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David Domzalski, Financial Bin: Please provide a brief background of your experiences prior to your current position.
Danii Oliver, DAMN Digital: I’ve had the opportunity to travel across the world via sea, air and land. These experiences allowed me to broaden my horizons greatly and see past what most would say is impossible. I founded DAMN Digital Studio, LLC. with the concept of providing clients with product design services; it then evolved into providing digital work for small businesses. Eventually, I began consulting for agencies like the Marcom Group, Medical Knowledge Group, Macy’s, Vogel Forina, Dynamic Logic, and Iris Worldwide NY. I found that many businesses were in search of integrating digital and new technology but were weary about how to go about doing so. Technology is changing everyday, which requires me to keep up and remain proficient. In addition to producing digital projects for clients, I also educate them about what is possible with new technology.
DD: What does a typical day look like for you? What do you like best about your field?
DO: A typical day depends on the agency’s contract status, whether or not we are in deadline mode or working on a new company or client project. It begins with a team meeting, email checking, blog writing, social media updates, and sales correspondence. Toward the afternoon is when the bulk of actual work creative or technical work gets done without much interruption. Deadline mode usually requires a bit of radio silence while the team works through brainstorm sessions, research, user testing, design rounds and development.
I love the workflow of my field. Not many other fields REQUIRE team members to brainstorm ideas that are out of the box and then execute them. I love that after all the creative thought takes place, it is then up to the DAMN Digital team to make it happen. We don’t just write down cool ideas in a book, we bring them to life. It is then truly satisfying to watch people interact with the finished product. To witness how you’ve offered them an experience and/or how you can improve upon it with updates.
DD: Why did you choose this field in particular?
DO: I chose the technology field for many reasons. The number one reason being was to have the opportunity to create or work on projects that have not existed before. I may not be reinventing the wheel, but unlike the restaurant industry, which serves food everyday from the same basic food groups, the technology field gives me the opportunity to be a part of the industry that revolutionizes how we access information and entertainment, make new operating systems, an “App for That,” touch screens, evoke greater human computer interactivity, and soon Holodecks. I like the challenge of breaking boundaries and bringing to life what most people think is impossible.
DD: What challenges have you faced in the tech industry?
DO: In the tech industry there are two major challenges that are actually challenges and not just inspiration to build something new. Tech industry challenges are gender and finance based. As a woman in 2011, I can pursue any field I wish. But the fact is, I still have to deal with people thinking I can’t do something tech based because I am a woman. I am often spoken to with terms of endearment like “honey or sweetie” and have been told by men that certain things are impossible for me get done until I do them. In fact I have never worked with a female technologist side by side since entering the field. Another challenge in the tech industry is money. Often it’s not enough to simply sell an idea, a finished product or prototype to showcase may be needed to supplement the idea. Without a substantial amount of funding to build prototypes, technologists can be left dead in the water with a suitcase full of great ideas. Proper funding is a necessity.
DD: Who mentored you along the way?
DO: Along the way, I’ve been mentored by women who’ve made ways for themselves through hard work and determination have mentored me. My aunt first trained me on how best to handle money and conduct myself as a professional in an industry where I could very well be the only female. Without the ability to simply fit in, I had to learn how to not take “NO” for an answer and create a niche for myself. Teachers, who are still in my life today, have also mentored me. I’ve had the pleasure of being under the wing of a few successful businessmen, one of whom is the only living artist of my three favorites. Most recently, I took on by a female mentor who is not in the technology industry, but is the first of my mentors who understands the industry. Her mentorship has been more about helping me define my direction and find balance in life as leader and business owner.
DD: What books would you suggest for other women in the field to read?
DO: I recommend women in tech read “Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office” and “Nice Girls Don’t Get Rich” by Lois P. Frankel. Read it and Listen to the audio version and stop being nice.
DD: What advice can you offer to women are executives, business owners, or entrepreneurs in the tech field? Where should someone starting out go to school or get their first job?
DO: For women who are executives, business owners or entrepreneurs in the tech field, I can only offer the advice of my experiences: figure out what you want to do and do it. Don’t wait for the right time or think that you have to tone it down just Do It. Stick your neck out there and make things happen. Anyone who is starting out should begin by teaching themselves and keeping current on new technologies. Joining tech communities to learn what they don’t know is also extremely beneficial. Exposure is important and school, although it is important, doesn’t always give you that. Apprenticeships and internships are a great way to work toward landing your first job. Working while completing my degree helped me a great deal. I offer that same opportunity to anyone who truly wants to enter the technology field.
Make sure to check out the Financial Bin’s first book, Entrepreneur Intervention: Triumphs & Failures of Entrepreneurs, available now in paperback on Amazon and CreateSpace and electronically through Kindle, Nook, and iBooks.