Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Climbing

I've spent a lot of time in the past year thinking about my future and also trying not to think about my future. I find myself getting caught up in dreams of being a global manager, working in Switzerland, and my patience just flies out the window. I've worked for 1 company since the start of my engineering career and all my dreams have this company in them. Would someone please capitalize on this?

If I spend 3+ years in every job I have, it will take me approximately 30 years to get my dream position, which is about right considering the average age of past CEOs of ABB is around 50.

Climbing the corporate ladder often has a negative connotation, but that is very much how I want to spend my career, per say. It makes me work harder and more efficient and gives me something to look forward to. I would not do well in a dead-end job.

The biggest feat I have to master is the politics of the ladder. My marketing skills aren't the best, so it gives me something to work on, at minimum. At least I began learning at an early stage.

Forbes wrote an artice, "16 Ways to Fast-Track Your Way up the Corporate Ladder", and I think it offered some great advice. I added my own opinions below each..

1. Make a Plan
A timeline. What you want, when you want it. 
2. Get an Education
And don't stop! I have an education but I'm continuously searching for more courses to advance my skills.
3. Network
If people mention someone you don't know, simply ask to meet them. Facial recognition is huge. Show up to events. I was once asked by the North American President for my division (at a baseball outing) what the biggest problem facing production. Within 6 months, we got approval to invest in my suggestion. 
4. Work Hard
Because there is likely someone working harder that will get recognized easier
5. Dream Beyond the Job Description
Don't over-step your boundaries, but get noticed. My title is "Industrial Engineer", but I am often introduced as "Senior" IE or Project Manager. If people assume that's what I do, it must mean I'm qualified.
6. Develop an "I will do whatever it takes to get the job done" attitude
Don't make excuses and NEVER say "that's not my job".
7. Become a Resource
Find ways to make your job easier and teach other people those tools. 
8. Dress for Success
People take you more serious if you're wearing a blouse instead of a polo in an unexpected important meeting. I wouldn't recommend a drastic change, but doing one thing at a time gives people time to adjust to your new behavior and longer term, gives you a better image.
9. Get to know your Company and your Boss
Align your goals with each.
10. Keep an Ongoing Success File
Keyword: ONGOING
11. Be a Team Player
Gives you a large advantage when you can get along with coworkers
12. Be Keenly Aware of Broader Company Goals
It helps you relate them to daily goals and makes the company goals easier to obtain. Maybe someone will recognize.
13. Think and Act a Level Above
Ask higher, next-level questions.
14. Be an Initiator Not Just an Executor
Have information ready before it is asked of you and don't be afraid to make suggestions.
15. Consider Yourself a Free Agent
Having options proves you're worth something.
16. Express Appreciation
Never assume.

I am not all-knowing about this stuff and clearly have a long way to go, but these pieces of advice have helped me get where I am. Hopefully they're preparing me for the next step also.

Friday, June 13, 2014

14%

In 2013, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of women in an engineering occupation was 14 percent.

Other low female to male ratio jobs included: construction occupations - 3%, engineering managers - 10%, cost estimators - 11%, maintenance related occupations - 4%, and there were a handful more. Even clergy came in with a higher female ratio than engineering at a whopping 16%.

Anyways, there is certainly a stamina amongst women in positions similar to mine. I often get into conversations with other women about entering male-dominated jobs or activities. I recently had a female friend talk about her experiences working in a male-dominated field and her shock about the difficulty doing so. I'm not sure I can explain it since even when we talk about it, we say, "....since I work with mostly men....well you know what I mean....".

When you work with a lot of men, you get a certain......tough skin, understanding, tolerance, perspective.

I remember going to an admission fair the year before I started college and being told the female to male ratio at MSOE was about 1:5. Everyone seemed worried for me, but I was excited. Out of the 4 years I was in school, I think I run out of fingers counting how many classes where I was the only female. It was an extremely rare occurrence to have more than one woman in the elevator at a time, so much so to the point of people pointing it out when it happened. Where professors would have to correct themselves "......okay guys, turn to the next page......oh and lady..." I worked in the bookstore for a couple years and more than once had an older male alumni come in and say; "Do girls go here now? When I went here, it was all male."

Anyways, it didn't take too long for me to realize I had two options; 1- let the dominance discourage me or 2- take advantage of it. Apart from my intelligence being questioned every step of the way because of my chromosomes, being part of the minority had it's benefits. I got doors held for me daily (which after a year became quite the annoyance) and because many people seemed to have low expectations for me, it was easier to prove them wrong or get help when needed.

I suppose I could write a book about my experiences at college, especially correlated with being a female, but I am now out of college and still face many of the same battles.

The blank stares and jaw dropping expressions I receive when I tell new acquaintances I'm an engineer would astound you. It both annoys me and gives me pride. I've been commended as well as what would probably be considered verbally assaulted. I have learned a lot about responding to all of these reactions.

I'm not sure what the point of my story is here. If going through what I have/am was easy, every woman would do it, however, if I can do it, I believe so can a lot of other women.

As Geraldine Doyle showed the world, We Can Do It! :-D