Constantly evolving technologies have made human lives better. This has also made technology one of the most exciting industries to work in. What we cannot deny is that despite being the industry of the 21st century, there remains an inherent gender bias in technology companies of all sizes. Most of today’s biggest tech startups were founded, and are being run by men.
Defying such negative influences, some women are creating history by being leaders in their respective branch in the tech-based industries. They are setting their own goals, meeting them like a boss, and setting further landmarks. Women like these have inspired a larger number of other ladies to join them and be a part of the industry of the future.
We speak to some of these women who are making their mark as leaders in technology. Specifically, we chose to ask them: What makes a great ‘woman’ tech leader? They shared why they love being a part of their industry and what made it possible. These are the ingredients to being a great woman leader in tech.
- Trust your instincts
With building-up experience, come the sense of what is right and what is wrong for the industry, for the organisation, for yourself.
“Follow that sense of what is right; do not quash this instinct if you are confident about it. Do not quash this sense of having the right sense of achieving a goal, especially due to someone who has more experience that you” opines Dipika Sinha, who is the Head of the Department of Digital Marketing at Asian Adventures, New Delhi. She insists that one must come with up with ideas, come up with innovation, come up with solutions and to not hide behind the leader.
She also says that women leader must encourage others, especially the women in their team, to do the same. “Great women scientists have paved the way ahead for us. So many inventions would not have seen the light of the day, if they had not trusted their instincts and gone ahead with those! So, trust your instincts, and follow them, whilst watching out to make sure they are valid,” she says.
Leading the digital marketing wing of a 25 year-old pioneer in eco-tourism is surely not easy. So what if your instinct proves to be wrong? “Well, to err is human… We all have to learn from our mistake and aim higher. Looking back must happen only to learn from the mistakes we made and not to waste time repenting the same. Being a tech leader is about making a decision, and trusting that you can handle the consequences,” adds a very confident Dipika.
- Be reliable
It is as simple as ensuring that something what you promised is done. This builds trust, which is essential if you want to be considered for different opportunities… across various stages of planning and execution of the plans.
Cheryl Mary Rosner, 36-year-old founder of Saysha Technologies based in Croatia writes to me, “Missing deadlines due to procrastination was one of my key faults as a young woman in tech. My employers eventually lost faith in me. I missed out on all the opportunities that getting into his core circuit could have brought.”
“I knew I had it in me, but my own weakness pushed me behind by three years. I had gone into depression when my boss sat with me for three hours mentoring me like a child. He also gave to me study leave to take on a mentorship course where I also learnt how to take on what I could do and delegate other work, to ensure I met deadlines,” she says. Cheryl says that whatever she is today, ten years down the line, is because she has become the ‘most reliable’ person for her clients. “So much so that 90% of the new work comes to me through word-of-mouth publicity. I have never had to invest in Digital Marketing so far,” laughs a happy and confident Cheryl.
- Say yes to opportunities
Meghna Ghai Puri, President, Whistling Woods International is of the opinion and practice, “Technology is truly a democratic platform. It’s the industry of ideas and the industry of the future. The value of a good idea coupled with the information available to everyone means that there are no boundaries to what women can do. No glass ceilings and no pre-judgments on their capability.”
She also says that it’s important that women use this time in our history to reach out and grasp what is ours and this is certainly also true in business and leadership roles and the technology industry is another great domain where women can do just that.
Mumbai-based Whistling Woods’ School of Animation is well known to promote girl students in an industry that is otherwise dominated by men. But then girls have come out to try out their potential in this field! What could Meghna or her team do alone, if women did not take a step ahead towards exploring an arena, which was thought to be out of bounds for them?
Meghna adds, “Women leaders are the future and technology is the our way to the future. It’s a perfect match.”
No wonder women are coming out to explore the coding industry. Adhira Jain John, Head of the coding department at a leading IT firm in Manchester says, “No one, except you, no one except your own YES, can open a whole new avenue to explore. Coding was very challenging when I joined this sector way back in 2008, I was very much secluded by men from my own team, but I knew that to be a leader one day, I had to expand my view of the world. And, it gave me the opportunity to make a difference for a cause I care passionately about – diversity and inclusive teamwork in technology.”
- Take risks, try things out
No risk, no gain. This saying goes for the technology industry perfectly because here you are taking on a biased culture that is dominated by men. Taking risks is the only way to cut competition. No boss will ever say no to a junior who wants to take risk to excel unless you are not confident of what you are doing and how. Take risk, try things out, stay ahead of the curve – is the key to be a women tech leader.
“I joined the digital space in 2003, a time when people were suspicious of its scope and potential. My then boss Chaaya Baradhwaaj, had just started her agency, and I was one of the first few employees, a fresher, looking to learn and grow fast. Today she’s a pioneer of sorts in that space. Taking that risk paid off but I took it because of her conviction in what she was building back then. Today, everyone knows that digital is the way forward for scale and impact,” shares Merril Diniz, Head of Communications at SHEROES, the women’s community platform.
Having a vision of what’s ahead of the curve pays off even if there are no stats to prove it yet.
“Being able to predict how tech can solve real-world issues, is truly inspiring in a leader. Additionally, I would say, being sensitive to consumer’s needs, and staying committed to mission through the good and turbulent times is important. SHEROES checks those dots for me,” asserts Merril.
- Know your target audience
All said and done if you don’t know what target to hit, you will be major steps away from being a leader. After all, the leader has to lead the team to a goal right?
Nishtha, CEO of PenPundit Digital Service and winner of the Google SMB Heroes Women Entrepreneur Award 2017 asserts, “In the tech space, a good leader should be creative. Identifying the demands of the market and enabling their teams to meet these dynamic requirements is the key.”
Lastly, I would like to take lead myself to say that it is important not to take on too much. As a Lead Content Strategist for three digital media biggies in the technology industry, time has taught me that, “Have only that much on your platter which you can consume.”
If you take on too much, you will dilute your effectiveness, and may head towards a burnout. Stress kills the potential to be a long-term leader. To survive in the tech industry, or for that matter any industry, target what is achievable, whether single-handed or as a team. Delivering projects in time will only make you more confident with passing time, especially when it comes to trying new things, failing fast, learning and moving on to higher goals.
Women leaders are the future and technology is our way into that future. It’s a perfect match. These tips will help you inch closer to being a women leader in tech.
Know a firecracker of a women who can use these tips? Share this piece and who knows, you would be changing a life for better!