Women of Interest

By Richelle Braswell

Three women share their experiences in the technology field

Pictured: Photographs by Grace-Marie Photography, grace-mariephotography.com
Special Thanks: Ellie Cantor, Elizabeth Clark, Maggie Stephens, Boozer’s, Gholson Originals Fine Jewelry, Kindler’s Gem Jewelers and Spice Village

Women in Waco are strong, confident and knowledgeable. We spoke with three women in the technology field — you’ll meet an executive of an aviation company who has a pilot’s license, an assistant director of technology with a passion for the ever-changing world of college admissions and a technician who loves helping others. While these women work in the same field, their jobs are rather diverse. And yet, when we asked them to give advice to women who wish to pursue a career in technology, the heart of their advice is similar
and poignant: Be comfortable in your own skin and don’t be afraid to ask questions. They shared insights into their unique jobs and their thoughts about women in business, including a shared belief that personality, rather than gender, shapes a leader.


Frederic Duclos necklace ($450) and diamond bangle ($3,100), available at Kindler’s Gem Jewelers.

Lynnette Allmon

Executive Vice President
Blackhawk Modifications

Q: Why did you and your husband start your business, Blackhawk?
A: We had another business at the time that we were running together called Aurora Aviation out of McGregor airport. He did the flying and the buying of the airplanes, and I would take care of all the office work. Then a couple of years later [in 1999], we had the opportunity to get into the STC business, which stands for supplemental type certificate. [Editor’s note: An STC is required to modify an aeronautical product from its original design.] We actually started Blackhawk to get into the STC business.
Q: What is your favorite part about your job?
A: The travel. We travel quite a lot for some of the trade shows. One of them is in Geneva, Switzerland. That’s one of my favorite places [we’ve visited]. We’ve been to Geneva probably 10 times. Just by the nature of our business, we do a lot of travel, both domestic and international.
Q: Did you always know that working in aerospace was what you wanted to do?
A: No. Jim was a pilot when we met and married, so he was in aviation, buying and selling airplanes. I didn’t really get into the business until we started Aurora back in 1997.
Q: What are some of the challenges you’ve faced as a woman in the technology field?
A: Our industry in aviation, typically, is a very male-dominated industry and sometimes, particularly back when we were at Aurora, people assume that you don’t know what they’re talking about. I have my private pilot’s certificate, and sometimes people are surprised to find out that I fly.
Q: What advice would you give a woman considering a career in the tech industry?
A: There’s no reason you can’t do anything that you want to do. First, I think you have to figure out where your interests are. You have to be willing to step outside your comfort zone. Then you also have to be willing to face the possibility that you may not be successful the first time. You may have to try a couple of times until you find your groove and find what you’re good at. And to be in the aviation industry, you don’t have to be a pilot. You can be an air traffic control, an avionics technician, a maintenance technician or an aerospace engineer. Waco actually has 30 aviation companies.
Q: Do you think women feel intimidated in business?
A: They can. If you’re going into an industry that is perhaps male-dominated, one of the main things you need to do is learn as much as you can and immerse yourself in it. When you get into technical conversations, people will find out very quickly if you know what you’re talking about or not.


Sloane Street necklace ($2,950) and tennis bracelet ($2,900), available at Boozer’s.

Leslie Graves

Assistant Director of Technology and Project Management
Baylor University Undergraduate Admissions

Q: What is your mantra for work and life?
A: Always work hard. But at the end of the day, I want to leave work at work and be able to go home and focus on my family. They are just as important as my career.
Q: Tell me about your responsibilities as assistant director of technology and project management.
A: My job is primarily to support, use and work on our CRM, which is the customer relationship management software. I handle all the data coming in and out of that.
Q: Did you always know that working in technology was what you wanted to do?
A: I did not. Back when I started college, I was pre-law. I was planning to be a lawyer, then a judge. My sophomore or junior year, that [plan] shifted. I was taking business classes, and I took some management information system classes and loved it. At some point, I decided that that was really what I wanted to do. The technology field was very lucrative, and it was something I enjoyed. I haven’t looked back since.
Q: What are some of the challenges you’ve faced as a woman in the technology field?
A: A lot of times women are underestimated in how much they know in the technology field. Sometimes in the past, I’ve had conversations with men. They’ll be having a technical conversation between them, but when they talk to you, they’re not using as much technical speak. I think it’s important to not be afraid to speak up and prove that you do have the knowledge and you can speak the technical jargon.
Q: Do you find that women lead differently than men? How so?
A: I wouldn’t say that they lead differently. I think a lot of that is personality driven. My current boss is a woman. She’s a mother with four kids at home. I think the difference there is that she is a lot more focused on work-life balance.
Q: Do you think women feel intimidated in business?
A: I think you can. Sometimes going into a crowded boardroom where you’ve got a lot of men that are in leadership, I think it’s important to communicate confidence and being able to speak up and know what you’re talking about.
Q: What advice would you give a woman considering a career in the tech industry?
A: Be willing to learn. I think in technology that’s a constant. You’re continuously learning because there’s always new things that are coming out, new software languages, new programs. There’s constant room for learning. Be willing to dive into projects and use those as learning tools. Also, don’t be afraid to ask questions.


Very J blazer ($73), available at Grae Apparel inside Spice Village. Lotus earrings ($36), Lotus necklace ($70), Waxing Poetic bracelet ($198) and Norman Covan ring ($3,760), available at Gholson Originals Fine Jewelry.

Tracy Felder

Information Technology Technician
City of Waco

Q: What is your mantra for work and life?
A: I treat others like I would want to be treated.
Q: Tell me about your responsibilities as an information technology technician.
A: My main responsibility is any information technology support [for] any of the employees of the City of Waco, from the zoo to finance to the airport to women and children to the health department to the golf course to the animal shelter. You never know what’s the next job you’re going to be working on.
Q: Did you always know that working in technology was what you wanted to do?
A: I think so. I’ve done different things throughout my career, but I absolutely love technology and I love helping others with technology.
Q: What are some of the challenges you’ve faced as a woman in the technology field?
A: Interesting story — my husband was in technology, and we got hired for the same job. We started the same day, and he got paid more than I did. I didn’t know that at the time. I think women have to work a little harder to prove that they’re capable sometimes.
Q: How did you overcome any gender-related roadblocks in your career?
A: I stay professional, and I just do my job. Hopefully, my effort will shine through.
Q: Do you find that women lead differently than men? How so?
A: I would say that it’s not always stereotype that men lead a certain way and women lead a certain way. It’s more a personality.
Q: What advice would you give a woman considering a career in the tech industry?
A: Make sure it’s something you’re passionate about. I have two teenage daughters, and I tell them, ‘Look for a career that’s something you’re passionate about. That way, it won’t feel like work. It’ll feel like something you enjoy doing and you get paid for it.’ You have to be comfortable in your own skin. Don’t be intimidated if you’re the only girl in the room. If you have a good idea, speak up. If you don’t know something, don’t be afraid to say, ‘I don’t quite understand that. Can I ask a few questions for clarity?’ Most people are really nice about that.

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