Introduction Career History Leadership and Mentorship Advice and Inspiration

In honor of Women’s History Month, we’re highlighting some of the women who are leading the way in tech at Instabase. For this spotlight, meet Erin Hawley, Vice President, Federal Sales at Instabase, and hear how one of her mentors made a significant impact on her career and leadership style.


Can you tell us a bit about your background and how you got started in the tech industry?

For two decades now, I’ve been navigating the crazy world of federal technology. It all started way back when I was the first student intern in Sun Microsystems’ engineering department. Talk about diving in headfirst and knowing that engineering was not my true passion! That experience made me realize that I could build a lifelong career in this space, given I lived in the most powerful city in the world. Since then, I’ve explored every corner of the federal tech market, selling for both massive Fortune 500 companies and scrappy startups — all with the same goal: helping the federal government get things done.

My true passion is working alongside federal agencies that recognize the power of technology and what commercial industry can bring to the table. I love the challenge of helping them achieve their critical missions — the ones that keep our country safe and our citizens well. Seeing technology make a real difference in these areas is what keeps me going, year after year.

But for me, it’s about more than just closing deals. I’m a huge believer in lifting up other young women in this federal arena. My own journey through the maze of federal sales makes me want to empower other women to do the same.

What inspired you to pursue a career in technology, and how has your journey evolved over the years?

Growing up, I was constantly inspired by my family’s work within the federal government, Congress, and the intelligence community. Their commitment to serving the country in a wide variety of roles instilled in me a deep respect for the role technology plays, and I felt like I could have a successful career in this space.

Career History

What challenges have you faced during this journey (or as a woman in tech), and how have you overcome them?

Federal tech can be a tough nut to crack. Back in the early days, I wasn’t always taken seriously. There were times I felt like I had to prove myself twice as much as my male counterparts. But instead of letting those hurdles get me down, I used them as fuel. I honed my technical knowledge, sharpened my sales skills, and built strong relationships within the community. Slowly but surely, I earned the respect and recognition I feel like I had worked hard for and deserved.

This experience instilled in me the importance of mentorship. Now, as a leader in the space, I’m passionate about empowering other young women to navigate these challenges too and to do it with confidence and know they belong. I spend a great deal of time working in organizations that support women and rising young leaders in the federal IT community, and I love it!

Leadership and Mentorship

Have you had any mentors or role models who have influenced your leadership style or career decisions?

One person who significantly impacted my leadership style is a woman named Kristen, whom I had the pleasure of working with at a startup earlier in my career. She had an amazing family life, yet at the same time, a strong work ethic and a collaborative approach to our team. I was impressed by her ability to build genuine relationships with clients while also driving strategic results for the company. Kristen’s approach to client relationships really resonated with me too. It helped me develop my own skills in active listening and building trust with federal clients. I remember a time when we were working on a complex proposal, and Kristen encouraged me to take the lead on presenting a key section to the agency. Her confidence in me helped me push past my nerves and deliver a strong presentation. I’m incredibly grateful for Kristen’s guidance and mentorship during that pivotal time in my career. The lessons I learned from her continue to shape my leadership style today as I strive to foster a team environment that is both result-oriented and collaborative.

Advice and Inspiration

What advice would you give to aspiring women in tech who are looking to advance their careers?

My tips for growth:

  • The tech industry is constantly evolving. Stay curious and committed to lifelong learning. Take online courses, attend conferences, and network any chance you get. 
  • Having a mentor can provide invaluable help to you! Look for someone who you admire and whose career path you’d like to emulate. 
  • Don’t be shy about your accomplishments! Speak up during meetings and shine with confidence.
  • Don’t forget that women in tech can sometimes face imposter syndrome. Don’t let self-doubt hold you back. Believe in your abilities and your right to be successful, then go get it! 
  • Remember, you have a unique perspective to bring to the table. Leverage your strengths, find your own path, and don’t be afraid to break down barriers.

Learn more about the inspiring people at Instabase

Check out our open roles.