83. Leah Lizarondo – CEO and Cofounder, 412 Food Rescue

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“There are many ways to be ‘in’ tech. And in some ways, everything that we do in the future will have technology. Its going to be a common denominator in everything.”

 

Tell us a little bit about what a typical day looks like for you.

 

I wake up at 4:30 and start working. I like to zero out my inbox before the day starts. I will get some yoga in before 6:30 which is when my daughter wakes up and we have to start getting ready for school/work. She leaves for the school bus by 7:30 and then my other kids wake up. My morning routine ends with taking the kids to school or going straight to work by 9/9:30. Then my days are usually full of meetings – something I am still trying to get under control but it is so hard when each one propels you closer to some goal or need. I try to only go to one evening event a week but sometimes it gets out of control then I try to hibernate on evening events. Evenings are family time and I do not work — trying even harder to not have my phone around at all. Most nights I am pretty good at that. Then the evening routine put the kids to bed and I typically am knocked out by 9:30!

 

How do you stay passionate in your career?

 

I love 412 Food Rescue’s mission and I love that so many people have shared in that mission. That makes it easy to stay focused and passionate. I don’t owe it to myself, I owe it to the people who believe in it and to the people we want to serve.

 

Did you have a traditional path into tech (i.e.: CS/IT degree transitioned into tech job)?

 

Not at all. I’m a business undergrad and my graduate degree was in Public Policy although it was at CMU and that was deliberate because I wanted exposure to technology. I started my career in Product Management at Colgate Palmolive then moved to a technology company whose clients were consumer goods companies. Then I worked in consulting — creating market strategies for tech startups. 412 Food Rescue is, for me, one of the highest uses of technology. It not only helps impact one of our most difficult problems — hunger — it demands that people participate in that solution.

 

Are there any apps, software, or tools you cannot live without?

 

Waze, the parking app, Venmo, Slack, increasingly TaskRabbit and of course our app, Food Rescue Hero.

 

It’s common knowledge that women often face obstacles in the tech industry based on their gender. Have you ever had to deal with this type of experience and if so how did you handle it?

 

I feel that more now as I fundraise. The data is daunting. In the VC world, less than 5% go to women founders. In the nonprofit world, while there are more women, as an organization grows the number of women in the top leadership positions shrinks to match for-profits.

 

What’s your favorite thing about being a woman in tech?

 

I like that I bring a different perspective to the table.

 

How have you given back to the WIT community?

 

I’m currently Entrepreneur in Residence at the Block Center at CMU’s Heinz College. I took this opportunity because I do want to mentor more young women. Its been 15 years since I graduated from there and I have learned so much. I hope to share that and in some small way help lead the next generation of women.

 

What is a piece of advice you would give to others wanting to or currently pursuing a career in tech?

 

That there doesn’t need to be a straight path. There are many ways to be “in” tech. And in some ways, everything that we do in the future will have technology. Its going to be a common denominator in everything.

 

Tell us about a time you felt extremely accomplished in the past year.

 

Well, 412 Food Rescue made history in Pittsburgh’s tech community by being the first nonprofit to win the Startup of the Year award at Tech50.

 

Favorite quote:

 

“”When someone says you can’t do it, do it twice and take pictures.””

 

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