There’s a been a lot of conversation recently around the number of women working in technology and what can be done to increase their ranks. With this topic in mind, we decided to pick the brain of someone who has not only thrived in the tech industry, but has been instrumental in paving the way for other women as well.
Geraldine Gray is the founder and CEO of Endiem, a Houston-based firm that helps organizations align their strategic goals with Salesforce and other cloud products and services. In addition, she founded the Girly Geeks, to give women who attend the annual conference Dreamforce a way to network with other female attendees at the event and beyond.
Keep reading for six of Gray’s tips on everything from getting your foot in the door, to navigating a technology career, to being an effective leader.
“Find the thing that is different about you that will make people remember you,” says Gray. As a U.K. native, Gray credits her English accent for opening doors. She adds that this point is about more than just having a certain way of speaking or a big personality. “You must have an amount of self-confidence that shows that you are OK with yourself,” Gray says.
Say yes to new opportunities. “You can trust your gut and tell if a job or project is good or not,” says Gray. She recommends allowing yourself extra time to figure out a role or task you aren’t familiar with, because although there is a “first for everything,” it will probably take you “twice as long to get the work done.”
As things go, Gray says there may be a time when you end up in a job that is not a good fit in the end. She says to ask yourself: “Can I change my situation to make it better, or is it something company-deep that won’t be solved by my staying?” Gray says you can decrease the odds of landing in the wrong job by keeping a scorecard that ranks what is most important to you in any work situation.
“You have to give to give,” says Gray. “If you give to get, it’s not going to work out and you’re going to be disappointed.” Her company makes it a practice to first see if a potential customer’s need or problem can be solved at no cost. “We do ‘get’ something out of that: a lot of good will,” Gray says.
Your employees don’t need to best you at everything, but they should fill in the gaps and raise the skillset average, not lower it. If you have a weakness in data architecture, for example, hire someone who is an expert. In addition, give your staff a chance to work beyond their comfort zone and coach them while they are there.
“You have to be able to say you can’t do it all,” says Gray. Cultivate a reputation for saying no. But don’t stop there. Another reason to hire a great team is that when you are overcommitted, you can make an introduction to another qualified person and give them a turn in the spotlight.
Hear more from Geraldine Gray at Dreamforce 2014. She will be speaking on Data You Can Trust: Simple Data Management Strategies for Success. Get additional information here and click the button below to register for Dreamforce.