Ramona Pierson: The Most Inspiring Woman in Tech
Ramona Pierson started her career in the Marine Corps, working on algorithms to help fighter attack squadrons. She was incredibly fit, even nominated as the fittest person on the base by her male peers. But a drunk driver hit her and left her for dead. She was in a drug-induced coma for eighteen months before waking, unable to see, walk, or talk. After more than 50 surgeries and a lengthy rehabilitation process in a senior citizens’ home, she slowly started to rebuild her life. She went on to start three companies, all in the tech education space, including SynapticMash, which she sold to Promethean World Plc.
Ramona went on to co-found and become CEO of Declara, a startup that used artificial intelligence to power its collaborative knowledge platform. Ramona started Declara with Nelson Gonzalez and with $25 million in Seed A funding and a mission to innovate the education sector. President Obama praised Declara for combining “… the power of a search engine with a worldwide network of experts so that we all can learn faster from our fellow citizens and their lifetimes of knowledge.” After Declara, Ramona was Director, Technical Product Management at Amazon.
Ramona is currently the Head of Product Innovation for Societal Change at PwC where her role includes using AI, automation and other technologies to improve workplace learning at scale.
Newnham: What were you like growing up?
Pierson: Growing up, I was very busy all the time. As a little kid, I thought I would be in the Olympics, so I would train every day. All my friends and family would laugh at me while I ran the stadium stairs at the track or football field and did wind sprints. I started doing that after I saw the Olympics when I was five years old.
When I grew up, the world was a lot different than it is now. It was like Mad Men, with our parents smoking cigarettes, drinking cocktails, and telling us just to show up back in the house by midnight. So we ran around like…