Women in Big Data Global



Five9 Women in Tech ERG Leadership Executive Panel with Women in Big Data

Women in Big Data

By Gayatri Natrajan,

July 4, 2024


On a sunny day at the Round House Conference Centre in San Ramon, CA, Five9 WIT and Women in Big Data came together to host an inspiring event.

Five9 is a leading provider of cloud contact center software, committed to transforming contact centre engagements for its clients. With over 350 women across 11 countries, Five9 is focused on promoting diversity and inclusion in the workplace.

The panel event was facilitated by dynamic Katie Coutermarsh and featured a panel of accomplished women who shared their insights, experiences, and advice on navigating the world of technology and leadership.

Katie kicked off the event by introducing Five9 and the distinguished panellists.

The panelists included:

  • Kimberly Lytikainen is the Chief Legal Officer, Chief Compliance Officer and Secretary at Five9. Kimberly has guided hypergrowth VC backed and Fortune 100 technology companies through global expansions, IPOs, material M&A transactions and complex regulatory environments while efficiently scaling operations, driving profitability and developing people.
  • Trish Pavagada is the VP of Engineering at Five9. Trish is a software Engineering professional with over 12 years of experience in architecture, design, and development of cloud, SaaS, web, service oriented, and object oriented software applications. Experienced in web scale server-side application and multi-tenant cloud based platform development.
  • Marilena Stavrides is a Principal at Acquis Consulting Group. Marilena’s love of data goes back as long as she remembers. She sits at the intersection of data and business insights. She has a Ph.D. in Pure Mathematics and for the past 20 years she has been working with companies, helping them draw meaningful insights from their data. She brings in high energy to teams and has been organizing events for Women in Big Data.
  • Emiko Sano is a Data Scientist at V2Solutions. Emiko has been a scientist throughout her career. She worked as a lab researcher during which she found her interest in data science. She has a PhD in Microbiology and improved her data science skills through a bootcamp and fellowships. She is also the Co-Director for WiBD’s Bay Area Chapter.


  • Katie Coutermarsh is the Senior Director, Strategic Accounts at Five9 and has a bachelors in Marketing from the University of San Diego.

The event began with a rapid-fire round of questions to get the panelists’ thoughts on various topics:

Q: How do you keep yourself updated on the latest trends in the sector?  

Responses- Newsletters, podcasts, follow industry leaders on LinkedIn, attending trade conferences, seminars, and meetups with local groups.

Q: One habit that contributes the most to your success?

ResponsesPersistence, seeking feedback and learning from it, curiosity, courage to try new things and be okay to fail and learn from it.

Q: Best piece of advice received?

  • Learn the art of getting things done
  • Have confidence in yourself as much as others do
  • Be connected to your audience/stakeholders, seek feedback and learn from it
  • Communicate in a way that everyone understands, even those with least knowledge of the topic

The session then delved deeper into the’ personal experiences and insights of panel members:

Q to Kimberly: What challenges do you face as a woman leader?

“I often find that young employees are distracted by things outside their control. Instead, if one focuses on their contributions, and giving their 100%, success will follow”.

Q to Trish: How do you manage leading a large team of almost 80+ members?

“My leadership style is building trust, staying transparent, and encouraging curiosity. I believe that having trust in the leadership is paramount to getting things done”.  

Q to Marilena: Sitting at the intersection of data and business, what are some of the challenges you face at work?

“It is communication- balancing technical solutions with business needs requires a lot of creative problem-solving and negotiation amongst stakeholders on both sides”.

Q to Emiko: What challenges did you face when transitioning to a new career path?

“The most crucial skill I honed is resilience. After being a bio scientist for so many years, a lot of mental strength was needed to switch to something totally new. But I was persistent in my efforts and confident that I will succeed eventually”.

Q What excites you the most about your role?

  • Marilena: The creativity in solving problems without a blueprint.
  • Emiko: Educating people about the nuances and power of data.
  • Kimberly: Helping team members grow and succeed.
  • Trish: Improving customer interactions and experiences for Five9 customers.

The panel then discussed more general topics like remote/hybrid work and continuous learning. The key takeaways were as below.

Thoughts on remote/hybrid work:

Respect the company’s culture and policies for remote work and communicate proactively. For example, if the company policy is “video on” and you cannot be on video during the meeting, let your manager know ahead of time. Take efforts to have in-person catch ups once a while. 

Thoughts on Tech evolution and continuous learning:

Embrace a growth mindset and be open to learning. One doesn’t have to be a coder always, instead explore and learn to leverage the AI tools available to enhance productivity. 

The event concluded with an insightful Q&A session: 

Q: What steps is Five9 taking to promote women leadership?

Ensuring diversity in hiring and encouraging mentoring

Advice to aspiring women on how to grow and succeed in their careers?

  • Don’t hesitate to address bias and bad behavior
  • Find allies who support you and mentors to guide you
  • Encourage women to back each other up
  • Highlight and celebrate fellow women’s successes

Vote of Thanks:

A huge thanks to the host and the panel members. The discussions and insights shared by these inspiring women left a lasting impact on all attendees, furthering the mission of empowering women in big data and technology. Lastly and importantly, a big shout out to Srabasti Banerjee from Five9 for organizing this incredible event.