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Women in tech: How to prepare yourself for a more senior role

Successful female leaders meeting with colleagues, women in tech

ARTICLE SUMMARY

Kamakshi Narayan, Director of Product Management at SnapLogic, discusses strategies for women to advance in the tech industry despite gender disparities. She emphasizes seizing opportunities beyond job roles, becoming mentors, and challenging traditional career paths. Kams shares personal experiences to inspire and empower women in tech.

Kamakshi (Kams) Narayan is Director of Product Management at SnapLogic.

As a functional expert in product management and product marketing, with a strong focus and attention to user experience and business needs, she is a true cross breed between technical expertise and product/consumer awareness.

Her special strength areas include managing and guiding cross-functional (international) teams to accomplish mutual goals and she has an established track record in building strong relationships with internal and external vendors and partners.

According to The World Bank, at the current rate of change it will take 131 years for the global economic gender gap to be closed.

In the technology industry, women make up on average less than a quarter of leadership roles around the world, marking it as one of the worst industries for gender diversity surveyed by the WEF.

But there are ways to be a force for change, both at an individual level in your own career, and at a senior level within an organisation. 

In your career – keep an eye out for opportunity

In my own career, one way that I have prepared myself for a move forward is by stepping outside my day-to-day tasks and taking on more responsibilities in areas where I can provide value. Part of this is about showing an interest in learning, and demonstrating initiative in areas that are not necessarily my specialty. I also look for areas where I could lend some of my skill sets and experience to help my fellow team members or adjacent teams. This not only helps my own growth and development, but helps bring in ideas and insights from outside the group.

Before I joined SnapLogic, I used to work for a FinTech company as a product manager. Some of the things I did involved interfacing with a lot of other teams, so there were a lot of good opportunities to collaborate with other areas within the company. For instance, within the company there were legal, accounting, settlement, and fraud teams/groups just to name a few, so I started looking at some of the things that they were doing and I saw a connection between the product that I was working on andthe tools and solutions they were building.

I began to think about how we could look at integrating and connecting some of the systems that the other groups have, so I put together a proposal, pitched it to senior management and it grew into a product I could work, build and own. So from the product manager title that I had, I became a group product manager.

To do this effectively though, you also have to build a relationship with someone in management who has seen your work and is able to vouch for you and say – “yes, I know her, and she can do it”. They then become your champions to get buy-in from others.

Be a mentor for the next generation

Now that I am in a leadership position myself, I look at like-minded curious individuals who like to learn about the things I’m doing and invite them to have a conversation with me and or work on my team.

This helps me to understand what this person is capable of, then I can be their sponsor and promote their capabilities to others in management. I’ve been doing this for a few junior female programmers, and I’m also part of Girls in Tech, which offers a lot of mentorship opportunities.

I always wish I had more mentorship support when I was early on in my career and as such, this is something that I feel really passionate about. When I first started, I didn’t have a technical degree, so I had to build experience and credibility myself, along with demonstrating value with those above to vouch for me. Back in the day, it was like ‘checkbox, do you qualify?’ If you had no science degree, then you were out of luck. So that was a hard thing to overcome. But now, if you work hard and build experience and relationships then it begins to matter less and less about your degree.

Don’t be defined by a job description

My advice to women looking to take strides in their company today would be to get involved in opportunities around the business that excite you. Don’t let teams and job specifications limit you from getting stuck in with all parts of the business. Spot a more efficient way of using a marketing tool? Let the marketing team know. Had an idea about finance data integration? Raise it with the accounting managers. Ultimately, in our environment, we have to show spirit and demonstrate our value across business verticals and if needed, create our own opportunities to shine. At the same time, senior leaders (regardless of their gender) need to mentor and champion junior women, actively rewarding talent and ambition.

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