Women’s History Month is a time to celebrate the achievements of women and how they’ve shaped our world. At the same time, it offers us a chance to look forward to what will come from the next generation of women and how they’ll continue to push boundaries and break down barriers.
As we honor Women’s History Month, we asked some of the successful women at Autodesk who are members of our Autodesk Women’s Network (AWN) employee resource group (ERG) to share their top career advice and insights for the female leaders of tomorrow.
Whether you’re a young professional just starting out or a seasoned professional looking to further advance your career, their words of wisdom can motivate you to achieve your goals and make history of your own.
What advice would you give to the next generation of women entering the workplace?
Don’t put limits on yourself! Set goals as clearly as possible!
– Spring Ai, Manager, Software Development
AWN China Chapter Lead
For me, there are a few key items:
Look for a workplace where you can truly thrive and be your authentic self. In order to find that, look at and learn about the company culture as much as you can while you are interviewing.
Own your development and career with a growth mindset and focus on your strengths and what you like to do. It is always good to get feedback from others on what your superpowers are, as we sometimes tend not to see them or take them for granted.
Build and maintain your network. Connect with people and learn from their journeys whenever you can. Reach out, and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Do not only focus on your day job but look for additional stretch assignments or volunteering opportunities, such as being part of an employee resource group, taking a mentor, etc.
Take calculated risks, and don’t be afraid to make mistakes. It is usually those moments that provide us with the biggest growth and learning opportunities.
Be bold and trust in yourself. As women, we sometimes “stand in our own way” due to a lack of confidence and self-doubt. It is pretty well-known that men go for new job opportunities even when they may only have 60-70% of the required skillset, while women tend to be hesitant if they don’t reach nearly 100% of the requirements. Be aware that you will rarely have all that is required at the starting point and that we learn the best through experience, so go for an opportunity. Even if you don’t get it, you can learn from the experience, get feedback, and then build your skillset to be better prepared when another opportunity comes up in the future.
— Ramona Biehn, Senior Manager, Client Services
AWN Global Lead
Observe masculine people in the workplace and how they advocate for themselves, but do not lose sight of the strengths of feminine people in the workplace. Leading with kindness and understanding is a positive thing. Don’t accept disrespect from people higher up than you just because you haven’t established your career yet; you don’t need those kinds of people.
Find successful people you want to be like, who have good character, and go to them for advice to create mentorship relationships instead of trying to choose a mentor at random. You should also lean on your peers and let them lean on you in return. There is a lot you can learn laterally. Remember that everyone is another person, everyone is busy, and everyone’s role is important to the big picture, so treat everyone the same.
– Gina Carnovale, Senior Recruiter
AWN Atlanta Chapter Lead
You are a strong, capable, smart, and brave woman; don’t let anyone convince you otherwise. Be inspired by other women, and ensure you are inspiring others, too. You are worthy of success; don’t be afraid to chase it.
– Mitzy Diaz, Channel Programs Manager, LATAM
If you want it, but you’re afraid it won’t work – go for it! Life can surprise us when we reach for the unknown.
– Katarzyna Famulok, Technical Support Specialist
AWN Poland Chapter Lead
I believe having your own dreams and goals and pursuing them not only leads to self-actualization but also has a positive impact on society. I feel that for women to play an active role in our own way, we must understand ourselves, have strengths, find friends, believe in ourselves, and actively work toward our dreams and goals.
– Yuko Haga, Manager, Technical Support
I have two pieces of advice:
First, Be your own advocate. Early in my career, I assumed that if I worked hard and performed well, I would be rewarded. In some cases, that was true, but I had ambitions to grow my career, become a people manager, and advance within an organization. I had an amazing manager/mentor who asked me one day: “What does Katie want?”
At first, I was taken aback – they wanted me to tell them what I wanted? I wasn’t prepared for that question at the time. Shortly after that conversation, I reflected and realized I needed to tell people what I wanted, then work hard to get it. It’s how I got my first people manager role and how I’ve been able to create a career pathway that I’m proud of.
Second, Mentorship comes in all shapes and sizes. Early on, I got really hung up on finding a mentor because other people said it helped them grow in their roles and careers. So, I wrote a note saying “get a mentor” and stuck it on my computer, like it was something on my to-do list. Guess what? That sticky note sat there for a LONG time. I realized I needed to figure out what I needed mentorship on – and that it might not be a single mentor I needed.
So, I made a list of things where I wanted to gain more skills and confidence – things like growing my network, skill development, career pathways, influencing others, and more. Then, I was ready to find a mentor who could support me in those areas. For me, it was a combination of two mentors who ended up covering all the areas I wanted to focus on based on the goals I had set for myself.
I’m happy to report that after about six months of staring at it, I was able to take that sticky note off my computer.
– Katie Jacques, Senior Manager, Product Management
AWN Communications Co-Chair
In my career, one of the best pieces of advice I received was: “There will be no smooth rides.” There are times we need to accelerate, and there are times when we need to hit the brakes. Both are equally important. Whatever the case, make the most of it.
– Rajitha Shenoy, Engineering Manager
AWN India Chapter Lead
Learn more about Autodesk Women’s Network here.