I’ve built my career on a foundation of preparation, hard work and an unwavering focus on the job at hand. This mentality has been key to my progression. Alongside learning new skills, reaching personal milestones and managing people, these attributes gave me a platform to earn the role of leading the EMEA region for Oracle NetSuite.
For me, staying honed in on what needs achieving – in spite of barriers and hurdles – has made me the professional that I am today. There is a perception that technology is a traditionally male-dominated field but I never considered my career trajectory in terms of being a woman in a majority-male environment. It may sound a little blasé but I always got on with doing my job to the best of my abilities and I’m proud of my achievements. That isn’t to underplay the fact that, across all industries and professions, there is much to do to ensure men and women are consistently on an equal footing. Take for instance, the talented female entrepreneur who felt it was necessary to pose as a man to secure financial backing for her business.
Focus on what you want to achieve
My first job out of University was as a receptionist at a software company. I worked hard, and was asked to join the telemarketing team, which is where I got my first job in sales. From that promotion up until my current one, I’ve focused on being better than the other candidates I was up against, regardless of gender. The differentiator here is this: I don’t see myself as a woman in business, I see myself as a person in business.
It’s true there are some industries that are harder to crack for women, and I don’t want to shy away from that. But in my mind, it is always better to focus on what you want to achieve than what might hold you back. Just look at some of the most prominent pioneers for women’s rights throughout history – Emmeline Pankhurst, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Maya Angelou – imagine how different the world would be today if these women had decided to focus on all the things they couldn’t achieve. When you focus on what might inhibit you, you risk expending energy on the wrong things.
Mentoring and respect
My motivation, hard work and desire to succeed come from within and from those I’ve been lucky to work with and know. I’ve benefitted greatly from seeking to support from other like-minded professionals. One-on-one mentoring allows women to focus on who they are as a person, and their own strengths and aspirations. Over the course of my career I have been lucky to know many ambitious women – one of my closest friends is the CFO of a bank and her insights have given me a lot of direction and motivation over the years. It’s these natural relationships that I encourage women to nurture and draw inspiration from.
I think there’s a risk of counter-productivity in focusing extensively on our differences. Let’s re-frame our energy in terms of the things we want to achieve personally and professionally.
But that doesn’t mean we need to muscle our way to the top at the expense of our peers. We should show respect to everyone in the workforce rather than focusing solely on our own goals. Each function of the business plays a crucial role, and teams function best when every member feels valued for their contribution. This really is the mark of a good leader, regardless of their gender, and is a good trait to foster for aspiring employees wanting to build a good platform for leadership.