IT women gathered at the everywoman in Technology Leadership Academy this month to learn the key to leadership and career advancement.
The event, held at the IBM building on London’s South Bank, hosted around 100 women for a series of keynote speeches, workshops and networking opportunities.
The overall theme of "restless transition" was addressed throughout the day. A panel of speakers – including Katrina Roberts, head of European technologies at American Express; Alicia Navarro, CEO and co-founder of Skimlinks; Anne-Marie Imafidon, enterprise collaboration strategist at Deutsche Bank; and Sue Black, founder and CEO at Savvify – were all winners of everywoman in Technology awards.
The women spoke about how their careers had developed and how they first entered the technology industry.
Panel moderator Alison Orsi said sharing such stories to publicise the presence of women in the technology sector would encourage girls to consider a career in the science, technology, engineering and maths (Stem) subjects. A number of the panelists agreed, claiming they had always had technology in their lives, and it had helped them into the industry.
During the panel discussion, Roberts said women over-analysed the implications of applying for a job "outside their comfort zone", which stopped them from progressing.
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Speaking to Computer Weekly after the panel, Roberts said women should promote themselves more.
"I think the challenge is when it comes to your career, you agonize over it – and I think that’s a great quality that women think things through because often it leads to sensible, good quality decisions. If you put a woman and a man together, it’s a great combination because often that means you’ve got someone who’s looking at all the risks and the angles and you’ve got someone who’s driving towards the final decision and I think those two together can be very powerful.” She said.
“I think that’s what then limits women, because they think ‘ok if I do this, it could go wrong’ or ‘this could happen’ or ‘I’m not good enough’ and they’re over analyzing it and making the decision more complicated."
Learning to lead
Pippa Isbell, a business consultant, and Nicky Moffat, formerly the most senior ranked woman in the British Army, held workshops aiming to provide delegates with key objectives to understanding transactional analysis and transferable leadership.
Isbell's master class on transactional analysis detailed how interacting with those around you can be influenced by mood and intonation.
Explaining the personality states of the parent, adult and child, Isbell explained that, when appealing to others in the workplace, the best types of communication come from direct interactions from the same states. Sometimes interactions can become crossed when a person in one state elicits a response from a person in a different state, she said.
Moffat's masterclass on transferable leadership revealed that people expect a number of attributes from leaders – including clarity, authenticity and confidence.
She explained that, for someone to be a good leader, they must be considered a good leader by those working for them. This may mean compensating for "negative" personality traits, to ensure that those around you know that you are approachable, but firm.
The mid-day keynote by Karen Steidle, vice-president of industries and business development at UKI IBM UK, took the theme of leadership further. She addressed issues that women face in the workplace, including how to strike a work-life balance and knowing when not to judge others.
She said: “Nobody cares about your career more than you, and nor should they.”
Promoting your brand
A motivational speech by Jennifer Holloway, founder of Spark, wrapped up the event by exploring the value of presenting your own personal brand.
Holloway’s message is that everything you do – from the way you act down to the message on your answerphone service – affects others' perception.
She quoted actress Mae West: "It's better to be looked over, than overlooked."
Holloway claimed this meant that being very good at your job is one thing, people noticing you in the workplace is another.
She said: “We’ve understood that business has changed, what we have failed to do is change with it.”
"It's better to be looked over, than overlooked."
Jennifer Holloway via Mae West
She went on to explain that in an age when work is not always office-based, it can be more difficult to make yourself noticed, inside and outside of the organisation.
She finished the day postulating three things every woman should consider to get ahead in the business world: Define your brand; check your brand and what people are saying about you when you’re not in the room; and promote your brand to get yourself noticed.
She said: “If you’re sitting there thinking, ‘my work should be enough’ you are taking your career and putting it in the hands of someone else. And that just doesn’t make sense.”