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Taking the leap into leadership as a woman in tech

Woman in technology leadership role

ARTICLE SUMMARY

Despite several of the world's largest tech companies making efforts to hire more women to leadership positions, the industry’s gender and diversity gap continues to persist.

According to CNET, only 14.3% of board seats at tech companies are held by women.

Perceptions can be deceiving. You might be thinking women are gearing up for leadership roles and becoming more vocal; however, predictions suggest that the 30% tipping point will not be reached until 2029 in spite of growing advocacy in recent years. Looking at the numbers, it shouldn’t come as a surprise when women say they feel like outsiders in the expansive world of tech.

All the while we know that women leaders are crucial to the future of business. Research has shown us that women in the C-suite make companies more likely to challenge the status quo, develop strong knowledge-building strategies, and create more customer-centric teams. Not to mention a correlation in increased profitability.

Jasmin Guthmann, Head of Corporate Communications, Contentstack; and Vice President and Executive Board Member, The MACH Alliance

 In this piece, Jasmin Guthmann, Head of Corporate Communications, Contentstack; and Vice President and Executive Board Member, The MACH Alliance, takes a look at the role of women in leadership and how to take the leap as a woman in tech.

Jasmin currently serves as the Head of Corporate Communications at Contentstack. With more than 10 years of experience, Jasmin and her team elevate the business and help usher in a new era of content management. She also currently serves as the Vice President and Executive Board Member of the MACH Alliance, empowering brands to adopt best-of-breed enterprise technology ecosystems that provide never-before-seen business benefits. She is a fierce advocate of Women in MACH, constantly pushing for diversity, equity and inclusion in the tech industry. Additionally, she is the host of a new Contentstack thought leadership podcastPeople Changing Enterprises.

Jasmin is a marketing trailblazer on a mission to translate complex technology into compelling stories and amplify Contentstack’s reputation as the leading Content Experience Platform (CXP) platform. She currently serves as the Head of Corporate Communications at Contentstack. With more than 10 years of experience, Jasmin and her team elevate the business and help usher in a new era of content management.  

She currently serves as the Vice President and Executive Board Member of the MACH Alliance, empowering brands to adopt best-of-breed enterprise technology ecosystems that provide never-before-seen business benefits. She is a fierce advocate of Women in MACH, constantly pushing the envelope on DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion) in the tech industry. Additionally, she is the host of a new Contentstack thought leadership podcastPeople Changing Enterprises, where she interviews people who have transformed big businesses from the inside to share their secrets for success.

Before Contenstack, Jasmin held multiple executive positions at Valtech and served as a marketing leader at BlackRock

CURRENTLY, I AM THE VICE PRESIDENT AND EXECUTIVE BOARD MEMBER OF THE MACH ALLIANCE AND CONTENTSTACK’S HEAD OF CORPORATE COMMUNICATIONS.

At Contentstack, I translate complex technology into compelling stories that relate to the world. Starting as a manager with a team of one, I now lead the communications department with a global team distributed across the U.S., Europe, and India. I strongly believe in debunking the notion that you have to come from a hardline technology background in order to succeed in this industry. 

Stepping into a leadership role, regardless of the gender you identify with, starts with understanding who you are as a person and who you want to be as a leader. Know your values and stick to your instincts. Throughout my career, I’ve learnt a wealth of valuable lessons which have undoubtedly shaped my position as a leader and as a woman in tech.

PEOPLE & PROCESSES ARE KEY

Leaders can typically be placed into one of two categories – “People Leaders”, who tend to focus on empowerment, motivation and recognition, or “Process Leaders”, who are known for simplifying complexity. Leaders typically have a bias towards one or the other, but there is excellence to be found in striking balance between the two. A great leader understands the importance of mentoring (people) whilst helping them to understand where their contributions fit into the bigger company picture (process).

Remember that each employee is different and motivated differently. Managers need to be able to negotiate between company goals and individual goals, ideally finding the middle ground for both – from crafting repeatable frameworks for company initiatives to helping people get 1% better every day.

OWN YOUR VOICE

Leadership is a culmination of trusting your ideas, skills, and experience to create a vision for your team that is in line with the overall vision of the company. When you’re managing more than one person, you need to be confident in your abilities and operate with your employees’ best interests at heart. Your values will define your company’s culture, so it’s important for you to define what you want to stand for and carry it throughout the chain of command. You need to create a joint sense of purpose for the group, for them to feel like they are a part of something bigger and contributing to a higher cause in order to enable everyone to be their best.

CREATE A CULTURE OF EMPOWERMENT

Stepping into a leadership role is just as much about shaping future leaders as it is leading a team. It’s easy to want things to stay the same once you’ve found a team rhythm that works, but neither your team nor your company will grow if one person is the designated collector of knowledge. Make the transfer of knowledge a priority and build a culture of empowerment where people have the opportunity to step up to the next level if they want to. At the same time, acknowledge those who are “rock stars” – people who are perfectly happy where they are and thoroughly enjoying the work they do every day. You need both for the team as a whole to be successful, and they need you as a leader to create that safe space where they can chase their dreams.

ENGAGE WITH A COMMUNITY OF CHANGEMAKERS

Your network will inevitably shape your leadership style in more ways than you imagine. Strive to build a community of fellow professionals from all walks of industries, and don’t hesitate to ask for advice and share your challenges.

At the MACH Alliance, for example, we have just started the Women in MACH movement, an opportunity for women in tech to come together, speak their minds and find the support they sometimes have trouble finding in their own companies. When we come together to be better, with open minds and open hearts, we can do amazing things. Every woman should have an opportunity to have a seat at the table if she so chooses. We ask every woman who is invited to speak at a tech event to ask to bring a plus one. We can all make a difference with seemingly small steps. We have also put out a Women in MACH Manifesto for companies to sign. By sharing it with your leadership, you can help make the steps to advance the topic in your company. If you need help broaching the concept, do get in touch, and we will be more than happy to help: [email protected].

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