We were thrilled to welcome a powerhouse group of women to participate in a series of fireside chats with leaders in the business and tech communities who have found career success by charting their own paths forward at the first ARA Silicon Valley event of the year, sponsored by Harvey Nash and Intuit.
The evening was filled with valuable insights and powerful advice – for both career and personal aspirations – and below you’ll find a highlight of some of the night’s best talking points.
Anna: What challenges have you faced in your career?
Meera: As I advanced in my career, I never wanted to think, “OK, I’m a woman so how does this impact my career?” But I did encounter an environment where male behavior was being rewarded. They are more aggressive and instead of going straight at the problem, we, as women, tend to go around it. These subtle behaviors can be the true challenge and when I recognized that, it made it easier to meet that challenge head on.
Anna: What was your AHA moment?
Meera: Honestly it was when I started hearing success stories from women who work for Stella and Dot. They were saying things like, “For the first time I am making my own money and I am the one in charge of my own business.” or “I’m able to have my own financial independence through Stella and Dot.” I realized that what we’re doing actually changes lives and brings a sense of pride to a lot of people.
Dawn: What’s one of the biggest lessons you’ve learned in your career?
Kate: I had never run a company or even a board meeting before, but I realized that I was using excuses to cover what the real issue was: I was scared to death to fail. Once I started my CEO role, I realized they just wanted me to do it – they didn’t care how I did it, they just wanted the job done. If you can just lean into it and say “yes,” you can open yourself up to so many wonderful opportunities. Take every chance you can to learn from others.
Dawn: We always hear a lot about the idea of work and life balance? Do you believe in this and if so, how do you manage?
Kate: I put my social life on par with my career. I structured my jobs in such a way that I had at least one day at home. It was a way for me to stay sane.
Dana: I’ve always found that if you’re not ready to hear the truth, you’re not ready to be mentored – and I couldn’t agree more. You must be open to hearing the truth. What do you typically look for in a mentor?
Shanthi: A good mentor for me is someone who can tell me directly in my face what my strengths and weaknesses are and someone who has seen me in action at work. If they’ve seen me at work, they understand how I work and what my work ethic looks like. That certainly helps when discussing career trajectory and how to improve along the way.
Dana: If you could give your younger self a piece of advice, what would you say?
Shanthi: If I could talk to myself even 10 years ago, I’d say to be more self-aware. Truly, just be aware. What you think of yourself and what others think of you must match if you desire to get ahead.
Please consider this event an extension of our ongoing mission to mentor women in technology. To learn more about ARA and our membership benefits, please visit our membership page here. Or, you can continue the discussion in the comments below, on LinkedIn or on Twitter at @ARAmentors where we invite you to share leadership and development lessons and challenges you think women in IT need to discuss.