Head of Sales Operations Strategy at Viamo
Annie is actively involved as a Global Shaper, an initiative of the World Economic Forum. She is also one of 10 #GirlsinD4D campaign by the AU-EU D4D hub, which puts a spotlight on female trailblazers in the tech for development sector
* This column reflects the author’s personal view and does not necessarily reflect the views of her employer.
Technology and innovation are the career paths of the future, and working in the sector provides you with so many opportunities and enriching experiences. However, at times, gender stereotypes and misperceptions can lead to many women not being sure whether this is really the right career path for them.
Drawing from my own experience, these are three ways I navigate my career in the tech space.
Don’t let people tell you that there is no path without a tech background.
When I talk to people working in tech, the first assumption is always that I have a coding or engineering background. Yet, in the five years I worked in the tech industry, my roles were predominantly on the business side of things. The range of these roles is wide: Sales, Marketing, programme Management, operations, etc.
Those are all crucial roles, and they enable you to be on the pulse of the latest technologies at all times.
Compete with men, but don’t become them.
Whether you want it or not, when you apply for a job, you automatically compete with men and their confidence. Whether it is imposter syndrome or an experience, many women often do not have the same self-confidence as many of their male counterparts, and this is why we often lose out on promotions or well-deserved raises.
A while ago, I started what I call "channelling my inner white man": Whenever more responsibilities, new job opportunities, or x are thrown at me, I resist the first urge to question my skills and abilities. Instead, I ask myself this question: "Would I think the same if I were a white man with my experience and skill set in the same situation?" - The answer is always no, and it helps me to move beyond this point really quickly.
Yet, my objective is to navigate my career with my qualities, which are often branded as female and are often implied as weaknesses. Empathy, resilience, and precision listening
Become the leader you need as a young woman.
Out of the 8 managers I had in my career, 6 were female, and since then I have also moved on to becoming a line manager. I remember when one of my former sales managers said that she was criticised for having a predominantly female team. She told us that she was never intentional about it; it just turned out that the women she interviewed were just more skilled.
The most important tip I can give you is to find mentors and supporters in your company from Day 1.
This can be a more senior female leader, your manager, or influential male colleagues. In order to be able to progress quickly, people will need to mention your name in rooms you are not in. Building relationships is key to that.
While being mentored by female colleagues is crucial, most company leadership is still male-dominated, and having an ally among those will be beneficial.
While there are probably so many other strategies and approaches to navigate the jungle that is the tech world, the most important one is to start intentionally raising your profile and building networks in your company (and beyond).
Breaking stereotypes and patterns happens one person at a time. The time to start is now!