
3. What changes have you noticed in your work-life balance since the shift to remote work?
My work is hybrid now, and, along with this increased flexibility and mobility, I find it easier to balance both my personal life and my work life.
I’m a mom of two teens and juggle my work with their busy schedules.
Now, it’s easier to integrate the two without skipping a beat work-wise.
My company’s tools enable me to be “always on” – so if I need to move from working behind my desktop in my office to driving my car to pick up my kids, I can click a button to switch a call or meeting to my mobile device without the people on the other end even knowing.
Such tools facilitate continuous collaboration, and I feel that families like mine see and reap the benefits from this continuity.
That’s the underpinning of what RingCentral does, making communication and collaboration simpler.
4. What is a major challenge you’ve faced in your career and how did you overcome it?
In advancing my career, I’ve had to look actively for ways to expand my own skill base and knowledge in new areas and to fight my “comfort zone.”
For example, I loved working in analyst relations, but advancement meant looking to do more, different things that I didn’t yet know or love – which involved taking a leap of faith to dive deep into things new to me, like executive communications.
Now, I love new challenges and welcome opportunities for new areas of focus, and embrace the opportunities to step up and expand my skill set.
I’ve seen how that helps me to reach new heights in my career, versus complacency which doesn’t lead to growth.
5. Are there enough opportunities for women in tech (WIT)? How would you assess the progress women have made in the tech industry?
It feels as though we’re still in the early days of seeing a big shift toward greater gender equality in tech; while gaps are beginning to close, there’s still a long way to go.
I see meaningful investment in creating more and more equal opportunities for women in tech, with more companies being mindful of factors like salary equality.
Being a woman in tech still requires a lot of individual responsibility, though.
Women–all people really–have to take responsibility for their own careers and for making them what they want them to be by asking for what they deserve and making those things happen.
I feel like a big difference in tech since I started in this industry is that there is now a greater awareness of the gender gap and more opportunities being seized to close it.
Also, the benefits of greater diversity throughout companies are recognized now.
We still need many more female role models and leaders in C-suites and boardrooms, though.
I think about this a lot when it comes to raising my own daughter.
We have to raise our girls to recognize their own power, advocate for themselves, stand up for themselves, boldly offer counterpoints when appropriate, and enable their capability.
Raising this next generation of girls who will make a difference in the world nowadays is different from how I was raised as a first-generation Chinese-American.
Where my parents expected excellence especially academically, I’m teaching my daughter to expect it for herself both in and out of school and how to poise herself to seize it.
6. What are some things you think should be addressed on macro, peer, and educational levels to encourage women to feel empowered in the tech industry?
Macro: On a macro level, there are many opportunities for women to be poised to succeed while making the world a better place – like in addressing the energy crisis.
We know that women are drawn to such “make a difference” roles and industries; let’s capitalize on that!
Peer: I’d encourage women to be open to and value learning from a wide variety of sources and people. Peer mentorship is a wonderful and sometimes underused thing.
Educational: We need to encourage women to go for leadership roles while they’re still young, like in high school. This will lead to them having more leadership roles in the industry later.
7. What would you say to younger generations of girls or women that are interested in entering the technology industry?
I’d impress upon younger generations the importance of advocating for yourself – to ask for and expect what you deserve.
This starts at a way younger age than a first job, really while you’re still a kid in school. Why not embrace that you’ll end up in a top leadership role later and work toward that expectation now?
Become more involved in sports teams, in volunteering for things that matter to you, and/or in your school leadership to practice/exercise rising in leadership. Don’t wait–not in school and not early in your career.
It’s also important to double down on the areas of skills and training you need to learn.
Talk with people working in fields you’re interested in to learn what those things are – then, pick a lane and stick to it.
Look for and value your mentors along the way. I had an early boss in PR take me under her wing and train and mentor me, which ended up really mattering and influencing the arc of my career.
That’s a Wrap!
Thank you Jennifer for taking the time to answer these 7 questions for our Women-In-Tech blog series!
We appreciate your insights on navigating a career in the tech industry and your advice for future Women-In-Tech leaders.
If you want to hear more of Jennifer’s insights, you can catch her on our Women-In-Tech panel for Transform Tour 2022, which aired live in September. Watch her and more of our featured Women-In-Tech guest speakers on-demand for free here.