Thursday, December 21, 2017

Women in Technology: Transforming Digital

Culture / Technology

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of attending Microsoft’s Executive Women in Technology Luncheon in Indianapolis. Our host was Allison Watson, Corporate Vice President of Microsoft US Marketing & Operations & Small, Medium and Corporate Business (that’s a mouthful!).

I was a woman in a room full of women. But as an Experience Director sitting in a sea of developers, I felt like a bit of an infiltrator. Then I noticed two even sorer thumbs… a couple of brave men in the back row hoping to diversify their offices. Good on you guys.

We set out to discuss how women in technology are transforming digital and I wasn’t sure if I could relate or what I’d have to contribute. We ended up in a meaty conversation about attracting women to the discipline in the first place. Where do we find this type of talent? How do we create environments women want to be a part of?

Allison spoke about searching beyond the obvious places like LinkedIn to recruit, and sponsoring sororities and other women’s groups to uncover promising talents. She encouraged recognizing technological aptitudes and guiding women to reach their full potential in a career they would have otherwise not considered pursuing.

But mostly we exchanged thoughts about making the most of the staff we have. At Microsoft, Allison enlisted “Compete to Create”, a high-performance mindset coaching program that helps people be the best they can be, founded by Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll and Dr. Michael Gervais. The idea is that when we each become better, we can do better things together. We can all relate. I don’t think there’s anyone reading this that can’t think of a time when one bad apple spoiled the whole team.

Allison shared the four pillars to being your best self:

  • Eat and hydrate well
  • Sleep well
  • Move well
  • Mediate well

And then we meditated. Like, for real, closed-our-eyes-and-sat-in-silence-for-10-minutes meditated. Once I got over my initial discomfort, I got into it. I appreciated the mid-week brain break and alas, found myself a new health habit. Even I, someone who’s naturally prone to extreme bouts of calmness, needs that little extra push sometimes. Thanks Allison.

While I’m not about to open a meeting by suggesting we meditate together, I will pass on what I perceive to be it’s benefits to you all… an effective disconnect and a calm inducing recharge. And I’ll aim to take my “moving well” pillar more seriously. Admittedly, it’s where I’m lacking.

The more my career matures, the more I realize my best skills lie in enabling others to be their best selves, do their best work and lead their own careers in the best way possible. Allison Watson re-enforced that belief. With the goal of the greater digital good in mind, regardless of our individual titles or gender, shouldn’t we all, as leaders in this industry, consider ourselves “in Technology”?

Sandy Lipscomb is an Experience Director at Rightpoint. Follow Sandy on Twitter and LinkedIn.