International Women's Day is March 8th, celebrated every year for over a century in honor of women’s achievements. Women like Ada Lovelace, who almost 200 years ago became the first computer programmer. Not the first female programmer, the first person.
IWD is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women everywhere, and this year’s theme is #BalanceforBetter. According to the campaign, “balance is not a women's issue, it's a business issue. The race is on for the gender-balanced boardroom, a gender-balanced government, gender-balanced media coverage, a gender-balance of employees, etc.”
Here at CyberCoders, we know the importance of helping to promote women in the work world. In honor of International Women’s Day, we interviewed some amazing, accomplished women working in all facets of the field, from CEO’s to CMO’s to executive recruiters helping to fill those roles. In the next few posts, we’ll be passing on their insights and advice to the next generation of women.
In part one of our mini-series, we asked; "What's something you wish someone had told your younger self?"
Nitu Gulati-Pauly, VP of Recruiting, CyberCoders
"You don’t need to be liked by everyone. Make sure you like yourself and work on integrity, character and holding yourself accountable to taking the higher road. When you do that, it doesn’t matter if people will like you or not – the right ones will respect you."
Margaret Echerd, VP, Corporate Controller and Principal Accounting Officer at Vaxart, Inc.
"I would have told myself to speak more loudly, not to be afraid to ask questions in meetings and voice my opinions and suggestions. I am a naturally soft-spoken person and was raised to be very polite and not interrupt or speak too loudly. It took a while to learn that my opinions and input were valid and valued. Learning how to speak up during meetings takes courage, and you learn over time that if you don't actively contribute, you won't be invited to be part of the change process."
Deidra Freeman, Director of Pathways, AnitaB
"As a young computer science engineering major at a Big Ten University, I wish someone had encouraged me to be comfortable in my own abilities and recognized how truly talented I was at that age. As a young person in their early 20s, you are full of ambitions, dreams, and aspirations. You are excited about creating and innovating in the technical space. This excitement is sometimes coupled with fear. Unfortunately, I allowed fear to slow me down by not pursuing certain opportunities that were presented to me. I wish someone was around to push me beyond that fear and encourage me to flourish in my talents."
Judy Shapiro, CEO/ Founder, The Trust Web
"I wish someone had told me earlier in my career I didn’t have to be “nice” to be effective. Over the first 10 years of my career, I was too busy trying to be “nice” and to be liked that I sometimes suppressed my ideas if I thought it would challenge others. If, for example, the account director at our agency had an idea that I knew the client wouldn’t approve, I tried very hard to make it work so the boss would like me. Too often, that ended badly for everyone. I wish I had understood earlier that you can be very effective if you are respected. Being nice and well-liked is part of the effectiveness formula but it is not the only (or even main) ingredient that I used to think it was."
Amy LeBold, SVP, People at AdRoll Group
"Career paths are not always linear! If you get too focused on one specific path "up" in your career, you miss out on the opportunity to get exposure to a greater variety of roles and functions where you can figure out your own path."
Peggy Chen, CMO at SDL
"Follow your passion and keep an open mind. When I was a child, teenager or even when I was in college, I would not have predicted where I am today. Most people thought (or suggested) I would become an engineer. As a child, that’s how I defined success. But I quickly figured out I didn’t love many aspects of that occupation. Letting others who had invested so much into your education to not be an engineer seemed at first a letdown. But I soon realized that happiness is more important, and that comes from following your passion as the compass. Today, this happiness not only impacts my work performance, but my personal life too. Success comes when you are true to yourself."
The IWD #BalanceforBetter campaign runs all year long so if you have advice to give or a story to share, use the hashtag BalanceforBetter. It’s better when we all work together.