Reaching the Top: Know What’s Right for You

Another successful panel with Women Powering Technology! Tuesday was a fantastic networking evening with over 40 people in attendance. All three of our very accomplished panelists; Nilufer Erdebil, Suzanne Grant, and Chantal Hemens, had valuable insight and interesting stories to share.

When asked what she wished someone had told her when she was starting out, Suzanne’s response was to not always take people’s advice. A common message driven home by all the panelists was “to know what is right for you”. All three women felt that throughout their careers they had been told what they should or couldn’t do but that it was when they followed their own path that they felt happiest with the result.

The women were also asked about failures or decisions along the way that were pivotal. The resounding response was that failures or points of change are times to reflect. Suzanne noted, however, that reflection is equally important during the high points in our careers. It is easy to forget to think about where we are going and what we want when things are going well. Chantal mentioned more than once the value of choosing to do things that have scared her in her career. She suggested that we are all more capable than we give ourselves credit for. In her career, setting five year goals, asking herself where she wants to be personally at retirement age, and changing careers for the sake of change have pushed her to be successful and to keep growing. When talking about goals, Suzanne focused on moving in a strategic direction while Nilufer emphasized the importance of balancing both short term and long term goals. She talked about intentionally working regularly on defined things that move you towards your goals.

On the overarching topic of getting more young women into STEM careers, the panel agreed that strong role models are an important and a lacking first step. Chantal talked about showing students all the options as kids don’t always know the career paths that programs offer. Suzanne commented that men equally need to be supported in their decisions to be stay at home parents. A cultural shift in expectations of men will open the door for a shift in women’s roles as well.

Thank you to all who attended for another stimulating evening!

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