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Q&A: Amanda Fisher of Workiva


What does an industry professional think about the industry she’s in?

Amanda Fisher has spent half a decade working for Workiva—the Ames-based software company—and was a nominee for the Leadership Innovation Award from the Women of Innovation Awards on Monday.

We asked Fisher to talk about how Workiva impacts Iowa’s tech community and how diverse the industry is:

What do you do professionally?

AF: I’m currently the Director of Delivery Management at Workiva.  I’ve been here just over 5 years.  Delivery Managers at Workiva focus on operational, process, and development efficiency and are embedded in software development teams.  Our job is to help our teams deliver valuable quality software to our customers as effectively as possible.

What impact can/does Workiva have in Iowa’s tech community?

AF: Our impact on the tech community is unique.  I’ve never worked at another company that has the amount of people we do who genuinely care about their job and the people they work with.  To have that caliber of coworkers, combined with an innovative development organization is unmatched in Iowa.  

How has Workiva given back to the tech community?

AF: Our focus on recruiting in Iowa’s universities as well as community colleges has helped grow the tech community overall. If we can attract great talent to stay in Iowa and participate in further recruiting and networking events, it’s better for everyone.  

How diverse is the industry you work in?

AF: Our Delivery Management group at Workiva is quite diverse.  However, my peer group of leaders within R&D is not. I’ve frequently been the only woman in the room during leadership meetings.  However, Workiva cares a lot about expanding our diversity and the hardest part was starting. I’m the first female R&D director at Workiva, but based on the group of talented women leaders we have, I won’t be the last.

How does Workiva promote diversity in the workplace/tech community?

AF: In the workplace, we have started up some diversity and affinity groups, which are not limited to just Women in Tech, however, our WiT group is very active. The WiT group was formed due to feedback channels within the company. It’s mission is to support women in R&D and other technical roles at Workiva.

Outside of the workplace, we have a number of ways we engage the community, including a ‘Girls who Code’ program at a local school.  

What are the school systems doing to expose more students?

AF: The main thing is showing kids examples of what it looks like to bring diversity to technology, as well as what it looks like to be a leader in technology. I think the girls who code program is a great example of this.

Q&A: Amanda Fisher of Workiva | Clay & Milk
A central Iowa ag-tech accelerator has secured more backers and finally has a name. The Greater Des Moines Partnership first announced the accelerator last year, naming four initial investors. On Monday, the Partnership said the program will be called the "Iowa AgriTech Accelerator" and named three new investors. The new investors include Grinnell Mutual, Kent Corp. and Sukup Manufacturing, all Iowa companies. They join investors Deere & Co., Peoples Co., Farmers Mutual Hail Insurance Co. and DuPont Pioneer. Each investor has agreed to put up $100,000 for the first year of the accelerator. Startups entering the program will receive $40,000 in seed funding in exchange for 6 percent equity. Tej Dhawan, an angel investor and local startup mentor, is serving as interim director until the AgriTech Accelerator names a permanent leader. Dhawan held a similar role with the GIA before Brian Hemesath was named as managing director. As interim director, Dhawan said his main job includes hiring the accelerator's executive director, establishing a business structure and initial recruiting for the first cohort. The accelerator will place few filters, such as location and product, on the applicant pool, Dhawan said. "When you’re seeking innovation, innovation can come from every corner of the world so why restrict ourselves," he said. One area the the AgriTech Accelerator won't recruit from is biotech. For its first cohort, the AgriTech Accelerator will work out of the GIA's space in Des Moines' East Village, Dhawan said. A future, permanent home is still to be decided. The accelerator's program will host startups from mid-July through mid-October, ending with an event connected to the annual World Food Prize. The GIA, which the AgriTech Accelerator is based on, also ends with presentations at an industry event. The accelerator has also started lining up a mentor pool. The Iowa Corn Growers Association, Iowa Soybean Association and the Iowa Pork Producers Association have agreed to provide mentors, as has Iowa State University. While the AgriTech Accelerator is loosely based off of the GIA, it will differ in its business structure, Dhawan said. The GIA runs through a for-profit model for both operations and its investment fund. The AgriTech Accelerator will have a nonprofit model for its operations and a for-profit setup for its fund. Dhawan said the nonprofit model is being used so the accelerator can better work with other nonprofit partners, such as trade associations. "These are all organizations that are nonprofits and can be amazing stakeholders without ever having to be investors in the accelerator," he said. "It becomes easier to work with trade associations in their nonprofit role when we are also a nonprofit." When it's up and running, the AgriTech Accelerator would be one of a handful of ag-focused startup development programs in Iowa. Others include the Ag Startup Engine out of Iowa State University and the Rural Ventures Alliance from Iowa MicroLoan. Matthew Patane is the managing editor and co-founder of Clay & Milk. Send him an email at
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