I never thought about the gender perspective early in my career.
My first manager was female, and right there I had a positive example of a strong woman in technology. As I moved up in my career, I started being the only woman in meetings. Only then did I start seeing more of an imbalance.
In the first management role I was promoted to, I found myself in an entirely male team. Then I was promoted to director, and I was the only female director on that team, and in my current VP role, I’m still the only female on the team. It’s something I’m used to, but I’d like to see it change. In principle there’s an atmosphere of change, there is buy in for having more female leaders, but I’m not sure we’ve taken enough practical steps yet.
I joined the first Amdocs Inspire Team when my eyes were opened to the diversity in the organization. We’ve had some successes – we set up a connections group for networking within the organization, we implemented HR tools to enable people to see the gender composition of a team on a dashboard, and offer checks and balances regarding compensation and performance processes.
I try to be conscious of the women coming up
As I progressed in my career, I found myself in situations where I was pushing back on an issue, and my boss would ask me why I was being so emotional about it. I thought: There’s no world in which he would have asked a male colleague the same question. There’s a lot of talk about how in performance reviews, women are evaluated more on what they’ve accomplished and less on their potential, while with men it’s the inverse. So I am conscious of evaluating all team members on the same scale.
There have been people along the way who’ve given me opportunities when I was the only woman on my leadership team, and helped guide me along the way. I work in a tech environment, and these (male) leaders, from technical backgrounds, recognized other skills that I could bring to the table – customer centricity, responsiveness, ability to lead – that you wouldn’t traditionally look for in the tech industry.
Sometimes when you’re just quietly getting work done, you’re just not getting the recognition
One of my most memorable inspirations came from a 10 minute conversation I once had with an HR representative who told me to be more organizationally savvy, and not to be afraid to self-promote and put my successes out there. I had always found self-promotion off-putting and felt that my accomplishments would speak for themselves. But sometimes when you’re just quietly getting work done, you’re just not getting recognized because you’re not making noise. At some point I realized I needed to celebrate my accomplishments and be my own advocate. It was a short but pivotal conversation.
Don’t be afraid to speak up
I tell women to play to their strengths and to speak up. There were times when I sat at leadership tables, afraid to say what I was thinking, unsure if it was relevant or added value When you speak up you get positive reinforcement like: Why didn’t we think of that?” or “That’s an interesting perspective”. They recognize that your perspective was different and missing from the conversation. So don’t be afraid to speak up, even if you’re thinking something that’s not in line with the conversation.
The best part of my job is quite simply the people.
They are as smart and passionate about success as I am. We work hard and celebrate our accomplishments together, and it feels like team work.
If you’re good at your job, success will find you.
My very first job, when I was still in high school and through college, was as a cashier in a grocery store. And even there I was successful. By the end I was counting the money, doing the bank deposits, doing reconciliation.
I attribute my success to being able to understand my customer’s perspective. Because this works both internally and externally, I can also understand the team perspective, what motives them. I try not to ask of my team anything that I’m not comfortable with, so if we putting on a last minute drive to get across the finish line, I will be there working with them.
Being proactive has helped me with time management.
When my kids were younger, I set boundaries for my team, for example, they knew not to call me during dinner time with my family. I built strong teams that functioned autonomously with my guidance. I always told my teams that I don’t want to be surprised by anything, but we are in an environment where things don’t always run perfectly, and that’s OK, but we always need to anticipate the customer’s needs.
Living in Canada, we try to embrace the winter
In my spare time I enjoy downhill skiing with my family. My boys play soccer and hockey, so I often drive them and watch them play. I also enjoy traveling.
When I graduated from university, I did a lot of traveling, including a trip to Everest Base Camp and an overland expedition across China. The first time I travelled for business was when I worked for a company called Redknee and had to travel to England, to Vodafone UK. I was young and eager, and drove on the “wrong” side of the road, with a manual transmission. I’d never seen a roundabout in my life, I got a flat tire – it was an adventure for sure. Once I joined Amdocs I had the opportunity to go to Israel, India, Cyprus, Germany, Czech Republic. You name it, I’ve been there, which is one of the cool aspects of working at Amdocs. But my favorite place in the world is home with my family!
Mothers have gaps in their careers to overcome
I’m a mom and have a husband, but I still far and away do the most work around the house. I have two children, both were born prematurely. My first son was in the hospital for 53 days, and I was off work for about 17 months while he was recovering. So that was a big gap in my career that I had to make up for. Today, I’m excited to see more and more companies, including Amdocs, are not concerned by these gaps and are active in helping women relaunch their careers post breaks and understand the value in it. Just the fact that mothers have gaps in their careers means we have to overcome them, along with trying to balance family and work in a demanding 24/7 type role.