When I think back to my early debugging days, I realise just how much progress I have made in my career journey, now serving as the Senior Manager of Client Services at Works. My interest in computer science grew after taking an introductory course in college, and a whole day of wrestling with my code taught me a valuable lesson. The simple misplacement of a semicolon was the cause of the problem, but finding the solution ignited a deep-seated passion in me for programming that continues to drive me forward to this day.
My journey as a woman, technologist, and leader in the field of technology has been one of constant growth and development. At Works, my career began as a Technical Success Manager before I became the first female Senior Manager on the Partner Engineering team. In my role, I have seen the significant impact that women in leadership roles can have on a business. However, there is still a long way to go to achieve true gender and racial equity. According to McKinsey’s “Women in the Workplace 2022” report, as of 2022, only 21% of C-suite CEOs are women, and just 4% of executives in the US are women of colour.
It is a great privilege to serve as a Senior Manager at Works, where nearly half of the executive team consists of women. Our esteemed leaders, including the Director of Talent Partnerships, Vice President of Product, Head of Product Design, and Chief of Staff, are passionate about driving real change. My experience in this environment has given me the tools to take concrete action towards achieving gender equality in the workplace.
When you realize you are overqualified for a job, set your sights higher.
Works’ Fellowship Programme for Asian Software Engineers initially appealed to me because of my professional background. However, after realizing that I was overqualified for the boot camp, I pursued other opportunities, ultimately securing a Software Project Management position within a FinTech company. Through this role, I gained invaluable experience and eventually chose to establish my own consulting practice, as well as a summer camp for young programmers.
When I revisited Works, I saw an opportunity to use my unique skills and abilities to contribute to the company’s mission. This motivated me to apply for the role of Technical Success Manager, and I am proud to have found success here, building a strong and talented team. The findings of the Hewlett-Packard report are especially noteworthy to me: men will often apply for a job even if they only meet 60% of the requirements, while women tend to wait until they fulfill all of them.
The way our system is structured may unintentionally prevent us from being considered for certain opportunities. But the worst thing that can happen if you apply for something you believe you are well-suited for is simply not getting the job. In fact, being overqualified can sometimes be a sign that you are capable of achieving even greater success elsewhere. For me, accepting the Works fellowship would have set me back in my career. Instead, I chose to pursue opportunities that better aligned with my capabilities, and I am pleased with the outcome of following my goals elsewhere.
Take pride in your achievements, and allow others to celebrate your success, especially when working with a distributed team.
In my opinion, remote work provides an excellent opportunity to achieve a more balanced work-life ratio. It can open up avenues for career advancement that may not be available in a traditional office environment, which can be particularly advantageous for women who need to factor in personal activities such as pregnancy and marriage when making professional decisions.
In my experience, women residing in rural areas are often hesitant to share their accomplishments. When living in an isolated environment, it can be all too easy to go unnoticed. That’s why I think it’s crucial for women to acknowledge and take pride in their own achievements, as well as share their successes with their colleagues. Doing so not only proves beneficial during performance evaluations, but it’s also important to celebrate achievements on a more regular basis.
To promote gender equality in the workplace, it is important for leaders to take an active role in recognizing and rewarding the accomplishments of their employees, particularly as remote working has become more prevalent. Regardless of the size, every achievement should be acknowledged, and women deserve to be recognised for their hard work. Proper acknowledgement and recognition should be given to ensure a consistent and inclusive workplace environment.
Effective management skills are imperative in the workplace.
When I first joined Works, I was tasked with overseeing the technical delivery of a team of 40 engineers. I took a well-rounded approach to address existing process issues, with an understanding of both the talent and client perspectives. To assist these engineers in their professional growth, I provided guidance and support to help them reach their full potential. Today, I am responsible for managing a team of managers, a role that I have fully embraced.
After being promoted to Senior Manager, my focus shifted from overseeing engineers to overseeing managers. This required me to adapt my leadership approach accordingly. I placed a greater emphasis on implementing structures and procedures that support the success of our team, rather than on technical delivery. I believe that at this level, managing people is more important than managing competencies. In addition, I also had to navigate various management styles among the managers that I directly supervised.
To ensure that I am an effective leader, I believe it is crucial to foster a workplace culture in which all staff members feel comfortable sharing constructive feedback and suggestions. Collaboration is also essential; I aim to create an environment where my colleagues feel empowered to seek help and work with personnel from other departments.
It is crucial that female colleagues who aspire to senior leadership roles, as well as those who currently hold such roles, receive the support they need to take on additional managerial responsibilities. Unfortunately, women are often asked to take on additional responsibilities without the required resources or training. I am grateful that Works has an open-door policy that allows me the opportunity to seek assistance from my manager, their superior or even their superior’s superior when necessary. This is an invaluable asset for which I am truly thankful.
While there is still much work to be done, we are making tangible progress every single day.
According to the McKinsey 2022 report, Women in the Workplace, the proportion of women in managerial positions is predicted to increase by only 1% over the next ten years if current hiring and promotion trends continue. This cannot be allowed to be considered the norm, and it is crucial to establish supportive structures that provide women in managerial roles with the respect and assistance they deserve. It’s important to address burnout adequately; otherwise, progress towards gender equality in the workplace will stall, regardless of any promotion advancements made.
A large portion of my day is dedicated to providing skilled technicians with opportunities to work with some of the top companies worldwide. This is what motivates me to keep going.