Women in Tech: Championing Innovation as a Technical Product Manager
Laserfiche was founded by Nien-Ling Wacker, a woman who began her career building custom solutions out of her home in the 1970s. She grew her business into the world’s leading ECM software company, which works to enable the digital workplace of the future. Today, she is recognized as a visionary leader and a pioneer in her field.
Wacker, along with countless other women, have made huge contributions to technology—yet women are still fighting for equality in the tech industry. As an ongoing initiative, we will highlight talented women who have excelled in the technology field.
Sarah Wefald is Technical Product Manager at Laserfiche and has been with the company for one year. In her role, Sarah works with the development and user experience teams to define and create new Laserfiche solutions. Read on to learn more about Sarah and what inspired her to work in the tech industry.
How did you become interested in a career in technology? Have you always worked in tech, or did you transfer from another industry?
I’ve been interested in technology for as long as I can remember, but it didn’t occur to me until my mid-20s that I could have a career in tech. My grandfather, a computer engineer, used to bring an old Tandy machine with him on holiday visits when I was a kid. It was important to him to teach me basic DOS commands and make sure I learned how to type, use word processing applications, and eventually, how to make websites using HTML (this was the 90s, and I was a kid, so I was all about blinking marquee text and animated GIFs).
Just before the 2008 crash, I was part of a mass layoff from what was my dream job at the time as a product manager at a record label. The experience convinced me to go back to school and learn more about the coding skills my grandfather had introduced me to. The label eventually hired me again in a different department, and I started moving in a more digital/technological direction within the music industry. Eventually, I started building websites and managing social media for bands, then started doing the same for small businesses. This led to a product/project management job at a digital agency outside the music industry. And now, I’m back in product management!
During your time at Laserfiche, what are some of your projects or achievements that you are most proud of?
Getting to be a part of the process automation launch for Laserfiche Cloud was exciting. But I’m the most proud of the work we do as a team. Together, we figure out ways to improve our software and automate processes to make things easier to maintain. It’s really exciting to see all the pieces fall into place.
What advice would you give to other women who are interested in joining the tech industry? What about if they have no experience or formal education in technology?
Find a group of people who are doing what you want to do, and go to their events. Meetup.com is a great resource for this. You may not understand anything they’re talking about at first, and that is OK. In those situations, challenge yourself to learn rather than be intimidated.
The moment I decided to stop feeling discouraged by how much everyone else seemed to know was when I really started to learn the fundamentals of the industry.
What is the best career advice you have ever received?
My first mentor taught me that it is OK to not know how to do something as long as I am willing to learn how to do it. Another taught me the value of “Dance like nobody’s watching; email like it’s being read into a deposition.”
If you could spend a day with any woman in history, who would it be and why?
If I could spend a day with any woman in history, it would be Hedy Lamarr. While she was best known for her work as a Hollywood movie star from the 1930’s-1950’s, she also invented technology for the Navy that later enabled Bluetooth and Wi-Fi.
Join our team of talented, driven, innovative women in tech. Learn about opportunities at Laserfiche.