Be a leader. Be an innovator. Be a key player. Say that you are. Convince people that you are.
How much has risk-taking contributed to your career development?
I’m generally fairly risk averse but realize that risks are required in order to get anywhere. In data protection regulation, there is a smallish field of experts, although it is growing in employment potential and a lot more people are getting interested in the subject. Until recently, this field of work often results in having to know when to make moves to another opportunity and when one’s shelf life has expired in a company. It’s all about connections and staying on the cutting edge of this very new area of regulation (relatively speaking) so that people remember you. So, I have taken risks by writing and putting my thoughts out there for criticism and discussion, in the hopes that nobody thinks what I’ve researched and written about is silly or wrong. I have also moved companies more often than most employees would not necessarily for bigger paychecks or to evade responsibility for the programs I built, but to continue learning and growing in various areas where data protection regulations affect a business. It requires an awful lot of risk-taking to do this as there is no guarantee the management will see my brand of regulatory strategy and program building the same way, and I may not make it past that probation period. Luckily it has paid off and I have only had good experiences from taking risks… so far!!
Can you give an example of a risk you’ve taken that has paid dividend?
I moved to Dubai without a job, totally reliant for the first time on my CV to speak for itself in a new region that was very different from the Western ones I was forged in. The result has been well worth the risk as have learned a huge amount about doing business in the Middle East and have even managed to find application of my compliance and data protection background here in not one but two organizations. And it’s not done… the sky is still the limit!
What can be done to ensure a woman being assertive in the workplace doesn’t negatively impact on colleagues’ perceptions of her?
It’s very tricky still for women to not be seen as bossy or too aggressive, assertive, etc. where a man might appear to be given much more leeway and instead be seen as a leader, an innovator, a strategic key player. Honestly, I believe that repetition is key – use those much more positive words when you talk about what you are doing or about yourself and believe in them. Be a leader. Be an innovator. Be a key player. Say that you are. Convince people that you are. One thing we do need to remind ourselves as women is that business has come a long way and there are a fair few men that still have to do these things as well. In fact, this is how men appear to have done it for ages – women need to watch and learn as much as anybody does, then do what anybody should to be viewed in the way they wish – learn it and live it!