In recognition of International Women’s Day (today!), we’re taking a break from writing marketing content to celebrate the amazingly talented women we have on board at Invoca.
I, for one, am proud to be working at a software company where over 40 of our 120 employees are female, with at least half of this group in leadership positions. You could see this in action at our annual Call Intelligence Summit, where over half of our main stage speakers were women. Not something you see too often at tech conferences. And with the support shown to date by Invoca’s new CEO, Gregg Johnson, I would anticipate this number to increase as the company continues to grow.
While there’s currently a lot of pressure (and headlines) for the tech industry to prioritize diversity and close the gender gap, some data just released by LinkedIn is certainly encouraging. In evaluating its own user base, it showed an 18% increase (since 2008) in female tech leadership, representing the highest increase from the eight industries evaluated. For the data hungry, check out this great infographic for more interesting stats about women in the workforce.
In the spirit of open dialogue, sharing lessons learned and encouraging one another, I had a roundtable discussion with the following six female leaders at Invoca on topics such as leadership, risk taking and balancing work and life. These women are full of wisdom, let me tell you!
Lauren Harris, Technical Product Manager
Caitlin Davis, Engineering Manager
Pooja Tripathi, Senior Enterprise Customer Success Manager
Lauren Ishimaru, Senior Manager of Product Marketing
Deanna Lyn, Director of Enterprise Sales
Denise Kale, VP of Legal
Before you read on, here’s some photos of how these women enjoy life outside of work!
What advice do you have for young women just starting out in their careers?
Lauren Harris: Read as much as you can from a variety of sources and, whatever the topic, think critically about the potential impact on your industry, your job, and your clients or customers. Critical thinking takes practice and is an incredibly valuable skill for innovators and leaders.
Deanna Lyn: We aren’t owed anything. Work hard, work smart and always be open to learning new things. Change is inevitable. Embrace it. Dream big, and be willing to work to accomplish your dreams. You have just as much opportunity as the next human being and you simply need to know what you want and be willing to do what it takes to get there.
Pooja Tripathi: They say to dress for the job you want, not the job you have. The same applies to the work you do. Do the job of the title you want, don’t wait until a promotion is available to start taking a leadership role. And, do your homework. Fake it until you make it doesn’t work as well as actually knowing what you’re talking about. Take the time to read everything, talk to everyone and analyze all the numbers.
What advice do you have for women aiming for leadership positions? What are some important qualities and/or experiences to have as you “climb the ladder?”
Lauren Ishimaru: Squash the misconception that you need to manage to lead. Being a leader isn’t a specific job position or title, it’s your day-in-and-day out mindset and actions. Anyone at any point in their careers can start to exercise their leadership skills, no matter your years of working experience or job title.
Pooja Tripathi: It’s so important to build relationships and really get to know people across departments. The more exposure you have to other business units, the more you understand about your company’s business and strategy. Also, be proactive about finding out what your company’s current challenges are and try to fix them. Think beyond just your problems and struggles and look for ways to solve a challenge that’s impacting your company as a whole. Finally, under promise and over deliver. Never do the bare minimum, always exceed expectations.
What’s your leadership style? Has anything or anyone in particular influenced the way you lead?
Lauren Harris: My late mother had a strong influence on my leadership style. Thanks to her ambition and persistence, she was an accomplished executive and entrepreneur. Nothing could deter her from her goals. I grew up hearing her say, “I never came up against a wall where a door didn’t open.” Every day, I aim to match my mom’s indomitable spirit and positive thinking.
Lauren Ishimaru: I read an article on being “radically candid” by Kim Scott that has influenced the way I lead. Radical candor means being truly candid while also giving a damn about that person- like the work equivalent of telling your friend that they have food in their teeth. In practice, it centers around giving and receiving constructive criticism (and praise!), knowing that it’s coming from people that care about you and your professional development. You can read about it and watch her video here (https://www.radicalcandor.com/).
Denise Kale: As lead in-house counsel for 4 of the last 5 companies I’ve worked for over the last 20 years, my leadership style is to be inclusive, to share information, to train and explain why I do things in a particular way, and –very importantly – to listen. I learned that hiring individuals who were smart, intelligent, and hardworking was critical to the company I was working for and secondarily to me. I did not have good mentoring early in my career, which I believe is both generational and common in my chosen career (legal), but I observed and learned from the leaders I respected and whose employees respected them.
How have you successfully balanced work and your passions outside of work?
Caitlin Davis: I’ve always loved dancing but, due to various factors, I mostly cut it out of my life when I went to college. Three years ago, I realized how much I had been missing it and started dancing again. Having something I’m passionate about outside of work, especially something that’s so different than sitting in front of my computer coding, provides balance and stress relief. Even when work gets crazy, I try to give myself an hour or two away from it all to clear my mind and dance. The work will be there waiting when I come back to it, and I find that returning with a fresh perspective allows me to handle it more effectively when I do.
Denise Kale: If you ask my young-adult daughters, they will tell you that they had a happy childhood and appreciate the opportunities I was able to provide them and their father. My legal career didn’t afford much flexibility during the day, but I was very involved with activities at my children’s schools (PTA President, auction work, etc) that could be done outside of business hours. While it’s certainly challenging for both parents to be fully present in the workplace and in their children’s day-to-day activities, I think there’s more opportunities for parents today to effectively balance work and family. But keep in mind that what works for some, might not work for others. Above all, figure out what works for your family.
Have you taken any risks in your career? If so, how did those play out?
Caitlin Davis: Right out of college, I took the biggest risk of my career and started a business with two classmates. While our other friends with Computer Science degrees were accepting lucrative job offers, we were going through the incredibly difficult but exciting process of working on business plans and developing protoypes. Throughout the next five years, we struggled, stressed, and scrimped, but we also learned an incredible amount, won some big deals, and shaped ourselves for the rest of our careers. That experience helped develop my ability to view the larger picture of any situation, and I will always value that.
Deanna Lynn: In 2012 I had been with my company for 4 years and had had great success, however, I was losing enthusiasm for the technology I sold, the industry of Business Intelligence software was becoming more of a commodity and I wanted something new to fuel my passion. For the first time in my career, instead of jumping to the first opportunity that came my way, I was very deliberate in defining exactly what it was I wanted. If I were to leave a good paying, steady job with colleagues whom I respected and enjoyed being around, it was going to be for something that very clearly met the criteria I had set out. There were several key components I was looking for in my next software sales position.
1) Going back to a start-up software company, where my contributions will be significant to the companies growth
2) A technology that I could get excited about
3) Executive leadership team that was seasoned and successful (it’s not their first rodeo)
4) A certain minimum salary (which was a bump from my current position)
5) A stock-option plan that keeps me invested in our company’s success
and most importantly
6) Three job offers from three companies that meet all of the criteria
Having that very clear plan in place, I started my search and with patience, low and behold… I found three very unique companies that matched all of my criteria. Invoca was my third and final offer and my first choice. Over four years later and I couldn’t be happier. Be clear on what it is you want and be willing to work for it. The rewards are worth the risks
Thanks again to these talented Invoca women for candidly sharing their thoughts and advice! Think you might be interested in working at Invoca? Join us! Check out our open positions here: https://www.invoca.com/company/careers/