WITI Women

Carol Thompson
Co-founder of HireTECH

HireTECH co-founder Carol Thompson has more than 25 years of experience as an entrepreneur. Since arriving in Austin in 1979, she has consistently served as a top leader of Austin's business and charitable communities. Aside from her many successful business ventures, Thompson has willingly chosen to devote time to helping others, playing a diverse range of roles-from business advisor and women's advocate to mentor and volunteer.

Thompson is perhaps best known as the founder and president of The Thompson Group, Austin's leading network consulting and business marketing firm. Over its five year history, The Thompson Group has been responsible for generating millions of dollars in new business for its impressive corporate client list. Moreover, The Thompson Group has acted as a catalyst for building business relationships, driving companies to sponsor events, support causes and work together with others in Austin and in national technology hubs such as Silicon Valley, Boston, Atlanta and Washington, DC, as well as abroad.

A true women's advocate, Thompson helped found and guide Austin's Young Women's Alliance, a mentoring organization whose membership has gone from 20 to more than 250 in less than three years. Also, Thompson has been a key contributor to WITI's growth and a frequent speakers at WITI events.

Thompson has been recognized in the regional and national media as a "person to watch," "one of Austin's five most powerful women," and "ground control in schmooze city." She has been cited in media outlets from CMP's TechWeb to Texas Business and the Austin American-Statesman.

1. What was your first job in technology?
I entered the technology industry as the owner ABC Computer and Telephones in Austin in the early 80s. Later I had a Computercraft store and went on to become president of Computerland, an Austin franchise. I was one of 11 women in the U.S. to own a retail store in the early 1980s. Why a computer store? I previously had a collectibles auction business where all inventory was kept on 3x5 cards - ancient history!

2. Who has been your most significant mentor? Why?
I have had and still have many mentors (both younger and older than I), ranging in age from 22 to 86. However, my best mentor was my Dad who said in the 1940s "girls can do anything," and I have!

3. What has been your greatest challenge and what strategies did you use to overcome obstacles?
I have encountered many challenges in my life, from business setbacks to divorce. My strategies were simple:
* hard work
* keep faith
* don't lose your sense of humor
* look for what's next on the horizon and go for it with passion
* always mentor others on the way.

4. Who has been the most influential person in your life? Why?
Spiritually , my church person has been the most influential person in my life. However, I've encountered many influential people - teachers who challenged me to excel, parents who were always there, best friends and supporters who knew when and where to help, and my staff and my children who have been and are most influential daily. When a UT intern says "I know I'll never have another boss in my life like you," I know why I'm here and why I do what I do daily.

5. What lessons have you learned that would be valuable to women beginning their careers in technology?
1. Find a mentor and be a mentor.
2. Remember your school as an ongoing resource, as well as a place to give back to.
3. Education is ongoing, but communication and networking skills are just as important.
4. Women have to learn to pay to play. Men understand advice comes for a fee; women still think it should be free.

6. What strategies do you use to maintain balance in your life?
It can be for 5 minutes or an hour or a day. It's not an everyday deal as some suppose. I have a "Carol Care" regime:
1. A personal shopper
2. A pilates trainer
3. A business coach
4. An occupational therapist (preventative)
5. And am on my way to try hypnotherapy next.
We only pass this way once, so I want to experience all I can!

7. What new technology do you believe will have the most positive impact on the world in the next 20 years? The most negative impact?
The convergence of technologies will be positive, but will we have time to sleep? Can our brains process all of this? Will we recognize and be able to endure the quiet solitude for our souls?
Quote for the week by John Muir: "The sun shines not on us, but in us."

On a lighter note:

1. If you could have dinner with any 2 people (living or not), who would they be?

If I could have dinner with any 2 people it would be my Dad and my childhood pastor, Reverend Kerr.

2. Define success in 10 words or less.
Success is to awake fresh every day. Be sensitive, open and focused on results. Remember the basics - do what you say you will, be on time, and say please and thank you.

3. If you could only subscribe to 3 magazines, what would they be?
Fast Company, Business Week and Fortune

4. What was the last book you read?
The Pilot's Wife, by Anita Shreve

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