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WIICTA Alumni 2016: Where are they now?

WIICTA Alumni 2016: Where are they now?

WIICTA Awards finalists and winners came together with ARN staff to celebrate and support the progression of their ICT careers in a mentoring panel

Amy Christopher (Symantec) Dawn Edmonds (rhipe) Rhody Burton (IBM) and Vanessa Sulikowski (Cisco)

Amy Christopher (Symantec) Dawn Edmonds (rhipe) Rhody Burton (IBM) and Vanessa Sulikowski (Cisco)

The WIICTA Alumni 2016 breakfast, held at the Establishment in Sydney, brought together WIICTA award winners and finalists to facilitate a mentoring-style program to support women working in the technology sector.

Telstra head of enterprise and mid-market, Sara Adams, spoke about how having a development plan has proven to be a strong insight into her career progression.

“I realised it was my responsibility, I shouldn’t be blaming the business. I began to write a detailed development plan and as part of it, told myself in six months I was going to be a Grade 12 manager,” she said.

“In a four year period, going from a Grade 12 manager to senior director within the business, I would put a lot of that down to my own responsibility of driving a development plan and doing the things I knew I needed to do to showcase. I came up with a list, I did it, it works,” she continued.

Adams said a key turning point for her career success, was communication. She added, “I would normally shy away from a salary discussion, but you really need to communicate to people what you want.”

Fujitsu marketing and alliances lead, Sue Armstrong was also a key speaker and the focus of her discussion was that, “We need to throw away our sorry skirts.”

She talked about the importance of gender diversity in the ICT sector and spoke of her experience as being the only girl working in the Datacentre before progressing to management.

“We all know that there is only 27 per cent of women working in ICT. We need to fix this and question why this is. The reality is that we will always be in the minority for years to come, but we need to look at how can we help girls go through ICT courses and support them,” she said.

“So how do we fix the mix? I’m keen to make sure we position ICT to young children as they grow up through preschool, early education right the way through to career advisors that we make it a world acceptable for girls and boys,” Armstrong continued.

WIICTA 2012 winners, as panellists, shared the qualities that have been anchors throughout their personal development and career progression.

Symantec senior manager of enterprise marketing, Amy Christopher, said balance has been a key driver behind her career development.

“Every year I have always written goals across eight different categories. The categories for me help me to ensure I have balance across my life. If I ever feel uncomfortable about something, I can look back across these to see why and often its because I have too many eggs in one basket.”

Christopher added that authenticity has lead to her progression. She said, “It is about knowing who you are and what you like doing that drives you. Our careers are way too long and our industry is way too small to fake it. Moving forward for me, my compass has always been driven by value and experience rather than title or status. It is about being mindful; looking ahead but enjoying what you're doing everyday.”

Rhipe co-founding director and chief operating officer, Dawn Edmonds, spoke about how she has learnt to say no.

She said, “It is working out what you don’t want to do, and what your passion is not, so you can then discover the things you are good at.”

For IBM director of global business partners A/NZ, Rhody Burton, communication, team connectedness and transparency is key.

“You have to be open and communicative within teams. Making sure the team feels connected and being open with each other about what the challenges are. I try to be very visible not only to my team but also to myself.”

Burton also discussed the importance of talking about achievements.

Cisco distinguished systems engineer, Vanessa Sulikowski, agreed with Rhody and said it is critical to believe in yourself.

“I wanted to stay an engineer and all roads led to this, the highest level you can get and I realised, I can do this. It was a five year journey, but it was because I believed and it was about transparency. I put up my hand and said I know its a 95 per cent failure rate and I know I might not get there, but I want to try anyway,” she continued.


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Tags datacentreIBMAmy ChristopherA/NZSara AdamsWIICTARhipeTelstraVanessa SulikowskiRhody BurtonSue ArmstrongDawn Edmonds

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