By Marie Rourke
One of the biggest takeaways from the “Hear Our Heels” breakfast and panel discussion was easy to see: Women in technology are becoming fearless, empowered and more comfortable in their own shoes – as long as we don’t have to use them to walk the Gaylord Nashville Resort.
With more than 200 female execs in attendance and two braves males (one from Cisco and another from CDN), the morning event offered a personal look at the challenges and triumphs of women in business and answered the questions “How and why do women succeed in business?”
Cisco System’s Manager of Partner Operations Carla Cicero set the stage sharing her professional journey and encouraging women “to never be afraid to succeed and do the right thing. Trust your gut and ask others how you can help? If you fail, learn from it. Pick yourself up and start over. Be kind. Be present.”
During the panel, BlackPoint IT owner and COO Lesleigh Watson delivered an impactful statement that sparked a passionate discussion. “Can you have a kickass tech career? Absolutely. But you have to be willing to make those choices and you need to be clear (in your own mind and others) it’s a choice - not a sacrifice. It’s what you are choosing.”
Fellow solution provider and CEO of American Wordata Traci Weston backed Watson’s comment. “Women have to balance both sides of the equation. Only you can make it work. I am a business owner and a mom 24/7.”
Another rewarding moment within the panel was the focus on giving back and having each other’s backs in life and business. “Women must support other women in business – we have to pay it forward,” noted Ingram Micro’s VP of Marketing Jennifer Anaya.
“Mentoring is as simple as giving someone the time of day – see what they want to do and help bring them up to bat. Let them be fearless and empower them to think ‘Why not me? I can do that!’” stated Weston.
Another way to give back and inspire others is to lead by example. “Be authentic. Confident. And ask for what you want,” said Anaya.
Panel moderator Ingram Micro’s Senior Director of Marketing Jenn Johnson closed the discussion reminding women in the room that many female leaders before us “never saw a glass ceiling” and that’s made all the difference.