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Shopgate’s Casey Gannon discusses how her career trajectory launched her into the tech field.

By Shelly Seale, Photo by Lakshan Weeraratne

Casey Gannon spent her entire childhood traveling to exotic locales throughout the world. With a father who was a civil-service engineer, she and her family lived in places such as the Philippines, the Azores and Japan, to name a few.

While in Japan, Gannon’s parents started a maintenance-supply business for government contracts in Asia. As a teenager, Gannon started working side by side with them, learning administrative skills like accounting, payroll, business management and bidding on government contracts. The experience taught her something else, as well: just how much work it takes to run a company.

“I learned that if you aren’t passionate about your work, you have a higher probability of failing, and life, in general, is a lot less fun,” Gannon says. “I was captivated by international trade and understanding different economies and the cultures that drive them.”

In 2001, she moved to Austin to study international business at St. Edward’s University, continuing there to obtain her master’s degree in 2007. She fully intended to return to Japan to continue working in the family company, but during her last year of grad school, two major events occurred that changed the course of her life: Gannon’s parents sold their company, and a member of the Sustainable Energy Utility advisory board offered Gannon an internship at a tech startup he was launching.

“When we sold our company, it left me in a position to reconsider what I really wanted to do with my life,” Gannon says. “I had zero experience in [technology marketing], but was willing to put in the hours to figure it out.”

Gannon was apprehensive about it, as she wasn’t sure she had the creative knack for marketing.

“I’m extremely pragmatic and logical,” she says. “But it turned out that my creativity came in the ability to be resourceful, see the big picture and figure out which puzzle pieces were needed to get there.”

After working for several startups focused on consumer mobile apps, in December 2015, Gannon took on the role of vice president of marketing, services and partnerships at Shopgate, a retail mobile-commerce platform.

“It’s so rewarding to have such a direct impact on the success and direction of the business and the opportunity to define the company culture,” she says. “It’s even more satisfying to work with such an inspiring group of smart people who are shifting and redefining what today’s workforce looks like.”

Gannon’s career in tech marketing hasn’t been without its challenges, though. The rapid growth at Shopgate—expanding from a team of two to a staff of 45 in just a year and a half—is one of them. Another more obvious challenge is that of being a woman in a male-dominated industry. According to {Business Insider}, more than half of all tech companies have no women in executive positions, and 70 percent of tech companies don’t have a single female board member.

“Bro culture is real, and women are underrepresented in the tech world,” Gannon says. “I’ve dealt with an incredible number of demeaning comments and experiences. I’ve been asked about my kiddo in interviews.”

She adds that sexual harassment doesn’t even faze her anymore. Still, she says she doesn’t personally feel held back within the industry.

“I pick my battles and teachable moments, and I don’t shy away from sharing my opinions,” she says. “I’ve made lifelong friendships with some incredible men and women in the tech industry, and been given chances to advance my career and passions without hesitation from both male and female leaders. I applaud all of the effort from groups like bossbabesATX and Girls Who Code to drive awareness and encourage women to continue to expand into the tech field.”

Here, Gannon offers five solid pieces of advice for women for getting ahead in whatever career they choose, and balancing the various ups and downs of life.

Build a community.
“Don’t try to do it all yourself. Between family and friends, I have a great support network to help usher my son around to activities and watch him when I need to go out of town for work. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, and be there for others in return.”

Network.
“My career growth was significantly impacted by the people I had taken the time to get to know.”

Don’t be a “yes” woman.
“Many people, but women, in particular, shy away from voicing a dissenting opinion or challenging the norm. Be prepared to defend your stance, but let your voice and ideas be heard.”

Take care of yourself.
“My priorities have always been my son, my work, and {then} myself, but I suffered. I didn’t take enough care of myself because I was too busy taking care of everyone else. Once I made myself a priority with exercise and nutrition, I felt like a better parent and employee. I also use a lot of services, like Instacart, to give me back more free time from mundane tasks. I have more energy, a more positive attitude and am overall more confident.”

Do the things you fear.
“One year, this was my resolution: to do all of the things I feared, within reason. I feared public speaking, so as soon as I was asked to speak, I sucked it up and did it. Now I speak regularly. If you fail, you learn, but either way, you grow. And more than likely, you’ll shock yourself.”

 

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