There is a well-known saying that behind every successful man, there is a woman.
Looking back at my career of more than 20 years in Information and Communications Technology (ICT), I would change that to, “behind every successful woman in ICT is self-confidence, courage and a passion for the job.”
My expertise lies in sales operations and early on in my career, I was the only woman in the entire sales operations team. To make it even tougher, I was also the only woman on the management team.
While I grew up as the only girl in a family of boys, it didn’t mean it was all smooth-sailing for me in the workplace. However, the skills I learnt from growing up in a house full of brothers stood me in good stead to smooth the waters at work.
I learnt to adapt and speak up so my voice/options could be heard in order to gain respect. I know I need to be smart, confident and have the courage to establish my own path for success - the same set of skills I have fostered to stand out in my family. These define who I am today and where I am in my career.
ICT probably has more women in it today than ever before and I am proud of the achievements of all the successful women in this industry. To encourage those entering ICT, here are the values that I keep close to heart - I hope these will be the ingredients to your success as well.
Climbing the career ladder is never easy. No matter what field you are in, self-confidence is an important quality that women must have - especially in a male-dominated industry.
This confidence is what puts you in the right mindset. If you set your mind to it, you can achieve anything. With confidence embedded in your DNA you will succeed.
Effective communication comes naturally when you are confident. Throughout your career, you will find yourself in meeting rooms full of people. To establish your presence, you should never be afraid to speak up.
Only by speaking up will you be able to engage your peers and co-workers and build the relationships you need to excel.
Being courageous can be scary, but you must be brave and step out of your comfort zone to be successful. To be courageous, you need support and, in turn, you need to support others. As women, we should be encouraging, supporting, and inspiring each other.
In the early 2000s, during one of my frequent overseas work trips, I heard about a female colleague who was sexually harassed by a superior at work.
Given her position and her culture, she had no one to turn to for help and suffered in silence. When I heard about the situation, I reported it immediately to the senior management team and shortly after the culprit was fired.
As clichéd as this sounds, it is situations like this that make me believe that by supporting each other we can make the world a better place.
The late Steve Jobs said, “the only way to do great work is to love what you do”. I could not agree more.
As ICT evolves, it is crucial for women leaders to be passionate about technology to succeed. I am proud to admit that I love my job very much and I find satisfaction in the work I do every day.
There will be ups and downs in your career but my advice is to move past the pain points and use them as stepping stones to fuel your growth. You need to be motivated and driven to be on the path to success.
My favourite four magic words are “what do you think”? This question seeks feedback and we all need that to continuously improve processes, business vision, work and everything we do.
So, from one woman to another, be confident, brave and passionate in whatever you do, and you’ll be on your way to a successful career in ICT.
Adeline Tan is director of sales and finance operations across Asia Pacific and Japan at Sophos