A Panel Discussion with Female Digital Leaders
Toronto's an attractive city, but the one thing that really gives this place its status and vibe are the people who occupy its streets. Those who are working hard to pursue their passions and are recognized for growing in their individual fields, despite the barriers they face on a day-to-day basis. I'm talking about my female leaders here, and my question for them is simple.
How. Do. You. Do It?
BrainStation, a digital learning company located downtown around King St. & Spadina St. recently hosted a panel discussion with inspiring female leaders in Toronto's technology space. They shared details about their career journeys, and some personal/professional advice on how to achieve 'leader' status when faced with stereotypes and workplace barriers. This talk was all about empowerment.
Though there are similar events that occur sporadically throughout the year, it's always nice to share encouragement. Here are the major lessons the audience took away from the discussion.
Own Your Story
Listen, we've all had our barriers and setbacks, some of which are embarrassing. Maybe you got fired, or you didn't receive that promotion, or it took you a year to find a decent paying full-time job. Whatever your story is, you have to own it. Discovering who you are outside of the job title that is given to you is an imperative step to bringing value to both yourself and your workplace. Nathalie Crosby, UX Lead at Shopify, shared an important realization during the discussion. She said, "I wish that I had not expected myself to be perfect." That's a point many woman can relate to. Knowing that you may not be a 100% fit for a role, but believing in your potential will take you farther than you'll originally suspect.
You have to realize the value of your thoughts and ideas, especially if you want to overcome that impeding sense of imposter syndrome. Your actions inspire and teach more people than you think, and confidence is associated with trust. Ted Talk speaker Amy Cuddy said it best, sometimes you just have to fake it until you become it.
Panelist Swapna Malekar, Senior Product Manager at RBC believes that harnessing the ambition of your team is critical to the success of any workplace project, but sharing encouragement and supporting those around you should also be a basic practice. Everyone possesses unique and amazing qualities, so it's important to observe the skills, work ethic and positive attitude of others. Networking is also very important, especially since what goes around, often comes around. Pay it forward, you could always stumble upon an opportunity to help a friend or colleague as you grow in your career. Perhaps you received more than one job offer, and you know a friend who would be perfect for one of the positions. These good acts comes back to you in very unexpected ways.
Industries are constantly evolving, so it's important to keep up with the trends. Some people commit to reading a book every week or attending as many conferences in the city as they can. If you're looking to develop within the technology field in Toronto, here are a few events that may interest you.
Inmar Givoni, Manager of Autonomy Engineering at Uber ATG encourages aspiring career professionals to use job interviews as a good opportunity to network. Givoni also suggests applying for roles (and attending conferences) outside of your area of expertise/field, because you always end up learning something new that you'll most likely apply later on in your career.
It's great to see this panel come together to encourage other young women to move forward in their career. This is just a sprinkle of the talent occupying the city of Toronto, and even more are making their debut. I can't wait to hear about the amazing things my fellow female leaders are working towards.