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In the words of Queen Bey:
“Who run the world? Girls.”
Beyoncé’s smash hit is an anthem of affirmation of what we know we can do: anything we want. But if we’re going to be very candid, we think that women still don’t run enough things around the world today. We know from experience as a company in a male-dominated industry that women remain an underrepresented yet invaluable pool of talent. And it’s a trend that’s still all too common across society.
A few years ago at the International Women of Courage Awards, Michelle Obama said something to the effect that the thing that differentiates a broken community from a successful one is the presence of women who are valued. The women that were honored that day can provide testimony to the truth of that statement on an international scale. But even on a much smaller scale, the communities in our own periphery—our industry, our company, our family, our group of friends—are only as strong as the value placed on the women within them. And each and every woman, no matter the position they hold, serves as testimony in her own way to the communities she calls home.
In our own community here at Kenna, women play invaluable roles across various departments. And in honor of International Women’s Day 2021, we reached out to a handful of these supremely talented women to get first-hand perspectives on breaking barriers and achieving professional goals.
What advice would you give to women who are pursuing the same career?
“For women interested in a career in Finance, my advice is to be confident in your skills and let your voice be heard. A few years ago, I presented at an investor conference where I was the only woman on the panel. Rather than be intimidated by the situation, I grasped at the opportunity to share my story and to hopefully inspire other women to speak at corporate events.”Kathy Fan, Sr. Director, Financial Planning and Analysis
“There’s no such thing as the perfect job, although I have to admit that my role at Kenna is the closest I’ve ever had. I would like to tell women to take any opportunity they can to learn something new. At the same time, don’t be afraid to quit. So many women are afraid of change and lack confidence in trying something new, but if you’re not stimulated, you should do something else! I understand that trying something new can be scary at times, but if it doesn’t challenge you, it won’t change you. Change is good and it pushes you to keep growing.”Monica White, VP of Product Marketing
“I saw a post on LinkedIn recently that said something to the effect of, ‘Don’t be afraid to fail at something new.’ Cybersecurity is one of those exciting careers where the goal post moves every day. Success comes from powering through the uncomfortable, continuous learning, and (if I’m being honest) a whole lot of Google searches.”Gina Lewis, Manager, Customer Success Engineering
“Don’t be afraid of speaking up; find the specific area that you love and study/work hard at it to become an expert of it; embrace changes.”Xiaobing Rawlinson, Software Engineer
“If you have the strength of will to force change at a company, please do! It will help both current and future employees. If you are not a fighter, or determine the fight is unwinnable, cut bait and run! Ask questions during interviews to suss out the culture to find a place where you can shine. Coming and going, make sure HR departments know that “female-friendly” is on your list of must-haves. Things have gotten so much better for women in technology since I started in the industry 25 years ago so there is no reason to stay in a job where the benefits of diversity are not embraced.”Linda Brown, Director of Technical Product Management
“Early in my career, I saw a woman in a job—a Bloomberg product manager named Kate Tobin—who gave me the example I needed to have confidence that I could “do it.” The way she carried herself and the way she spoke stay with me to this day. I’m so happy I found product management as a career and am thankful that she gave me some of the confidence to launch. You can’t be what you can’t see!
I don’t know who to credit, but my advice is this: “Trusting in yourself, not in what you accomplish, is the key to success.”Lindsey Compton, Director of Product Management
“The advice I’d give is: Don’t be afraid to raise your hand and take on the tough challenges, even if they “aren’t your job”. Approach these problems with a perspective of breaking them down into bite size chunks and focus on simplicity. Those who make solutions simple will get more traction and will have a bigger impact. Being practical in solving problems goes a long way so feel good about using common sense and simple tools like Excel or Flowcharts. And, during your project diligence, if you find folks who can’t answer direct questions, it’s most likely their lack of understanding, not yours.”Caroline Japic, Chief Marketing Officer
“Find what you love to do and learn every day. Be confident and passionate about your work, but remain humble. Find as many smart and diverse mentors as possible and listen to them. And as your career advances, mentor others and pay it forward.”Candace Stone, Regional Vice President, West
What is the best career advice you have been given from another woman?
“The best career advice I was given was from a mentor at the start of my career. She said, “It is okay to be the first—what is not okay is to be the last. Lift as you climb and make it easier for those behind you.” Her words have inspired me to continue to push forward even when my imposter syndrome quicks in. That is why I spend so much of my free time teaching kids from underserved communities how to code and introduce them to the world of STEM. They may or may not end up in STEM but at least, they saw someone that looks like them in a role that they probably didn’t know existed.”Ximena Cortez, QA Engineer
“The best career advice I was given from another woman who happened to be my boss and mentor for 8+ years. She always pushed me to ask thoughtful questions and to be a good listener. She taught me that if I was the only woman in meetings to not be afraid to speak up and to make sure no one spoke over me too. She always encouraged me to learn from cross-functional departments to sit in meetings so I could have insight into what was going on in other departments to listen in to what was working or not working. To take that feedback and use my current role to make positive changes within my role as it will trickle across an organization.”Larissa Torres, Sales Operations Analyst
“Negotiate! As a recruiter, I talk to hundreds of people during any given month, and when it comes to offer letters, women don’t negotiate nearly as much as men. Whether it comes down to title, a bigger starting salary, a sign-on bonus, don’t be afraid to ask. Know your worth. Do your research and ask. What’s the worst that can happen? They’ll say no, but most of the time employers are hiring you for your skillset and experience and should be willing to have the conversation.”Dhiloni Shah, Manager, Talent Acquisition
“Imposter syndrome is a big thing for many women and I had no idea what it was until I got my first female boss and mentor. She helped me uncover a lot of insecurities, potential self-sabotage, and facilitated me to do a lot of professional “shadow work” that enabled me to realize my full potential and uncover better thoughts and mindsets. Without that groundwork, imposter syndrome would have held me back in irrational fear or doubt. Women-led teams are so very important for other women!”Ren Ferril, Customer Success Manager
“Be yourself—don’t try to fit into a mold of how you think you should act.”Kathy Fan, Sr. Director, Financial Planning and Analysis
If you’re interested in joining these incredible women—and many others—at Kenna Security, check out our open positions now.