Friday, October 20th, 2017

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Change Has Finally Come for Women in Corporate America

Why do some women have it all while others struggle with first one obstacle and then another?  Do you wonder what those women have that you don’t?  I am a Corporate America veteran and trailblazer. After graduating, with honors, awarded a bachelor’s degree in computer science, I started my career 28 years ago in the technology industry. During that time, Corporate America, and especially the field of technology, was a male-dominated world. 

In this article, I delve into areas of your mind to determine if you are ready within yourself to embark on this fulfilling journey called SUCCESS. How can you discover your hidden talents, strengths and capabilities; and what do you need to know in order to achieve career success and accomplish your goals?

There have been many historic women such as Helen Keller and Amelia Earhart that have accomplished tremendous achievements against the odds. And there have been female Nobel Peace Prize winners that have taken home this coveted award in spite of being up against their talented male counterparts. What characteristics did these women possess and how can you achieve similar results with your career goals?

"If you had to choose two of the most valuable traits that contributed to your success, what would they be?"  This question has been asked of me from young women that I’ve mentored as well as in countless interviews that I’ve conducted throughout my corporate life. There are many traits, behaviors, and beliefs that have played a monumental role in my career success, but the two that stand out most have been communication and planning. I select these two because they both are the cornerstone of my foundation. Without these two, it would be difficult to acquire and demonstrate other competencies are critical to success (and there are many). But communication and planning are at the foundation of each and every one. 

Without excellent planning skills, I would’ve had no idea where I wanted to go with my life or career. Planning skills are necessary before you begin your high school and college life, and also well into your career life. As you’ve probably heard many times, "if you fail to plan, you plan to fail." Every aspect of your life should have a plan.   

Communication is the next key requirement to establish a solid foundation for success. Regardless of how smart and skilled you may be with your plan, if you can’t effectively get your message out, then you don’t have much. Of all the necessary traits, behaviors, and skills, these are the two to always keep in the forefront of your mind. 

Early on in my journey, I was extremely anxious and optimistic to begin my career in Corporate America. Honestly stated though, I was very naïve. I was under the impression that if I had successfully graduated from college, that should be enough to establish my creditability and capabilities, right? Well, not exactly. What I didn’t realize then was that Corporate America was a man’s world.  Women did not have the same opportunities as their male counterparts.  

The good news is that burdens have been lifted and the trailblazers like me have paved the way for women entering Corporate America today. But the bad news is that there are still quite a few obstacles to overcome.

As I entered Corporate America pursuing a career in the technology industry, I had to start out in an administrative position, while the men coming out of college continued to move directly into engineering positions. Unlike them, I had to prove myself first. A key point to keep in mind: to successfully sell yourself, you must make others realize what you can do for them – not the other way around.

At the time I entered into the technology industry, women employees represented single digit percentages. Even though the percentages for female representation have grown, it was still a mere 16% in 2006. And this 16% includes administrative and clerical employees, so when you look at the technical engineers and managers, we are once again back into the single digit percentages. 

First, be confident and convinced of who you are and what you have to offer. If you don’t, anybody and any situation can throw you off track. Once you allow circumstances or individuals to interfere with your path, your desires, your goals, it will be difficult to get back on track. Keep your eye on the prize — and that prize is success!

Take some time to assess your own internal strength, and go about the task of working your plan to strengthen it if you need help in certain areas. I talk a great deal about "inner-strength" to my protégés because there’s no relationship expert or Ph.D. in the world that can tell whether or not you have the inner strength and drive necessary to succeed in Corporate America or any life endeavor. 

There are many facets involved to ensure career success. In my upcoming book, I discuss:

 1 –  Maintaining Your Inner Strength

 2 –  Be Yourself, Be a Strong Woman (never ever sell out)

 3 – Understanding the corporate "Good Old Boy" culture and how it will affect you

 4 – Competencies necessary to ensure success

 5 – Corporate Myths

 6 – Balancing Careers with Family Life

 7 –  Taking advantage of Corporate Savings Plans

 8 – Power of Successful Negotiation

 9 –  Subtle Sexual Harassment as well as Office Romances

10 –  Networking and Interpersonal Skills

11 –  Problem solving for minority females (African American, Asian, Hispanic, etc)

Create your life plan and you will know exactly where you’re going and how to get there.  Always remember — if you can visualize it, you can achieve it!

Article written by C. Holloway Hill, Corporate Veteran and Information Technology Manager.  Ms. Hill has written two books. Website: www.chollowayhill.com, email chollowayhill@yahoo.com. Feel free to write her with your experiences, comments, questions.

© 2007, C. Holloway Hill, All Rights Reserved

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