Key Takeaways From the Aragon Transform Women in Technology Panel
by Betsy Burton
I recently had the honor of moderating Aragon Research’s Women in Technology Panel as part of Aragon’s Transform 2020. The panel included a number of distinguished panelists, including:
- Michelle Balash—Workday National LE Sales Leader , Technology Solutions at CrossCountry Consulting
- Zoe Clelland—Vice President, Product & Experience at Nintex
- Elisa Gilmartin—Chief People Officer at Fuze
The primary theme was focused on how their organizations and how they (personally) were navigating the change, disruption, uncertainty, and opportunity presented this year. What was surprising from the panel were the takeaway themes.
Key Questions Discussed
During the panel, we discussed several key questions, including:
- What has been the hardest challenge for you or your organization in responding to these never-ending, unpredictable situations?
- What responsibility do leaders have to guide their organizations through these challenges?
- How has your business had to pivot to better serve your customers?
- What’s your best piece of advice as we head into 2021?
While we discussed each of these topics, what was most interesting were the overall themes.
Several panelists discussed the importance of time management both in their professional and personal life. Not only were they faced with the need to manage people and projects remotely, almost overnight. But several panelists discussed that they needed to balance family demands – educating children, keeping family members engaged and positive, and dealing with more complex errands.
They all agreed that their time management skills came in handy during this time, and that this time of disruption helped them strengthen those skills. A few panelists also shared that work peers were coming to them for mentorship on learning time management best practices.
Higher Degree of Personal Connection
Surprisingly, several panelists discussed that their remote work was increasing their personal connection within their teams, partners, and customers. They were being invited into people’s homes via video conferencing, connecting over common books, art and, even, the humorous interruptions from children, pets, and doorbells. One panelist said they now know their customer’s family, which they would not have had the opportunity to do in the past.
Panelists also mentioned that doing video conferences strengthened their connections. They felt like they were talking directly to people, seeing their face, eyes and expressions directly, even despite some communications issues.
Panelists also expressed that they are experiencing a higher degree of empathy across teams, partners, and customers. Some of this is due to sense that we are “all in this together.” And part of it is due to the fact that organizations and leaders are investing in employee engagement, technology, and services to enable collaboration and communication.
They expressed that they felt that people were being more empathetic, communicative, and proactive.
No Expectation of “Returning to Normal”
All the panelists expressed the belief that this pandemic and the experiences of this past year will change their workplace forever. They suggested we will not return to the way we ran our business and life before, but rather take many of the behaviors, practices, and perceptions learned this year into the “new normal.”
They all recognized that this new normal will have some growing pains and some work required, but also that it holds the potential for new professional and personal opportunities.
We must recognize that this panel included technology-based companies and people who were able to make the transition to working at home during this difficult time. And the discussion might have been very different if we had included front-line and essential workers. Nonetheless, I am hopeful that the lessons of empathy, connection, and prioritization can be learned, regardless of industry or role.
The final takeaway from this group of women leaders was hope. They are all looking forward to the future and looking for opportunities for how they can continue to help and grow personally and professionally.
It was that hope and optimism that I think we all felt out of the discussion. As leaders, women, mothers, friends, and partners, I was renewed by their proactive positive outlook.