I have always worked in male-dominated industries. After recognition in Who’s Who at Auburn and earning my BSEE, I thought my first job search would be a cinch… but I still remember an employer commenting “I guess we could use a girl around here.”
My first job was as an engineer in nuclear power, and I made several deliberate pivots in my career as I learned from my experiences. I am proud to say I am never afraid of change.
Pivot #1 came when I realized my people skills were atrophying as I sat in the control room at 3am. I supervised senior electricians as they installed fuses so the labels could be read when opening the panel. As much as I enjoyed solving problems, I needed a change.
I packed up my life and accepted a job in distribution sales. The employer specifically seeking a female engineer to sell semiconductors should have been a red flag, but I didn’t care at the time. I wanted a life outside of work, and a job that would allow me to mature my people skills, which it did. I eventually moved into solutions sales where I led my team to President’s Club.
Pivot #2 came when I saw that my customers had quality problems after a sale. I accepted jobs in IT Service Delivery where I balanced customer advocacy with revenue goals to create win-win partnerships. I mastered IT Operations before moving into higher level IT leadership roles.
Pivot #3 was to information security where I combine the engineer who understands how things work with the salesperson and customer advocate and wealth of in-the-trenches IT operational experience in security best practices.
I’ve seen how exceptional leaders achieve success by inspiring employees. I didn't have many mentors guiding my career, and I want to ensure others don't face the same challenges that I did alone. Although you can’t always control how others treat you, you control how you react to challenges. My advice is to rise above it all, pay it forward and show them your best every day.