How a personal development plan can increase your success as a woman in tech

How a personal development plan can increase your success as a woman in tech

Balancing a career, family life and personal goals can be daunting, but a personal development plan will lead to success in all aspects of life.

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Arnica Bijlani. Technologies Line Manager, Smartops Fusion


09 Feb 2022

How a personal development plan can increase your success as a woman in tech

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As a leader in tech, a mother and a goal-oriented woman, my journey has seen me change roles while striking a balance between my personal and career ambitions.

I’ve progressively changed positions and roles every three to four years since my professional career began 17 years ago, while at the same time raising two kids. This is a common challenge for women - succeeding in a career while managing the needs and expectations placed on them as mothers and spouses. Societal norms in respect of women are deeply entrenched. They are expected to be homemakers, raise children, and manage the needs of their own and their extended families.  

There must be a balance between the two to ensure that, as women, we can reach our full potential, remain future-ready and succeed in all facets of our lives. While we see constant progress, with more women taking up leading management and business roles, it's on us as women to ensure that when an opportunity arises, we are ready to take it on. If there is no opportunity, we need to make our own.  

For me, one of the contributors to finding a balance and advancing as a woman in tech has been utilizing a personal development plan. This has assisted me in negotiating my aspirations while being a mom and keeping focused on my goals - at home and at the office. 

Personal development as a woman in tech

For anyone working in tech, personal development is key, for continually advancing our knowledge and skills. Technology is constantly evolving, and self-development is a must in our field to progress and remain relevant. As a woman, the difficulty is  finding the time to upskill and focus while managing everything that is expected of us.  This is where the plan comes in. Once you have mastered a skill or role, you have to look at what or where next.

"I've found that as women in tech, we have to continually advance our knowledge and skills. Technology is constantly evolving and self development is thus a must in our field to progress and remain relevant." - Arnica Bijlani

How have I applied this approach?

In my last role I was the Technology Manager for two to three years. After reaching my peak in this role, I asked myself, “What next? What is it that I want to do that can take me to the next level”? This doesn't necessarily mean a vertical progression. It can be a lateral change to acquire new expertise and master a new role and skills.

That’s where I apply myself to amending my personal development plan. After identifying where and what I wanted to do next, I then systematically analyzed my goal to understand what I needed to do in order to achieve it.

Some of the things I consider when doing this are:

  1. What are the requirements of these goals?
  2. Where do I need to develop myself to be able to fulfill these requirements?
  3. What development do I need to address these areas or gain the skills I need?
  4. How do I go about developing myself - what learning and upskilling programs should I undergo?

At the same time, I also consider the personal aspects that could be impacted or affect my development strategy. For me, this involves the needs of my family and working around what they need me to do and how we can accommodate each other's goals and needs. For instance, my daughter may say she needs me to do A, B and C, but I may not be able to do A and B. I then look at solutions for C and find her help for A and B. This ensures her needs are met and my plan can also be implemented.

While everyone has their own approach to creating a personal development plan, this has been my approach. The importance of one can’t be underestimated. The most important aspects will always be similar: understand the field you are in or desire to be in, be clear about your goal and what you need to do to get there. Once you understand the bigger picture and what you need to do, it will help you focus on both your personal and professional life.

Whether you’re a woman in tech or aspire to be one, this remains a key strategic tool to success

I believe as women in tech we need to constantly advance our skills and knowledge. This has unlimited benefits professionally and personally. Even if you are involved in a certain type of tech, you should still be focused on developing in other areas, whether closely or remotely linked. As aspiring women who wish to enter the tech world, understanding the business side of tech, the colleges, education system and the ongoing advancements in the field are key to creating a growth plan to attain the qualifications and skillset to succeed in our increasingly advancing technological world.


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