It’s been a good week for women in technology.

Two San Antonio-based companies, Rackspace and Codeup, announced that top leadership positions were filled by female veterans of the tech industry.

Carla Piñeyro Sublett, who was previously Rackspace’s CMO of the Americas region and the executive director of marketing for Dell’s Latin America region, has been promoted to senior vice president and chief marketing officer for Rackspace.

Kay Jones, who worked at Rackspace for 11 years, most recently as senior manager of workforce planning and organizational development, is the new CEO of Codeup, a coding bootcamp.

Both women are proud to be leaders in their companies, and both remain steadfast in their desire to advance women’s roles in the tech industry and beyond.

Carla Piñeyro Sublett Promoted to Global Position

Carla Piñeyro Sublett_May_2016-1
Rackspace Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer Carla Piñeyro Sublett.

During her 16 years at Dell, Carla Piñeyro Sublett saw the small company morph into a worldwide computer supplier. Her transition from Dell to Rackspace, she said, had the potential to be difficult, but her experience as director of marketing for Latin America at Dell prepared her well. She’ll be overseeing marketing functions for the hosting company worldwide.

“Working in an emerging market was like working in a mid-size business at times,” Piñeyro Sublett told the Rivard Report. “The transition to Rackspace was like working at Dell in the beginning.”

Piñeyro Sublett sees her new position as a way to improve Rackspace in key regions like Latin America, where it can grow to dominate the cloud-based competition.

“There are tons of opportunities for Rackspace. We have a global footprint, so I think that having a global perspective is super important to growth,” she said.

With Piñeyro Sublett’s promotion, the Rackspace leadership team includes 11 women, or about 14% of total leadership roles, Christina Weaver, a Rackspace spokeswoman, confirmed in an email. The company’s overall female employment is 23%.

Piñeyro Sublett, who sits on The Texas Conference for Women board, sees mentoring as the the biggest responsibility females leaders have to younger generations of women.

“I’m one of several really strong female leaders at Rackspace. They are strong role models in the community and internally (at Rackspace),” Piñeyro Sublett said. “This position comes with the responsibility of being a role model. We have to lift up other women within our communities.”

Codeup Hires Kay Jones as New CEO

Codeup CEO Kay Jones. Photo courtesy of Codeup.
Codeup CEO Kay Jones. Photo courtesy of Codeup.

After just over a decade at Rackspace as senior manager of workforce planning, Kay Jones was looking for a new way to participate in the San Antonio tech scene. Without realizing it at the time, she was also looking for a way to work downtown.

“I probably hadn’t really experienced downtown San Antonio in eight years. In coming back now, there’s such a dramatic difference in just the vibe, and the atmosphere,” Jones said. “When I had the opportunity to meet with Codeup, it was just a beautiful fit between one thing I love, which is education and advancing adult learners, and the other thing I love, which is urban development. That spark between the two was just such a great fit that I couldn’t bring myself to turn away from it.”

But Jones knows that the downtown tech scene grew from the hard work of city leaders and the tech community, and it’s what made her stay San Antonio instead of moving to Austin.

“It’s been amazing to see this group of leaders really step up and say, ‘We want to see this city change for the better without losing its identity,’” she said.

Jones said that her early years at Rackspace gave her a strong sense of her direct impact on the lives of employees, but as the company grew, she lost a little bit of that impact.

“I had 2,500 people under my organizational purview (at Rackspace), and here (at Codeup) I feel like maybe I can actually get my hands into the inner workings of the startup,” Jones said. Codeup, founded in 2014, is a much smaller company. “I think so much of my desire was to take this huge body of knowledge that I was able to gather from Rackspace … and to translate it into a company that has a similar mission to change lives and to help people.”

Michael Girdley, current board member and former CEO of Codeup, said that the search for the new CEO began with a focus on diversity.

Codeup Founder Michael Girdley and Chris Turner pose on the Codeup DeLorean during the Codeup Demo Day April 22, 2014. Photo by Scott Ball.
Codeup Founder Michael Girdley (left) and Chris Turner pose on the Codeup DeLorean during the first Codeup Demo Day on April 22, 2014. Photo by Scott Ball.

“As we went on the hunt to find the right person, we wanted to continue to diversify tech, so my first choice was a female CEO,” Girdley said. “For us, if we’re going to talk so much about (diversity), then we’re going to do it.”

Girdley said that his decision to find a new CEO was based in a realization that as Codeup has grown, the company needed a CEO who can develop employee talent.

“The company is growing, and as more students are going through (Codeup) and more processes are being put in place, the company needs different people at different stages,” Girdley said. “There are people like Kay who are going to put those processes in place and are going to do a better job of that than I could.”

Codeup student Anna Morton works at her desk. Photo by Scott Ball.
Codeup student Anna Morton works at her desk. Photo by Scott Ball. Credit: Scott Ball / San Antonio Report

Female students currently make up 26% of students at Codeup, but Jones is not satisfied with that number. Despite her pride in the student diversity at Codeup, she hopes that her presence at the helm of will continue to have a positive impact.

“I believe that we will actually be able to get little bit more ‘oomph’ out of our population,” Jones said with a laugh. “I anticipate that we’re going to see a little bit of an upswing in the number of female participants.”

Marina Gavito is the executive director of Tech Bloc, a tech industry advocacy organization, and a past colleague of Jones. She said Jones is a “people leader,” a trait that is difficult to find in the tech industry.

“She is extremely passionate about helping San Antonio build the tech ecosystem,” Gavito said. “Codeup is already going down a good path in the coding bootcamp space. Knowing Kay and her abilities, she’s going to hit the ground running and take them to next level.”

Gavito said that Jones, as a female CEO in tech — something that is still unusual — has people rooting for her.

“I love that she’s in this role. She is a strong leader regardless of (being) male or female. I’m personally happy because here we see a woman leader in tech doing something,” Gavito said. “I’m excited to watch what she’s going to do next.”

For Jones though, her stake in this position is a little more personal.

“I can’t say that there isn’t a part of me that just really feels compelled to ensure my success and the success of women in general. I have a 13-year-old daughter and I need her to know that she can do absolutely anything she desires to do,” Jones said.

As a woman in a leadership role in tech, Jones said she carries the burden of being invested in both her family and her work life. Despite its many challenges, she asserts that women can do it, and they can do it extremely well.

“You can fulfill both sides of your life in a really powerful way if you have the willingness to go a little outside of your comfort zone and try something new and invest yourself deeply in what you’re doing,” she said.

*Top Image: Codeup CEO Kay Jones. Photo by Scott Ball. 

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Sarah Talaat

Former Rivard Report intern Sarah Talaat graduated from The University of Texas at Austin in May 2016. You can find her in Beijing, China where she is pursuing a business journalism master's at Tsinghua...