No matter where you stand politically, you can’t deny that Ruth Bader Ginsberg was a force. I have a special place in my heart for her as we’re both from Brooklyn. Her demeanor, her mannerisms, and her grit take me back to the 1970’s-1980’s New York of my youth. You don’t mess with Native Brooklynites. We don’t all sound like Tony Manero, but our strut is innate.
As working men and women, there are many reasons to be grateful for RBG’s contributions to our society. Her history is now documented everywhere – from no one hiring her after she graduated first in her class from Columbia, to losing her job because she got pregnant. Her personal challenges and beliefs drove her to fight for justice and equal protection under the law for all of us.
Navigating a Path to Leadership
I have worked in tech for 20+ years and we all know the stories. With the exception of crossing paths with one or two extraordinary female leaders during my career, I’ve seen first-hand the limitations and struggles faced by women, including myself, to navigate a path to leadership. When I landed at Nexcess, the tides turned. It’s not lost on me that my peers and I are incredibly fortunate to work for a company that hires really smart individuals to do really smart things. Our culture, built on entrepreneurship, supports our strengths, our skill sets, and the ability to learn as you go.
Our COO is one of those extraordinary women. And we’ve got a plethora of women in leadership roles across the organization – Marketing, Operations, Sales, and Channel. We are surrounded by team members who recognize our achievements, respect our work, and look to us to pave the way as they navigate their own careers.
We didn’t get here by playing it safe. We all took risks. Got shot down. Were likely bypassed for promotions. Had others steal our ideas and claim them for their own. Maybe we didn’t talk enough. Or maybe we talked too much. Many of us had to figure out how to juggle managing a household and being a parent while still striving for professional success. These challenges are faced across traditional fields for women working outside of the home, but tech offers its own set of obstacles to overcome. Tenacity and confidence are key drivers that ensure you never give up on yourself. Even if others do.
A North Star for All of Us
RBG’s persistence and attitude towards her professional mission should be a North Star for all of us. A strong sense of self, confidence that doesn’t turn into arrogance, an honest interest in helping others, a passion for learning, and an ability to grow and evolve.These are key attributes for every leader, no matter their gender.
It is our duty to offer career paths to those that follow us. Opportunities to learn and grow. Mentorship to address issues that may be better than they were yesterday, but still require navigation. To empower our teams, welcome their ideas, be confident enough to recognize better ideas, and allow everyone to pursue greatness.
Thank you, Ruth. We will take what you’ve given us and pass the torch.