February 14, 2013

Shout Out for SIGS, Career Support Teams, and Finding Your Super Power


kathyRecently, I participated on an interactive panel at the Engineering Leadership Special Interest Group (EL SIG). A SIG is an organization that provides opportunities to exchange knowledge and connections. Here in the San Francisco Bay Area, the SV Forum sponsors a variety of SIGs, allowing developers, entrepreneurs, and technologists to connect and engage across a number of disciplines. EL SIG’s goal is to grow strategic leaders and program managers.

The evening’s topic was "Random Chance, Planning, Both? What Can We Learn from Career Retrospectives of Successful Silicon Valley Engineering Leaders." I joined Bill Grosso, Ron Lichty, and Sam Hahan to deliver some career insights, and had the opportunity to share my perspective of being a female in engineering management. The experience also gave me a chance for a bit of self-reflection.

After a brief introduction and career retrospective, I chatted a bit about Perforce and my goal of creating leadership opportunities where individuals are valued for their expertise.

And, I discussed the importance of creating your own personal “career support team”. You are the # 1 person on your support team - striving to do the best job, following your passion, looking for opportunities, embracing change and taking risks. If you aren't your biggest supporter you are truly flying by the seat of your pants.

The other obvious members of your support team are your current and former bosses, peers, employees, family, friends, and LinkedIn contacts. The not so obvious members of your team are personal trainers, volunteer work colleagues, travel agents, hockey teams, perhaps even your massage therapist. While it may seem odd to have personal services on your professional team – we are the sum of our life experiences both work and play.

Another member of your support team, which I believe in strongly, is a professional executive leadership coach. Go through a 360 evaluation and examine your strengths and weaknesses, prioritize your professional and personal goals, make a plan of attack, and move forward.

Also, discover your “super power” - that unique talent separates you from others. Solving problems? Managing projects? Predicting people’s actions, or perhaps, compassion?

And, finally, keep evaluating if you are in the right place, and are supported by the right team. I continue to expand my career support team and I hope you do as well. I measure my career by whether or not I'm still able to expand and grow. Perforce keeps changing and growing, and so do I.