I recently spoke at the Women in Digital and Technology 2019 and as promised, I am sharing what I presented then, on here.
To start with, I really believe in women supporting other women, career wise. Especially in the digital/technology spheres, which can be scary for females to enter due to it being still a heavily male dominated industry.
What drives us?
People are driven by different things: love, power, money, knowledge, recognition, people, belief and so many more. What has driven me throughout life and my career is curiosity. I am naturally curious person, because I like to know stuff. Some people have said that this is such a female trait, however I think it should be a human trait. Nowadays, people take what is said to them for granted and do not ask questions. If you do not know how something works, especially in digital/technology, a lot of the times you will struggle and may not be taken seriously. Lack of knowledge is easily exploited in this industry, however there is also the biggest support in the world to get anyone into the ‘know how’ if they wanted to.
Now, that does not mean you need to develop software from scratch. It means you need to be curious enough to understand what it does, and what creates it. I cannot code, yet I can understand a good chunk of the internet, software and app markets and what makes them/breaks them.
I have asked a lot of questions but not always. At the start of my career I was really afraid to question/challenge people whom I perceived to be authoritative, in high positions and experts in their field – even if I understood nothing from what they said or I thought they were wrong.
How did I learn?
When I got hired at eBay Enterprise, a good chunk of years ago, I had the biggest imposter syndrome. Everyone was SO smart. I understood nothing from my induction and I just wanted to quit, as I thought I was stupid and I should not be there.
This is when I met my first female mentor.
She defined my career life and made me, who I am today. Maria, if you are ever reading this – thank you. She sat me down back then and told me ‘ you are here because you are smart and because we believe you can do it. If you do not understand something, ask. Everyone conveying information to you is human, they make mistakes, they can be ‘too cool’, sometimes they may actually not really know.’ Don’t be scared to ask. Ask until you get an answer you understand, and makes sense to you. She taught me that creativity has no limits, and no matter what someone is saying, there can be a better, simpler or whatever solution.
This is not asking questions for the sake of it, this is understanding the subject you are dealing with, and genuinely wanting to get to the best solution possible. This is how you explore all possibilities, by asking, learning, questioning, thinking and then creating.
This is what it says on the tin – roll up your sleeves and implement whatever you are talking about.
Digital and technology is all about trial and error.
It is all about breaking things and learning. Ideally you break things in a test environment but even if it is not, that is the beauty of tech – you can always roll back 😉 My first email campaign went to 200 people, whose first names were all in the body copy of the email because I did not test the name merge before pressing send. Were they happy? No. Were my bosses happy? No. OK, some people did laugh. However, I learnt a valuable lesson – check your work before clicking that button. We are not doctors, we do not save lives by pushing a marketing campaign live. Stop fearing to try, stop being lazy about trying and go and create that blog, ad, app, email or whatever it is that you want to do and see what happens.
Last but not least
Being curious about Digital and Tech, allows you to pick up skills that can serve you, free of charge. Others will pay for a blog creation, while you can build one for free. Other people can pay you, to create their blog. Here we went from doing free stuff for yourself to actually making money 😉
I owe my career to being curious, finding some exceptional women to guide me and support me, and breaking a few websites along the way. If you read this far, I hope this helps you understand that the internet is your oyster and you should explore it, ask when you don’t understand and then go and test whatever you learnt and see how it works for yourself.