Crosslake’s Donell Peters discusses being a woman in the tech industry

Crosslake Certified Practitioner, Donell Peters, has been a woman in technology for more than 30 years. In honor of International Women’s Day, we asked her for a brief glimpse into her career working in senior positions at Adobe, First Republic Bank, Ripple, Autodesk and multiple startups. Here’s what she had to say:

How did you break into engineering?

I grew up in Silicon Valley and started assembling computers in high school, working for Hewlett Packard during the summer. It all started from there and just kept expanding. After HP, I worked at Zilog building Z80s. When the IBM PC was launched, I knew that was going to be the next big thing, so I got a job working at MicroPro, as a software tester on WordStar.

What is the biggest obstacle you’ve faced in your career?

Most of the time, I was and still am the only woman in a room full of men. Teams are better when they are diverse. Many companies understand this and actively work to bridge the gaps that exist.

What female role models have you looked up to?

  • Karen Catlin was a VP of Engineering at Adobe. She’s since gone on to become a leading advocate for women in technology and continues to inspire.
  • Carol Bartz, CEO of Autodesk, was inspirational. She was one of the first female CEOs of a tech company. I learned a lot from her. She was fearless.

What career accomplishment do you feel most proud of?

Launching 3D Studio Max was amazing. Totally dedicated and amazing team. I don’t think there has ever been a product launch that I have been more proud of.

What female superpower helps you most in a male-dominated field?

I was a kung fu student for 25 years. Martial arts were tremendously helpful in my evolution, training mind and body, giving me confidence and strength to compete in the corporate world, and it was a great way to relieve stress. It taught me to never give up, to keep going when things get hard.

What advice would you give to other women breaking into tech?

People who work hard, make positive contributions, and have a great attitude can go far, and that applies to anyone.

Donell has more than 30 years of experience working with software development teams in a variety of functions. While working with world-class development teams at Autodesk and Adobe, she gained hands-on experience with the systems, methods and processes that enabled these teams to achieve top performance and was a major contributor to the management and leadership organizations that helped these teams thrive. She has experience managing large, globally-distributed teams, as well as small start-ups in a variety of technologies, including desktop, enterprise, mobile, payments and Bl. Before joining the team at Crosslake, Donell was the Head of Quality Engineering at Ripple, and Vice President / Program Director for Digital Channels at First Republic Bank. Prior to that, she spent time at Adobe, Autodesk, and a variety of startups.