In celebration of International Women’s Day, we’ve been sharing insights and advice from our interviews with a dozen accomplished women working in all facets of the tech field. In our 4-part mini-series, Interviews with Impactful Female Professionals, CEO’s, CMO’s and executive recruiters offered anecdotes and advice to the next generation of strong, determined, working women.
In part four of our series we asked; “What is the most difficult moment or decision you've had to face in your career, and how did you handle it?”
Colette Hory, Executive Recruiter, CyberCoders
"Feeling like I should ‘follow the masses’, i.e. do what others are doing because that’s what seems to be ‘the right way’. Even though I’ve had thoughts of compromising on my morals at different times in my career, I’ve always been able to look back and be proud of the decisions I’ve made to stay true to myself and what I believe is right."
Jen Soule, President of OWC
"I’ve struggled when my head and gut were in different places on a decision or when I thought I might have a blind spot about a particular person, policy or perception. To combat that I consult with trusted partners and advisors around me. I acknowledge that I’m struggling, lay things out as I see them and then ask, “what should I be factoring in that I’m not?”, “what am I discounting that I shouldn’t?” Then, I listen. And ask a lot of questions. And I negotiate. And at times I waffle and then since it’s been so long, I add the pressure of it having to be perfect. When in that place, I luckily have people who will push me to just make a damn decision already. Often, it’s a decision between imperfect options (none universally embraced) so I go with the one that feels most aligned with what the company needs or is most likely to be followed through on to a good outcome."
Grace Chen, co-founder and Head of Product at Common Networks
"I left Google at the beginning of 2012 to join Square, which at the time was still a Series C company with only about 200 people. The offer I got was very low, about a 45% pay cut. In addition, the role was not the exact one I wanted. I wanted to keep doing core Product Management and had a clear growth path in Product Management at Google, but the open job requisition at Square was for a PM-light role with more of a growth marketing component. However, I really loved the Square product, was impressed with the traction so far, and believed that it had the potential to grow into a huge business. And at the time, I didn't have many financial obligations. So, I decided not to worry about cash compensation and exact role, and instead jump head-first into the company that I really believed in. It was scary because I thought I was going backwards in my career - and maybe it was a temporary step back - but I went in and proved myself. And because it was a small company, things changed very often and soon I was doing the core product role that I wanted, and my scope and learnings grew much more quickly than they could have at Google."
Deidra Freeman, Director of Pathways, AnitaB
"A difficult moment in my career was dealing with a group of people with ulterior motives that contradicted the principals of a project we were working on. Lies were told in an effort to discredit me and members of the team. Instead of responding emotionally or allowing their negativity to impact the quality of my work, I used documentation and other factual information to combat the mistruths."
Div Manickam, Director, Product and solutions marketing, Dell Boomi
"In January 2018, a new role came into my life that entailed leading five experienced professionals, some of whom were more senior to me. At first, I thought I got the role because I was doing things well and needed to teach my team to do things in the same manner. I started to measure their weaknesses and thought that by working on that, we would build a great team. However, I quickly learned that how I was doing things didn’t necessarily work for everyone, so I had to rethink the process. I started seeking resources like podcasts and books about leadership, which helped me understand that it wasn’t my role to keep individuals motivated, it was my job to make sure that each individual had the best environment to thrive and grow their career. I learned that I needed to leverage their strengths in order to become better - it was a huge learning curve. I didn’t know better but those outside resources, as well as my company’s training program, really helped shape me into the leader that I knew I could be."