Do you ever wish you could sit down and have a cup of coffee with women in technology that have made it to the top of their industry and just ask: “What advice would you give me?”
In a recent Fast Company article, author Grace Nasri shares Advice from 7 Women Leaders in Technology. Tech is still a predominantly male-dominated industry and the fact that these seven women have made it to the top in their field speaks volumes to their ability to stand out and make a difference.
If there is a theme in their collective advice it would be similar to what I speak of here on a regular basis:
- Surround yourself with the right people
- Have a vision – a passion – for what you desire
- Make time for yourself
- Embrace change
- Continually seek to learn
As women in business or more specifically, women in technology, we still struggle to understand the value of putting ourselves on the “to do” list. If we are going to achieve all that we desire, we need to invest in ourselves; our spirit, our health, our time, our learning.
One of the women who share their advice is Rebecca Jacoby, CIO of Cisco. She has this to say:
“As a leader, you will not grow and develop without developing a keen sense of self-awareness; introspection is key,” Jacoby says. “Understand what your motivators are and work to identify what you want to get out of your career, what you want to give in your career, and what you want to avoid. You truly need to know yourself and make decisions accordingly. Learn something from every experience you have, even the difficult ones, so you can always add to your experiential toolbox.”
“It is about bringing technology to bear to bring value to every aspect of business,” she says. “Over the span of your career, this will be increasingly true. Invest in yourself to learn fundamental business skills and adopt a mindset that change will be constant. Combine technology with great communication skills to make a difference for your business and the world.”
Invest in yourself.
What are you doing to invest in yourself?
Another woman in technology that was interviewed was the CMO of Rovio Entertainment, Blanca Juti. Blanca believes that women need to have a passion for what they do. She has this advice to share:
”The most important learning I would share is: Do what you love and love what you do,” Juti says. “If you love what you do, you will remain curious to learn and your passion will be contagious. Doing what you love means also being close to your values. And don’t believe in perfection. Be kind to yourself.”
“There is an art in building teams where different people bring different things and complement each other, including yourself. There is something very liberating in learning that. An authentic person who truly loves what she does can be a source of inspiration.”
This idea reminds me of the book published in 1989; Do What You Love and the Money Will Follow. Although the book was published a long time ago, the concept is still valid. We need to examine what is important to us, what we feel we offer value in and how we want to be known.
What is your passion?
What are you doing to make sure your passion dove-tails with your career?
Finally, the last woman in technology that I want to spotlight is Raji Arasu, the CTO of StubHub. She has a multi-layered message that is important for all of us, whether you are seeking to become a woman in technology, engineering or any other field.
“I urge women technologists to consider leadership roles in product and technology,” Arasu says. “For those already on this path, be prepared for constant change because it is inherent in everything we do. Technologies evolve on a daily basis. Embracing change allows you to grow the business and help the company stay competitive.”
“Second, don’t be afraid to learn from others and try new ways to solve old problems,” she says. “As much as possible, seek many external and internal perspectives. I owe much of my success to the many mentors who took time to give me genuine hard feedback. They helped build a stronger, wiser, and more mature me.”
“Third, narrow in on one goal that inspires and challenges you,” she says. “If you develop a passion for technology, you will have fun, and stay engaged as you learn and grow in this industry.”
“And last, be the best at what you do,” Arasu says. “Striving to be the best technology leader and CTO gives me the courage to be strategic and bold.”
Her advice on narrowing your focus reminds me of the book Riches in Niches. It is from the lessons learned in that book and from other leading women as well as my own business experience that has led me to an understanding of my own niche.
When I penned my first book The Working Woman’s GPS: When the Plan to Have it All Has Led You Astray, I envisioned creating a business that would help guide women to understand what their personal best life looked like and to help them create a roadmap their success. However, over the last several years I have come to realize that my personal experience as a woman in technology has a value to other girls and women interested in pursuing leadership roles in the world of technology. So rather than reach out to all women in business, I have narrowed my focus to other women in STEM, specifically those interested in advancing in their technology careers.
Have you defined a niche for your own career?
What is it and what are you doing to create a personal brand around your niche?
There is a lot of great advice to digest from this Fast Company article and the words of wisdom of these strong women leaders. What speaks most intimately to you and your career path?
I wish you all the best and invite you to visit our Facebook page and share your journey, your wins, your struggles, and your advice.
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JJ DiGeronimo, a speaker, author, and thought-leader for Women in Tech and Girls and STEM, empowers professional women and consults with senior executives on strategies to retain and attract Women in Technology to increase thought and leadership diversity within organizations.
Check out JJ’s new award-winning book Accelerate Your Impact by downloading three free chapters.