“I fell in love with the concept of logic at a very young age,” said Wendy-Kay Logan, Rice University Computer Science alumna (B.A. ’04). She was a National Merit Scholar, began solving problems using logic and a programming language in her early teens, and was deeply involved in various science and technology clubs growing up, so Rice was a natural next step.
Despite being one of the only women in her CS classes, and one of the few underrepresented minority students at Rice, Logan didn’t realize she might have been at a disadvantage until she left the university.
She said, “My family wasn’t in Tech, professional services, or entrepreneurs. We immigrated from Jamaica, and my parents aspired to broaden the opportunities available to their children, despite limited access to professional networks or deep family connections.”
Logan said her first professional network began at Rice. She and a few other female classmates -- Merziyah Poonawala, Tina Kim, and Annie Klemp -- founded “CSters,” a CS club supporting female students. After meeting monthly for several years, the co-founders’ paths diverged with their graduation. Logan herself spent a year as a software engineer, then moved into product management.
“Working as a product manager for National Instruments built on my engineering background, and allowed me to own and drive product decisions from every angle – from ideation to launch,” she said.
“But somehow, I felt I wasn’t done. I had just scratched the surface and wanted to dig deeper in Computer Science. But I also longed to know more about the economics and incentives underlying the technology industry.”
To delve more into both technical and business aspects of the tech industry, Logan headed to MIT to pursue her MS in Computer Science and Electrical Engineering as well as an MBA. Following MIT --where she was recognized as both a Google UNCF scholar and the Robert Noyce Scholar, the highest award across MIT Sloan School of Management-- she returned to Texas. Logan launched her consulting career with McKinsey and Company as the first Black Female consultant in her practice and region.
Over time, she missed building products and growing a business, and suspected a move back into Tech lie in her future. Before looking at specific employers, Logan looked for leaders she respected. She canvassed her networks, taking note of their career paths and the companies where they had progressed into leadership roles.
“That’s when I ran across Annie again,” said Logan, “and I reached out to her at Google.”
Logan is now a Senior Principal in Google’s business operations and product strategy group, leading diverse teams across Google and Alphabet. As a leader, she models how to be proactive in sponsoring diverse employees, but she also encourages employees to observe their employer’s group dynamics and identify mentors in their networks to help them navigate their career, flag blind-spots, and create opportunities.
She said, “In meetings, look around the room. Who will be making decisions on your product or your career? Who can help flag your blind-spots and give you tough feedback, while creating stretch opportunities and exposure for you. In the past, I spent a lot of time being thoughtful about which of the people in the room might make a good sponsor for me. Now I spend a lot of time thinking about how to create those opportunities for others.
“Talent is the most critical asset for many companies, and everyone wants to get the best out of their teams. So how can we support and grow talent who might not shine in the same way others do, who may come from a different background or have a non-traditional experience.”