On May 9, I had the pleasure of attending the Women in Technology Luncheon at Nutanix .NEXT. The room was filled with technology professionals who were there to hear a panel of four highly respected and qualified experts discuss diversity in technology. The audience was comprised of about a 65/35% mix of women to men. I was delighted to see so many men at the luncheon. I’ve always said that a company benefits from having an equal mix of women and men who bring different perspectives to the workplace.
The sole male on the panel was a gentleman by the name of Deepak Malhotra who is a professor from the Eli Goldston Business Administration at Harvard Business School. He talked about negotiations in the workplace. The professor stated negotiation is not about one currency, it’s about human interaction. He discussed a formula for layering in elements of human interaction to get what you want during a negotiation.
The elements for controlling the negotiation process as recommended by Deepak Malhotra include:
The second speaker was Ayanna Howard who is a professor and chair of the School of Interactive Computing in the College of Computing at Georgia Institute of Technology. Forbes listed Professor Howard as one of the top 50 women in technology. She talked about the Myth of Mentorship: Opening the Door to Enable All to Participate. She dispelled the myth of mentorship by providing an example of the difference between mentorship and sponsorship. Sponsorship is endorsing another woman for a position regardless of whether or not you know her. If you think that she has strong qualifications, then provide a positive endorsement for the hiring process.
The two final panelists were Veritas VP of Channels, Barbara Spicek and WWT Business Development Director Nicole Tate who spoke about “Raising the Bar in the Workplace: Learning from Experience”.
Barbara conveyed the message that women have the capacity to read emotional intelligence and to really sense the feelings in the room. Women should leverage this advantage in the workplace.
Barbara shared three keys to success for women in the workplace:
Surround yourself with a team of collective “think tanks," and, "never be afraid to surround yourself with people who are smarter than you," Barbara advised. Leverage your mentors, peers, and everyone around you in a collaborative spirit. Nicole talked about creating a vision and a plan to guide you to where you want to be in the next 8-24 months. She stated the importance of ensuring that your goals are embedded in the back of your mind and shaping the process for getting there. If you feel uncertain about a job or situation, pretend that you are confident until you actually feel confident. Get help from others and adjust your goals along the way. Take risks in order to move forward.
Collectively, the four panelists provided some solid advice to both seasoned and young women in the IT industry. Perhaps the greatest piece of advice that my career coach gave me was to be “present” when I’m talking to people. Give the person who is speaking my full attention without becoming distracted. Even after working in the IT industry for many years, I still pause and think about whether I am truly present in my conversations. As I look back on my career, my biggest regret is that I did not take more risks.
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