Three Enterprise Connect keynoters speak out on their experiences being women executives in a male-dominated field.
Shining a Light on Women in Communications
International Women’s Day 2019 took place last Friday, an occasion to recognize and celebrate the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women around the world. But the annual day’s purpose doesn’t stop at celebration. It also serves as a call to action for a continued push on achieving true gender equality.
This is one of the missions we’ve taken on for Enterprise Connect 2019, which will take place in Orlando, Fla., next week. At this year’s event, we’re offering programming aimed at empowering women in communications, including our inaugural Women’s Luncheon featuring a panel of women IT professionals, a Women’s Networking Reception hosted by Enterprise Connect and sponsored by Cisco, and an Enterprise Connect Theater session, also sponsored by Cisco, on the challenges and opportunities facing women in communications. But in addition to these programs, women will take the spotlight in other ways at the event.
If you don’t know it by now, the women pictured above are three of the five keynote headliners for the event. Each recently took some time to share their perspectives on being a woman in the male-dominated technology industry, and a few lessons they learned along the way.
Lori Wright, GM, Microsoft 365, Microsoft
“I think about homogeneity as the problem statement. To deliver the best products, you need to have a diverse set of ideas. While the tech industry has traditionally skewed male, I’m encouraged by the conversation and actions I’m seeing to make diversity and inclusion a priority, particularly in the last [five] years. With awareness comes progress, especially when the data clearly shows companies with greater diversity outperform those without it.”
On Overcoming Challenges…
“Everyone has challenges to overcome. The one I most acutely faced early on was on my need to try to do it all well, all of the time. This is a recipe for disaster that increases over time if you have kids or dependent parents or other caregiver requirements. Today I live by the motto, ’you won’t get an A in everything‘ and I prioritize my day accordingly. Some days this means I get an A at work and a C grade in other aspects of my life, and vice versa. If you go in with the expectation that you can’t do it all well all of the time, you’ll feel more in control of your time and the outcomes.”
Advice for Other Women…
“Dream big. Spend your time wisely. Get to know as many people as you can. Take risks. Build a life you love and are proud of.”
Amy Chang, SVP, Collaboration Technology Group, Cisco
On Making Cisco’s Leadership Team More Diverse…
“We’ve gone from zero women in the leadership team to half women. We’re way more diverse, and I think that is showing at every level -- not just the leadership.”
On Making the Startup Leap as a Woman…
”[When I left Google to start Accompany,] it was the hardest decision I ever made because I was so scared. … It was one of the moments where you decide you don’t want to do it or you lean in and decide you’re just going to go for it.”
Advice for Other Women…
“Lean into the fear. I wish someone had said this to me. The things you don’t do are the ones you regret. If you keep yourself in the yellow zone, where it’s a little uncomfortable every day, you will find that you have done far more than you ever could.”
Rany Ng, Director of Product Management, Google
On Being a Woman in Tech…
“I have been in tech my entire career -- I began as [one] of only [two] women in my electrical engineering major in college. I started my career as a software engineer at a financial firm and grew into a product manager in the technology industry.
I may be a bit biased, but I strongly believe that women add enormous value to any company, including tech -- we add diversity and perspective to discussions, ideas, problem-solving, and team dynamics in a way that can elevate projects. Over the course of my tenure at Google, and especially in recent years, I have seen positive change and growth in the number of women directors and VPs in product and engineering, and I’m hopeful that the tech industry is evolving in a positive and inclusive direction for women. But I do I think men and women face different challenges as they advance in the tech industry, and women need to be aware of the differences in how we approach work.
Early in a career, a large part of our professional performance is based on our ability to execute and our technical skills, where in some ways, your work can do the talking for you. As you advance and become more senior in an organization, communication and your ability to adapt communication becomes a much more critical skill, where you need to influence and manage many different stakeholders.”
Advice for Other Women…
- Make sure you're heard – “This is an area that I have had to overcome to make sure that I established my own presence, especially in leadership and strategy meetings where I had much more vocal and assertive counterparts. I had to find ways to be heard in a style that was authentic to me. And I learned that it is okay to not have everything thought out before you share, and it’s good to ask questions when you need more information.”
- Advocate for yourself – “Be your best advocate, even if it feels uncomfortable or unnatural at first. Accomplishments, unfortunately, aren’t always recognized on their own, especially if your colleagues are more direct about showcasing their work. Communicating upward is equally important to empowering and supporting your team.”
- Build a strong network – “Foster relationships with mentors, peers, and sponsors and leverage them. Respected allies within your broader organization can partner with you to influence, lead, and get things done. I’ve found that it’s particularly helpful to also have a good support group of women peers who you can talk to, bounce ideas off of, vent, and even have some margaritas with.”
Shining at EC19
See these women thought leaders take the mainstage stage next week at Enterprise Connect 2019. Wright will kick off the keynotes on Tuesday morning at 10 a.m., while Chang and Ng will deliver their companies’ keynotes on Wednesday, at 10 a.m. and 11:30 a.m., respectively.
If you haven’t yet gotten your pass for Enterprise Connect, it’s not too late. You can still register with code NJPOSTS to get $200 off your pass and save over on-site pricing. Register now! Hope to see you there!