This week in Austin, we held our third annual Women in Identity event during Navigate ’18. This has become one of my favorite events as it gives us each a welcomed opportunity to collaborate with a room full of very smart women. While our career paths may vary in terms of how we each got to our role in technology and identity, our combined experiences have quite a lot of overlap, and that is where the most interesting conversations tend to happen. During the panel session this year, we not only focused on the important role that mentoring plays in our own careers, but in the careers of the women around us.
I had the honor of moderating the panel, which included a mix of customers, partners and SailPoint women in leadership, and was wowed by what each of the women had to say.
When asked about the best piece of advice they were given by their own mentor over the years, their responses varied, but one theme rose to the top: women tend to strive for perfection. An important piece of advice that resonated with lots of head nodding in agreement: Slow down your pace. The reminder that ‘You are no good to me if you are dead’ is particularly relevant here. Another: Stop apologizing. It is ok not to have every answer, to make mistakes, to be imperfect. The key is to constantly learn from each experience versus letting a perceived imperfection or misstep halt your progress.
We spent a lot of time talking about how each of us can be mentors to one another and what that advice might look like:
- Diversity in perspective is a good thing. Surround yourself with different types of personalities who can bring fresh perspectives; each will help you to see your future career path in a new light.
- Reach higher. Step outside of your comfort zone into a role that you know you can own, even if you do not quite fit the predefined role and every qualification the job entails. If you show that you are driven, that you are coachable and that you want it, that next job leap may be closer than you think.
- Shift your thinking. Can you multi-task? Can you problem-solve? Are you naturally curious? A career that is science or technology-focused might feel daunting and out of your wheelhouse. But, if you look beyond the specific qualifications of the job, recognizing the ‘soft skills’ that a technical job requires, you are likely far more ‘qualified’ than you think. Take the leap.
As we neared the end of the panel session, we focused on advice you might give to your younger self. This was my favorite part of the panel as the advice varied and yet, the theme that kept rising to the top was all about not being so hard on yourself that you lose the bigger picture perspective. A few examples:
- Not everyone is a natural leader – and that is ok. We each have unique career paths, nothing is ever cookie cutter. Make good choices and you will be on your way. You can always readjust your path.
- Be more empathetic. It is ok to be kind and to listen. It is not a sign of weakness.
- Do not forget about you. Your health and well-being are easily sacrificed if you allow yourself to get lost in the shuffle. Do not be afraid to be a little bit selfish.
Once we finished up the panel session, we held an auction to benefit GirlStart, a local charity organization that is near and dear to my heart and to many of us at SailPoint. GirlStart’s mission is to empower girls to embrace studies in STEM– science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Each year, they hold a GirlStart Summer Camp program which gives girls a chance for hands-on experiences in STEM. The live auction was lead by SailPoint’s own Carrie Fruge who gave a stellar auctioneer performance which was quite entertaining, but the end-result was even better. The women in the room were extremely generous with their donations during the auction, resulting in us raising over $4,000 for GirlStart. This means that there are now 14-15 girls who will now get a chance to attend GirlStart’s Summer Camp this year.
I have to say, I walked away from the Women in Identity dinner equal parts inspired, and proud. Inspired by what everyone had to say and share during the panel (I even walked away with a few ideas that will help me be better at my own job), and proud of what we accomplished in such a short amount of time for GirlStart. It was a great start to what has been an incredible week at Navigate ’18 in Austin.