Pledge 1%’s #WomenWhoLead series celebrates female leaders who are paving the way for the next generation. While our featured leaders come from a variety of backgrounds and industries, they are united in their efforts to promote equality for all women in the workplace. We’ve asked them to share a bit about their journey to success, as well as lessons they’ve learned along the way.

What is your name and title?

Kathleen Egan, CEO & CoFounder of ecomedes.

Briefly (1-2 sentences) describe your current role.

Growing ecomedes in a way that creates stakeholder value and transforms the sustainability of buildings and building products. I set our vision, strategy, and operate the execution plan to achieve our goals.

How did you get here? Please share any quick stories from past work experiences.

I have worked in retail tech for about 20 years – starting with early ERPs at Chanel and Calvin Klein in NYC. While getting my MBA at Harvard, I learned about startups and became addicted. I have worked at 7 startups prior to ecomedes, yielding four successful exits via acquisitions. I spent five years on the sales team at Oracle after ProfitLogic, a pioneer in price optimization was acquired. Being a women in software has not always been easy or comfortable. I spent much of my first 20 years extremely frustrated by conscious and unconscious bias. It has been like a second career birth to be in an organization free of that constraint.

In your opinion, what’s the #1 decision or move you’ve made that has helped advance your career?

To focus on people over anything else.

What is the most important lesson you’ve learned this past year?

To block time for deeper thinking away from the screen by meditating, biking, and surfing.

What’s the number one challenge you face as a woman in your industry?

The bias toward male CEOs in growth stage capital (i.e. Sand Hill Road allocates ~97% of capital to male led startups).

Do you have any mentors? What does mentorship mean to you?

Tim Connors – Managing Partner at PivotNorth. He understands how many successful SasS companies have grown. He has an amazing ability to translate his broad knowledge into relevant factors for me to consider. He is incredibly encouraging and positive while being very direct and clear with constructive suggestions and targets. He is filled with endless ideas and creative approaches to our multi-persona marketplace market.

What advice do you have for women who are just starting their career?

Find smart people who are ahead of you on a similar trajectory as you would like to follow in your career. Build a long-term relationship with them, help them, nurture the relationship.

What is one thing companies can do, big or small, to help create an environment that advances women into leadership positions?

Hire female CEOs.

What is one thing you hope to accomplish in the next year?

Build a team and processes that are able to establish repeatability in our value proposition (and revenue) to a user segment that large enough to pave the way to our Series A. My current Focus is the manufacturer segment.

Is there a cause that is particularly close to you? If so, why this cause and how did you get involved?

5 Gyres. They use science related to plastic pollution to drive policy and products. I knew the founders from the beginning of the plastic movement, and now serve as the Chairman of their BOD. I would love to add them to the Pledge 1% family, so they can benefit from corporate donations and help solve plastic pollution.

When did your company join Pledge 1%? What does your impact program mean to you?

Jan 2021. Sustainability is in our DNA as we strive to transform the sustainability of buildings. Our impact program allows us to donate time and software services to non-profits and trade organizations that need to digitize but have limited budgets. We also give every employee a day of service to be used at their discretion. The recommended activity is a beach or neighborhood clean up. I live at Ocean Beach in San Francisco and clean up the beach everyday, so this is already part of my life. It’s great to share this passion with my team!

What do you like to do outside of the office? Any interesting (or unique) habits or interests?

Eco-Art. I make mosaic artwork out of beach plastic that I recover from surf spots all around the Pacific. My retirement project will be to visit about 50 surf spots, collect plastic, and make an eco-sculpture.

I love to surf and ski, anything that changes the “channel” for your brain into adrenaline mode. I think that there is an unlock for this that all female leaders (and future female leaders) could benefit from. Someday, I’ll run a surf clinic for women to help teach them about calculated risks and control.

Are you reading/listening to anything interesting at the moment? Please share your most recent favorite book or podcast!

“The Brain That Changes Itself” by Norman Doidge. For podcasts, I love 20 Minute VC, NfX, and SaaSter.

What’s been the one (or two!) things that have helped you navigate this past year? Any tips or tricks to dealing with remote work?

Family, advisors and getting outside!