Five Questions For … Allison Lami Sawyer, Rebellion Photonics’s CEO

Houston—As a woman who is a scientist and co-founder of Rebellion Photonics, an oil-and-gas related startup, Allison Lami Sawyer is used to plowing a different road.

She’s also tired of being one of the few women on it. “Where is the pipeline of women behind me?” she said to me last fall following the first SheHacks hackathon in Houston. “I want to see more women CEOs.”

That desire had prompted her to host the weekend hackathon, which was begun in New York by two women entrepreneurs who’d had difficulty finding a woman developer to help them build an app. Sawyer says part of her mission is to find ways to support other women entrepreneurs, especially those in STEM fields.

In this week’s “Five Questions For …,” we talk to Sawyer about how she defines success, her interest in electoral politics, and how she fills her downtime: science-fiction writing. Here is a lightly edited transcript of our conversation.

Xconomy: How do you relax outside of work when you want to tune out the noise?

Allison Lami Sawyer: I am an amateur science-fiction writer. It’s nice to have a project that’s all my own because everything else I do has customers, vendors, employees, board members, bankers. There are so many opinions so it’s nice just to be one thing on my own, no comments necessary.

I’m a physicist. We need more female authors. We need more strong female leads in science fiction. We need more popular science fiction. I got into science because of science fiction. We need more approachable science fiction so young girls can see themselves in the character. I know so many physicists who got into science because of this. I’m about 170 pages in; it’ll be about 300 when it’s done. I write every day, for 25 minutes every day.

I’ve been doing it for five years. Rebellion’s eight-years-old. For the first three years, all I did was Rebellion. I got pneumonia three times; I got it annually. I was only in my 20s, so I made an effort to get a life. I do work really hard to have my identity be bigger than just my company. I’m more than Rebellion, which is good because Rebellion is way bigger than me or my co-founder.

X: What did you want to be when you were a kid?

ALS: Pretty much what I’m doing. I … Next Page »

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