I had the great opportunity to participate in a panel with other Women in SharePoint, as part of a career building seminar hosted by Women in SharePoint in DC and FEDSPUG on March 1. Rima Reyes did a fantastic job organizing the panel, and I was thrilled to be able to finally connect with some great colleagues in this business that is Microsoft SharePoint.
I was incredibly honored to sit alongside my fellow panelists, including Michelle Strah, Janis Hall, and Tasha Scott, and hear what all they had to say about getting their starts in SharePoint as well as the challenges they’ve faced along the way.
Rima came up with some great questions to get us all talking:
· Why did we choose IT?
· What inspired us to be more active in the community?
· What is our role in the SharePoint community?
· What challenges do we face in IT today?
· What advice would we give others who are just starting out in the business?
Hands down it was agreed that SharePoint is an incredibly unique community. Why? Both business and IT have invested in SharePoint, and consequently it has many more touch points than many other software solutions that might typically just ‘live’ in the IT world. This, in turn, leads to the diversity (read: higher percentage of women) found in the community. It’s this fantastic community of people that has driven me, and all of us, to become that much more active.
Our Vice President of Global Marketing, Heather Newman, gave our marketing department a book at this past year’s AvePoint Global Marketing Summit: Paul Arden’s book It’s Not How Good You Are, It’s How Good You Want To Be. Page 30 tells us, “Give everything away you know, and more will come back to you.” This tells us that we, as people that participate in various communities and businesses, must give away ideas and knowledge freely so that we can make room for more to fill our minds. This principle seems to be imbedded in the philosophy of the SharePoint community, even though I would guess that many, if not most, participants have never read this book. At any time of day, there are dozens upon dozens of SharePointers on Twitter, Facebook, or other social sites that seem to offer help and answers to questions at the drop of a hat – no questions asked. So many people blog – whether to share best practices, insights, lessons learned, and help people on a daily basis – that I can only be encouraged to keep participating. Plus, there’s this thing called SharePint, which those of you in the community might have heard of by now.
So to bring this full circle, and in my drive to share the knowledge and experience I’ve accumulated in the last several years, here are my answers to Rima’s aforementioned questions:
· IT was (and is) appealing to me because the nature of technology is that it changes, and quickly. It’s never boring, there’s always something new to learn, and it keeps me on my toes!
· The community by nature fosters growth among its community members. The people in this community encouraged me to be more active, and are constant reminders of how much more there is to learn. My fantastic colleagues at AvePoint have been equally if not more encouraging along the way. Ultimately, participating in this community helps me do my job better. And what’s not to love about that?
· Questions about why SharePoint, as an IT community, has more women as compared to other companies really made pause. As an engineering school graduate, I tend to not really notice any more when I’m one of five women in the proverbial room of 50. I think that generally speaking, women have been encouraged to dive head-first into many fields and industries that were historically dominated by men. And the reverse is true as well. I think the increasing number of women is more representative of the fact that times, they are a changin’. Then again, some great points were brought up by my fellow panelists: That the people who are highly invested in SharePoint aren’t just pure IT staff anymore and that there are roles that are more often filled by women, whether corporate librarians, knowledge managers, or others.
· Advice to the past me, and to those just starting out: This was a fun one. I settled on something like ‘Ask for help, and take help when it’s offered.’ For those of you who don’t know me personally, I’m highly competitive and even more stubborn. I’ve tended, historically, to want to do things on my own and be in complete control. Asking for help meant that I couldn’t do it all on my own, and I was dead set against admitting that to anyone. But as years have gone by, I’ve begun to learn to accept this help and even ask for it on occasion. Because if I can learn faster, or do my job better, I can move on to the next challenge. And then I have more to give back and to share with others. And we all win.
Do you have any other thoughts on Women in SharePoint or our community at large? Share them here!