If you have the drive to lead others and succeed, don’t be shy about asking for more at job offers, or going to bat for your ideas or your team, say female execs in IT environments.
That’s some of the hard-won advice from the personal stories shared by female executives at ITWomen’s most recent Fireside Chat, “Leading Through Others.” The inspirational evening was filled with the laughter of recognition, as one story after another hit home about making choices and juggling family situations on the way to the executive suite.
“Leading Through Others” was held jointly May 22 by ITWomen and the UltiWomen leadership group at the world headquarters of Ultimate Software in Weston, Florida.
We are grateful to the following executives who gave their evening to pay it forward and answer challenging questions from ITWomen president and moderator, Claire Marrero:
* Jody Kaminsky, Chief Marketing Officer for Ultimate Software
* Sheila Hanlon Ravindran, Tech Exec with Fortune 500 experience gained in VP roles at Southern Glazure’s Wine & Spirits, JMFE, Autonation, and Big Four firm Accenture.
* Maria Hernandez Former Chief Innovation Officer of IBM, VP of Strategy for Modernizing Medicine
* Felicia Alvaro-Kennedy, Vice President of Finance, Ultimate Software.
Despite their different backgrounds and journeys (two started as English Lit majors in college) the female executives agreed on mindsets that challenge women and guidelines for success:
“I Don’t Meet All the Job Requirements, So I Won’t Apply”
No, no, no. Talent recruiter Claire Marrero observes that men will try for a coveted job if they meet just 50 percent of the requirements, while women often hold back if they don’t have every last one.
You’ve Got the Offer, They Love You, So How Dare You Ask for More Money?
Dare to ask. Most men will make a counter-offer, observed ITWomen Board of Advisor member Sheila Hanlon Ravindran, who’s served with Fortune 500 companies. Otherwise you’ll never know how much money or negotiated benefits you’re leaving on the table.
Management Is Like Motherhood
“Sometimes we feel men look at us differently because we have children, that we may not be able to take on that big project. You have to let them know you have things in place to manage, and motherhood is a strength and makes you an even better manager,” notes Claire. “If you are a mother, you are a leader,” reminded Felicia, a mother of three who had her first child in college and aimed for the big accounting firms early in her career.
All agreed that successful managing is similar to successful mothering or coaching. Every team member has his or her own strengths and personality. “You want to protect and fight for your team but you also know they need your support to grow and take necessary risks,” said Jody.
Innovation Is the Secret to Career Growth and Fulfillment
Never stop growing or being excited about new ideas. Seeking progressive companies that encourage innovation is one path, concur Jody Kaminsky, Chief Marketing Officer, and Felicia Alvaro-Kennedy, Vice President of Finance, at Ultimate Software for 12 and 19 years respectively.
“Innovation is the intersection of technology and business,” noted Maria Hernandez, a member of ITWomen’s Advisory Board. Maria said working alongside scientists at IBM gave her the “innovation mindset.” She worked with Watson and Artificial Intelligence for years and is excited about how these technologies will be helping doctors and patients at Modernizing Medicine.
Pave the Way for Others
Helping others succeed once you arrive is also a hallmark of the most successful female executives. Sheila Ravindran summed it up best, to a round of support from the room:
“When you reach the C-Suite, don’t forget to push the button to send the elevator back down.”
ITWomen Executive Director Patricia Mundarain concluded with a call for volunteers for ITWomen programs that are helping the next generation of girls.
Shout out to Maritza at Ultimate SW for awesome logistics.
About ITWomen Fireside Chats:
ITWomen Fireside Chats are one of our most popular public programs in our Management Toolkit series. They often sell out due to the rare opportunities for hearing real-life paths and great networking. ITWomen provides a supportive network for women in tech industries and IT departments across industries. Our mission is to increase the number of women in technology and introduce girls to all the possible opportunities in the field. ITWomen Charitable Foundation provides role model programs and robotic camps, college scholarships and virtual mentors and more.
About Ultimate Software
Ultimate Software, specialists in HR software solutions and human capital management, is nationally recognized as one of the best places to work. Headquartered in Weston, Florida, the company supports UltiWomen, an internal group for women pursuing leadership development. People Magazine ranked Ultimate 2nd in the U.S. on its 2017 list of “Companies That Care.” ITWomen thanks Ultimate for being one of its 2016-2017 Megabyte Sponsors for ITWomen Scholarships.
— Christine Zambrano, ITWomen BOD, VP Web Content/Tech