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International Women’s Day 2021: meet the female leaders at Carimus

March 8, 2021

International Women’s Day, which was first established in Denmark in 1911, is a global celebration commemorating the achievements of women now and through history. Celebrated on March 8 every year, we want to highlight and celebrate our women in leadership here at Carimus.

In this blog post, we asked our female leaders about their experience in leadership and what challenges they’ve faced along the way. They also give some advice for the future generation of women in leadership.

Sarah Deasy, Director of Delivery and Engagement

 

What has your experience been like as a female leader at Carimus? 

 

I’ve been given as much responsibility as I have been willing to be accountable for. I’ve not been blocked from naturally moving into leadership areas and I’ve been officially promoted into structural positions of leadership as it has made sense for me professionally and as appropriate for the business, our team structure, and our culture.

 

What do you think are the main challenges facing women who wish to pursue roles in leadership?

 

This is a big question. I will answer it anecdotally because while ‘women’ is a categorical group of people and lends itself to some shared experiences within that set of people, no two people experience this world in the same way and I want to honor those different experiences as much as we honor the shared ones.

My biggest challenge is me. I say this not because there are no external societal and situational challenges that face me or women at large, but I say this because I can only control my own perspective, my own boundaries, and my own actions.

Below is a list of ways I am actively working every day to get out of my own way. Spoiler alert: I have not mastered these in any way.

  1. Continuously investigate and evaluate what sparks my curiosity and makes me excited to work and lead and continuously evaluate what drains me. Then continuously create opportunities for myself to cull out the drainers and add more of the joy sparkers.
  2. Reinforce within myself and with those around me that experimentation yields progress. Either a hypothesis is correct and I learn that, or a hypothesis was incorrect and I learn that. Better than standing still and not learning anything. Be prepared and thoughtful but decisive. Analysis paralysis is real, and the hamster wheel drains creativity and momentum for you and those around you.
  3. I am on the ‘frontier’ of many things within the organization. I recognize I am on the ‘frontier’ when I feel ill-prepared for the challenge that lies in front of me. I am working to get very acquainted with that feeling and learn to recognize it as a neutral visitor stopping in to remind me that I am growing vs a scary monster there to disrupt me with self-doubt. I am working on acknowledging the visitor but not letting her slow me down.
  4. I am working on holding space and grace for myself and for the people around me. No one is perfect, no one is right all of the time, no one knows what the future holds, no one can operate at 100 and be perfectly reasonable and balanced all the time. I am working to assume people have good intentions but are having a bad day vs the alternative. I’m working on forgiving myself when I am the person having a bad day. No need to dwell on it.

 

What advice would you give to the next generation of female leaders?

 

Focus on your unique authentic way of leading vs trying to squeeze into anyone else’s style. You can take tidbits from others, but make sure it feels right and fits with your authentic self. You cannot be you and someone else at the same time. It is impossible, exhausting and it robs the world of what you can bring to the table.

Find other leaders (men and women) that you respect that are in your same leadership level and in more advanced leadership levels to sound-board with and observe their behaviors and methodologies. Having many inputs is inspiring and also helps you see how leadership takes many different forms so you can feel open to creating your own.

 

 

Hannah Fairchilds, Director of Business Development

 

What is your role here at Carimus, and what does it entail? 

 

As the Director of Business Development for Carimus, I am responsible for seeking out new opportunities for growth. Carimus has grown primarily through referrals, which speaks volumes to the team’s ability to provide an excellent customer experience. My goal is to expand the business through new client relationships by solving issues that Carimus is uniquely positioned to address.

 

What has your experience been like as a female leader at Carimus? 

 

Carimus employs smart and accountable people and I was pleasantly surprised to see so many talented women on the team, in technical, creative, and leadership roles. We value each other on our merits and not our tenure or title.

 

What do you think are the main challenges facing women who wish to pursue roles in leadership?

 

I love working with women because we just get things done. This can also be a challenge in that sometimes, we can be so busy getting things done that we are not looking ahead and planning for the future. Women need to continue to champion for themselves, talk openly about their career goals and desires, and be vocal about what they want to their team, their boss, their peers, and their network.

 

What advice would you give to the next generation of female leaders?

 

My advice is to absorb what is going on around you. Almost everyone has a boss or someone they are accountable to for results. What do you like about how you are treated? What do you despise? What do you wish was different? If you had a leadership role, how would you react and respond? Start putting yourself in the leadership seat now. The best way to get promoted is to do the job you want to achieve so start now. Put your leadership hat on and look at what is happening around you and visualize how you would handle the situation as a leader. Practice. Be a peer leader. When the time comes to interview for the role, you will have examples of what you did vs. what you think you would do.

 

Sarah Gray, Technical Operations Manager

 

What has your experience been like as a female leader at Carimus? 

 

Honestly, the same as a male leader. I don’t experience any different treatment here due to my gender.

What do you think are the main challenges facing women who wish to pursue roles in leadership?

Gendered notions, eg: Men are leaders; women shouldn’t be aggressive or motivated; women are suited to more nurturing positions, etc. Although sociologists and psychologists can find overall tendencies per gender, these concepts should not have any real bearing on what you, individually, want to and can do.

 

They also should have no bearing on how other people evaluate and assess you. When people apply general gendered concepts to individuals, it starts everything off on the wrong foot and wastes everyone’s time. Unfortunately, this happens frequently and a woman pursuing a role in leadership is going to find herself having to prove herself over and over. 

Self-doubt and personal limitations on perseverance. With so many extra hoops to jump through, it’s really tempting to throw your hands up and say ‘f this, i’m out’. It’s also common to doubt yourself; there’s a certain point where if you’ve been questioned on your leadership qualities X amount of times, you start to wonder if maybe you aren’t as good as you think you are. 

What advice would you give to the next generation of female leaders?

I don’t really have different advice for female leaders that doesn’t also apply to male leaders. For all leaders, I think the following is crucial:

  1. Know your strengths. What are you good at? What are you completely awesome at? If you are prone to self-doubt, write these things down so you can remind yourself. Be proud of your strengths and communicate them to others.
  2. Know your weaknesses. What are you not great at? What are you completely unsuited to or terrible at? No one is good at everything, so don’t worry about it; you should have weaknesses. Be honest about your weaknesses with yourself, and with others. 
  3. Know where your line is between ‘willing to learn’ and ‘uninterested in growing in this area.’ Competence in the workplace invites more and more responsibility. In real life, this means people are likely to start piling stuff on your plate, some of which you won’t have experience doing. If you are totally uninterested in learning a certain role or skillset, be transparent about that. Don’t be afraid to say ‘this is outside my role and I have no interest in adding it to my skills or responsibilities’. Otherwise, if you’re interested in learning and growing an area, make that known as well.
  4. Ignore other people’s gendered conceptions of how you should act like a woman, man, leader or *insert classification here.* If you’re unsure whether something is gendered or not, just ask yourself ‘would this be expected of me if I was the opposite gender?’ If the answer is ‘no’, ignore it.
  5. Recognize that you do not have to personally like your coworkers, but you do have to respect them.
  6. Own your mistakes. When you mess up (and you will), take responsibility and identify areas for growth. Mistakes are a waste of time only if you don’t learn something from them.

 

Kristen Katona, Software Engineering Manager

 

What is your role here at Carimus, and what does it entail? 

As the Software Engineer Manager for the Applications team, my work entails writing software for our various projects and customers as well as providing technical leadership for those projects. I also directly manage a team of developers and provide them with both technical and career guidance and support.

 

What has your experience been like as a female leader at Carimus?

 

Genuinely it’s been a positive experience. I am respected and trusted to lead my team, and I appreciate the confidence that has been placed in my abilities. It’s also a very rewarding experience knowing your team will come to you with any issues they are facing, and that you can do the same.

 

What do you think are the main challenges facing women who wish to pursue roles in leadership?

 

Self-doubt and a lack of confidence. Sometimes you might think you are not capable or qualified for a leadership role, when in fact you might actually even be overqualified.

 

What advice would you give to the next generation of female leaders?

 

Set ambitious goals for yourself, and work every day on getting a little closer to achieving them. Know who and what you are, don’t let anybody tell you who you are.

 

Hannah Johnson, Creative Producer Lead

 

What is your role here at Carimus, and what does it entail? 

 

My role at Carimus is Creative Producer Lead which involves the management of creative and web development projects from concept to completion as well as account management and client relations. I assist with production and capacity planning alongside the Creative Team Manager to ensure our projects are on track and the Creative team is set up for success.

 

What has your experience been like as a female leader at Carimus? 

 

Being a female leader at Carimus is rewarding and seamless in the fact that I feel trusted, empowered, challenged, and supported by everyone in our organization. In general, having other strong female leaders within the Carimus team helps guide me and encourage me to be and do better each and every day.

 

What do you think are the main challenges facing women who wish to pursue roles in leadership?

 

I think one of the main challenges for women who seek leadership positions is the lack of female leadership representation in the workforce across the board. While there are obviously female trailblazers in our society, I find it incredibly beneficial to have a female leader as a close mentor and guiding light.

 

What advice would you give to the next generation of female leaders?

 

My advice would be to believe in yourself, challenge yourself to push outside of your comfort zone, continue to grow your skillset, and look up to the women who have come before you. Find a strong female mentor and ask for advice when you need it. Lastly, don’t let anyone doubt your value or contributions to your position and organization as a whole.

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