In celebration of Women’s History Month, we’re excited to present a series of profiles on incredible women innovators. At Fahrenheit 212, we believe that the exchange of ideas and inspirations is a crucial piece of the innovation equation. We hope that each profile we share serves to inspire you to not only join us in celebrating the accomplishments of women innovators, but also to inspire your own thinking.

This week, we profile Annie Dean and Anna Auerbach Co-Founders and Co-CEOs of Werk.

A Conversation with Annie...

Who are you and what do you do?

I’m the Co-Founder and Co-CEO of Werk, a job discovery platform of flexible work opportunities for ambitious job seekers.

Why do you do what do you do?

After analyzing all the available data about women in the workplace and speaking with women and companies across the public and private sectors for over a year, it became obvious to us that workplace flexibility is the best, easiest, and most cost effective way to close the gender gap. Of the 40% of women who are leaving the corporate workforce after having children (and the unknown number of women opting down into non-leadership track roles), 70% say they would have stayed — if they had access to flexibility.

What are the life moments that most influenced who/where you are today?

I’ve always had a strong sense of self. Part of it is that I was just born with a lot of fight in me. I’m spicy! But the way I grew up really influenced who I am. I’m a small town girl; I grew up in a place with two churches and one traffic light. I spent my days outside or reading. I wasn’t allowed to watch much TV at home until high school. My mom is a librarian and my dad is an architect and they were very focused on ideas. It wasn’t intentional that’s just who they are. Our dinner conversation wasn’t about the school day. It was about politics. I worked hard to know enough to be able to represent my ideas in conversation.

What is the first thing you do every morning? The last thing at the end of every day?

I am woken promptly by my dog or one of my sons. No one lets me sleep! I say good morning to both my sons and give them breakfast and then catch up on the news on my phone. Pete and I try to watch a show at night to unwind. It’s pathetic — we don’t have a TV so everything we watch is on a 13” laptop.

What do you never leave the house without and why?

I leave the house with as little as humanly possible. Credit card and phone preferred; Sometimes If I’m out with my younger son who’s in diapers I just shove a diaper and a couple of wipes into my coat pocket.

What is the last book you read and why?

I just read The Likeness by Tana French because Anna buys books and just gives them to me to read and I don’t ask any questions!

What is your favorite app?

Most used is definitely a toss up between the Google Calendar app and Caviar.

What is your greatest life hack?

I’m a great editor and I make my life as simple as possible. I try to build systems in my life that are well thought out so that I can make as few decisions as possible on a day to day basis. I am a perfectionist so I try and put all the thinking upfront otherwise I get spread too thin.

What is the funniest thing that happened to you recently?

I have two toddler boys! Do you know how many times I get peed on per week!

What do you think will be the next big wave in innovation?

I recently read in an article that we should reduce our focus on software engineering and increase our focus on chemistry. Some of the basic chemistry that we rely on day-to-day is decades old, and inefficient. Apparently there’s an opportunity for enormous discoveries that would impact related fields like engineering. It’s an interesting idea.

What product, service, or industry do you think is most ripe for innovation?

Publishing; education; healthcare; energy. I think we’re going to make incredible advancements in medicine and science in our lifetime.

What makes a great innovation?

It’s the right time — it’s just over the crest of what’s available, so that it’s within reach. Innovations take hold because it’s a great idea, but equally because the idea is practical in the context of a society’s current needs.

What do you think the biggest disruption of the next year will be? What should we have our eye on?

Werk! Flexible work is the way workplaces would look if women invented them. Keep your eye on women in business across all sectors—they are bringing new and important viewpoints to the table.

What is your favorite quote?

“Do the things that incline you towards the big questions, and ignore the things that would reduce you or make you trivial.” It’s from George Saunders, an author and creative writing professor at Syracuse, my alma mater. He gave an epic commencement speech in 2013.

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A conversation with Anna...

Who are you and what do you do?

I’m the Co-Founder and Co-CEO of Werk, a job discovery platform of flexible work opportunities for ambitious job seekers.

Why do you do what you do?

My entire life I’ve been committed to doing something that made a difference. I do what I do because I believe that too many women are structurally forced out of or away from the leadership track. I want to give these women (and men!) options to advance in their careers, but not sacrifice compatibility with their lives.

What are the life moments that most influenced who/where you are today?

I moved to this country as an immigrant (from the former Soviet Union) when I was 6 years old. This has shaped me to work hard, and to fight relentlessly for what I believe in. There was nothing that was handed to me - and so I’ve had to work hard for everything I have achieved. But, because of that, I’m deeply committed to creating opportunities for others.

What is the first thing you do every morning? The last thing at the end of every day?

The first thing I do is usually roll my toddler away from me so I can actually get some space as he finds a way to make it into our bed every single night!! The last thing I do usually involves a glass of wine and some binge-watching.

What do you never leave the house without and why?

My wallet! I think everything else is fixable if I have my wallet!

What is the last book you read and why?

I sadly don’t get to read much. It’s one of my passions, and when I find myself back at reading I usually devour several books in a row. I just read Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. I think I was a little late to that game, but better late than never?

What is your favorite app?

My yoga studio’s app!

What is your greatest life hack?

Annie will tell you that I am FULL of life hacks. These are my pride and enjoy. It’s hard to pick just one - but it’s probably the Instant Pot. I love to cook, and given how crazy my life is, this has been a game changer in terms of weeknight cooking.

What is the funniest thing that happened to you recently?

I have the best story here. Last week I went up to Boston for some meetings and to be a panelist at the Harvard Business School women’s conference. I thought it would be a great idea to take my son up as my parents live outside of Boston so we could have free babysitting/quality grandparent time. He barely slept for 3 nights while I had days full of meetings - and the kicker? I forgot my dress for the conference. I had 6 outfits packed for my son, and no dress for me. Which I only realized the night before the panel.

What do you think will be the next big wave in innovation?

I think all the next waves of innovation will be around curation, intelligent design, and easier access. We have gone through an explosion of innovation and it has honestly created just too many options and almost too much access. Particularly with the lens of a busy parent, there is just too much to wade through with questionable quality.

What product, service, or industry do you think is most ripe for innovation?

Healthcare and education. It’s remarkable how little both of these industries have changed. We need to improve access to and understanding of quality health care (not just sick care). And, our education system has barely changed since the pre-industrial era. But, where some see problems - many will see opportunities.

What makes a great innovation?

I think what makes a great innovation is simplicity. Sometimes, the most incredible things actually break the frame on what we really need or what we thought we needed.

What do you think the biggest disruption of the next year will be? What should we have our eye on?

Werk! And the talent space, in general.

What is your favorite quote?

“Every peak casts a shadow”

Enjoy a few photos from our conversation with Annie and Anna.