We hosted our third Women in Technology, Data & Analytics event last Thursday, this time in partnership with Canva at their spectacular offices. [Without wanting to toot our own horn], it was an amazing success, with a fantastic turnout and participation in the workshops.
One key aim for this event is to leverage the experience of Female Leaders in Technology to allow participants to workshop and tackle practical problems themselves and formulate their own answers. There was a good amount of collaboration as speakers and participants were able to talk openly about their challenges, failures and successes in an open and safe environment and there were some key takeaways.
After some very nice nibbles and drinks (provided by the talented Canva kitchen), we gathered to listen to inspirational speakers, Noeline Anandaras, Head of Digital Platform at Velocity Frequent Flyer, Liz Lee, Senior Front-End Developer at Winning Appliances, and Janine Xavier, Head of BI at GPT Group, while being MC’d by our very own Louise Langridge, Managing Director at Morgan McKinley.
The panel focused on tips that will help participants progress through their careers and making the most out of their job. The underlying theme was to make allies within the workforce. Through being open to new activities and responsibilities, you develop a positive brand and a reputation for yourself within the organisation, which will in someway convert your colleagues into allies. Along with all the new skills you will learn, the reputation you gain is important as it will help you win people over who may hold the keys to your career progression.
And when putting your hand up to pick up new or left of field tasks, have confidence in yourself to think that you will be able to do it, even if you can’t do it at the start, you will be able to at the end. More often than not, there was a tendency to believe that the others (usually men) in the room would be able to do it and as a result take the onus of responsibility of “ourselves”. It’s important to realise that there will be (a lot) of times where the people in the room won’t have the answer and you can contribute something that others will not. So have the confidence to put your hand up and give your answer, because at the end, you were chosen for the position because of your ability to solve problems.
Following the panel discussion, we broke off into groups to tackle the problems of the evening:
Finding a mentor:
Key takeaways include - Mentors play a major part in your career both professionally and personally. However, it’s important to get a good perspective on the relationship. It’s important to understand that the mentor-mentee relationship is a two-way street.
There are plenty of benefits, you’re able to utilise and get a better understanding of your own experiences which can provide new insights and ways of thinking as well as gaining new skills in leadership and communication. It’s also important as a mentee to realise that mentors are people too and won’t be a silver bullet to all problems. It’s important to separate yourself from your mentor and acknowledge that you won’t necessarily achieve the same things as your mentor nor should you want to, but they should serve as a jumping board to what you can achieve.
The women came up with the conclusion that there are key, almost unavoidable parts of your career that are important, but the common aspect is that these moments, no matter how crucial and monumental are temporary.
They will eventually pass but serve as a bedrock for how you experience and interpret future experiences and with these moments, especially the difficult moments, it’s about integrating them into your “toolbox of experience” and using them de-escalate future experience, knowing that as you’ve overcome those experience, you can overcome, [as cheesy as it sounds] any difficult moments. It’s a cycle of learning, fighting, healing and integrating.
Noeline led the resiliency workshop, as we all felt she was specially equipped given her experience fleeing war-torn Sri Lanka as a child. But the workshop was all about resilience, what is it? And how can you use resilience to further our careers? It was an especially emotional workshop that brought some participants to tears! Everyone has past moments, of which can be stressful and traumatic, that shape who they are. Participants went around the group sharing the said stories to get a grip on what resilience is and can be. From the workshop, there was an understanding that resilience looks like, feels like and sounds like different things.
Some good things that came out is the metaphor of the duck, that resilience looks like the duck gliding calmly above the water, exuding calm silent confidence but in reality, it’s kicking crazy just to stay afloat. This is true of most Senior Female Leaders, for whom it seems that everything is cool, calm and collected, but on the inside/behind the scenes they are working like crazy!
On top of that, some practical tips to take from the workshop was to use distraction effectively to shield yourself from negativity such as being shut down in front of all the board members. Using techniques like movement (fixing your collar), taking a deep breath or even just looking away to stop yourself from overthinking, refocus on your idea and not through it away.
How to Engage & Influence
Janine led the workshop providing key insights into engaging more effectively with people in your organisation, making a base of allies that will support you and on your career journey. The key takeaways revolved around
putting yourself out there, engaging in new activities and new people within the organisation and having the confidence to tackle them head-on.
There will be issues and problems you will encounter but by tackling them, reaching out to others for help and overcoming them, you set yourself up as a collaborative and open achiever who people can come for help as you have helped them.
Overall, it was a huge success, and want to thank everyone who attended, it was great to hear their thoughts, and a special thank you for our speakers Janine Xavier, Liz Lee and Noeline Anandaras well as Moe Kiss and the Canva team for hosting us. Look forward to seeing you all next time!