Elizabeth Tolia shares her winding journey to a successful career in tech.
Updated: Aug 17, 2021
Elizabeth Tolia is now the CEO and co-founder of Transcendio, and the President of the Board of Directors of getWITit.
No two paths are alike: One woman shares her winding journey to a successful career in tech.
When you read up on some of the famous women in tech history, you may notice that many of them started out on a different career path. Annie Easley studied pharmacy before she became a computer scientist at the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics. Mary Wilkes got her philosophy degree before transitioning to a career as a computer programmer and contributing to the first personal computer. Hedy Lamarr tinkered with invention on the side while she worked as an actress, and ended up developing frequency-hopping spread spectrum technology.
For many women, the path to technology is not direct, and for some, a career in tech doesn’t seem possible at first. This was the case with Elizabeth Tolia. Tolia is now the CEO and co-founder of Transcendio, and the President of the Board of Directors of getWITit, but her career started far from that.
“I was a business major and my parents owned an Irish Pub,” Tolia says, “so my parents encouraged me to go into the hospitality business and that’s what I did!”
Tolia didn’t like the long days and intense environment that came with her job as a restaurant manager, and when she tried a position as operation manager in Athletics at Ohio State University, that didn’t feel like a good fit either.
“I was frustrated,” Tolia says. “[I] had no real future laid out for me.”
While she was working an event for her job at the university, Tolia ran into someone who complimented her skills at work and suggested that she go into IT. She told him she didn’t know how to code and didn’t expect to be any good at IT.
“That is the response that most people give and I was no different,” Tolia says.
Still, desperate for a change, she started spending time with the IT community, and connected with getWITit, an organization that focuses on bringing more women into the tech industry. One year later, she had landed her first job as a scrum master.
“From there I have found a path that has given me the opportunities to help other women,” Tolia says.
Not only does Tolia now serve as the President of the Board of Directors of getWITit, but she also hosts her own podcast, also called “getWITit.”
For her, the shift into technology wasn’t inspired by a specific hero in tech, but by the collective group of women in tech, both now and in the past.
“We as women need to continue to inspire, help, empower and encourage each other,” Tolia says. “Any woman in history that has provided a seat at the table has influenced me!”