Today, more women are working at the top levels of their organizations than ever before. But there’s still a long way to go to reach gender parity.
That’s why we formed the Women @ New Relic affinity group: to help the awesome women working here support, encourage, and inspire one another—and women everywhere—to keep on aiming higher.
It’s always a good time to talk about women in business, but Women’s History Month presents a prime opportunity. So we asked New Relic Senior Director of Technical Support Anne Buckley and Vice President of Engineering Belinda Runkle to share some of the lessons they’ve learned over the course of their stellar careers so far in a presentation for the entire company.
“My first piece of career advice is, Be aware of people giving you unsolicited career advice,” Belinda joked. But here are 10 valuable insights Belinda and Anne shared at the event that you won’t want to ignore:
1. Mentors and sponsors are not the same thing—and you should try to connect with both
“Mentorship is about getting great advice. Sponsorship is about opening doors, creating opportunities. And I’ve definitely been the beneficiary of both. I don’t think there’s any reason you should choose one or the other.”—Belinda
2. You can learn from anyone
“If you can get someone to answer your curious questions, or sit down and explain a concept to you, or recommend a book, those are all tiny forms of mentorship that can really help build your acumen as you go. You don’t necessarily have to have the ‘one true path’ that a single person gave you. And I think that’s a powerful way of seeing the world. It’s like a giant library.”—Belinda
3. Your reviews should focus on business outcomes, not your personal behavior
“Reviews are very personal, so people take them, of course, very personally. But when you think about the path forward and how to grow, it becomes more about, where do we need to go? What are the goals that we needed to accomplish as a team, as an organization? Are those clear to me? Is it clear how I’m contributing toward that path? Then you can come up with a better strategy that leverages your strengths.”—Belinda
“Ask your manager to frame your review as Situation-Behavior-Impact. Because at the end of the day, we want to understand what the impact is. If we’re not getting the outcome we desire, then we can make the adjustment there. It takes the personal stuff out of it.”—Anne
4. Autonomy and alignment can—and should—coexist
“Autonomy happens within a context, and that context is clear direction and clear boundaries. So, in order for a team or even a person to have a sufficient level of autonomy, that really strong, clear direction has to be there.”—Belinda
“Alignment to business, financial, and strategic outcomes is a career accelerator. We want to work on the problems the business needs solved. They’re not always the most fun, the most challenging, the most complex, but they’re the most important to the business.”—Anne
5. Team players get promoted, too
“Understand what makes you special. It’s not your secret sauce, it’s not your superpower: it’s your ‘team-add.’”—Anne
“Ask your manager the question, ‘How is your success measured?’ Then you can identify a body of work that you think is of high value. Now you’re at the starting place of a negotiation, instead of it being this one-way, telling-me-what-to-do kind of conversation. Also, be prepared to accept the challenge that may come out of that conversation.”—Belinda
6. If you don’t ask, you won’t get
“When you go into a meeting with a VP, always have an ask.”—Anne
7. You don’t have to act on unsolicited advice—or give it
“Google ‘career advice for women’ and then just stand back and see how much interesting advice you get. But don’t implement it all … because you’ll drive yourself crazy. Many are good things and you should do them, but many of them will not be for you—and only you are going to know the difference.”—Belinda
8. Determine the unique value you can bring to the organization
“If you can find more value, if you can find exponential value, you can really use that for the organization. And that is the path to growth, basically.”— Belinda
9. The door to the C-suite has never been so open for women
“I am seeing women at all levels of the organization, I am seeing representation across all the business units, I see senior leadership, and I see women, again, at all levels of the organization with more influence and impact.”—Anne
“Speaking at a conference used to seem like something other people did. Now, I have bigger dreams. I can see there’s a path to CTO, there’s a path to CPO, there’s a path to CEO. You could even start your own company. To me, it’s now more like a foregone conclusion. Not so much can I, but when, how?”—Belinda
10. Ain’t no stopping us now!
“One word: forward.”—Anne