Meet three women who make startup journeys smoother
To celebrate International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month, we’re featuring posts throughout the month that highlight women in technology who are building and creating. Above all, these women are inspiring, empowering, and encouraging everyone in technology—especially women and girls— to prove what’s possible. Three of our Solutions Architects tell us how they got here, the coolest milestones they’ve helped businesses achieve, and the advice they have for other women who want to make it in tech.
Across AWS for Startups, women are working to make the startup space more equitable. Solutions Architects are a big part of that initiative, since they act as strategic advisors who make it easier for startups of every background to thrive. By guiding enterprising founders toward the resources and building blocks that will help them succeed, Solutions Architects break down barriers to entry and welcome startups into a trusted global ecosystem.
There’s no one-size-fits-all solution to the real-world challenges startups face, so AWS Solutions Architects get to flex both their creative and technical muscles as they design the personalized fixes that will help each startup thrive.
This Women’s History Month, we chatted with three AWS Solutions Architects who are helping startups of all backgrounds accelerate their businesses. Skye Hart is based in Denver, Colorado, and comes to the team with a background in data engineering. Jamila Jamilova uses her expertise as an economist to help startups working in the UK and Ireland. Aleena Yunus is based in Munich and specializes in analytics as she helps B2B-engaged startups achieve their goals.
How would you describe being a Solutions Architect?
Aleena: It can be anything from speaking at conferences to writing long emails. I act like a strategic advisor with regard to a startup’s roadmap and everything around infrastructure and architecting. We whiteboard together, or I sometimes help them build architectures, create a minimum viable product, or a proof of concept.
Skye: I like to think of myself as an extension of the startups I work with.
Jamila: I’m their trusted technical advisor, but I’m always looking at their core business and trying to understand, how can I help them optimize costs?
What are some of your favorite parts of your job?
Jamila: The diverse landscape. I am working with business decision-makers and with technical people, and this gives me a big picture of how the startup operates.
Skye: Every morning I wake up and I’m either putting on a lab coat and talking to a life sciences organization that’s changing the game for cancer research or I’m putting on my little construction hat and trying to work with mechanical engineers to develop IoT sensors.
Aleena: Creating usable content. I’m really passionate about sustainability and created a set of best practices. Ever since then, I’ve also been in touch with other customers who want to talk about sustainability.
You are women working in a startup world where there are still too many barriers to entry for people who are not wealthy, white, and male. What were some of the things that led you to this career despite those barriers?
Skye: In my first tech job [not as a Solutions Architect], I walked into a room and there were 35 guys and two women. I said, ‘This is just going to be that way.’ You have to work on overcoming imposter syndrome and being confident in yourself.
Aleena: It’s important to have role models. My older sister is in tech, and it was really important to see that, okay, there is disparity, but there are people who are making it.
Jamila: If you are in a company where you feel belongingness and where you feel that you are respected for who you are, for the skills you bring to the table, you don’t see any barriers. I feel like I am kind of a piece of a puzzle in a big picture. I can bring in my skill set, my experience, my worldview.
What are some of the times you’ve been able to help a startup customer achieve new goals?
Aleena: We helped one of my customers build a data pipeline from scratch in six weeks when they weren’t doing anything with the data they were storing. We wanted them to understand they could enable their sales team to get insights on it.
Jamila: I had a customer about to go on a fundraising round, but they desperately needed to show that they could bring the cost down, keep the same quality, and serve their customers as expected. My team worked to identify their architecture and the services they needed to optimize costs.
Skye: We had a healthcare company outgrowing their current environment. We had a leadership offsite with them and then kicked AWS into gear, and by developing relationships with business development on their go-to-market strategies, we organized immersion days for machine learning and security to get them hands-on training for up to 60 different engineers in multiple different cities.
What advice do you have for startups across the board?
Skye: Don’t be afraid to ask for help. AWS for Startups is an ecosystem. It lives and breathes for startups everywhere. Ask us what you need, what you want, what you dream about, and we’ll align the right things.
Jamila: Please do thorough research before you actually invest or get credits to run your business. Search for which cloud provider is best for your startup, and you will see lots of forums and resources. You will discover a whole world where you will be able to book free tech and business consultations.
Aleena: Picking the right tool for the right job is really important. If you don’t use the right building block, it’s not going to fit. Do your research about what is best for your use case.
Do you have any advice for students or people early in their careers who are interested in the startup landscape?
Aleena: Don’t get intimidated. If you have an interest, just go for it. What’s the worst that’s going to happen? You’re going to try and you’re not going to achieve it. It’s better than not trying at all.
Skye: Whatever industry you’re interested in, consider yourself a futurist. Ask yourself, ‘What is next?’ I see doctors thinking of ways that we can make telehealth easier and lawyers thinking of new ways that they make casework easier. Whatever you’re interested in, don’t think about what that position means right now, think about what that position’s going to mean in five years, 10 years, 20 years, and how tech can get you there.
Jamila: If someone tells you that you cannot be something, you can and you will. If you really want it, just have a goal, have perseverance, go for it. It’s okay to fail. Keep pushing, keep doing it millions of times, and then there will be one chance or one person who will believe in you and you will get it. And then you will pay it back for other people.
Want to learn about the ways that solutions architects are innovating for their customers? Check out Jamila’s blogs:
Explore more content that celebrates the achievements of women in tech, such as:
- AWS Startups Twitter stories that highlight amazing women in tech
- Celebrating Women in Tech with Panzura CEO Jill Stelfox
- Demo Day for AWS Impact Accelerator Women Founders Cohort
- Women founders Q&A – Learn how they’re impacting their communities, industries, and beyond
- How Women@Startups is building a community of women founders