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“Women in Quantum” Panel at IQT Fall Says “Reach Out, Build Your Network”

By IQT News posted 05 Nov 2021

(IQT-Fall) Denise Ruffner, whose position as Chief Business Officer of Atom Computing was announced earlier November 4, hosted the “Women in Quantum” panel at Inside Quantum Technology New York and led this discussion. Denise is also President of Women in Quantum, a worldwide organization dedicated to creating a community to highlight women’s contributions to quantum computing. This discussion was wide-ranging and encouraging for women interested in quantum technology careers.  The panel’s discussion is summarized here and the replay is available online through November for IQT-NY attendees.

The panel included:

Speaker 1: Dylan Sim – Quantum Research Scientist, Zapata Computing

Speaker 2: Kayleigh Cassella – Quantum Engineer, Atom Computing

Speaker 3: Alicia Welden – Quantum Chemist, QC Ware

Denise asked each panelist: “How did you make the transition from the academic world to a quantum technology startup?
Alicia explained she made a “smooth transition from a post-doc at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Silicon Valley to QC-Ware through networking”.
Dylan referenced her two internships at Zapata Computing as the path into the full-time position.
Kayleigh explained she was “looking for work related to what I knew and Atom Computing was a good fit.”

Denise asked each of the panelists what she liked about industry versus academia.
Kayleigh responded that the “Rate at which we can accomplish things in industry is much faster in industry and there’s a sense of extra-relevant work and research.”
Dylan responded that “professionals in industry are doing the same high-quality research as academia but one big with the PhD is that you can have boundaries on your time in industry.”
Alicia agreed with the other panelists statements and also pointed out, “We work on shorter timelines than academia or government but we are still conducting research and publishing papers.  She said, “You get to see the fruits of your labor sooner.  We see a nine-month period in industry and not the three-year grant period in academia.”

Denise asked what advice each of the panelists would give to another woman coming from academia into a quantum technology startup?  All three panelists stressed the value of networking, and mentorship.
Kayleigh encouraged women aspiring to join the quantum technology sector “to reach out to connections on LinkedIn and email; these people are very helpful. Just “reach out and send your resume or CV and don’t be shy.”
Alicia stressed that “Having a network is important”.  She suggested listeners reach out to connect with someone on this panel. Alicia stressed, “Communication is important and it’s how people find opportunities—reach out to network.” She counseled, “Don’t be afraid to reach out to people and ask questions. Nothing bad can happen.  Ask for advice. The downside is they simply don’t answer.  Ask questions: Do you have positions open?  Could you look at my CV?”
Dylan agreed about the importance of networking and also stressed the value of women mentors in a professional network.

Denise closed by referencing the “Women in Quantum Group” which is free and available to all. She explained the group helps with networking, resumes, impostor syndrome and numerous resources online.  Denise closed, “Would love to help in anyway we can.”

The discussion was wide-ranging and encouraging for women interested in quantum technology careers.  The replay is available onlne  through November for IQT-NY attendees.

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