Skillz Blog

Tips and Tricks for Securing Your Seat at the Leadership Table — Women of Silicon Valley Recap

Our SVP of Engineering, Miriam Aguirre, recently attended Women of Silicon Valley to deliver a talk entitled “Tips and Tricks For Securing Your Seat At The Leadership Table.” The mission of these events is to inspire women to build inclusive organizations and achieve long-term business success. Miriam’s speech was centered around the realities of being a woman in tech, what it takes to become a leader, and the common challenges faced as a manager.

Historically, the tech industry has been dominated by men. Although there has been progression when it comes to empowering diversity and inclusion, women, especially those of color, still face significant challenges in tech. According to ISACA, the top barriers faced by women in technology are a lack of relevant mentors and role models, gender bias in the workplace, unequal growth opportunities, and unequal salaries. If you are seeking a leader or management role in the tech industry, it’s important to not only recognize these barriers but rally your colleagues to support initiatives to overcome them.

If you want to be a leader on your team, look at all the different avenues of leadership, such as a director, board member, or consultant. Master your craft through research, learning from others, and real-life practice. Ensure you are well-versed on the needs and goals of the business as this increases your value within an organization. And lastly, take initiative and be confident in your decisions, but also take responsibility for your mistakes.  

In making the transition to management, consider why you want a managing role. Recognize managerial skills in yourself, whether it’s motivating people, delegating effectively, or handling conflict. Remember that managing requires interaction and collaboration with your team and other departments. Learn to love, give, and accept feedback. Communicate “why” instead of “what” when detailing projects or issues your team will tackle.

So now that you have evaluated your current role and learned about alternative career paths, how do you rise up in your company?

  • Find new career opportunities: Have a clear job target with knowledge of what “moving up” looks like to you. Continuously hone and build on your skills. Don’t disqualify yourself from a job. Reports have found that men apply for jobs they are only 60% qualified for, while women only apply when they are 100% qualified. Remember that confidence in your skillset, as well as willingness to learn and grow add to your value as a candidate. Establish relationships with people at the company you are working at or want to work at.
  • Build a professional network: Find internal and external support systems. Surround yourself with people who challenge you and your ideas. Connect with a mentor and/or a sponsor who will help you succeed. And pay it forward by mentoring others. Attend conferences and events in the industry and profession at which you want to work.
  • Take risks: Remember that in pursuing new opportunities, you are taking a risk. Be confident, plan as much as possible, and challenge yourself. Keep in mind that it’s okay to “fail” and that some “failures” can ultimately lead to successes. Don’t be afraid to ask for help from others; you will be surprised to find how many people will genuinely support you.  

 
Once you have successfully secured a leading or managing role in tech, note these key considerations:

  • Be wary of imposter syndrome. Don’t downplay or dismiss your qualifications and accomplishments. Know your worth as an employee and human being.
  • If you are in engineering, contribute to open-source projects. This will allow you to participate in a supportive and collaborative community that quickly identifies and solves bugs.
  • Create a diverse culture through hiring, advocate for better pay for your employees, and mentor people who are underrepresented in the industry.

If you’d like to join a company dedicated to diversity and inclusion, then check out our careers page and apply!