During week one, Emerging Leaders were introduced to the 2018 TechWomen program, setting the stage for five weeks of cultural exchange, professional development and personal growth. Although they had already met many Cultural Mentors, Professional Mentors and Impact Coaches, week two was an opportunity to expand on those relationships. Whether it was through hiking in the mountains, attending meetings with host company leadership or gathering valuable insight into their action plans, Emerging Leaders were supported, advised and uplifted by the community of nearly 300 TechWomen mentors.
Exploring new surroundings
After their busy week, Emerging Leaders were ready to explore their surroundings alongside Cultural Mentors. Cultural Mentors play an essential role in helping Emerging Leaders acclimate to life in the Bay Area: through outdoor activities, exposure to the arts, culinary excursions and professional enrichment, cultural programming offers Emerging Leaders a chance to customize their time in the Bay Area and get to know local culture in a way that best fits their interests. Often, it provides a connection to home: they can eat their country’s cuisine at Bay Area restaurants or engage in hobbies like hiking, visiting art galleries or exploring city streets. This past weekend, Emerging Leaders walked San Francisco’s Chinatown, canoed in Mountain View, went on a tour at Nasa Ames Research Center and took in the sights at Angel Island. The weekend allowed Emerging Leaders to form new friendships, connect with mentors and relax before a busy week ahead.
Expanding professional horizons
After the weekend, it was time for Emerging Leaders to put on their power bracelets and begin their professional mentorship at 34 companies throughout the Bay Area. Host companies and Professional Mentors provide Emerging Leaders an immersive, participatory experience that nurtures both professional and personal development. Over the course of 15 days, Emerging Leaders are exposed to new innovations in technology, complete projects that develop new skills and are exposed to company cultures where diversity and inclusion are an important tenet of their business model. Already, Emerging Leaders have met CEOs, attended forums and conferences and met with a number of new colleagues. Horore Bell, hosted by Twitch, attended Amazon Con 2018, Amazon’s gender diversity conference. There, she learned how businesses can champion and support a diverse workplace: “Participating in this conference made me understand the importance of diversity and inclusion in Africa, especially when it comes to women in tech,” she said. By the end of the day, she walked away with lasting lessons: “Be honest about who you are. Be brave enough to start a conversation that matters.”
Embracing authentic leadership
After spending a week at their host companies, Emerging Leaders gathered at LinkedIn for their Leadership Workshop, a day focused on building upon strengths, embracing authentic leadership and adopting a growth mindset. Each woman, already a leader in her field, was challenged to take on a mindset of introspection, learning how she can grow and make the most impact in her home country. Maria Zhang, Vice President of Engineering at LinkedIn, opened the day by sharing her experiences as an international woman in tech. Maria, who became a leader despite personal and professional challenges, had a strong message for Emerging Leaders: Dream big. Embrace obstacles and challenges. Be authentic.
The day continued with a session led by Samantha Raniere, President of Raniere Consulting. Samantha, an expert in strengths development, asked Emerging Leaders: “What do you have the potential to be the best at in this world?” She explained that people who focus on using their strengths are three times as likely to report having an excellent quality of life and are six times as likely to be engaged in their jobs. Throughout the session, Samantha showed that innovation occurs when we embrace our skills but also leverage our weaknesses. “A weakness is only a weakness if it gets in your way,” she said.
After Emerging Leaders reflected on their individual strengths, it was time to understand group dynamics: they broke out into country teams, using a strengths assessment to learn about how they can bring out the best in each other. Whether a person is an influencer, an executor, a relationship builder or a strategic thinker, Emerging Leaders learned how to maximize cohesion and success by fostering each other’s talents and strengths.
The day continued with a “fireside chat” with Kiran Prasad, LinkedIn’s Vice President of Product. Moderated by Mansi Modak, their discussion focused on the principles of authentic leadership. Kiran shared best practices for how to drive change in a purpose-driven company, stressing the importance of putting trust in others. The workshop concluded with Emerging Leaders embracing a growth mindset alongside Cherisse Gill of LinkedIn. Cherisse demonstrated that a growth mindset – defined as the belief or understanding that we can develop our qualities and abilities – is essential in becoming effective leaders. Through effort, openness and allowing room for mistakes, individuals can foster an environment of exponential growth.
Developing social impact models
The week concluded at Mozilla with Action Plan Workshop 2, where all 20 country teams continued to ideate, create and lay the groundwork for their community-changing social impact projects. Joined by their Impact Coaches, Emerging Leaders took a deeper dive into their mission, formulating their strategic approach and organizing project execution. The day began with inspiration from Professional Mentor Molly Pyle of Singularity University, who urged Emerging Leaders to embrace “moonshot” thinking:
Next, Molly moderated a panel with Anju Wicke, Anar Simpson, Kate Scott-Dawkins and Rikin Gandhi. The group discussed impact models for change, speaking about how to measure success, move from idea to action and create maximum impact. Anar Simpson, Impact Coach and Global Ambassador of Technovation, urged Emerging Leaders to cultivate their network, leveraging their greater community in times of need.
The remainder of the day was spent expanding on their action plans, meeting with Impact Coaches who asked questions and provided meaningful insight and feedback. Country teams further developed their issue statements and paired them with tangible, real-world solutions they can implement in their home countries.
Emerging Leaders closed out the workshop sharing successes and challenges of the day. They shared lessons on team cohesion, the need to create foundations of respect and stressed the need for flexibility when approaching a team strategy. The final lesson shared, however, was emblematic of the week’s work: never be afraid of big ideas. With an aligned team, thoughtful leadership and proper strategy, Emerging Leaders can take on any challenge.
It’s hard to believe we are halfway through #techwomen18 in the Bay Area! This week, Emerging Leaders continue their professional mentorship and cultural activities. The week concludes with Action Plan Workshop 3, where they will learn strategies to deliver an impactful pitch.