Achieving global gender equality depends on the empowerment of women. Only when we are willing to systematically address attitudes, laws, and policies will we start to see tangible change. As a global company, Symantec has a profound opportunity to lead the charge toward global gender equality and further women’s empowerment in all aspects of our organization – from our employees to our customers to the countless communities we are involved in. Together we will empower women across the globe.
Tapping into the knowledge and expertise of current female leaders will help carve a new path for women everywhere. With this in mind, we’ve asked some of Symantec’s incredible women leaders in the APJ region two questions:
- What advice would you offer your younger self?
- What do you see as the biggest opportunities and challenges for young women today?
We think that women all over the world – and people of all genders – will find their answers insightful and inspiring. This is part one of a three-part series.
Sally Robson – Senior Manager, Information Security, Australia
My advice to my younger self would be to embrace challenges, and intentionally take on things that I would instinctively shy away from. I have learned that whatever the outcome, so much can be gained from pushing myself beyond my comfort zone – uncovering strengths, exposing my vulnerabilities, and perhaps even shining a light on opportunities I would have never considered. For me, when my mind says, “No, don’t even consider it”, I say “yes”, because this is the only way I have been able to truly grow and develop deep insight into who I am.
I have learned that whatever the outcome, so much can be gained from pushing myself beyond my comfort zone.
Young women today have lots of exciting opportunities. Children are exposed to fields such as STEM from a young age, participation regardless of gender is normalized, and career pathways are gender neutral. Finding a network of like-minded individuals has never been easier with our connectedness through social media. Industry associations and a variety of networking, support, and resource groups are key to supporting anyone (of any gender) on their professional or personal journeys. Finding a mentor, sponsor, or someone who you can bounce ideas off can help you to navigate challenges and see opportunities that you might miss.
People always talk about maintaining a healthy work-life balance, but personally I find this concept rarely achievable. As a mother, it has taken me a long time to identify and focus on what is vitally important to me, and carving out time to nurture and grow these things is always a work in progress. For women – and I speak from experience as a mother – it can be challenging to balance a career and personal life. There is considerable pressure to keep on top of everything, to keep it together even when you feel like you are drowning. Too often, the things that are truly important are overshadowed or de-prioritized by work demands.
The important things can also play second fiddle to what you think is expected of you, or what you expect of yourself. My advice is to sit down and work out what your priorities are, learn to set boundaries between work and your personal life, and discuss what they are to your manager and peers. And, where possible, find out and leverage any support structures that are in place at work (i.e., flexible work arrangements) to give you and your family the best opportunity to find a balance.
Debbie Sassine – Senior Manager Enterprise Marketing, Australia
When I finished up university and first entered the corporate world, I knew I was different. I grew up in a low socio-economic area on the outskirts of Western Sydney in a migrant Lebanese family. I was certainly not a clone of my manager or my work colleagues, and I would often hold back on ideas or suggestions because I felt they weren’t good enough or too different from the status quo. To my younger self, I would say don’t hold back – different is good and your perspective matters. Speak up and don’t just lean in, but step in whole heartedly. Over the years, I learned that having a different perspective meant that as a business we could solve problems faster and reach better conclusions. For me personally, it meant career progression, respect and trust by peers, and a pathway for a better future.
Over the years, I learned that having a different perspective meant that as a business we could solve problems faster and reach better conclusions.
I see tremendous opportunities for young women in the workforce today. When I entered university some twenty years ago, my building block did not have a female restroom. My first job in a corporate office did not offer a breastfeeding room, and when I had my first child, almost seventeen years ago, my manager at the time told me that I wouldn’t need a promotion anymore because I was going on maternity leave. I’m pleased to say things have changed for the better since then and women are now more enabled to balance and juggle the workload of having a career and family. It’s not perfect but I think there is certainly a heightened awareness and much more corporate investment in ensuring the same opportunities are offered to all individuals regardless of their race, gender, religion, and sexual orientation.
Technology has presented women with more opportunities in remarkable ways. For example, having the ability to meet via WebEx means people can work from home and with flexible hours, not just to raise children but also to keep up with the demands of life outside of work. This has enabled women to stay in the workforce for longer and to not pause their careers while they care for their families.
The challenge for young women today – and in fact for all of us – is ensuring we have enough fuel in the tank to keep us engaged in the workforce for the long haul. Whether it’s sporting commitments, caring for someone you love, illness, or pursuing a lifetime passion, we are pushing the boundaries of what we can do in one day and one lifetime. Don’t underestimate the importance of caring for yourself – physically, mentally and spiritually – so when the time comes to give more, you’ve got fuel in the tank to be your best self!
Stay tuned for part two and three of our Symantec Women in APJ series in the coming weeks.