Colette D’Alessandro: Passionate About People, Passionate About Tech
In our last installment of the Women in Tech series, we introduced you to Archana Ramamoorthy, director of product management at Workday. This time, we’re chatting with Colette D’Alessandro, an account manager at Ping Identity.
Graduating with a Bachelor’s degree in Spanish for the Professions, Colette then went on to receive her Masters in International Business and Entrepreneurship from the University of Colorado at Denver. Her Masters’ degree, along with her Irish citizenship, has allowed her to relocate from her hometown of Denver, Colorado across the pond to London, UK.
In her spare time, Colette helped found Women in Identity (WiD), a professional networking group to help connect, support and uplift women pursuing careers in technology.
Currently, she serves on the WiD Steering Committee and is passionate about fostering mentorship and connections amongst women in the identity community.
Interested to learn more about Colette, we asked her an array of questions about everything from her involvement with WiD, to what she would title her Ted Talk, to what she loves most about working in identity.
Trulioo: I understand that you are part of the WiD leadership team. How long have you been part of this team and what prompted you to get involved with WiD in the first place?
Colette: I’ve been on the leadership team for WiD for two years now, and we’ve gained some serious momentum this past year with our numerous speaking and networking events; building out our website to highlight different WiD profiles, and hosting meetups at various conferences worldwide. It’s no secret that technology is a male-dominated industry, and this is especially true within identity. Ultimately, the goal of WiD is for women in the industry to be seen, heard, and supported by an army of women with similar interests and career goals. “Personally, I feel lucky to have had such wonderful female mentors help me throughout my career.” Personally, I feel lucky to have had such wonderful female mentors help me throughout my career.” – @colettelda
Trulioo: What is the biggest challenge that women are currently facing within the Identity industry?
Colette: It is easy to feel isolated as a woman in this career space. Hearing from other females in the field may help women to address their unique challenges, hear each other’s innovative ideas and lean on each other for support. WiD is a tool to help women create this sense of community as they work to advance in their careers.
Trulioo: Why, in your opinion, is it so important to have a balanced and diverse workforce?
Colette: I think it is incredibly important to have diversity in the workplace, especially in technology, in order to create inclusive products that help all user types. If only a small, homogeneous pool of people create the technology we all use, it’s likely not helping each person to its highest capacity.
Besides producing technologies that are inclusive and thus more effective, diversity in the workplace allows for innovation that creates impact. Diversity of gender, race, age, and experience are only some of the ingredients that allow organizations to create far-reaching and cutting-edge technologies that can positively impact the world.
Trulioo: If you had to name the thing you loved most about working in the Identity industry, what would it be?
Colette: I love working with people in technology, particularly my peers at Ping here in London and back home in Denver. The people in this field are hardworking, intelligent and forward thinking and it feels good to be surrounded by peers who support me and my career. It keeps me on my toes and allows me to continue to learn new things every day with the help some of the smartest people I’ve had the privilege to meet. “I love that the #technology and possibilities within the industry are constantly evolving” – @colettelda
Trulioo: How did you find yourself landing a career in Identity?
Colette: As a matter of fact, another woman working in the identity arena brought me into this industry. My first job after earning my Bachelor’s degree was at an agile project management software company in Boulder, Colorado. My father, who is also in the software industry, knew it would be important for me to meet other women working in the field and introduced me to his friend and former colleague at Ping Identity. This introduction began a wonderful mentorship and friendship, and with her support and encouragement, I applied to work at Ping. The rest is history, and our relationship has been a huge inspiration for me to make Women in Identity a success.
Trulioo: What aspect of Identity do you think is most important?
Colette: Identity is at the core of everything we do. It encompasses more than just our technological preferences but also who we are as individuals. I am fascinated by how each day identity becomes an increasingly important and interconnected technology. Whether it’s opening a bank account, watching Netflix, or setting up the TV in your new home, digital identity secures your privacy and shapes your user experience. This reiterates the need for diversity in this career space, in order to produce technology that meets the needs of each individual experience.
Trulioo: What is the future of Identity?
Colette: As people increasingly use technology to streamline their lives and keep pace with these advancements, there will be a need for one comprehensive source to save people’s preferences and to provide them with important securities. More than that, there will be a need for each individual to maintain his or her unique technological profiles, which is the bedrock of the future of Identity. “The world is rapidly evolving each and every day, and thus, so is #identity” – @colettelda
Because things can change on a daily basis in this industry, it’s tough to say exactly the future will be but I think that an important area to keep an eye on is where Identity will change the financial industry: how we keep track of our personal finances, how we move money across different applications and even different continents, and how to maintain ease of use while also remaining as secure as possible with people’s assets.
Trulioo: What is your personal mission?
Colette: My personal mission is simple: work hard, be nice, and never stop learning. These are the three mantras that I strive to live by each and every day. In a day and age of extreme and rapid change, this mission statement both keeps me grounded and provides me direction personally and professionally. It is another strong motivator behind why I wanted to be a part of WiD.
Trulioo: If you gave a Ted Talk about Identity, what would the title be?
Colette: An American Abroad: How my Family Heritage Shapes my Digital Identity
To learn more about Colette and keep up to date with what’s she doing, follow her on Twitter at @colettelda.
If there’s a female trailblazer that you’d like to see featured in our Women in Tech blog series, please send your suggestions to [email protected]