Estimated reading time: 5 minutes
Being a woman in tech is hard; and being a woman in tech in Silicon Valley is even more challenging. But, Stratifyd’s Sales Director of the West, Meredith Fulton, is no stranger to adversity. After overcoming mental and physical challenges at a young age, she has taken her experiences and used them to shape the person she is today.
Although Fulton was born in Texas, her mom’s family is rooted in the tobacco farms of North Carolina. She grew up in the Lake Norman area, and had a pretty normal life until the 10th grade, when she experienced a traumatic brain injury while playing basketball.
“I lost the ability speak for six weeks,” Fulton said. “I could think, write, and hear others around me, but I couldn’t say a single word. It was terrifying.”
She spent the next six months working with doctors from Levine Children’s Hospital to retrain a part of her brain through therapy and public speaking to regain her speech.
“I learned a lot about people and disabilities,” Fulton said. “I realized that a disability doesn’t mean that all hope is lost, and with the right amount of determination and spirit, you can overcome anything.”
The experience inspired her to pursue speech pathology as a career. While attending the University of North Carolina, she developed a passion for not only speech therapy, but tech as well.
“I took courses in information systems and wanted to create computer programs for kids with autism,” Fulton said. “I thought if I could gamify speech, it could help kids with disabilities develop communication skills.”
Unfortunately, she was unable to pursue a master’s degree in speech therapy due to a car wreck that caused her to develop tinnitus, a condition which results in permanent ringing in the ears. After the accident, she continued down the tech path by working for several marketing and account management software companies locally, and eventually decided to move west to Silicon Valley.
“Moving from North Carolina, I was naive about the stigma in the Valley,” Fulton said. “I thought it wouldn’t matter that I was a woman, or that I was girly, because it’s supposed to be about your skills and ability to get the job done. But I was wrong.”
She experienced adversity that’s common in the workplace for women, such as working twice has hard to receive recognition and not having the same opportunities as others.
However, Fulton was lucky enough to have many mentors in her corner, pushing her to be the best in her field. And instead of being consumed by her negative experiences, she decided to work towards moving the dial and advocating for more women in tech.
“I remember having two-hour coffee talks with my German CEO,” Fulton said. “We spent a lot of time talking about diversity and how to get more women into the tech space, both in Cali and across the country.”
After spending several years in the Bay Area and watching the tech industry explode in Charlotte, she moved back home. Fulton is continuing to advocate for women and minorities in tech and STEM, and wants to show young girls that they don’t have to be an engineer to be in tech.
As the Sales Director of the West, her main goal is to expand the adoption of Stratifyd within the retail and CPG industries on the West Coast. She’s excited to continue her passion for mapping out corporate business objectives and showing clients how to solve their biggest problems with tech solutions.
When she’s not working, you can find Fulton rock climbing at Inner Peaks, paddleboarding on Lake Norman, or exploring the local restaurant scene.
Q&A With Meredith Fulton
Q: What’s your favorite thing about living in Charlotte?
A: Having watched most of greater Charlotte transform from tobacco farmland to a thriving metropolis, I found that while it’s great to visit other places, it’s serene to come back to the lifestyle balance the city provides.
It feels like Charlotte embraces every single community, and that’s both unique and impressive to accomplish during the explosive growth we’ve seen over the last 10 years. Seeing the investment in entrepreneurship and being able to support Charlotte’s locally owned businesses that evolve its culture makes me very proud to be a Charlottean.
Q: What sparked your interest in Stratifyd?
A: The people, platform, and purpose.
This team is diverse, efficient, accountable, kind, and a new level of West Coast relaxation meets East Coast hustle. I’m humbled to be surrounded by people smarter than myself on a daily basis.
Having spent time working with organizations that bring value throughout every stage of the customer journey, I’ve heard it time and time again, “We have the data! Now what?” Everything is in the data. By democratizing unstructured data (like speech to text) and applying machine learning to derive neural sentiment, the curious side of me is outrageously intrigued and excited to work with our clients to ensure they carry the best brand reputation possible.
The most important attribute I look for in emerging technology companies is their innate ability to drive with purpose. Stratifyd thrives on constant iteration and self-awareness that allows us to exceed customer and internal expectations.
Q: What is your favorite brand to follow on social media and why?
A: I’m impressed and motivated by Cheddar as a new age tv, media, and entertainment outlet. They bring a unique zest to business and technology reviews.
What is on your travel bucket list?
A: Maldives, Switzerland, South Africa, and New Orleans.
Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
A: I’ve had the pleasure of working with an executive career coach for the past year. She recently shared a piece of advice, that Aaron Hurst, CEO of Imperative shared at a conference that reminded her of my vision of purpose: “For people to feel fulfilled in their lives, they must feel fulfilled at work.”
If you are fulfilled, what you see as possible in your future is something you just can’t stop thinking about. When you can’t stop thinking about it, then the universe won’t stop you either.
Q: What's one thing you can't live without?
A: Pho. What more is there to say except that it’s Pho-nomenal.
What's the bravest thing you’ve ever done?
A: Hands down, moving to San Francisco. If I hadn’t, I wouldn’t have expanded my mind, pitched to VC’s, or traveled solo to more than 47 cities and 7 countries. I wouldn’t have become socially fluent in German; I wouldn’t have been able to identify how valuable it could be to be the bridge connecting the emerging curious minds behind the Charlotte tech scene and the innovative Bay Area thought leaders. But most importantly, my answer to #6 would be something wildly different. ;)
Q: What’s your spirit animal and why (this can also be a person/role model)?
A: Lemur! I believe in the power of positivity and lemurs exude upbeat attitudes and positive energy. They also have a keen sense of navigating tricky situations in order to reach an end goal. They are comfortable with themselves, and not afraid to momentarily stand in the spotlight in order to say what they mean and mean what they say, typically with a little humor involved.
Q: If you could have one superpower, what would it be?
A: The Power of Mimicry, then you’ve got whatever you need when you need it. Healing, teleportation, invisibility, super human strength, you encounter it, you’ve got it. It seems, theoretically, like a winner. Imitation is, after all, the greatest form of flattery.
One cause that you’re passionate about?
A: I’ve recently committed to be an inaugural volunteer and sponsor with a team of local techies who have formed Queen City Bytes. Our mission is to provide affordable workshops and educational resources to communities who lack direct access to these opportunities. By educating and building confidence in their information and communications technology skills, we have the opportunity to create stronger communities and economies.
I invite anyone who is still reading this to join us at the First Annual Kickoff of QC Bytes (this Thursday at VBGB! Here’s the meetup link which also has a donation link)
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