Before coronavirus transformed our lives so dramatically, the San Francisco 49s met the Kansas City Chiefs in the Super Bowl and I was inspired by Katie Sowers. That seems a lifetime ago now, but I wanted to share her inspiring story. In fact, a new football season has started. One could argue that this story is now moot. It’s last year’s news. We have other inspirations now.

But I think it’s important to remind ourselves that life at the moment may be tumultuous and scary, but it won’t always be this way. In the meantime, the regular old inspirational journeys shouldn’t be forgotten. They remind us that we are incredible people who accomplish hard things all the time. We’ll get through this together.  

Women Who Inspire - Katie Sowers

If you’re a football fan, I hope you are enjoying this season and that your team does well. Go Niners!

Women Breaking Barriers

Women in the workplace know they face barriers. That’s not news. Those of you who work in the technology industry in Silicon Valley know the significant challenges women face in working and advancing in this male-dominated arena.

That’s one reason why it’s so inspiring when I see a woman breaking barriers in a traditional male workplace, and it doesn’t come more male-oriented than the NFL. And that’s why Katie Sowers is a woman who inspires me. Katie is an assistant offensive coach for the San Francisco 49s. She’s been in the news a lot because of the spotlight the Super Bowl brings. In case you hadn’t heard, she’s the first woman to coach in a Super Bowl game. Katie has been quick to deflect the attention and remind everyone that it’s a team sport, but still, congrats!

My family founded ATR over 30 years ago and has always promoted diversity and inclusion in hiring. We are proud to be an award-winning MBE and it is with great pride that the whole ATR team continues to work inspired by the same values and mission that my parents started out with: “Making the world a better place, one job at a time.”

Katie reminds me that what we do at ATR, helping people find work, is meaningful. She reminds me how important a job can be, not just to the individual, but to others too. She reminds me that our commitment to diversity, whether it is ensuring diversity in our own team, helping our clients achieve their diversity goals, or supporting other MBEs and the wider diversity community through participating with relevant organizations, is worthwhile and necessary.

Katie is also emblematic of one of our main reasons for our commitment to diversity. Studies show that diverse teams and companies perform better than more homogenous ones. Diverse viewpoints promote greater creativity, innovation, and profits. And diversity doesn’t just refer to race or age. Truly successfully companies recognize that smart, talented people from other industries or disciplines can make successful transitions to new areas with targeted training and support. Recognizing talent that comes from a non-traditional background can open up new talent pools and net some amazing people. Katie certainly demonstrates that!

Katie is an inspiration to young women dreaming of a job in a male-dominated industry and also an inspiration to the LGBTQ+ community as an openly gay NFL coach (another Super Bowl first). She has spoken of not deserving or wanting the spotlight, stressing that she’s just doing her job as part of the team, but she also appreciates that it is inspiring for others, especially young girls, to see someone like them doing that job.

“I want anyone who sees my story, not just women, to know that anything is possible if you truly believe it and work for it. Your gender, your sexual orientation, your skin color — those are all just a part of what makes you who you are. Those things should never limit how far you can go in this world.”

Being part of the effort to increase diversity in all our workplaces is an exciting responsibility. Katie feels it and has responded well to the challenge. As a female executive in the tech industry, I feel a similar responsibility to help other women as they enter the workforce. I try to give back to our community, both personally and as a President & CEO, and I especially look for opportunities to support children and STEM education. I can only hope that I am an inspiration to someone!

However, I know that there is always more to be done. I’m so thankful for the example set by my mother, the many lessons I learned, and to the many other women (and men!) who have helped me along my career path. I’m also thankful to Katie for reminding me how important it is to think big and not accept the boundaries of the status quo. We should all remember that there is nothing we can’t accomplish, no barrier or ceiling we can’t break through, if we prepare well and work hard. Thanks for the reminder, Katie!

Who inspires you to break the barriers in your life? Reach out and let us know!


Related articles:

Women Who Inspire: Helping Others During COVID-19

Women Who Inspire: General Ann Dunwoody

What Mentorship Means to Me


Learn More about Katie Sowers:

How Katie Sowers Landed Her Dream Job

Who Inspires Katie Sowers?

Microsoft’s Super Bowl Ad Celebrates Katie Sowers, the Big Game’s Pioneering Coach

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