How do you take charge of your career?
Ask for your next promotion. Believe that you’re just as good as the guy next to you. Get off the bench and onto the basketball court, taking shots to solve company problems. Make an impact. You have an opportunity and an obligation for greatness.
These were just some of the golden nuggets of advice offered by IBM’s Alyse Passarelli and a dynamic panel of technology leaders Passarelli assembled for Wednesday night’s annual Women in Technology panel on “Taking Charge of Your Career.”
Passarelli (IBM Vice President, Information Management Sales Software Group) moderated, the panel and the very lively discussion with IBM’s Deidre Paknad, Vice President of Information Lifecycle Governance Solutions Business, Glenda Crisp, Vice President and CIO of Corporate Segment Technology Solutions at TD Bank Group, Kecha Mitchell, Vice President, Enterprise Information Management – Delivery Services at First Tennessee Bank, and Martin J. Wildberger, IBM Vice President, Worldwide Information Management Development.
The room was packed, and yet the women kept streaming in. Here are some ways women can take charge of their careers.
How do you get your next promotion?
Ask! “I’ve been married for 15 years and my husband can’t read my mind, so why do I think my boss could read my mind?” Paknad said, as the audience laughed. Men aren’t very observant in that matter, Mitchell chimed in. So ask. All your boss can do is say no.
How do you step outside your comfort zone and take risks to get ahead in your career?
Mitchell said you can do anything you want to do. And, don’t listen to the naysayers who say you can’t. There will be lots of people who will tell you all the reasons why you’ll never make it. Just keep going.
Paknad said she started three very successful companies. “I get to grow my own destiny,” Paknad said. She doesn’t have to ask anyone for a promotion, either. And, if you’re scared that you don’t know enough to forge ahead, push that thought right out of your mind. You probably know a whole lot more than the people to your left or your right, said Passarelli.
“Occupy your space,” Passarelli said. “It’s your job,” Paknad said. “Don’t rent it. Own it. You have the opportunity for greatness, and you have the obligation for greatness.”
Crisp said she’s always surprised when there’s a job posting at TD Bank and guys will call her up for the job but no women! Why? Women think they can’t meet all ten qualifications that are listed on the posting. That doesn’t happen with men. Men check off two boxes and say they’re qualified. Now women have to skip the negative talk and think like a man. If he can do it, you can do it. “That’s what the men are saying,” Crisp said.
And Wildberger encouraged women to have a frank discussion with their boss. Don’t ask how you’re doing, because if the boss tells you you’re doing a good job, well, everyone else is probably doing a good job, too. Ask a more pointed question. Ask where you’re ranked. How you stack up against the others. Ask, “Am I one of your top three candidates?” And, if the boss says you’re not, ask “What can I do to be one of your top three candidates?”
How can you make an impact in your life and in your career?
By definition, that mean’s change, Paknad said. If you keep on doing things the way they’ve always been done, you won’t move forward. “It’s a treadmill.”
Mitchell encouraged women to challenge the status quo in their careers. Don’t follow everyone around you who are doing things they way they’ve always been done because that doesn’t mean it’s the right way. Mitchell has been replacing a disjointed information infrastructure at First Tennessee Bank. “I’m always challenging the status quo,” said Mitchell. “That’s the way you want to go.”
“Put yourself in the middle of the intersection and say, `Okay, I’m going to do something,” Wildberger said.
How can women be assertive without being nasty?
“My answer is performance,” Paknad said. At the end of the day, Mitchell said she’s focused on delivery. She wants to be part of the solution getting the ball rolling down the field and fixing the company’s problem.
How can women balance being productive at work and home?
There’s no magic secret here, said Wildberger. Everyone is working long hours in IT these days, and everyone is struggling with this work-life balance. But technology can help. In fact, Wilberger will take his BlackBerry with him to watch his son’s games. Or e-mail his son an answer to a homework question from Singapore.
And balance isn’t about a 24-hour period, or a 72-hour period. It’s about the long-haul. Don’t think you have to balance your work and family every day, because it will balance out in the long-term and in the end you will raise some pretty phenomenal kids. So, when things are a little out of balance, give yourself a break.
Susan Visser also attended the panel - read her perspective.