ServiceRocket recently hosted a Women In Technology panel in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia featuring two of Silicon Valley's Women of Influence: ServiceRocket's COO, Erin Rand and VP of Marketing, Colleen Blake who was also named one of Silicon Valley's top 40 Under 40.
Erin and Colleen discussed their experiences building careers in technology, achieving work-life balance, incorporating a “conscious” career mindset, as well as lessons they’ve learned along the way.
The audience from Kuala Lumpur and around the world included both technical and non-technical women and men who were interested in learning how to apply Conscious Career mindsets to their career paths.
The event began with Talent lead Adeline (Hooi Ling) Ng opening the evening by sharing why ServiceRocket focuses on culture, which she noted, “eats strategy for breakfast, but in Malaysia, it's more like breakfast, lunch and dinner." [Note: Be sure to check out Adeline (Hooi Ling) Ng’s blog on why she chooses to work at ServiceRocket if you haven’t yet!]
Aqqiela Zuhra, an Application Support Engineer at ServiceRocket, was the moderator for the event, and kept the panel discussion flowing while also offering her own insights.
Erin and Colleen each shared stories, learnings and advice from their careers. Here are a few of the takeaways from the panel.
A Technology Background Isn’t Necessary To Work In Tech--But It Helps
Both Erin and Colleen shared that it is possible to build a career in technology without having had a formal education background, but it’s helpful if you do bring that to the table.
“Those who code know that coding isn’t easy, but if you have an aptitude for it, you can be trained to do it,” said Erin Rand.
“You don’t have to be deep in the technology to be a leader, but it helps,” said Colleen. “You will be better able to connect with your customers and explain things as well as share with those who don’t have the tech background.”
It’s Not About Work-Life Balance. It’s About Work-Life Integration
The panelists were asked, "how do you achieve work-life balance?" Colleen shared that instead of focusing on work-life balance, which implies something being sacrificed, the key is to focus on work-life integration. Tips for this include: Great planning, calendaring, and leaning on your support network.
“Whether it’s your partner, your friends or your neighborhood or community, look at ways to ask for help to find ways to keep that integration happening so you’re getting what you need from both sides of your life,” said Colleen.
Subtle Nuances In Behavior or Speech Make A Difference
Colleen pointed out that women tend to over-apologize in the workplace, and to be conscious of that and other verbal 'ticks' that can make a difference.
"You can influence through subtle changes in behavior and the way you speak," said Colleen. "Try not to say 'guys' when you mean a group of mixed gender. Try saying, 'hey everybody.' Things like this really do matter."
Want innovation? Don’t Hire Based On External Characteristics
Erin advised that companies or managers not set out to hire women, or people who look different, or who fit any kind of physical mold. She advised focusing on skills as well as cultural qualities that make a great employee.
“We look for people with the skills necessary who also have service in their background in some role,” said Erin. "As result of hiring for these factors, diversity for external factors has been an inevitable consequence."
A Conscious Career Means Balancing the “I” and the “We”
Serving our own needs can actually be to the benefit of everyone. People who focus on the “I” vs. “we” get what needs to be done at other people’s expense. You’ll get immediate goals met, but with damage done to the team along the way.
"A diverse and successful workforce results from hiring high-quality people who bring others along with them for success," said Colleen.
We have to practice looking after ourselves first–we can do this and still look after others.
"This is what a conscious career is really about," said Erin.
“You can’t let people make you feel that by looking after yourself you’re doing something wrong,” said Erin Rand. “You have to have confidence that you’re doing the right thing for everyone when you’re looking after yourself.”
Learn To Make Your Voice Heard
If you speak up and offer your opinion and no one listens--and then in the same meeting or six months later when someone else says it, others say, “that’s a great idea," then you need to find champions to help you become heard. Erin shared a story about how early in her career, she had to combat unconscious bias to become heard.
She learned to ensure her ideas were heard by repeating them, and if necessary, saying it to other colleagues outside the meeting to reinforce her opinion during meetings.
"Don't let people shut you down. If you know you’re right and have something to say, say it until you are heard. Even if others disagree, they should learn to hear you--just as you will hear them."
From the #WomenWhoTechKL event at ServiceRocket in Kuala Lumpur! Featuring Ade Ng, Erin Rand, Colleen Blake and Aqqiela Zuhra.