In July 2016, Sarah Branfman, Amie Darboe, and Sarah Dart, members of the sales team at MongoDB, brainstormed ways to help fill the gender gap in sales and technology roles. The result was Power Heels, an organization that empowers women to maximize their potential, professionally and personally, in a safe environment. Since its inception, PowerHeels has partnered with organizations like Dress for Success and Safe Place. Members include technology and business professionals, university students, and women looking to change careers.
On December 6, 2016, Power Heels hosted its first annual holiday party at IBM Design Studio in Austin. More than just a networking event, the event featured the following career building activities:
- Build Your Profile: Resume writing and building a stunning LinkedIn profile
- Look the Part: Hair styling, makeup, and professional headshots
- Talk the Talk: Mock interviews and feedback led by business leaders from some of Austin’s hottest companies
Additionally, attendees were encouraged to bring donations for Dress for Success. Over 85 items were donated over the course of the event.
The event was as much fun as it was valuable. Joanne Kim, a college senior whose job search hadn’t been as successful as she expected it to be, came to the event to get interview advice from experts. She said, “my favorite part of the event was the mock interview. I was able to hear what recruiters think and understand what they look for in a candidate. The party setting made it casual, yet I was able to get useful advice from HR professionals.” Joanne left the holiday party feeling more confident about her job search process.
According to Amie, Power Heels is about building a sisterhood of fierce women – and men, “because #allies” – who want to go far in their careers. It’s a group of people who work together to bring other women up and who are open to receiving support. MongoDB’s Taelen Lewis is one of those allies. During the event, attendees could purchase raffle tickets. The grand prize was a two-hour photo shoot by The Perfect Headshot. Taelen won the grand prize, but chose to auction it off to highest bidder and donated the proceeds to Power Heels. His reasoning? “As an oldest brother to three younger sisters, I love to see an organization empowering women to realize their potential and to be given equal opportunities,” he said. “I’m a big fan of Power Heels, so I’m happy to support.” Taelen won’t be getting an updated headshot soon, but thanks to the Look the Part station at the event, almost all of the women who attended got a brand new photo for their LinkedIn profiles.
At the Look the Part station, attendees could also get their hair and makeup done. Nina, a team member at Naava - who provided the glam services at the event - said she learned about Power Heels when she was going through a challenging time. Recently divorced and jobless, Nina went to Dress for Success, where she received the resume and interview help that led to her current role. When she heard about the opportunity to give back through Power Heels, she jumped on it. She stated, “You never know how much you’re impacting someone’s life by offering resume help or giving them business attire. It might seem like a small thing to do, but enabling someone to perform well in an interview can turn someone’s life around.” Her staff had been working since 8am that morning, but insisted they come to contribute to the event.
Throughout the evening, attendees made new connections, edited their resumes, improved their online presence, and explored different ways to respond in an interview. This experience is what the women of MongoDB had in mind when they created Power Heels. Sarah B. didn’t want the holiday party to be just that, a gathering where attendees hand out business cards, take advantage of free food and drink, and go home with nothing actionable. “These events can rob you of your time and leave you unfulfilled,” she said. “While the Power Heels holiday party had its fair share of drinks, food and merriment, nobody left empty handed and without a next step to improve their career.”
The MongoDB Power Heels team will soon expand in other states. Want to get involved by becoming a member or sponsoring an event? Let us know! You won’t regret it. In Sarah B.’s words, “We don't just shmooze, we get [things] done.”
Thank you to the MongoDB Power Heels advocates, who sponsored the event:
| Breaking the Glass | DJ Chido Machine |
| IBM Design Studio | Moojo |
| OwnYourSpot | Kendra Scott |
| NAAVA | Nothing Bundt Cakes |
| Jet’s Pizza | Topo Chico |
| JuiceLand | Lick Honest Ice Creams |
| Tito's Handmade Vodka | Big Frog Custom T-Shirts|