Thriving in Tech: 5 Pieces of Advice from CoolIT’s Top Female Leaders

As we celebrate International Women’s Day, it’s important to reflect on the progress that women have made in the tech industry and CoolIT Systems. We’re committed to creating a culture that supports gender diversity and promotes equality. Our leading women are trailblazers who have achieved success and inspire others to follow in their footsteps. In honor of this day, we wanted to share five pieces of advice from our top female leaders who have navigated their way through male-dominated careers. We’ll explore their career backgrounds and insights into how women can thrive in the tech industry.

Peggy Burroughs – Director of CoolIT Next

I did not start out looking to land in the tech space, but I am glad my path took this turn. Allowing myself to be open to the unknown has given me exposure to so many different areas of product development from ideation to business plans to sourcing materials to lab buildouts, data center floor plans, and manufacturing lines.

A journey can really lead to so many different roles in a company small or large. One of my old teams endearingly referred to me as “the hammer” – it was not out of a bullish, forceful nature that it became my nickname…it was because when one person would say the path was closed, I would accept the challenge and find alternate paths for success.

I believe in working hard and being nice to people. My advice to women in tech is to build and leverage relationships. It is a small world and building bridges is beneficial for continued learning, talking out resolutions to challenges, or leveraging your resources to match your optimism.

My favorite inspirational quote is by Darrin Donnelly, a writer and entrepreneur: ‘The people who succeed aren’t the ones who avoid failure; they’re the ones who learn how to respond to failure with optimism.’ This quote resonates with me because it emphasizes the importance of resilience and a positive attitude in the face of failure. By responding to failure with optimism, we can cultivate a mindset of perseverance and determination that enables us to overcome obstacles and achieve our goals. This quote serves as a reminder that failure is not the end, but rather a stepping stone on the path to success.

Caroline Penrose – Director of Business Development

Last autumn, I embarked on a significant career move that marked a major milestone in my professional journey. With immense courage, I decided to transition from the male-dominated Energy sector to the world of Tech, as the new Director of Business Development at CoolIT. This move was a momentous one for me, and it required unwavering determination and a willingness to take risks.

As a woman, I believe that the future belongs to those who are daring enough to pursue their goals, no matter how intimidating they may seem. My best advice to any woman pursuing her goals is to learn from those around you and always be your own greatest advocate. Be bold, take risks, and strive for growth while remaining humble and supportive.

As a leader, I understand that open and vulnerable communication is key to building trust and strong relationships with my team. By fostering an environment of trust and understanding, we can achieve success together. As I continue to mentor and lead, I hope my story inspires other women to face challenges head-on with confidence and a forward-thinking attitude. We are the trailblazers of our time.

I recently read Daring Greatly by Brene Brown, where she referenced the following quote from Teddy Roosevelt.  This quote resonates with me as a woman, mother, and leader however modified for women. 

It is not the critic who counts; not the woman who points out how the strong woman stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the woman who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends herself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if she fails, at least fails while daring greatly.” – Teddy Roosevelt

Evelyn Golba – VP, People

Upon graduating University, I started working for a recruitment agency, they had a division that focused solely on technology. I always found the roles and tech environment/culture quite fascinating. I later moved into a role with a local tech start-up which was one of the best experiences of my career. I do not have a technical background which was challenging at the beginning. I found that having conversations and learning about the technology being developed/used helped me overcome those challenges and get the buy in of key stakeholders.

Since joining CoolIT Systems as the Vice President of People, I am proud to say that HR has become a trusted strategic partner throughout the organization. We have implemented a variety of programs and initiatives that benefit the employees, company, community and have helped strengthen our already amazing workplace culture.

The biggest piece of advice I have to offer women aspiring to be leaders in any male dominated field is to be comfortable and confident with who you are and what you have to offer. Know and trust the knowledge and abilities you bring to the table and don’t take things too personally. Engage others, seek advice and if you can get yourself a mentor or coach who can help you hone in on your strengths. 

My favorite inspirational quote is by Ray Kroc: ‘The quality of a leader is reflected in the standards they set for themselves.’ This quote resonates with me because it speaks to the importance of personal responsibility and self-motivation in leadership. This quote encourages leaders to take ownership of their actions and decisions, and to strive for excellence in everything they do. It reminds us that by setting high standards for ourselves, we can become the kind of leaders who inspire and empower others to achieve their full potential.

Shikha Chaudhary – Manager, Key Accounts

For over a decade, I’ve worked as a sales and business development professional in various industries, including Oil & Gas, Advance Materials, 3DP, and Direct Liquid Cooling. Throughout my career, I have been driven by a sense of adventure and a desire to explore new skills, meet new people, and visit new places.

In the sales world, where men have traditionally dominated, it hasn’t always been easy to navigate. But my adaptive nature and mindset have helped me to persevere and succeed despite the challenges. I’ve learned to take risks, be confident in my abilities, and push beyond my comfort zone.

In 2022, my life took a dramatic turn. I became a first-time mother, moved to a new country, and took on a new job in an entirely new industry. It was a lot to handle, but I was determined to make it work.

Through hard work and perseverance, I was able to create a name for myself in my new role and was promoted within just five months of joining the organization. It was a proud moment, and it reaffirmed my belief that with determination and hard work, anything is possible.

As I reflect on my journey, I realize that my story is not unique. Many women face similar challenges in their careers, particularly in male-dominated industries like tech. But I want to inspire women everywhere to know that they can succeed, too. I strongly believe that if you can overcome your feelings of insecurity, fear of the unknown and give your 100%; nothing is impossible.

Jaclyn Schmidt – Director, Product Deployment

I was inspired to pursue a career in technology because it presented an opportunity for me to leave a positive impact on society, with an organization that strives to create a team of equal voices. I began my career in tech in a historically unconventional position for women; working in solution architecture and on-site services.

As I navigated through the tech industry, I encountered biases, stereotypes, and a lack of representation. However, I refused to let these obstacles impede my progress. Instead, I focused on advocating for myself, building a robust network in the industry, showcasing my technical prowess during on-site services, and pursuing continuous personal and professional growth.

I find great motivation in being a leader and a role model for other women aspiring to join the tech industry. My goal is to inspire and empower women to dream big, follow their passions, and reach their full potential. My advice to women who aspire to be leaders in tech is to challenge the status quo, find a female sponsor, and listen to those who believe in you, even when you may not believe in yourself.

My favorite inspirational quote is by Ayn Rand: ‘The question isn’t who’s going to let me, it’s who’s going to stop me.’ This quote resonates with me because it embodies the determination and independence that many women in tech possess. It challenges the notion that success must be granted by others and emphasizes the power of our own agency and ambition.

As the tech industry continues to grow and evolve, it’s crucial that women are given equal opportunities to succeed. The advice shared by CoolIT’s female leaders provides valuable insights for women looking to break into the industry and make their mark. With their inspiring career backgrounds and dedication to #embracingequity, these women are paving the way for future generations of women in tech. As we celebrate International Women’s Day, let’s continue to support and uplift women in all industries and work towards a future where everyone has equal opportunities to thrive.

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