Last week in Austin, we hosted our second annual Women in Identity event during Navigate ’17, and just like the inaugural event, this one did not disappoint. In fact, we had so many women interested in attending that we were oversold. To me, this is a sign that we need to build more opportunities to gather together, share our ideas, network and learn from one another. I walked away from dinner feeling inspired and I’m hopeful that everyone else left the room feeling the same way!
In addition to networking over dinner and drinks (including our signature cocktail, the “IT girl”), we invited a few women to speak on a panel where the conversation covered a variety of topics, including what their path to technology looked like, advice for women interested in growing their career in IT, and challenges faced or overcome. Included on our panel, we heard from Julie Shannan, Deputy Director, Girlstart who was our panel moderator; Gail O’Neill, Information Security Manager, UPS; Kimberly Carrosino, Senior Director, IAM, Providence Health; and Abby Payne, Vice President, Human Resources, SailPoint.
Julie kicked things off with some opening remarks and talked about the organization she represents, GirlStart, which is one that we at SailPoint support fully. Its mission is to empower girls to embrace studies in STEM– science, technology, engineering and mathematics. In Julie’s words: “more girls, with more ideas, mean more solutions” and that is largely what Girlstart is all about.
From there, the conversation centered on advice for women who are ready to take their career to the next level, stepping out as a leader among her peers. To me, this portion of the panel was the most interesting and I think it resonated the most with our audience.
Gail O’Neill, one of our long-time customers at UPS, shared five pieces of really great advice for women in technology today:
- Learn learn learn! I don’t mean to just go and take every training course you can, but with every work effort you’re involved with, take the time to step back and be thoughtful about what went right, what went wrong, and any lessons learned. Experience really is the best teacher.
- Stay current. This is more and more difficult because technology is changing at such a fast rate, but it’s incredibly important in this industry to keep pace.
- Steer your own ship – figure out where you want to go, take your career into your own hands and don’t let other people steer you.
- Don’t be timid.
- Pay attention to details.
Kimberly Carrosino of Providence Health echoed Gail and added a few more great pieces of advice, based on her own career path to tech:
- Be smart about self-promotion. Women aren’t wired the same as men that way. It takes practice to self-promote.
- Similarly, own your own future, don’t let others own it for you.
- Find your voice. Practice until it becomes a natural part of your toolbelt. This is about being more self-aware, and again, takes practice.
And finally, our own Abby Payne shared her feedback on the three areas most critical to her own leadership path as our Vice President of HR. In her view, it’s about skills, relationships and issues.
- Assess your own skills, have a learning agenda.
- Make time to share your skills and lessons learned by making time to mentor someone else in your industry. That mentoring time will come back around to you tenfold.
- And finally, while your skillset is table stakes in your given industry, it’s the relationships you create and the time you put into being an active leader in your community, your industry and the company you serve that will steer your ship forward.
The main theme, after hearing from Julie, Gail, Kimberly and Abby is that above all, it’s about building and growing relationships. Last week was a great opportunity to build some key relationships at the Women in Identity event, but also at Navigate overall. I’d encourage all of you to take the time to attend more events like these and others in your industry. Accept the next coffee invite a coworker asks you to, make the time to build, grow and extend the relationships you have, and also start fresh ones. You never know what might happen as you broaden your circle. As Kimberly said: own your own path.