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IWD 2024: Including the newcomers - Why I’m laser-focused on paying it forward
Thu, 7th Mar 2024

Women who’ve benefitted from effective advocacy and support know what a difference it can make in the early career days.

Time flies when you’re having fun, as the old saying has it. I must have been enjoying more than my fair share of it because, from where I sit, the years are racing along!

For me, this year’s International Women’s Day comes hot on the heels of a milestone birthday – one which heralded the onset of middle age, historically. Entering the naughty forties, as I prefer to think of it, has certainly been a time of reflection, both personally and professionally.

By and large, I’m satisfied with what I’ve accomplished in my career to date. Since commencing as a raw recruit in the ICT industry a decade ago, I’ve gotten to grips with the cloud and cyber security sectors and, I hope, prove my worth as a capable contributor in progressively senior positions.

Helping others get started

Despite the passage of time, I haven’t ceased to feel grateful to the woman who helped me get started climbing the IT sales ladder.

While at the time she was not a decision maker nor in a position of authority, she chose to advocate on my behalf to someone who was – the individual in charge of hiring who was uncertain about whether I had what it took to succeed in a customer facing role in ICT.

Yes, I’d ticked all the necessary boxes and interviewed well, but concern remained – about my sexuality and whether it might have a negative effect on my relationships with customers.

All kudos to my former colleague and friend for calling out those assumptions and that old-school attitude.

Instead of taking the easy of option of remaining silent when the person she reported to expressed their doubts, she opined – correctly, as it turned out – that it wouldn’t be a problem and my work would speak for itself.

Thankfully, the narrowmindedness that threatened to stand in my way is now vanishing fast. It’s heartening to see so many employers implementing inclusive processes and practices to eliminate conscious and unconscious bias from the workplace and enable employees of all backgrounds and orientations to achieve their potential.

Support to succeed

Several years after that inauspicious beginning, my passion for IT sales is undimmed.

I’ve enjoyed the challenge of building networks, connections and trusting bonds with customers in past positions and my current role at SentinelOne, where I was hired as a commercial sales representative in February 2023. 

My journey has been made immeasurably easier by a handful of great mentors, men and women, who’ve provided advice and support at the times when I’ve needed it most.

Having them on my team, to bolster me in challenging times and to celebrate my successes when the going is good, has made all the difference, personally and professionally.

Paying it back

Receiving such unstinting assistance in the early stages of my career from this extraordinary group of allies has made me determined to be similarly generous towards others.

For that reason, I’ve made it my mission to support the younger women – and men – in my network on their own career journeys whenever the opportunity arises.

One of the ways I do so is by talking about my early career experiences openly and honestly. 

Life in the IT trenches is not as glamorous as it can be portrayed on social media platforms. In the early days, there were difficulties and times when I doubted myself and my choices.
I know sharing these struggles and the strategies I used to overcome them has helped reassure and encourage others to tread a similar path.

I’m also committed to putting building blocks in place to make the settings I work in as inclusive as possible, helping to establish and support networks and forums that provide women and individuals from diverse backgrounds with safe spaces and opportunities to have their voices heard.

As we celebrate International Women’s Day 2024, I couldn’t be more thankful for the progress that’s been made, nor more committed to doing whatever I can to make the IT industry an inclusive setting where everyone can thrive.