Sector News

Women leaders in tech: 10 tips to reach the top

July 25, 2017
Diversity & Inclusion

Things women should know about climbing tech’s career ladder

Decades after women began entering the tech workplace, relatively few have made it into corporate management.

What’s it take to reach the top? At a Monday night panel discussion at Lyft, hosted by a San Francisco-based organization of international women called The Expat Woman, leaders discussed their journeys to success in the tech industry, the gender gap in senior leadership roles and advice for women in ways to forge ahead in their fields.

What they said: Women need to get better with self-promotion and personal branding. They need to build strong networks outside their company, not just inside. They should seek out many mentors, not just one. Learn new skills. Enjoy risk. Setbacks? Failure? Bounce back.

The conversations steered clear of recent revelations about Uber detailed by Susan Fowler, a software engineer who exposed a culture of sexual harassment and sexism.

Rather, the leaders offered practical suggestions to young women in tech — a new pool of candidates who tend to be ethnically diverse and have grown up in a digital world for much of their careers. There is competition for these women as tech companies are under growing pressure to broaden and diversify their workforce.

Specifically, they offered this advice for how to rise through the ranks of technology firms:

  • Be visible, said Nolwenn Godard, Director of Pricing Product at Paypal  “Make sure strategic people know your impact, know your influence…And you need to be known outside your company, outside your immediate circle. This requires networking. Most of the opportunities will come from your network.”
  • Mentors – keep it casual, said Anisha Mocherla of Market Operations at Lyft.  “Guys don’t have official mentors. They don’t ask: ‘Will you be my mentor?’ ” she said. “Just approach co-workers and say: ‘I’m thinking about this — what do you think?’…Don’t just have one mentor. Different people are good at different things — find them. Find multiple mentors for different topics.”
  • Take risks, said Maire Sogabe, Chief of Staff to the Chief Security Officer at PG&E.  “For instance, try to take the opportunity to manage people early in your career…and hone those skills. Be persistent — you may not always get the opportunity that is put forward. Sign up for (online) courses through Udemy or Coursera. Use that knowledge to reinvest in yourself and the brand that you want to be — not just what you are right now…Keep at it. You need to work at what you want to do and who you want to be. “
  • A career is a jungle gym, not a ladder, said Yvonne Chen, Head of Marketing/Sr. Director of Marketing at Udemy for Business. “Think in terms of the long game — build a skill set. Not always is each step a step up,” she said. “Sometimes it’s a step to the side.  But you’re learning something new or different.”
  • Raise your hand, said Iliana Quinonez, Director, Solution Engineering at Salesforce.  “Women tend to be on the shy side. Don’t be,” she said. “Build your brand. If your boss has a project and is super overwhelmed, say: ‘I can help with that.’  Just go for it.”
  • Build a three-minute elevator pitch — about you, said PGE’s Sogabe. “Say who you are, what you want and what you expect from your career. That’s key.”
  • Communicate your business impact, said Paypal’s Godard. ” Women tend to receive less constructive feedback, are less exposed to ‘stretch opportunities’ and get fewer special assignments.   Feedback tends to be less factual and more focused on communication styles.” To counter that, describe your results for the business.
  • Volunteer. But only do things that add value to your own career, said  Godard. “Don’t volunteer to take notes. Volunteer for something that is recognized,” she said.
  • Compartmentalize, said Salesforce’s Quinonez. “Maybe you didn’t get the opportunity on this project. That doesn’t mean…there aren’t other projects,” she said.
  • Pick the right partner, said PGE’s Sogabe. “I would never be able to devote myself to my career if my husband did not do the laundry, dishes and help out,” she said. “Find a real partner.”

By Lisa M. Krieger

Source: The Mercury News

comments closed

Related News

September 25, 2022

What has (and hasn’t) changed about being a Chief Diversity Officer

Diversity & Inclusion

In the wake of George Floyd’s murder, corporate interest in DEI is higher than ever. But has this increased attention racial justice and inequity led to real, meaningful change? The authors conducted interviews with more than 40 CDOs before and after summer 2020 and identified four major shifts in how these leaders perceived their companies’ engagement with DEI.

September 17, 2022

3 workplace biases that derail mid-career women

Diversity & Inclusion

Mid-career women are often surprised by the levels of bias and discrimination they encounter in the workplace, especially if they’ve successfully avoided it earlier in their careers. After speaking to 100 senior women executives, the authors identified three distinct kinds of bias and discrimination faced by mid-career women. They describe each bias and conclude with recommendations for overcoming them.

September 11, 2022

Working women and the war for talent

Diversity & Inclusion

Bain research shows that men and women have consistent motivations when it comes to work, across factors like financial orientation and camaraderie. They also have similar attitudes on inclusion, with fewer than 30% feeling included in the workplace. Despite a lack of intrinsic differences, women and men continue to have different outcomes and experiences at work, due to meaningful imbalances in occupation choice, prioritization of flexibility, and the perpetuation of biases.