This week, 8th of March, is the International Women’s Day (IWD), and we'll highlight and put our focus on one of the IWD Missons; To forge inclusive work cultures where women’s careers thrive and their achievements are celebrated.
IWD is an opportunity to celebrate the successes that women have achieved but also mark a call to action for accelerating gender parity. To mark IWD 2022 we have asked a couple of female leaders at Quinyx to share their experiences and perspectives of being a female leader within the tech industry.
Can you please introduce yourself?
Hello everyone! My name is Alex Paniagua and I am responsible for our Customer Onboarding Team in EMEA. I’ve been with Quinyx for almost 2.5 years and I’m based in London.
When you began your career, did you ever imagine yourself having a leadership role?
I didn’t start my career with aspirations of becoming a leader to be honest. I was fortunate enough to work with people that encouraged me to pursue my potential. Mine was a case where others saw the potential in me, before I believed in it myself. Interestingly, it was two different female leaders that put me forward to my first positions of responsibility.
Who inspired you to be a leader and why?
The managers that gave me my first management responsibilities. They were, and still are, inspiring leaders. I learnt so much from them both and in a way that shaped me into the leader I am today myself, giving me autonomy to trust my instinct as well as guidance and direction to keep growing.
As a female leader, can you tell us more about any significant gender related roadblocks you have experienced?
Except for the very beginning of my professional career when I worked in banking, I’ve since mostly worked in industries where I’ve felt there’s been a relatively fair balance between genders. Having said that, my experience as a female leader is that I’ve had to learn to make a point and be vocal about my achievements.
I’ve learnt maybe the hard way, that in order to be recognised and in order to advance our careers, women need to talk about their merits as opposed to expecting their merits to speak for themselves.
Have you seen any gender related patterns over the years about women at work?
The obvious one I can think of is the assumption that women of a certain age are associated with maternity and the view that women's ambitions or capabilities to perform at a high level are tempered by becoming mothers.
How women want to manage their careers in combination with having a family is something that shouldn’t be assumed, but rather allowed for each individual to decide according to whatever suits them best. Opportunities shouldn’t be taken away from women because of any preconceived assumptions around this.
Another common generalisation is that female leaders are too ‘emotional’ as if having emotions would be a bad thing. If anything, bringing emotional intelligence into our management style for me is what sets us apart and makes us better leaders than some of our male counterparts.
How do you think we can stop gender biases?
Creating team and company environments where everyone feels like they have a place and a voice, irrespective of their gender. It is important that people feel like they will be taken seriously and that their opinion or ideas will not be less considered because of their gender (or any other factor for that matter).
Why do you think companies would benefit from having more women at the top?
Because, as I mentioned before, and although this may sound as a generalisation, women have a different style of management. We can be as driven and as results oriented as our male counterparts and in addition we bring more empathy and emotional intelligence to the table. Male dominated environments can be too focused on the ‘what’ and not so much on the ‘how’. In order to be a high performing business the balance of these skills and competencies is much needed.
How can women support other women in their organisations?
Spotting and supporting female talent is key. We need to encourage our female counterparts to unleash their full potential. We need to give strong and intelligent women opportunities, and make sure they are ‘seen’ at different levels of the organisation.
Why should more females be attracted to the tech industry?
Because it’s fun and you will get to work with some very talented and intelligent people and because this industry needs more leaders like you and me!
What’s helped you the most in your career?
As I mentioned before, the start of my career was definitely supported by other female leaders and I don’t know if back then a male leader would have given me the opportunities that changed my career.
As years have gone by, I have learnt that earning people’s respect around you is the most important element in order to be trusted and get the best out of the teams you work with. Sometimes women do have to work harder to earn that respect but, generally, I’ve been very lucky to work with amazing men and women that have given me the time and space to develop.
For those women that don’t feel this way, my advice again would be to make sure to use all the channels available to them to showcase their work and achievements.
What’s the biggest factor that has helped you be successful?
Hard work, passion and determination :) And making others around me feel that hard work, passion and determination too. I would like to think that this approach to the way I work has allowed me to get the best out of my teams. I measure my success based on how my teams perform as opposed to how far I have climbed. Without a good team that is willing to jump on the journey with you, there is no success possible.
What advice would you give to the next generation of female leaders?
Don’t be shy, believe in yourself and push yourself out of your comfort zone. Be bold as well as humble. Listen and learn and don’t be afraid to speak up.
Why is IWD important?
Because there is still a long way to go. As much as I have described being given opportunities and feeling lucky with the people I have crossed paths with in my career, I know this is not a standard across the board.