Last updated at Thu, 24 Mar 2022 16:28:13 GMT

During Women’s History Month, we invited some of our team members to share their best advice for other women in technology, celebrate their strengths, and reflect on how they’ve challenged convention within their roles and built their networks.

What is the best advice that someone has given you in your career?

Nino Nardize, Director, Technical Customer Success: One piece of advice that resonated with me early on was that you have to be comfortable making decisions with only 80% of the information available. That stuck with me because I think, as women, sometimes we feel we need to have all of the information, be 100% qualified for a role, or be able to achieve perfection. In reality, things don’t always work out that way. I’ve found it’s important to ask ourselves, “Have we done our best to gather the right information in relation to this decision?” Even if that means we still have things outstanding, that’s OK. We have to be comfortable with taking risks and feeling good about moving forward with what we have in front of us.

Jane Man, Director, Product Management - VRM: The most important advice I got early on was to be open and always look for opportunities to grow. If you are at a point in your career where you think to yourself, “I’ve got this,” and you know exactly what you are doing every day, you probably aren’t being challenged enough. This perspective has always pushed me to look for areas where I don’t feel comfortable and to seek out areas to grow my career — and myself as a person.

Jessica Rennie, Account Executive, Large: As a sales executive, the best advice I received was that buying is emotional, and people buy products most often from people they trust and have a relationship with. I’ve found firsthand that once you establish that rapport, people will want to engage with you and either communicate what they need in order to move forward or — just as valuable — tell you why they aren’t moving forward or why something isn’t actually working. When you have that open dialogue, you can really be a better partner to them, versus trying to sell them something they aren’t bought into.

Noreen Camelo, VP Enterprise Applications: One piece of advice I heard was to be brave, be brilliant, but be brief. I think this is important because sometimes we can get caught up in explaining our ideas or spend too much time setting the stage. As you progress in your career and are working with executives, it’s important that your key message comes across very clearly, as everyone is pressed for time. Be brave and speak up when you see opportunities, be brilliant and always keep challenging convention, but be brief and make sure to get your thoughts across in a succinct way.

Sarah Sidford, Manager, Commercial Sales: In life, and especially for women, it sometimes can feel like you’re trying to juggle a bunch of different balls in the air. You have your career as one ball, your travel plans as another, your family as another, your social life, and so on. It’s important to remember that most of those balls are rubber, if you drop them, they will bounce right back and be OK. But family and health are two that are glass — and you can never, ever drop them. Keeping perspective about what’s really important with a focus on family and health being most important can help you prioritize and know when you need to let go of another one of those rubber balls.

Paola Chadwell, VP, Customer Success Management: Always advocate for yourself — especially when negotiating your salary. I think, as women, we hesitate to ask for more because we’re afraid we will lose the offer that’s already on the table. In reality, the worst someone can say is no, or maybe they don’t go as high as you ask but are able to meet you in the middle somewhere. I’ve negotiated every salary throughout my career, and I think it’s helped me to own my voice and advocate for my worth.

Turning that around, what advice would you give to women who are early in their career and looking to challenge convention?

Jane Man: I would say to be confident in your own voice. At the end of the day, the goal is to create a better solution and work more effectively, and that means that when you have something to add, it’s your responsibility to speak up and you shouldn’t be afraid to do that — because it makes all of us better and stronger.

Paola Chadwell: When I was younger, I moved around a lot. The process of putting myself out there and making friends throughout childhood has translated into my ability to build strong relationships in my career. I’m in customer success, so I have to not only build strong relationships with our customers, but I also be able to have internal and cross-functional relationships so that I can be a better advocate for our customer needs and deliver the right solutions for their needs.

Nino Nardize: In the workplace, there are a number of different ways that each individual can contribute at a given time. Whether it’s in meetings or through a one-to-one conversation, each person’s ability to influence others can be a little bit different. Find where you are most comfortable and can create impact in a meaningful way and lean into that — don’t fight it to be something you are not.

How are you challenging convention in your role at Rapid7?

Sarah Sidford: I think one way that I challenge convention is that I am very vocal about the need to hire more women in sales. There are still so many double standards for women in sales — we might describe a male as being assertive and have a positive association with that behavior, but when a woman is assertive, we’re quick to judge her as being pushy. The more we can prioritize diversifying our teams, the more we can start to challenge these stereotypes. I think a lot of times, people hire people who remind them of themselves — so if we have more men in leadership positions doing the hiring, how does it hurt those efforts if they are carrying that internal bias? I’m working closely with our talent acquisition team to really change the traditional landscape of sales and prioritize bringing a more balanced workforce into the field.

Jessica Rennie: I’m someone who is really open-minded and willing to try new things. One example is that when I joined the company, I saw an opportunity and went out on a limb to create a new program. At first, it can be challenging to get something like this that is new up and running, but we were able to create this network of give and get with our prospects that has ultimately benefited our business and our sales organization. It was great to be able to formulate a vision and strategy and be supported along the way by my manager and peers.

Nino Nardize: I challenge convention by encouraging different perspectives. Diversity of thought and experiences is a crucial component to any team. I can only be one voice, and my voice is reflective of my own personal journey. Whenever we are having a crucial conversation, we need to have the representation of multiple perspectives in order to make educated decisions. Asking ourselves, “What else are we missing? Are there too many voices from one business group and not enough from another?” can lead to a better decision and product in the end.

What strengths do you believe your identity and personal experiences bring to your role?

Jane Man: I come from an immigrant family. My parents immigrated from the big city of Hong Kong to the tiny island nation of New Zealand. Through my experiences, I’ve become interested in what makes people think a certain way, and I often find myself asking questions that dig into what we are doing and the purpose or “why'' behind it. That natural curiosity is something that comes from being part of that small island community.

Jessica Rennie: I didn’t come from a cybersecurity background prior to Rapid7, but I was in the startup world. Some of the places I worked earlier in my career were so new that on some days the heat didn’t even work or the lights wouldn’t turn on — so I experienced the early growth grind that happens in the technology world where you have this pressure to prove yourself and everyone’s work has such a direct impact on the company. I developed almost this chip on my shoulder where I really want to push myself and always have that grit and determination. Doing it at Rapid7, where we are so established and have not only a great team and product but great amenities and support systems, really just puts it on a whole new level.

Noreen Camelo: I bring a lot of optimism to my team, and I think some of that comes from my past roles and being able to put things into perspective. Earlier in my career I worked in Oncology, so there was a lot of pressure around our decisions because of the impact it had on patients’ lives. When we feel stressed out or a task seems too big for us to tackle, I try to help my team keep things in perspective so they can prioritize, while encouraging them to find creative solutions. I really do believe that there is no challenge we cannot solve as long as we are willing to take the right amount of time and work together.

It’s often said that an important part of being successful is building a supportive network around you. How have you built your own personal network, and how has it helped you be successful?

Paola Chadwell: I think, first off, women sometimes have a tendency to look at other women as competition rather than allies. That’s not a mindset I ever want to have or that I want to encourage people to challenge, because we all have so much to add and to contribute to one another. I’ve been so lucky to have been surrounded by such strong and powerful women at Rapid7 and at previous companies. I’ve been monitored by them and have also been able to be a mentor to them at times. The beautiful thing about building a network and having a mentor is that it becomes a two-way street. We have so much to learn from one another and can really help each other grow.

Noreen Camelo: I’ve built my network through the different roles and companies I’ve been at. It’s been a proactive experience of reaching out and staying in touch, and the result is a diverse network of people to lean on where we can all give guidance to each other at different points. What I’ve experienced is that your network is a huge part of advancing your career, as well as rounding you out as the leader you are.

Sarah Sidford: I’m grateful to have been able to create such a great network of women around  me. In sales, it’s important to have relationships where you can be honest about what you’re going through and can talk about when you are having a hard day or when things are also going well. As women, we don’t want to share our struggles and appear weak, but then at the same time, you don’t want to celebrate or you will be seen as braggadocious — so you need to have a safe space to share that vulnerability and the highs and the lows, especially when it’s people who have also been through it and who can share their experiences with you, too. Whether it’s asking about what to wear to a client onsite or working through a unique challenge with a customer, having that safe space can help you feel so much more prepared and empowered. As a leader, that’s the kind of space I want to create with my team.

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