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Microsoft

Wow we had a wonderful kickoff meeting last week and I'm already chatting with several people who attended. One of my action items was to create a thread where people can introduce themselves. So here it is! (NOTE: be mindful that this is a public forum, so if you want to connect with someone, I suggest using the Private Messaging feature in TechCommunity - click the name and in the profile, use the Send a message button.)

 

Here's a list of suggested things to tell us about yourself:

1) How did you get into working in tech?

2) What is your current tech job? (or if you aren't in tech yet, what kind of job you think you might like?)

3) What do you like best about working in tech? (or what do you think you might like best about working in tech?)

4) What skills do you have that might help women either get into ITPro work or advance in ITpro careers? 

 

You don't have to be a woman or an ITPro to introduce yourself - we welcome everyone who wants to support women in the ITPro world! 

 

44 Replies
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1) How did you get into working in tech?
I always liked computers - I was good with the computer class I took with Apple II's my senior year - but no one told me I could major in it in college. So I majored in theater arts, where one of my favorite memories is the lighting TA helping me "steal" the computerized lighting board for the show I was designing, so I wouldn't have to use the manual board. I worked for an environmental group after college and I taught myself DOS and Lotus 1-2-3 for DOS in the pre-Windows age. From there I went to doing temp computer work - I could figure out any program or troubleshoot computer issues. Then I went to teaching end-user apps for ExecuTrain, and from there to teaching Microsoft Network engineering courses, and that's how I got my foot in the door at Microsoft.
2) What is your current tech job?

I run customer feedback programs for System Center Configuration Manager and Microsoft Intune. Among other things, I manage our MVP community and our UserVoice site. 
3) What do you like best about working in tech?

I love the people I work with. I'm a total science fiction reading, Dungeons and Dragons playing geek, so I fit in. 
4) What skills do you have that might help women either get into ITPro work or advance in ITpro careers?

My personal mission statement is "Helping people understand things better." I can help women who want to learn about the Microsoft ITPro world and the resources to get certified in Microsoft technology. And I love to organize things and people, like the user group for women ITPros!

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1) How did you get into working in tech?
I slid into it sideways by starting out as an English Lit teacher, having a hard time finding a job with that career, going to work for a publisher, and finding that the publisher desperately needed someone to teach their employees how to use computers.  I started my first week as the company's official computer instructor, a few days before they upgraded the network from Novell 3.11 to Novell 4.0.  It was not a pretty sight when four out of five floors of a publishing company couldn't print.  So I ended up drafted into the helpdesk, learning how to fix things by reading out of a 3-ring binder they gave me, and doing that for six months before teaching my first class. 

 

2) What is your current tech job?
My career has been focused on SharePoint for the last ten years.  As in, building Server farms, deploying code, and keeping things running.  So in the past year my career has taken a turn again, becoming SharePoint, OneDrive, Skype, Forms, Teams, Yammer, delve, PowerBI, PowerApps, ... and oh yeah and Single Sign-on.  Not to mention all those foundational apps like Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote. 

 

3) What do you like best about working in tech?
It's impossible to stop learning.  Well, it might be possible, but only if you went to work for a mountaintop hermit still using an Apple II with a green screen. 

 

4) What skills do you have that might help women either get into ITPro work or advance in ITpro careers?
Teaching. Writing. I've been doing what I can by helping review Scholarship applications each year for the National Center for Women & Information Technology, a worthy cause so I'll give them a shout out here.  Check them out, they could probably always use more reviewers!  https://www.ncwit.org/ 

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1) How did you get into working in tech?

I started working in tech through a series of transitions from other fields. I worked with horses professionally for ten years before I started working other jobs. I had taken web development classes in college which helped me get out of horses and working for a startup as a web developer. From there I, transitioned over to IT Operations and into endpoint management. 

2) What is your current tech job?

I am Adaptiva's technical evangelist. I get to travel the world and talk to people about migrating to and managing Windows 10 in their environments, have discussions around security best practices, and also show them how our products can help.

3) What do you like best about working in tech? (or what do you think you might like best about working in tech?)

I feel that working in tech is a lot like the "Choose Your Own Adventure" books I read as a child. It is thrilling that things can vary from day to day or month to month. I love not being the smartest person in a room and being challenged to sharpen my skills.

4) What skills do you have that might help women either get into ITPro work or advance in ITpro careers? 

Funny enough, not only am I not a good coder, I really have no interest in it. I hope that other women don't think they have to be amazing coders to have a career in IT. There are plenty of ways to flex your technical muscles such as technical project management, technical marketing, and good old troubleshooting. I've always said that personality trumps technical skill. It is more important to have good communication skills and a willingness to stay dedicated when things get tough.

 

I want to hear from you, please introduce yourself!

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Best Response confirmed by Deb Della Selva (Occasional Visitor)
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  • How did you get into working in tech?

 

My family was very poor, we didn’t have money buy computer. I couldn’t get a job after graduated from university, because I was not able to type Chinese fast enough. So I went back to school library, rent a computer for a week to practice type Chinese, a week later I was super good already and I got a job (not as IT). When I was working, I figured I really like the IT department, those people were amazing, since then I knew what I want to be – IT tech!

 

I moved to Finland 17 years ago, 7 years as stayed home mother and now 10 years working in tech.

I started work as trainee when I joined the company, I love everything what I was doing, learned so much by helping customers solve their computer issues.

 

  • What is your current tech job? (or if you aren't in tech yet, what kind of job you think you might like?)

Currently I am working as System Architect. I mostly do all kinds of stuff with ConfigMgr. In the same time involved in many projects, planning implement Azure and EMS for our customers, build automation solutions.  

 

  • What do you like best about working in tech? (or what do you think you might like best about working in tech?)

It is not just work, it is also my ONLY hobby, it's just simply awesome! :)  

 

  • What skills do you have that might help women either get into ITPro work or advance in ITpro careers? 

This is just my own experiences. In the beginning of my IT career, I was interested in many stuffs, whatever I found excited me, I will just jump into it.

I learned things here and there, nothing deep and nothing pro, but later I focused on ConfigMgr, and became a ConfigMgr admin.

I would say it is good to have strong skills in at least one area, and in the same time develop your interests to anything, try it, test it. 

 

I think my strongest skill is "not give up easily (almost never)". Believe in yourself that you can do it!

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I LOVE what you mentioned about how women need to know that they don't have to be amazing coders to have a career in IT, and that there are plenty of ways to flex those technical muscles! I want to echo what someone said on the first user group call about how there are many support groups / communities for women coders/devs but not so much for IT Pros, so I hope this place can be THE go-to community for all IT Pro women!! :)
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Thanks for sharing, Anne! It's always interesting to see how people from very different backgrounds have found their way into tech :D I'd love to get connected with someone from NCWIT to see how we could partner with them to encourage more women IT Pros to attend our Microsoft Ignite conference - please PM me if you have a contact to share :) Thanks!
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This is fun to do because I've done many people profiles/ member spotlights by now, but haven't yet done one on myself, so here goes :)

 

1) How did you get into working in tech?

I graduated with a double major in Marketing and Business Law, and while I was initially convinced that I was going to be a lawyer, I became super fascinated by technology and was particularly inspired by how technology can truly empower people all around the world. Microsoft's focus on inclusive technology is especially close to my heart, as it enabled me to really see the "human" side of technology and the power of tech. I first joined Microsoft as an intern in my final year of university, focused on licensing marketing (I know, licenses and subscriptions, ugh!). Once I graduated, I was then hired as a fresh grad via the Microsoft Academy of College Hires (MACH) program, where I got to meet peers my age working in Microsoft offices all around the world. It was an incredible experience and really broadened my worldview. Since then, I've worked in roles across sales, marketing, PR and also technical account management, where I got to partner closely with Premier Field Engineers and technical consultants from Microsoft Consulting Services (MCS) to scope and deploy technical solutions for customers in the healthcare, manufacturing and government space. 

 

2) What is your current tech job?

I'm currently the Diversity and Tech community lead for the IT Pro audience, as advocating for greater diversity and inclusion in the tech industry is something that I'm deeply passionate about. Thank you all for being members of this wonderful community! I feel incredibly fortunate to be able to work in the exciting and fast-paced tech industry and have benefited immensely from it. Thus, my wish is for more women and people of different abilities to also be able to experience the same great experiences I've had, and to really tap into the amazing opportunities that the tech industry offers.

 

I think that while diversity in terms of gender is important (and getting more women into technology is key, but only one piece of the puzzle!), there is so much more we need to do in terms of pushing for greater inclusion of people with special needs, different cultural beliefs/backgrounds etc. We have a long way to go, but we're going to push the status quo inch by inch until we get there!

 

3) What do you like best about working in tech?

Getting to work with super smart people and soaking up all the amazing ideas and knowledge that the tech industry has to offer. During my time as a Technical Account Manager (TAM) in Singapore, I have fond memories of just spending hours in a meeting room with my senior TAMs and field engineers deep-diving into concepts about technology deployment, whether it was about Active Directory upgrades, multi-step version migration, system health assessments and so on from scratch. Coming from a marketing/law background I knew nothing about such technical knowledge before I took on the role, but I am a super keen learner who devours knowledge voraciously - It goes to show that you can learn and achieve ANYTHING if you put your mind to it, and dedicate time to getting over the hard part of actually learning the concepts well first. I assure you, it'll pay off someday.  

 

4) What skills do you have that might help women either get into ITPro work or advance in ITpro careers? 

I love connecting people, and I think building this Diversity and Tech community is key as it provides a safe, inclusive and welcoming space to talk about our struggles/challenges and also our celebrations in tech. It's not always going to be unicorns and roses - there are going to be days when we feel burnt out, or slighted when someone made an insensitive comment at work, or when we feel like we got passed over for a promotion even though we worked crazy hard on a project. Yet, there is power in knowing that you have fellow sisters out here who have your back, and can encourage you, support you and push you on when you feel like you have that mental burnout coming up, or just need that extra bit of lift to help you regain your footing. Communities are an important place for building strong relationships and networks in our careers too, so let's make sure we all lean into this together! :)

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How did you get into working in tech?

I have always enjoyed taking things apart to understand what makes them tick. As a kid I would dissect flowers, take apart clocks, and read encyclopedias until the sun came up instead of sleeping. While my family members all had these same traits, I lacked the one that made the gore of the medical field tolerable, so while the rest of my family are doctors and nurses – I decided to apply my problem solving and curiosity to technology.

 

What is your current tech job? (or if you aren't in tech yet, what kind of job you think you might like?)

I started my current job at a large university about 5 years ago as a SharePoint and Office 365 administrator. Previously, I had worked as an IT generalist in finance, health care, and higher education – and jokingly would tell people that if it plugged into a wall, it was my problem – but that was not far from the truth! I have done everything from running network cables and configuring firewalls to administering IBM iSeries mainframes and virtualizing desktops to repairing printers and other hardware. About 10 years ago, I was introduced to SharePoint and found myself gravitating towards it – however, because I lived in a small, remote town I was expected to be “THE” IT person and didn’t see much opportunity to focus on a single technology. I kept working and found ways to learn SharePoint in my spare time, and eventually ended up in my current job – 1,500 miles away from that small town where I grew up. I was terrified to uproot my kids and move so far away, but it has been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I love what I do and at the university have taken a dusty old idea of SharePoint that wasn’t getting much use and turned it into such a popular service on campus that even with a larger team now we stay hopping all the time!

 

What do you like best about working in tech? (or what do you think you might like best about working in tech?)

I was cripplingly shy when I was younger and could not have imagined later in life that I would be a dynamic speaker and teacher of technology. I love evangelizing to groups about how they can use technology to make their lives easier. My favorite feeling is seeing the lightbulbs and excitement build in a crowd as they start to understand in a real and personal sense what technology can do for them. Next week I will be doing a workshop for over 300 people, many of whom are hardcore Drupal users – and I can’t wait to change their minds about what they think SharePoint and Office 365 can do!

 

What skills do you have that might help women either get into ITPro work or advance in ITpro careers? 

People have told me I am the luckiest person they have ever met – but they don’t understand that I have gotten where I am from hard work, persistence, and taking calculated risks. My favorite quote is from Seneca, “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.” I’m good at helping recognize those opportunities and being prepared when they present themselves. Additionally, I love to network with other likeminded individuals and am happy to host meet ups in New England if anyone is interested!

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  • How did you get into working in tech?
    1. Way back when I was in middle school, my neighbour, had what could have been a Sinclair computer. It was the coolest thing that I had ever seen up until that time in my 10 years. In high school, I took the only computer class they offered at the time. I was the only female in the class and I struggled with the coding part of the course. I was teased and felt like a failure. In the hardware portion of the class, I excelled. I was the first student in the class to configure and turn on the “lights” on my breadboard. Fast forward a few years and I ended up in a Computer Science Tech program in college. That was back in the early 90’s and I have looked back since.

 

  • What is your current tech job? (or if you aren't in tech yet, what kind of job you think you might like?)
    1. Over the last several years I have been working with Microsoft cloud technologies focusing on Azure and Office 365. For the last 2 years, I have been creating and delivering Azure and Office 365 courses for LinkedIn Learning. Prior to that, I was at Microsoft Canada in an SMB PTA role. In this role, I assisted SMB Partners build their cloud offerings. In addition, had the awesome job of travelling across Canada delivering Azure and Server training to SMB partners.  

 

  • What do you like best about working in tech? (or what do you think you might like best about working in tech?)
    1. I love the challenge and having to always be learning. Being in tech keeps me on my toes and I’m never bored.

 

  • What skills do you have that might help women either get into ITPro work or advance in ITpro careers? 
    1. After 25 years as an IT Pro, I have a large skill set that can help women either advance or enter the field. At this point in my career, I’m more focused on mentoring and encouraging IT Pros to consider moving to cloud technologies. As cloud technologies continue to grow we will continue to see a shortage of skilled professionals in this field. This provides a fantastic opportunity for IT Pros to expand their skillsets and design their futures.

 

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This group is a great idea. There is not much support for women in IT. I think there is a lot more support for women who code. Years ago I went to a meeting of a local group for "women in technology" and was disappointed when the topic of the meeting was focused on fashion. I'm not into typical women's interests like fashion. I remember asking someone at the table what a "twin set" was (that the speaker mentioned) and they looked at me like I was a moron (apparently a twin set is a matching sweater and top).

 

1) How did you get into working in tech?

My college degree is in biology but you have to have a graduate degree to work in the field, so I ended up working as a secretary/office manager. 10 years later, I was helping my husband run a small non-profit out of our home when an old PC was donated to it. I bought a DOS 3.3 book and read it cover to cover (this was 1990) and attended local computer user groups. Since the non-profit was not supporting us, we started using the computer to offer desktop publishing and word processing services. As we learned more, we were able to start doing computer consulting for individuals and small businesses and teach courses in PC skills. However, I couldn't get enough business to make a living so I took courses in Novell Netware, so I could go work for a company. It took several months of job hunting but eventually I landed a job (in 1995) doing system/network admin and PC support, using Windows NT servers. It was a startup so I was the only IT person and rather overworked but it was a great learning opportunity until everyone was laid off a year and a half later. I remember my first 6 weeks at that job I was so lost, I felt like I'd been thrown in the deep end of the pool. My boss knew next to nothing about IT so I was on my own. The internet didn't exist yet so I was going on CompuServe every day asking questions about Windows NT and going to monthly Windows NT user groups.

 

One of the companies I worked for offered tuition reimbursement so I was able to pursue a Masters in Telecommunications where I took numerous courses in computer networking, such as TCP/IP. I got my degree in 1998. Since I didn't want to be a programmer, I pursued that degree instead of a CIS degree. I have continued to do a combination of systems/network admin and PC support since 1995 to now, at various companies, mostly small ones. I find that my years of work as an office manager helps me do my job because I have administrative skills that help with the unavoidable administrative tasks that IT departments also have to do--dealing with audits, purchasing, budgeting, tracking inventory, etc. Also, I am really good at writing, which comes in handy for documenting IT procedures and helping my managers write coherent emails. 

 

2) What is your current tech job?

System Administrator at the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless

 

3) What do you like best about working in tech?

I don't get bored. When I was a secretary, I got bored, because I am smart. With tech jobs, there is always something new to learn or something challenging to troubleshoot. And there is a lot of variety to the job, at least in small companies. Also, I like interacting with end users. It's rewarding to help solve their problems. I would hate to just sit and write code all day. I would go nuts.

 

4) What skills do you have that might help women either get into IT Pro work or advance in IT Pro careers?

I am good at writing resumes so I can help people with that. I have seen many really bad resumes from both men and women in IT. I don't know how they even got their past jobs when their resumes are so poorly done. I did have help with my resume from my cousin (who is even better than me at resumes and is another woman in IT!) and as a result it's pretty easy for me to get responses to my resume when applying for jobs. The difficulty I've faced when job hunting is that I don't have all the skills that a particular employer is looking for (because I didn't have the opportunity at a past job to do something) or I have not worked in the size of environment that they are requiring experience in (like a large enterprise).

 

Actually, one of my pet peeves is that many employers will not consider a candidate for a position unless that candidate has every technical skill that is listed on the desired list and has worked in exactly the same size environment, even if the candidate is capable of learning the missing skills. And then companies complain that they can't find IT people to hire. The people are out there--they just can't check off every item on the list of required skills. These lists that the companies have of required skills are often really long--they're asking for a person who knows everything and each company has a different list of required skills. I'm baffled as to how they think they will find a person that precisely fits their list.

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Thanks for sharing, Margaret! I totally didn't know what a twin-set is/was either since you just mentioned it, so there you go I also learnt something new today. I loved reading about your passion and tenacious determination to acquire the skills you needed, be it through your Masters of Telecomms program, or even just going on to CompuServe to find the answers you were looking for. You are so self-driven and an inspirational role model indeed!

Hi Everyone,

 

I just came across this group last week on Twitter and happy to be engaged.  I look forward to future interactions.

 

1) How did you get into working in tech?

More than 20 years ago when considering my future career options, I was working as a call center supervisor, at the time, and decided I wanted to make a move from business administration to tech.  I knew I needed a tech related degree so went back to school in the evenings to complete the required upper graduate level classes. It was a pretty grueling experience, because I had a demanding job, but I fortunately got through it and completed a BS in Information Technology. I was able to quickly secure a position in tech thus beginning my new career.

 

2) What is your current tech job? (or if you aren't in tech yet, what kind of job you think you might like?)

 

I am currently have the role of Enterprise Architect for DCX Technology.  I work with the Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Applications suite of products with an emphasis on Customer Engagement.  My key responsibilities include identifying the "right" applications for the client and helping them envision and deploy a roadmap of solutions that will position them to realize a digital transformation across their organization with respect to intelligent and informed customer interactions, analytics, workplace productivity and more.

 

3) What do you like best about working in tech? (or what do you think you might like best about working in tech?)

 

Tech positions are always in demand and as long as we stay up to date on our technology stack, we can almost always be assured of a job.  Tech career opportunities are extremely diverse and I believe there is one that fits just about every skill and passion.  There is a significant amount of opportunity to map out a career path that is challenging and rewarding.

 

4) What skills do you have that might help women either get into ITPro work or advance in ITpro careers? 

 

I have been in the tech industry for about 20 years now and have held many and diverse positions to include: Systems Administration for Microsoft business solution products, consulting, independent contractor, cloud services, business administration and more.  I have and continue to successfully play the role of mentor to help others achieve their goals.

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This is a way cool story! Never give up easily!!!
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I just heard about this-- I'm excited to participate!

 

1) How did you get into working in tech?

There's a ton of backstory, starting when I was 8, but the career part basically starts when a tech-focused high school opened in time for my 10th grade year, I transferred and took the Certified Novell Admin training class in exchange for being tech support for the school, which led to an internship that summer as tech support at a local company. When they did a Cisco Networking Academy at our school the next year, I took it and got my CCNA, and another internship... and here I am 15+ years later.

2) What is your current tech job?

I'm a Sr. Program Manager at Microsoft. My day job is working on Skype and Microsoft Teams, focused on infrastructure.

3) What do you like best about working in tech?

I love that it always changes and you have to learn and grow and change with it and sometimes, influence how it changes. There's also a ton of opportunity to use it to do good in the world-- my job helps people around the world communicate with one another. That's super cool.

4) What skills do you have that might help women either get into ITPro work or advance in ITpro careers?

I'm happy to share how I've been building this sort of hybrid career path, that blends non-technical and technical work for people who enjoy parts of both. Also, I can talk operations all day-- I've spent my career in that space.

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1) How did you get into working in tech?

 

I started in college to obtain a degree in Geology.  After the 1st year I dropped out.  I hated college.  My first job was an entry level position at a bank.  After about a year there, I was told here is a PC and we need to automate this process.  I was given a book on Lotus 1-2-3.  It was love at first bootup.  I still remember that computer the IBM 286 with a 12 in black and white monitor.  From there I received an associate degree in programming and moved into an IT position and became a Novell Administrator.  From there I worked in many different positions learning more with each move.  I transitioned from Novell and Zenworks, to Microsoft and SMS.  I have held positions as desktop support installing PCs and printers to building and administrating servers.  With each progression in my career I obtained certifications and eventually obtained my bachelors degree in IT.   Over the many years I have learned new technology and found that the hardest part was learning interpersonal and communication skills.  When I started the say was if you cannot deal with people go into IT you do not need personal skills. 

I am lucky in that I had very strong female role models in my family that help to push me to move away from my family to obtain jobs with more opportunities.  I sounds strange to be proud of but I am the first person in my family to move out of New York.  I always said I could live anywhere as long as my cats can come with me.

 

 

2) What is your current tech job?

 

I am a Senior Infrastructure Engineer at Air Products and Chemicals.  I was working on the System Center team working with SCCM and Orchestrator.   My focus for the last 10 years has been on deploying operating systems, applications, and Windows Updates.  I recently transitioned into a role focusing on End User Computing.  We are starting to look at Modern Management especially AutoPilot and Co-Management.

 

3) What do you like best about working in tech?

 

I love solving puzzles and problems.  The constant challenge of learning new technology and implementing it.

 

What skills do you have that might help women either get into ITPro work or advance in ITpro careers?

 

Learn soft skills.  While we deal in technology and you have to know it.  It is OK to say I do not know but I can find out.  It is important to have good communication and listening skills.  Most of the challenges in my career were not due to lack of knowledge or technical skills, but not knowing how to have conversations and present my ideas.

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Thanks for sharing your story, Dawn! Reading about how your background was initially in Geology reminds me of this other female engineering leader in Microsoft named Emma Williams, who initially wanted to study Old Norse and Anglo Saxon English in college but eventually found herself in tech and went on to become a Corporate Vice President in the engineering org! Very inspiring to read how there are many paths into tech - some planned, and others unplanned, but here we all are anyway! :) It's awesome.

I think that old saying you mentioned about how "if you cannot deal with people, go into IT because you don't need interpersonal skills" certainly doesn't ring true in today's modern tech world. IT professionals are increasingly the primary focus for businesses, as leaders and CEOs realize that technology is the key enabler to modernize their business, whether it's for marketing, HR, finance functions and so on. The IT Dept needs to become the trusted advisor for their business counterparts and work closely to deploy solutions effectively to meet the organization's business needs, so definitely lots of interpersonal skills required IMO! I think that's great because it's a wonderful opportunity to brush up on super valuable interpersonal skills and branding, which in turn can really help drive one's career :)
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Hi Shona,

 

I agree the old saying no longer applies.  It is only in the last 10 years I have been able to master these soft skills.  I continue to listen to the books Getting Things Done, Difficult Conversations, and Influencing without Authority.  These were my favorites but there are many others out there that teach these very important skills.

 

I remember an old boss saying "Angela is better with people, I will have her go to the meetings and you can do the work."  Needless to say I left that company soon afterwards but it was a valuable lesson, it is not just knowing your job, which is very important, but selling yourself and communication skills.  Without the ability to communicate with non-technical people, you are limiting your career growth.

 

I have also gone through some of the training on LinkedIN for this.

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Wow, that old boss was sure awful indeed! Kudos to you for having the courage to stand up for yourself and take the bold step in leaving to pursue an organization that truly values you instead! Would love to hear more about your story sometime - perhaps in the next monthly Women IT Pro group Skype call that Cathy runs!

Also, we'd love to have you on the Community Mentors Program - whether as a mentor or mentee, or even both, whichever you think fits best in terms of where you're at in your career. You can apply here: https://aka.ms/joincommunitymentors! :)
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Cool! @Dawn Wertz, do you have any training or books you'd recommend?

 

I read Search Inside Yourself recently, which had some interesting insights. Right now I'm reading Marshall Rosenberg's Non Violent Communication, which is not at all what I was expecting from the title -  his communication process works as well in all kinds of situations, business, personal, political.