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03.05.2021

Women in Tech Tampa Bay: Ally Gannon, Marketing Director at Synapse

In celebration of International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month, Embarc Collective is excited to introduce you to Women in Tech Tampa Bay — a content series profiling women who are building at Embarc Collective and how they’ve built their careers.

Meet more women tech founders and investors across the state of Florida here.

What pivotal points in your career led to your current role?

It’s going to sound cliché, but the ugly, unhappy, tough and trying periods in my career are what led me here. There are definitely a handful of wonderful moments in there as well. Times when I experienced lift through mentorship (thank you AMA Tampa Bay past presidents Greg Millman, Glenn Zimmerman, and Colleen Chappell) and of support and excellent leadership (thank you Kelly Pyper, Mike Barbaro, and Dan Dunnivant). But, for the most part, I got here by listening to my gut and getting out of jobs and roles that were not a good fit for me.

What do you wish you had known earlier in your career?

What I wanted! Ha! Finding the right role is like dating to find a love match. You just don’t know what works and doesn’t until you live it; until you experience it. I do wish I’d learned how to recognize those ill-fitting roles and jobs more quickly though. Don’t get me wrong, the duration sometimes was just as formative as the intensity of the hardships, but there were times in my early career that I hung on to a job because I thought. “This is what work is! You’ve got to grin and bear it and keep your head down, and eventually, you’ll get promoted and be above it.” About halfway through my career, I realized promotions won’t protect you, and there isn’t really a perfect company. They’re flawed, all of them, and what I uncovered is that working for a company (and leader) that valued transparency in trying to be better mattered to ME. My career love match includes working for companies and leaders that do their best, that acknowledge their faults, are quick to apologize and correct, and who walk the talk of constant improvement. Using the dating analogy again, that’s who I want to build a future with. Just keep in mind, with each relationship your check-list changes and so does the priority of those must-haves.

What communities, networks, or resources have helped you build in your career?

The American Marketing Association of Tampa Bay was a huge platform for me. I learned so much from being on the board, and from the community as a whole. But I’ll say, personal connections have really been the biggest catalysts for my career. I think every woman needs to have:

  • Personal Board of Directors — A close and diverse network of girlfriends that are open, honest, and unafraid to share their perspectives with you
  • Friend-tor — Amentor that’s invested emotionally in your success
  • Samsies — A close friend (or two) that are EXACTLY like you so you can act as each other’s mirrors
  • A Benefactor — This is someone that’s usually at the very top with many more years experience, ideally an accessible leader, but not a friend. Someone willing to invest their time in you. I guess you could call them a Mentor, but for me it was more than that. I was lucky enough to have a handful of benefactors in my life; people that knew how to “play the game”, understand how personal equity works, and were willing to impart their knowledge. They trusted me with information above my paygrade so I could see the full picture.

What is one piece of tactical advice that you would give to another woman considering your career path?

Keep your must have’s checklist handy and up to date, and find your benefactors! The personal board, the samsies, and the friend-tors will come along organically, and it’s your job to keep your eyes open to recognize them when they do. But benefactors can be cultivated. I found mine by being brave, honest, and unafraid to ask questions. It is a risk worth taking.

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Allie Felix
Director of Programming & Partnerships at Embarc Collective
Allie Felix
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