Chamber Spotlight: Christy Phillips, WillowTree
How did you choose the field you’re in?
I didn't! I started my career as a software engineer, spent a meaningful amount of time in real estate (my husband is still going strong), then wanted to get back into tech. My first role at WillowTree was the perfect combination of the skills I learned in my first two careers and I don't think I ever would have planned it. It's been a very happy accident.
What is unique about your organization and the work you do in our community?
WillowTree is dedicated to being a great community partner. Our efforts are more productive when they are focused on a cause that resonates with our entire team. We are dedicated to improving access and opportunities in technology for underrepresented groups. The tech industry as a whole is lacking enough representation from many diverse groups. Much of that has been attributed to a culture that leaves people feeling excluded - both in the classroom and in companies.
We work with local Charlottesville groups like C4K, Spark!, and Women In Tech to provide mentorship, funding, and other forms of support towards their efforts. These organizations allow us to reach people from middle school to adulthood and expose them to opportunities in the tech industry. One of our favorite things to do is to have groups in for a tour where they see our teams at work and hear from professionals in different disciplines. This not only opens their eyes to different career opportunities, but it also allows them to see people like themselves in these roles. Both of those are powerful and hopefully increase the probability those individuals will consider a career in tech.
Why did you choose the Charlottesville area?
My husband and I both grew up in northern Virginia and still have family there. When we were looking to relocate back to VA, we knew that we wanted to move somewhere less congested. We had been to Charlottesville many times and both grew up visiting the mountains that surround it. We love all the outdoor activities, farm-to-table food, music venues, great public schools, etc. It is absolutely home to us now.
What’s your favorite local activity for out-of-town guests?
I love to take people to wineries and breweries with beautiful views. It's great for people of all ages and our dog always has a great time.
What's the best advice you ever got (or gave)?
Perfection is the enemy of progress. It is a concept that has been around a long time and we reference it frequently at WillowTree. Perfection doesn't exist and trying to make something 'perfect' before you move forward is paralyzing. Just start, get feedback, and know that you will iterate continuously.