Blog > March 2021 > ASG Celebrates International Women’s Day with Women Leaders in Technology Coffee Talk

ASG Celebrates International Women’s Day with Women Leaders in Technology Coffee Talk

International Women’s Day felt different this year... Now on the other side of 2020, women have emerged stronger, more experienced and certainly more formidable than ever. This momentum was put on display at ASG’s Women Leaders in Technology (WLIT) Coffee Talk yesterday. Seeing the growth of the ASG WLIT program – expanding from 11 women gathering at our first one three years ago, to now hundreds of women and men from around the world meeting virtually every quarter – was not only motivating and inspiring – it was one of the highlights of my career.
WLIT Coffee Talks Session
Yesterday’s WLIT Coffee Talk featured two powerhouse panelists: Teddra Burgess, RVP of Sales at ASG, and Mary Michaud, Architect at Liberty Mutual. Both Teddra and Mary shared the stories behind their professional journeys and highlighted the people who supported them along the way. This theme – the power of a strong network – surfaced repeatedly throughout the Coffee Talk. From Mary’s guidance counselor, who saw her skills and encouraged her to study computer science, to Teddra’s mentor who relentlessly recruited her and helped her rise through the ranks – the mission “be a mentor, get a mentor” has never been more important.

The hour-long, interactive discussion kicked off with the group sharing what the idea “Generation Equality” meant to them. A quick online search and discussion with the group defined it as a generation that demands equal pay, equal participation in decision-making and several more ideals that make the world a better place to live and work. Every attendee, no matter their age, belongs to Generation Equality.

From there, WLIT attendees engaged Teddra and Mary in a thought-provoking Q&A. The stage was set, Teddra and Mary nimbly spoke from the heart and the chat function erupted with one message after another. If you weren’t able to attend this quarter’s WLIT Coffee Talk, I want to share some of the most poignant discussion points with you.

Finding Positivity in the Pandemic
Attendees discussed trying to be “better, not bitter” when the pandemic confronted them with personal, professional and social challenges. Mary highlighted how remote work and taking advantage of technology helped ensure every employee had a voice. When teams still met in person pre-pandemic, there was often a small handful of people dominating the conversation, which did not leave room for quieter folks to contribute. Remote work has leveled the playing field, helping everyone make their voices heard, especially women. Other highlights included improving empathy, achieving better work-life balance, having time with family and meeting colleagues from all over the world via video conferencing.

Building a Network for Success
Women should not be afraid to ask for mentorship, even if there is not a formal mentor program in place. As Teddra reminded attendees, it’s also important to create a network of support, beyond just one person as a mentor. She referenced Carla Harris’ Expect to Win, which recommends that professionals find a mentor, a sponsor and an adviser – each of which can further your career in unique ways. Beyond that, Teddra encouraged attendees to join professional networks, such as ASG’s Women Leaders in Technology community, to learn about best practices and how to overcome challenges.

Defining Leaders, Not Women Leaders
Leaders, not just women leaders, was an intentional distinction made throughout the Coffee Talk. What makes a good leader, regardless of gender? Our attendees focused on resilience, tenacity, communication, trustworthiness, sincerity and being a good listener. The women leaders on the panel even provided advice they wish they could have given themselves as young professionals:
  • When modelling yourself after other women leaders, emulate, don’t imitate
  • Be your authentic self – as Oscar Wilde wrote, “Be yourself, everyone else is already taken.”
  • You don’t need to be born with the skillset of a leader; your leadership emerges uniquely from your life experiences
  • You are responsible for your own development
  • Don’t be so hard on yourself
  • There is such thing as luck and timing, but you have to put in the work (just look at Tom Brady, a certified GOAT – “Greatest Of All Time”)
  • Do it afraid (rather than not at all)
There was no other way I’d rather have spent International Women’s Day than with the impressive professionals who joined yesterday’s Coffee Talk. Luckily, we don’t have to wait another year to congregate virtually again. Join ASG for our next WLIT Coffee Talk on June 8th, with Debra Christmas and Kelley Irwin, two technologies executives and authors of the book, Please STAY: How Women in Tech Survive and Thrive.” Register now and make sure to order your book ahead of time for the lively conversation.