From would-be chef to personal trainer to newly promoted director of APAC marketing for GitHub, Eliza Dawes knows all about hard work, the big picture, and making things happen.
Dawes, who’s an experienced marketing leader with a demonstrated history of working in the computer software industry, has big plans for GitHub, where 56 million developers are helping to share the future of software in the open source community.
Better still, millions of developers and companies are building, shipping and maintaining their software on GitHub – considered the largest development platform in the world.
Passionate about code – sensitive to recent global events and its myriad ramifications – Dawes is on a mission to support and sustain the open source community now more than ever – and the pandemic has taught us a thing or two.
“The pandemic has taught us that contributing back to the open source community can be just as valuable as standing on the shoulders of giants and adding your secret sauce to open sourced code.”
Stories Ink caught up with the perpetually on-the-go marketing executive to catch a glimpse of her early roles, some of her key challenges, and personal insights.
Growing up, what did you want to be?
A businesswoman that wore a suit and went to an office every day, or a backup singer, which is particularly amusing if you’ve ever heard me sing or come up against my ambition.
What were some of your most memorable jobs?
Apprentice chef. I would cut or burn myself every shift, have hot saucepans whirled at me from grumpy sous chefs across the kitchen. I still love cooking, but commercial cooking wasn’t for me. I highly recomment a start in hospitality for a crash course in work ethic and time management.
How did your path take you into your current role?
When I left high school, I commenced a chef apprenticeship. I still enjoy cooking, but commercial cooking wasn’t to be. While studying marketing, I completed my Personal Trainer certificate and worked as a PT through university. I then combined the two – founding a six-week challenge start-up. I moved from a seasonal start-up to corporate life and still view my remit with a start-up mindset.
What do you love about your current job, and what’s your big vision for the role?
I’m incredibly energised by GitHub’s mission to power the world’s developers. I love the variety of my role, creating a go-to-market strategy and working with the passionate and intelligent teams in each region across APAC.
What are your plans now that you’ve been promoted to the director role?
In my new role, I continue to lead the APAC marketing team, develop the strategy and drive growth across tier 1 and emerging markets. Ultimately, making it easier for developers to be developers: To work together, to solve challenging problems, and to create the world’s most important technologies. By fostering a collaborative community that can come together – as individuals and in teams – to create the future of software and make a difference in the world.
What marketing advice or tips can you offer others?
Always add value before you ask for something. Know your customer! Understand who your customer is, what challenges they face, what success looks like, and even what they do on the weekends! Knowing your customer will help you shape, target and land your messaging to win their hearts and minds.
Have you had many challenges or hurdles to overcome?
I’ve overcome some challenges both circumstantial and self-created and have also come across many incredible opportunities. I tried a few careers before I landed in tech marketing and now can’t see myself doing anything else.
Having grit and pushing through is a great trait; however, I believe my best decisions were when I took a calculated leap of faith and trusted that it would all be okay in the end.
As a female role model and champion of diversity, what advice or lessons learned can you offer others?
It’s really important to speak up when people provide great examples, as well as poor. I’m also a fan of public praise and private criticism.
I take a fairly simplistic view: It’s hard enough to be a woman in tech – so let’s make it easier, not harder.
The barrier to entry is high from STEM skills offered to girls versus boys, who are constantly navigating a ‘blokey’ – sometimes toxic – work environment, to finding flexible work arrangements that allow for competing priorities and responsibilities.
We know there’s great benefit in having both men and women solving problems, making decisions and strategising in the workplace. So, if I notice a co-worker regularly talking over females that are finding it hard to get a word in, I politely and privately share my observation. Or if I notice the suggestion offered by a female co-worker wrongly attributed to male co-workers, I publicly thank the female co-worker for her great solution.
Looking back on your career, is there anything you’d change? Do differently?
There are, of course, decisions I could’ve made differently in hindsight, and they now inform the decisions I make. However, every decision – big and small – led me to GitHub in a role I love.
What’s your life like outside of work?
Pre-COVID, I was travelling around 50 per cent of the time. Now, I’m loving spending lots of time in Sydney house hunting, trying to fit into my wedding dress and exploring NSW.
If you could meet anyone in life, who would it be?
The late, great Ruth Bader Ginsburg.