The Future of Tech is Female, Don't @ Me: With NY Times Creative Technologist Lisa Godwin

Name: Lisa Godwin
Hometown: Suffolk, VA
Occupation: Founder of You Are Tech, Creative Technologist – NY Times
Fun Fact: “I used to play tennis and I was one of the people who were not in the top 5 but I had a pretty good ranking. I used to play for the mid-Atlantic USTA tennis association.”

The future is female tech, don’t @ me! As the workplace is making great strides to make sure diversity is not only represented but more importantly, the culture is inclusive and equal for everyone regardless of gender, ethnicity, sexuality, religion, and/or disability. One great lady is creating a virtual foundation for all women starting her own tech business that covers a wide range of career opportunities not just for coders and web developers. New York Times – Creative Technologist, Lisa Godwin, is coming into the spotlight to share her background and passion in being a tech nerd (a gorgeous one at that!) and creating a think-tank for women who want to pursue and become boss (s)heroes in the tech world.
MN: Lisa thank you so much for this interview! I’m so excited to share our readers about your business and getting to know more about your background. I definitely just wanna start off by knowing where you’re from, your background and you also have a degree in computer science. Why you decided you wanna pursue computer science and how it sort of developed into your technical career.
LG: I am from Suffolk, Virginia which is a less known area of Virginia; the big city that everyone knows about is Virginia Beach. My background in computer science growing up, I was always involved in electronics. I was always playing video games, working with computers; I was very tech savvy growing up.
So initially when I went to college my major was supposed to be chemistry. Come that first semester of chemistry, I was like this isn’t for me because my first year was I really wanna make perfumes. I was always like really fascinated with like making my own smell. In the first semester of chemistry class, [it] hit me. I was like, ‘Oh yeah, this isn’t for me’ and I switched majors very fast to computer science because I knew that computers were something that I was knowledgeable in. I loved science and I loved math so I decided to go with computer science.
MN: When you got your computer science degree, what was your first full-time job and how did it get you to working for the New York Times?
LG: So, the area where I’m from in Virginia, everybody works for the government. Most people, whether you go to college or you don’t go to college, 90 percent ended up [working] in the government sector. So, my first job out of college was working for the United States Coast Guard developing the navigation systems to be used in the carrier in the bolts of the airplanes. I absolutely hated it, not the job itself, it was more so the people. I’m really big on being in a comfortable working environment. If I’m not in a comfortable work environment, I cannot succeed. I cannot function like that so I hated the job.
Rewinding a bit, in college, I used to be tech support for a year with tech software. It was a simpler seasonal job back in college. When I figured out that I hated working with Coast Guard, I went back to see what job offers they have. Back then, they had a quality assurance analyst role and I entered into the role of quality assurance and that would be testing this tech software.
So, I was responsible for a tech unit and making sure that the software worked. I still know how to do taxes even though that was over almost 15 years ago. I know how to do testing from being able to test that software and knowing what should be working.
So, after being there a couple of years, I went over to a private company called Issuetrak and Issuetrak was an issue tracking software that companies would use to streamline their processes of how they handle certain business issues. I went over there as a director of quality assurance so testing their software overseeing their entire software development life cycle from a quality assurance standpoint.
But while I was there, this is still in Virginia, I was like ‘Oh my god, I’m so bored in Virginia. I do not wanna be here anymore.’ I decided to put my resume out just various places but I never physically applied anywhere out of state. I was like ’Oh, it would be great to go back to New York because I do have my family roots on my father’s side. He’s always been in New York City; so, I always spent all my time, my holiday time, from school, everything with my family.
Whenever we went on vacation, it was always in New York so it was almost like a second home for me and I feel like this is all of God’s timing because one day I was at work got a phone call from MTV networks, Viacom. They were looking for someone to come on board in their business technology division. I went through the interview process and I packed up and moved to MTV. So, I really do think it was like God’s timing because of me just wanting to move and me putting myself out there and they contacted me. What’s funny is that when I was going through that recruiting process, I asked them like hey how did you get my resume because I didn’t apply! So, it’s kind of a unique story there and that is how I got my break into the media industry.
MN: Your current role right now is a Creative Technologist with the New York Times. Can you describe what is a Creative Technologist and how can someone be successful in that role?
LG: I get asked that question a lot because it’s a title that’s not widely used in within the industry. Well, it’s kind of a role that was created I would say just for me. I have performed multiple roles within technology. I’ve been a mobile app developer. I’ve done product management. I’ve been a business analyst; so, I bring a lot to the table when I go to [different] companies so I am able to be diverse within technology, business marketing, and advertising.
It is a combination of all of those roles put into one, so I am able to work with developers, product managers, and ad technology. I’m a consultant so give my insights and opinions of how are we gonna monetize our digital products and build the company name. So, that’s why I call it Creative Technology because I’ve been on the creative side of things and I’ve been on the core tech side of things as well.
Lisa Godwin - Melanation

“So, I am a firm believer in if your work speaks for itself, you don’t need a LinkedIn [profile]. People inquire about who’s doing these amazing projects and if you’re the person who’s doing them, people will figure how to reach out to you.”

MN: You work with well-known companies like NBC, Viacom, Complex, and NCAA March Madness. How were you able to get onto these projects?
LG: This is something that I advocate for ‘your work speaks for itself.’ I came into the era of tech industry where LinkedIn was probably in beta. You know, we were still looking for jobs like on and but everyone always asks me ‘Oh, did you get this job through LinkedIn?’ No, I do not have a freaking LinkedIn. I do but it’s something I don’t necessarily utilize. I find every job from people asking who did the work.
When I was at MTV, I implemented their live stream video segment that you see online of how they’re monetizing with a cable provider. So when Viacom implemented their live stream video, NBC wanted to know who led that project. It got to where it was like ‘Oh, it was a woman named Lisa Godwin. They figured out how to contact me and offered me a job instantly. [They] said they wanted me to come over and do the same thing that I just did for Viacom and I was like ok cool. Once I finished over at Viacom and at NBC, I had friends who worked over at Complex Media.
Complex had some people who wanted to come over and learn about their video operations process. How are they gonna go viral? How are they keeping their video segment alive within their ad network? Someone recommended me and boom got that job! So, I am a firm believer in if your work speaks for itself, you don’t need a LinkedIn [profile]. People inquire about who’s doing these amazing projects and if you’re the person who’s doing them, people will figure how to reach out to you.
MN: Sounds like you have a long stream of connections and a big network so that’s amazing!
LG: Yeah! I tell people that all the time because people always ask me why aren’t you on LinkedIn. Not to say that it’s a bad thing. I think it’s great for networking but don’t let that be your only place of how you’re finding jobs and how you’re connecting with people. Your work also has to speak for itself.
MN: So, you started a company called You Are Tech. Can you elaborate more about it and what gave you the idea to start your own business? How did you go about funding your business?
LG: So, You Are Tech is a passion project of mine that it came from everyone asking me how you get these jobs because I felt like if I had a dollar for every time someone asked me, I would probably be like a millionaire. People think of technology as a developer, a coder and I wanted to show that that is not the only side of technology. You don’t have to be a coder. You don’t have to be behind the computer all the time. There are so many roles, so many facets of technology that people do not realize. So, I came up with this platform to educate people on the many different avenues of technology and really use that roadmap to get there.
So right now, I’m still in the process of building up my program of how people can learn about the different avenues of technology.  Work with a mentor who can teach you and set up a role of tech because some people look at me and say you’ve worked for every media company there is. How is it that you could possibly be doing this and I’m like with technology is the brains behind really every company. Without technology, they can’t do anything. What are they selling? What are they doing? So it’s really about that aspect of building a platform helping people learn about the different avenues of technology and mentoring and help you navigate through that mentorship of where you need to go to get within tech.
So, you don’t have to be a developer. You don’t have to be a coder. You can be on the business side of tech being a business analyst, being a product manager. Working in app technology, there are so many different avenues. So, I’m building up those programs for that and then there’s also a different side of You Are Tech which is the agency side because I have done mobile apps. I have done web-tech development [with] various companies or people who come and ask me to build websites for developing on their product. You have the agency side of where it’s catered to more companies looking for consulting or looking for having their products developed.
As far as funding my business, I’m actually funding it myself. I’ve gotten offers from a few VCs and I’m not interested. I feel like I want this to be my own. I do not want a VC coming in telling me how things should be done, what should be done or giving their opinion. I want this to be about how I see things and how my network. I sent out different bases and get feedback from people on how I should do my things and I just don’t want someone coming and telling me what to do because of they’ve given me this money so I’m just funding it myself.
MN: We all know that diversity is consistently lacking in the tech industry and we feel that diversity is extremely important not just in the tech industry but in all industries. How do you feel about the lack of representation and how are you making sure that diversity and inclusion is a permanent space for everyone?
LG: I feel like for me, I’m in a very optimal role on a lot of my projects that I work on I always look and I think about what the company mission is. What are we trying to target and do we even have the right people? I feel like that is what a lot of companies or these stories that are going viral where they’re like, wait how did this get past your marketing department and why didn’t someone catch this? Do you have the right people in here?
So, I’m always an advocate of when I go with a project and people tell me their goals of ok we’d like to target millennials between the age of this. Or we want to target people who do this. Then, I take a look around and say ‘Ok, so do you have anyone here from that target audience?’ because if you don’t, none of us in this room are going to get proper advice on how to go about executing this. You need to tailor this role to your target that you’re trying to reach.
I’m always an advocate of looking at things from various standpoints of how are you going to get what you envisioned properly. I’m always tailoring things differently for different people in different roles making sure that some of our stakeholders on projects are aware.
MN: What wisdom would you give young women of color who wants to follow your shoes?
LG: Stay encouraged, be motivated, be consistent, always put your best work forward. I just feel like in this digital age if you make one mistake it goes viral so always bring your best work forward. Always have the best representation of yourself out there on the internet. We’re living in an age where what you put on the internet today will probably be with you for the rest of your life from a digital standpoint. Do not be afraid to ask for help. Look for mentorship especially if you’re looking to transition into new roles. Chat with somebody that’s in that role already and ask them how did they get there. And like a lot of people should ask themselves well I’m in this role, how do I get to this position or how do I get there and sometimes the answer is right in front of them.
MN: What makes Lisa smile, laugh and makes her sad?
LG: I’m always laughing because I find humor in everything. I try to always look at the glass half full just instead of me being on Instagram looking at other people glorification and all that. I’m on Instagram looking at things to make me laugh.
Keeping in contact with my family and friends they always make me smile and laugh. One thing that I love to see that really makes me smile is when I see people and this is currently happening right now is that people on Instagram that I’ve never met are in their glow up season. Everyone is manifesting everything that they’ve wanted and they’re working so hard and it’s all coming into fruition. So, I absolutely love it. I’m super proud of everybody who’s going out for their dreams and I’m seeing it all happen right in front of them.
] What makes me sad is people who I know have the potential to be amazing people and they’re not living up to it and they’re just like stuck and it makes me really sad to see talent go unfulfilled because it’s so much power out here especially in tech. There are so many people who could do amazing things but they’re in this dark world so that’s what makes me sad when I don’t see people living up to what I know they could be.

To learn more about Lisa, go to and don’t forget to subscribe to You Are Tech.

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