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Amplifying Success with Learning: A Glimpse at Women in Technology

The face of the technology industry is changing, and increasingly, that face is female. There has been tremendous progress since the beginning of the century, with women representing 35% of the technology workforce today, a significant increase from the meager 9% we started with. However, there's still a long road ahead of us, especially when it comes to leadership roles. Women occupy less than 20% of tech leadership positions, so there's clearly a need to further amplify the success of women in technology.

Brief Histories of Prominent Women in Tech

Women have been leaving their mark on the tech world for over a century. Two figures, in particular, have greatly influenced my journey - the scientist Maria Marie Curie and business executive Meg Whitman.

Maria Curie, who operated over 100 years ago, achieved two Nobel Prizes in two different scientific fields, a feat not duplicated by anyone to date. Fast forward to more recent times, Meg Whitman transcended expectations in her role at eBay from 1990-2008, growing the company from 30 to 15,000 employees, and increasing revenues from 4,000,000,000 to 8,000,000,000.

And let's not forget Cheryl Sandberg, the COO of Facebook and author of two books, who exemplifies work-life balance. These women serve as formidable examples of the possibilities available to those seeking success in tech.

Positioning Yourself for Growth

So, what does it take to prosper in the tech field as a woman? There’s one thing I will tell you outright:

You never want to hear that you were promoted simply because you're a woman.

You want to know that you've earned your place through hard work and skill. To help you achieve this, I've compiled a list of strategies that worked for me:

  • Skill Availability: Ensure you not only possess the skills needed for your current job but are prepared to acquire any additional skills required for advancement.
  • Mentorship: Secure a mentor who can provide specific, actionable advice to help you grow.
  • Network: Take the time to interact with others within and outside your organization. These connections could lead to future opportunities and invaluable feedback.
  • Continuous Learning: Keep up-to-date with industry trends and advancements. Be a lifelong learner.

Mentors vs. Sponsors

When looking for support, it's essential to understand the difference between a mentor and a sponsor. A mentor is a source of advice and guidance, while a sponsor advocates for you when you're not in the room. Both roles are essential and can boost your career tremendously.

Embrace the Uncomfortable

Learning is often equated with discomfort, mainly because it pushes us out of our comfort zones. Nonetheless, it's essential to embrace such experiences as turning points that build us and enable us to remain relevant in our industries.

Final Thoughts

To ensure continued growth and learning, having a solid plan is key. Upon identifying the skills you need to develop, seek ways to learn them and the opportunities to apply them. Remember, athletic in your growth journey is vital, stepping out of your comfort zones is the blueprint to your success. Lastly, never stop learning, because learning is the cornerstone of progress.

Start mapping your journey to success in tech today.

Video Transcription

Okay. Thank you very much. I'm super excited to be here today, to share my views on how we can amplify the success, with learning. So let's see.Where we are today in terms of women and technology. So, if you see, today, about 35% of the people in tech force are women. And if you compare with where we were in the beginning of the century, you were at 9%. So it's a good progress. Yes. We know more needs to be done, but it's a solid progress since then. But if you look at the tech leadership, we have less than 20%. So a lot more needs to be done in the leadership space. So as women enter, the workforce things happen along the way. We just need to observe and talk about what women can do differently or what we should be encouraging and see so that we can see more number of leaders in the in, the tech industry.

So let's first, take a look at few of the leaders who have inspired me. If I think about my schooling, Mariah Marie Currie left a, you know, big impression on me. This was you know, this is more than 100 years ago, with her passion for learning. She did what she wanted to do in the study of STEM, there are not many vendor, not many, their vendor there, but think about it more than 100 years ago. And still now, she's the only one who achieved and has 2 Nobel Prize in 2 different scientific fields. Right? And come to the more recent times, one who really impresses me, Meg Whitman, especially during her role, from 1990 to 2008.

She was a CEO of, eBay took the company as a startup from 4,000,000,000 revenue to 8,000,000,000 revenue Also, 30 employees to 15,000 employees, very driven. It suited the confidence that is needed to take a startup to the, really big company, to be in unicorn and then look at Cheryl Sandberg. She is the co CEO of Better. She's, not only, you know, leading one of the or drumming 1 of the largest tech companies, but also, she's written 2 books and has a good work life balance. Right? So when we look at these women, yes, they can do it. So can unlock any others who can join them and deal with So, let's see. What does it really take?

When you think about a woman in tech the last thing you wanna hear from anybody is, hey, that person was promoted because she's a woman. You don't ever want to hear that. You want to be there in the position because you deserve it because you've worked hard for it. So 1st and foremost, I would say, you need to make sure that, a, you have the skills that you need and you're performing at the level where it is needed in your current job. So I'll I'll give you an example. A few years ago, I was doing well pricing in a company and but then I was ambitious and I wanted to do more. I had grown more on the programming side, but to grow in the company, I just needed to make sure I had an overall knowledge of information systems.

So, I did my masters when my children were in elementary school, took the time to I didn't take a break. I was working full time, but we decided that, okay, I will not finish in 2 years. I'll take 3 years, but I'll do it part time. And I wanted to make sure I get the skills I need. Today, it's a lot more easier. You don't have to go and enroll. You can provided your situation allows it, but, you can do bite size learning. You can go learn from any of the open universities. You can get application. You can learn on the job. In Zurich itself, we have something called my journey where the roles and the skills are matched. So you look at the role that you are in and you see the skills that are needed for for doing this job really successfully in the PC gaps.

You can build a plan for yourself. So, it is really important to make sure that, a, you have the technical skills and you also have the soft skills to do your job. So if you are if you are, you know, have been promoted to a manager or you become a leader, and then there are other skills that you need in terms of leadership. Yes. Keep, you know, you've gotta figure out and see how you'll either learn on the job or, b, you just need to make sure that you are reaching out and getting help to build ourselves. Next is, you know, people say, oh, you know what? I'm doing my job really well. I come to office.

My result speaks for itself, but I what I don't have is I don't have a mentor. Right? So think about this. Some people reach out to the senior most person they know within the organization. And, they expect that senior person to find time for them and so that they could go and tell them all about what they do and get advice from them. It doesn't really work that way. So when you are looking for a mentor, you wanna make sure that you are, looking for a very specific help Right? Did you if you've done your assessment, you're building a skill, and then you need help in very specific area, you reach out to the person and ask a very specific feedback. Because think about it in an organization. It's a bit of a structure.

And, one person, senior manager, senior person could be, approached by many, many people and they are not gonna be able to do justice to their own job by mentoring many, many of your spokes. But if there's a very specific feedback you're looking I'll give an example. I had, been promoted to a director. I needed to give a lot of, you know, presentations. I wasn't very comfortable at it. I recorded myself giving a presentation, and I approached one of the one of the leaders and asked them, hey, I have this presentation. Could you give me feedback? And all they did all she did was 15 minutes with me She looked at my reservation, gave me feedback. And, when somebody's giving that feedback live to you, it's way more powerful. So I I got a few things that I was doing really well. I wanted to make sure I continue doing them, then she asked me to work on a couple other things. So be very specific on what you need.

And also it doesn't have to be somebody senior within your organization. You can go out. You can if you go for a conference, you meet somebody, you can look for mentorship from them. You can look at your business partners, In fact, they can be really good mentors because, many a times when we are in technology, we just get into the technology jargon, but if you have somebody in the business side and you take feedback from them, they will very clearly help you articulate the value that pathology is bringing.

So if if there is anything to do with outcomes or looking at the value, reaching out to business partners, would be the absolutely the right way to go. So, when I talk about mentorship that people also talk about sponsorship. So they'll have 2 very different things. Right? Mentorship is you know something and you want some feedback on what do I do next or should I do this or not? But sponsorship is when you are not in the room and your role is being discussed or your future is being discussed or your feedback is being discussed. Right? So when you're not in the room, who's talking about you? The persons that you obviously, your your manager, your leader, is gonna talk about you. But if there are other people in the room, have you, you know, network with them? Have you ever had any interactions with them?

That's another thing you've got to start looking at. Not many women do or at least plan for it. Right? Most of them come and tell me, even I used to do the same thing is, oh, I've gotta come do the work. I've gotta pick up my children. Like, I've got home on time. I don't have time to mingle and talk to people in your organization. You still need to eat, find some time to eat with somebody else outside your organization, have lunch with them. And then again, when you're talking about your work, it doesn't have to be very boastful. You can just be a matter of factly, the work that you did and the outcome that the company got. Right?

The benefit to the company or benefit to the users, benefit to our customers, anything. So it has to be more this is an art to it and maybe that's another skill that you would want to see how you can gain. So, these are the things, we need to make sure that we are making time for as we make time to do our work also is figuring out a time and making sure that you're talking about your rock and it does know maybe outside your direct organization. Now, you've assessed your skills. You've spoken to the mentor. You make sure you're, networking. But then there's certain skills you still feel that you need to improve. How do you do it? You have to build a very solid plan. Right? You can build a plan by saying, oh, I'm gonna do this. I I'm gonna be more aware of what's going on in the industry. Because ai is changing so much.

I want to make sure I take a class, especially I have so much fun with chiketi, but I wanna see how I can use Janai. Maybe I'll take a course, but then make sure that you're following through it and you're completing it. And then you're finding a way that you're gonna apply it. Many times you could learn something, but if you don't apply it, then it doesn't stick in your hand. Right? So we just need to make sure that you have to build a plan where you would not just learn a skill, but you'll apply a skill. Within, Zurich, we have a great plan called my 70% journey. It is a provision where you, you know, after you finish a class or finish a course, and you want to work in that area, you can go and apply for any openings and then you may choose to do for a portion of your time and use those new skills and if you really like and enjoy them, in the future, if something opens up, it gives you an ability.

If you give you the experience and you would have it and then you know that this is something you want to do later and you can apply for those jobs. So, look for those type of opportunities so that, yes, I'm not only building my skill that I need today, but I'm also building, and I'm applying those skills what I want to do in future. So, building that plan is super important. Many at times, when we build a plan, it's very uncomfortable to see how I'm gonna apply it. So you've gotta figure out and see how you can, get comfortable in uncomfortable when you are learning anything new. Try doing those things in your personal life too. I'll just give you an example. I moved to Zurich about, year and a half ago. And, I'm now learning German. It's learning to it. Ish Khan in restaurant of to each, as in, each learning, yes, Far Cotton Council. So it is fun.

I am applying and learning German applying it as I go out in my personal life. I'm having fun with it. People correct me at times. It it's not right all the time. I I've never I've never even got it right. The first time, but people, I make friends, in restaurants and I ask and people correct me. So that's good. So when you are learning, it's uncomfortable. I'd make it 1 too. So with this, my key takeaways would be make sure you know what your goal is, what's your ambition? What do you really want to do? Write it down tell others because when you tell others, it's a commitment that you've made, and they will remind you if you are not working towards it.

So write down your goal, assess the gaps, find out what you need to learn. Figure out a way that you're gonna do it, plan it, and then get comfortable with being uncomfortable. So, if there is one thing that you want to take away from this is make sure that you are learning to learn. Thank you