I spent three days last week in a hotel shuffling from boardroom to ballroom and back again without daylight or fresh air. If you’ve been to a conference before, you know exactly what I’m talking about. Having spent approximately 18 hours a day in heels listening to keynote speakers, getting training on industry updates and killing it on the dance floor, I was done. I could barely see straight let alone think straight and my body ached from head to toe (still does!). BUT, it was fun! The late nights, catching up with friends old and new, in the end you realize that being a young professional in the tech industry isn’t really all that bad.
One of the highlights for me was when a woman spoke of her experience volunteering in rural India with the company’s charity. No script, notes, or glance at the monitor, her words were real. Stories of less than acceptable living conditions, little to no access to technology and girls and women accepting their fate of never having a professional career. It was a reality check: here I was at a table of successful, educated, beautiful people enjoying a glass of wine over a decent enough dinner on behalf of the job that I’m known to complain about every once in awhile (okay, a lot). But do I really have it that bad? Working in the tech industry has exposed me to so much more than I ever realized. Especially a sales job where I’m constantly challenged to keep up with what’s changing, what’s new, what’s different, all while trying to better understand my customer’s businesses and how they’re keeping up with change in order to adapt and evolve to stay relevant in their own respective markets. It’s hard to believe in my short six year career, I’ve gone from being (what I thought was) confident as a person to being confident as a professional. Two very different things if you ask me.
I have been fortunate to have been given an opportunity that accelerated my growth and learning personally and professionally. Even though we are only starting to skim the surface on equality, at least I have a seat at the table. I live in a country and community that provides women with opportunities to have an education, apply to work and grow their careers. So the next time I’m stuck in a boardroom, which is likely within the next 24 hours, and likely navigating a difficult conversation, I’m going to take a deep breath and remember that the world is my oyster and this is my playground.