16 min read

Women in Electronics with Jackie Mattox

Research shows that diversity and inclusion leads to higher revenue and profits. How can technical companies start from where they are to improve in these areas?

 

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Jackie Mattox, Founder and President of Women in Electronics, has experienced first-hand the triumphs and tribulations that come from working in the male-dominated field of electronics. Her passion now is to support women of all stages in their careers through mentorship, education, and leadership development. She also wants to educate companies on the benefits of investing in women leaders, and help them identify ways to get started or improve.

During this episode, you'll learn about Jackie's career path that led her to start Women in Electronics, more about the mission of the organization, and where they are focusing their marketing efforts in 2021. 

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Transcript

The following transcript was created by an AI Bot which has yet to learn slang words and decipher Wendy's Texas accent. While it is no substitute for watching/listening to the episode, transcripts are handy for a quick scan. Enjoy!

Did you realize that inclusion and diversity leads to higher revenue and higher profits? I think I got your attention with that one, Today you'll learn about Women in Electronics, which is an organization dedicated to mentorship and education, helping women in all stages of their careers grow and support one another. And the organization isn't just for women. So in this episode, you'll learn what they're all about, how you can plug in, and then we'll talk about some of their marketing focus areas for 2021.

Let's do this.

Welcome to Content Marketing, Engineered. Your source for building trust and generating demand with technical content. Here is your host, Wendy Covey.

Hi, and welcome to Content Marketing, Engineered. On each episode, I'll break down an industry trend, challenge, or best practice in reaching technical audiences. You'll meet colleagues, friends, and clients of mine who will stop by to share their stories. And I hope that you leave each episode feeling inspired and ready to take action. Before we jump in, I'd like to give a brief shout out to my agency. TREW Marketing. TREW is a full service agency located in beautiful Austin, Texas, serving highly technical companies.

For more information, visit trewmarketing.com. And now on with our podcast. Hey, everyone, I'm joined today by Jackie Mattox. She's the founder and president of Women in Electronics. Hi, Jackie. Hi. Thank you so much for being here today.

I'm honored. I'm excited to see you and talk to you today.

Well, I thought we would start by hearing a little bit about your background and what led you to start this wonderful organization.

Oh, my goodness. That's kind of a lot. I'll try to make it really quick. I started in the industry when I was in college and fell in love with the industry at a very young age. I had a lot of great mentors and just kind of worked my way up in the industry. I was young and energetic and had some early successes and had a lot of great mentors, so just ended up staying in the industry. And it's just been a very nice community and a great industry to grow and develop.

And so anyway, that's that's my why I'm here. I was just kind of landed here like a lot of other people.

Now before, you know, founding the organization, you were in Supply-Chain, right? As a salesperson?

I wasn't necessarily in Supply-Chain. I was in the channel. I was a rep working for English technical sales for many years. I started in college with them basically as a bean counter, counting inventory on shelves, stocking shelves, working for the general line distributors up in L.A. And then I moved over to the other side to call on OEM customers. I did not have a technical background, but fortunately I worked for a company who was willing to train me and let me grow in that area.

So over the years, you just go through so many product trainings and so many different things that you end up becoming more technical than you realized. I always have so much to learn in the industry because it's always growing and changing. But I feel like I eventually started to kind of catch my breath with all of it. And I found my passion and distribution as far as I was a rep. But I was calling on distributors and forming relationships and working out package deals for people.

And that's where I really found my niche was working with people. And so I had my career in the industry for so many years. And then I hopped out to raise my children. My husband was traveling the world and somebody needed to be home with the children. So I did that not knowing at the time that I really didn't necessarily have to hop out. And that is one of the reasons that we're here now with women electronics, because we have a lot of young rising women in their careers as well.

And if I had only known the questions to ask, if I had only known some options, I potentially could have worked it out to have my career as well and not have to take such a long break. But when I came back into the industry, it was a very rare situation because I literally hopped out for years and came back to exactly the same company, exactly the same position, which is a very strange, unique situation. And right when I came back, I started traveling to all the executive conferences like I had been prior, and I noticed that everything was the same.

I was I was not expecting that. I really thought I was going to be one of the older ones, whereas I had been one of the younger ones all the time. I thought there would be more women. I thought there was going. Be more diversity, and I was really surprised when I came back that it all looked the same and granted I was so happy to see a lot of my colleagues I had worked with and mentors people that I admired and respected was so happy to see them.

But I was a little alarmed that I didn't see anybody new coming up. So I thought, oh, my goodness. So that is really what sparked women in electronics, is that fresh set of eyes coming into a mature industry to say, oh, my goodness, what does it look like moving beyond us? Like where's the next generation coming in? Where's the gaps and where do we have to come together as an industry to make sure we leave the industry better than where we found it?

Wonderful, and you know, what you describe is hits home to me and so many women listening of these important decisions that you need to make when you do start a family. And how does that impact my career? And what can I do here? Should I. Are there part time opportunities or, you know, do I leave my career completely or work full time? And it's it's it can be a tough thing, especially, as you mentioned, in a dynamic, fast changing industry that we're in, in electronics.

So this is so nice that you've created a resource for other women to talk and say, I've been there and here are the choices I made and here's what I learned through that. So what what is the charter of the organization and what what are you hoping women get out of their membership?

OK, so the charter of the organization is to open the opportunities for women in the industry to not only come into the industry, but to advance in the industry. We have about from what we could gather, we have about 15 percent women in leadership positions. That's decision making positions in the industry. And all the data supports that. The more diverse you are in your decision making, if you have that diverse talent, the diverse way of thinking, the more diverse you can get, the more profits go up.

So if we look at just the data, the data supports that it is very economical to have women in those decision making positions. And we're only at about 15 percent. We're in a very innovative industry. So it really is the right time. We really need to be responsible about what we're doing, not only doing the right thing to give the opportunity to the women, but to also honor the industry at the same time to give ourselves the best shot at all the innovation.

We're impacting the globe. We're impacting the world. I feel like in our industry, people lose sight of what we bring to this globe. All the advances we see, all the technical innovation. It's so critical what we're doing. So we need to look at ourselves and say, what are we doing to be the most responsible we could be, to be the most innovative we could be, to offer the best solutions we can to our customers. And really part of that is being diverse minded.

We find that our customers are tend to be more diverse, but our sales channel is not as diverse. And so there's like a disconnect that happens. Yeah. So I think and even you being in marketing, you can see how that impacts the whole sales process. So within women, electronics are our wheelhouse is gender parity. That's where we spend our time researching. That's where we spend our efforts because the the whole concept of diversity and inclusion, we should talk about inclusion more, but there's so much to it.

So we have to focus on where we can focus and make an impact, and that's gender parity. Now, within that, we hope there is age diversity. We hope there's ethnic diversity in all kinds of diversity. But our wheelhouse is really that gender parity.

OK, so with that charter in mind, I imagine there's a lot of member networking and women sharing stories and helping each other work through some tough decisions within their careers.

Yes. So we have a few main buckets at women in electronics. So going back to what I said before, when we were first starting women electronics like you when you started your company, I noticed there was a need. Right. You notice there's a need for something and nobody was really talking about it. So the first step was pulling all the women together to form a community of women coming together to say we do have some separate issues as women leaders.

How do we unite with our male counterparts? So women in electronics, we're not about division on any level. We don't look back. We only look forward. It's not a pointing the fingers on any level. It's a matter of here's where we are now. Let's just grab each other by the hand and move forward. Right. There's no right or wrong. There's so many people even we find on the whole inclusion, the diversity spectrum. They don't hop in because they know they're a little off the mark.

They don't even know where to start. And so they don't do anything or kind of like a deer in the headlights. But my message would be, there's no blame, there's no shame. Just happen wherever you're at, you just take a step from where you're at and that's the best thing you can do. And there's no there's only progress. There's no perfection. Right. In any of the companies and in any person. Right. So. Right.

Hop in where you're at and there's no blame. It's just just. Or from where you are and you'll start to see some progress and once you see the results, it's kind of like working out, you know, you just got to start somewhere. You could be 20 pounds overweight and you're thinking, what, I'm never going to lose weight because I got 20 pounds and it's just looking worse and worse. No, you just happen where you're at.

And and just once you see the results, you start feeling better. So having said that, we notice that there's a few main areas that we needed to focus. So one critical is mentorship. So we have created an industry wide mentorship program and that is headed by Monica Highfill, who's one of our executive directors. And Monica has really helped form this amazing mentorship program that, like I said, it's industry wide. So we went out to a lot of consultants.

We went out looking at other mentorship programs and what we could find was only in-house programs within a company. But we didn't find anything we wanted to model. We couldn't find anything that connected an industry. So we kind of pulled together different mentorship programs that we had been involved with, some experience with. And we created our own. And I would just say it is managed incredibly well. Monica and her team have done a fabulous job. And I would say that this is probably been the most impactful of what we've been doing because we find that women typically don't go for those mentorship.

Women typically feel a little intimidated, going maybe a step or two above them to get mentorship. There's a lot more issues and barriers there. So we find that if you create a formal program to bring people together, to give the women the opportunity to connect with people, maybe they wouldn't have they can create from their their own informal structure. Right. People we find that men tend to like more of a casual kind of structure. So our mentorship program lasts about six months and it gives our mentors and mentees time to create their own group.

So we kind of manage it along the way, but we give them the freedom to create their own casual relationships. So so far, we have found amazing results from this program. So that's one of the things, the mentorship. And then we have our training and development program, which Amy Kellar, our other executive director, has helped us quite extensively with. And we're really passionate about training men and women in the industry. And by the way, men can be a part of our women and electronics organization.

And we do have some very strong leaders in the industry that are male leaders that are in our membership. So it's not limited to just women. And we really encourage the men to come in and hear what we're talking about and being part of the solutions to offer open the opportunities for women. But we find that if you provide this leadership development training, it can make all the difference. Many companies have cut their budgets quite extensively. We're in a very competitive industry.

Budgets are really tight. And what happens with that customer service person or the inside salesperson of a product manager? A lot of times they're not offered leadership training. They might get sales training product. They're not getting leadership development training. And what we do is we provide personal and professional development because you cannot you cannot develop as a leader unless you catch yourself personally. So this is the hard part is the hard part is looking at yourself so we don't separate it.

We combine it. So we are very proud of that because any woman, any man in the industry who whether you're your VP or you're an entry level person, you can join this organization for a very low cost. It's like twenty bucks a month to get full access to all the leadership development, the mentorship program, so many of the resources we have building the community. So what we do is we're a nonprofit. So we're, from what I know, the first nonprofit in our industry.

We have other associations that we're aligned with, very friendly that we work with. Those are industry associations. We're a nonprofit five Wannsee three. So we actually have a public duty to give back to the industry and to provide as much content as we can, which we're very happy to do, and we get sponsorships to help fund these memberships. So my message to the women and men would be take advantage of this opportunity. There is a team of people that sacrifice regularly that donate their time to providing the tools you will need to succeed in this industry.

So that would be my main message, that there's been a lot of funds donated by sponsor companies. There's a lot of talent donated. There's a lot of strategy involved. Don't waste the offer. Unity, because we're here now, take advantage of the other thing that we do is we provide a quarterly opportunity for the industry to come together globally. We have chapters in Europe and the US, and it's so phenomenal. Now what has happened with covid because we have taken a lot of what we're doing online.

What we have found is that we probably will move forward with our chapter meetings online and then we'll add some networking events in person as we can. But this is just been an amazing opportunity for people to connect on a totally different level. And when you come in to women electronics, when you come into any of our event, you leave your title at the door. We are just people just talking to other people, connecting with other people within this organization.

We have book clubs. We have other we have many events. And you literally are coming into a community who's just wanting to address you as a person, not for your title. So we're very proud of that.

Isn't that funny how something like a global pandemic actually helped you grow your organization? Because people are willing to turn on those cameras and get in online meetings and you made maybe more efficient connections than being tied to always being in person?

Yes. And I think, though, you know, the the unfortunate part is people do get Zoome fatigue, right? They get tired of being online. So we have to stay very relevant. We have to stay very you know, the topics we're talking about. We have to keep them very, you know, present the data in a way that people can utilize it. People just don't want to hop on another call. Right. You have to have engagement.

So the message would be that we have a marketing department, we have our executive team, and we're always trying to come up with ways of bringing value to somebody's career. So that's what we really want to do. We don't want to just hop on and have another meeting. We really want people to take something away from our trainings, from our chapter meetings, from our mentorship program. It's very important to us that we accelerate people's careers so we don't waste time.

To me, every minute is valuable. And when you get our members on the call or you get our leaders whosever on call, that's valuable time with them. And I wouldn't want to waste it. So we do everything humanly possible behind the scenes to bring the best content we can.

Got it. Will, as a marketer is I'm listening to you describe your organization. I'm hearing a lot of passion. I hear a very clear value proposition and proof points of the value that you're bringing to people and what what what they'll get out of their membership. And that's excellent. That's phenomenal to have such a focus in your messaging. So from a marketing standpoint, tell me about how you've approached your marketing and what works well for you today and where you're still building up, you know, maybe where you're going as we look to the rest of the year.

Oh, my goodness. So this is a big question because I think what you're doing is so critical. So we have to continually look at what we're doing and take what we planned and keep refining it. So I think we're just not in a time anymore where you can remember you set like a business plan for the year and you try to stick to that plan and that's just all thrown out the window. So we take our plan and we just keep reinventing it and we try to keep improving it.

So I think the beauty of women in electronics is that we're very agile. We have an executive team that we bring different ideas to the table, but we collaborate really well. We adjust as needed. So we're in a unique position that we are actually trying to gain sponsors in the industry. But the right partners, we're not going out for just any money. We just don't believe in that. We really want the right partners with us. It doesn't have to be companies that are so excelled with their diversity inclusion initiatives.

It's just that there they have the heart to do it. They have an intent. They see it as a valuable part of their organization. That's all we're looking for. And it just hasn't been the right fit with with some of the companies. But the ones that we have in our sponsorship currently, it's been pretty amazing. So we're we're we're looking to add. So that's part of our marketing is how do we find those right. Sponsors. Right.

So we have to always be looking at our messaging. And as far as members, we're trying to attract women and men in the industry who want to see women succeed. So how do we reach those members and then how do we retain the members we have? So we look at it as how are we attracting our sponsors and retaining them? How are we attracting members and retaining them? And it's got to be the right. So we want the right members and the right sponsors.

Well, you're doing a fantastic job. I love your website and congratulations on your recent event that you held it. It seems like you have a lot of momentum going as we look to the rest of the year. So where can people go to learn more about women in electronics?

OK, so they can go to our website, Women in Electronics, dot com. They can find all kinds of information on there. If you go to about WI, you can find our corporate presentation. Have to say also we are so honored. We have an amazing council that works with us. Some of the top leaders in the industry are on this council that we meet with quarterly. We have a an advisory board, we meet with monthly are these are people that actually are heading up major departments of women electronics and donating their time and talents.

And we have our founding team who always stays alongside us. So anyway, there's a lot of information, there's a lot of resources. And then we also have something called the We Weekly that we comes out every Tuesday morning bright and early. And we're trying to give the industry some content. So please at least sign up for our mailing list. Would love to have your membership, would love to work with sponsors in the industry who have that desire to progress in this area.

We can bring you a lot of value to your company to helping you internally as well. So that would be my message. Would love to attract some sponsors, women members, male members, come to women electronics. Let's be a part of this effort together and really to grow the industry that we all love so much and have had our place to call home here.

Great. Well, thank you so much for coming on today, Jackie, and sharing your story and helping us learn more about your organization. So appreciate it. I appreciate being here. Thank you so much for having me.

Thanks for joining me today on Content Marketing, Engineered. For show notes, including links to resources, visit trewmarketing.com/podcast. While there, you can subscribe to our blog and our newsletter and order a copy of my book Content Marketing Engineered. Also, I would love your reviews on this podcast, so please, when you get a chance, subscribe and leave me a review on your favorite podcast subscription platform. Thanks and have a great day