Yesterday I went to a fascinating presentation by Microsoft
at a Womenintechnology event on Raising your Profile, at which the results of the recent Microsoft / Womenintechnology survey about women's careers in the technology industry were revealed.
Some women who completed the survey felt that a glass ceiling exists in their company; perhaps it's more common in some industries and cultures, however the message from the presenters was very clear - this is not a reason not to follow a career that you love and be very successful in it.
Eileen Brown, IT Pro Evangelist Team Manager,and fellow blogger (see here spent 10 years working as a navigating officer on Shell supertankers before joining Microsoft, so she clearly knows what it takes to succeed in a male environment. Both she, and Kate Isler,Chief of Staff for the Microsoft Online Services Group, emphasised the role of choice and responsibility in career decisions. It's easy to forget these when you're immersed in an organisation and especially if you seldom take the time to network externally.
I was also intrigued to hear limiting beliefs mentioned several times; many people allow themselves to be defined by their beliefs, even when they're unhelpful and can be changed. Uncovering what your beliefs are is a good first step to transforming them into something more useful.
At the panel debate and Q&A session afterwards, Salma Shah, Director of SN Training, talked about the importance of creating a consistent personal brand, not in the sense of something manufactured, but by building on your strengths and letting people know what you're about.
And Terry Thorpe, CTO of the Centre for Integral Transformation , and also a blogger (and whose blog looks spookily like ours... see here, mentioned the importance of networking as a way of doing the job you currently do, not as an add-on, or something that gets done after hours. I think this is a really critical part of business success - in the sense that it's the only way to let other people know who you are as a person, and what you stand for.
Finally, I liked what Paul Norris, Microsoft EMEA Director had to say about being yourself, being genuine and being human. Often in the cut and thrust of business we can forget that success is due to people. You can have a great product or service, but without great people you'll get nowhere. Getting the best out of your people, and allowing them to play to their strengths, is what will make your team and your business succeed.