Dawn-Marie Elder Reflects on Her Experience as a Woman in Tech

Dawn-Marie Elder, COO and General Manager at SIPPIO has joined Gavriella Schuster for a fireside discussion on her experience as a woman in technology, alongside former colleague, and mentor, Michael Gorriarán.

As part of Gavriella Schuster’s ALLIES program – a framework designed to build confidence in the workplace – Dawn-Marie reflected on past experiences, and how Michael’s advice and encouragement gave her a boost when her career was at a crossroads.

“From an early age, women are socialized more often than men to mute their accomplishments, be overly self-critical and avoid self-promotion.” says Schuster.

“This is the phenomena that leads most women to avoid applying for jobs unless they believe they meet over 90% of the qualifications whereas men will typically apply if they meet just 60% of the qualifications.”

“This lack of confidence leads many women to leave the technology field and in many cases never even enter it.”


ALLIES is a simple and easy to remember framework that sets out the behaviors that ALLIES can demonstrate every day. The second L in ALLIES stands for ‘Lift’ – and focuses on how colleagues can build each other’s confidence by highlighting positives and commending accomplishments.

Dawn-Marie’s ally is Michael Gorriarán, a globally experienced technology sector executive with a 30-year career spanning Microsoft, Xerox and now serving as President of Arjuna Solutions, a Behavioral Economics and Artificial Intelligence services provider helping nonprofits expand their impact.

“He helped make a great experience into one that had a lot of meaning but also a lot of learning behind it.” said Dawn-Marie, recalling a time Michael ‘lifted’ Dawn-Marie during a particularly daunting board meeting.

“What allies do, is that they focus with intention to lift up the individual.” says Gavriella. “They help the individual to build their own self confidence through encouragement.  Frequently point out her talents, strengths and accomplishments.  Give her credit for her contributions and make sure she knows that she is valued for her ideas, contributions and impact.”

You can watch the full interview with Dawn-Marie, Gavriella and Michael below, and for more insights on how to become an ally, visit