What I took away from Women In Product: Austin 2018

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Happy International Women’s Day!

Last week, Tasktop sponsored the inaugural ‘Women in Product: Austin’ event in collaboration with the Ann Richards School for Young Women Leaders. The event was geared towards women at different stages of their career, providing an opportunity to network and learn about the challenges, highlights, and the day-to-day life of being a woman in the field of Product Management.

From left to right (in the back): Ezinne Udezue (Senior Director of Product at Bazaarvoice), Alyson Baxter (Director of Product at Cratejoy), Nicole Bryan (VP of Product at Tasktop)

Bringing together a total of 40 industry professionals, as well as approximately 20 students from the Ann Richards School, the event centered around a speaking panel of five accomplished women that had been through the struggles and successes of a career in Product. The panel helped provide insights that, I find, tend to slip our minds when we work or study.

The panelists shared tips that not only helped them get to where they are in their careers, but also what keeps driving them to succeed. As a young professional and recent graduate, I felt I could relate to both the students and the working professionals in the room. It was interesting to observe that much of the insights shared were applicable to everyone in the audience, regardless of the stage they were at in their career.

The piece of advice that resonated with me most was shared by panelist Tulsi Dharmarajan, VP Product & Design at Verb. Tulsi emphasized the need to have mentors. Not just one, but multiple mentors that could provide guidance in different aspects and areas; from learning soft skills, to someone who could provide guidance on the challenges unique to women, to mentors who can offer perspective that will help shape your career to fit you.

From left to right: Amanda de la Motte (Director of Product at CognitiveScale),
Ezinne Udezue (Senior Director of Product at Bazaarvoice), Alyson Baxter (Director of Product at Cratejoy), Nicole Bryan (VP of Product at Tasktop), Tulsi Dharmarajan (VP Product & Design at Verb), Heather Le (Product Management Consultant), Rebecca Dobbin (Product Content Manager at Tasktop)

The value of this really hit home when Tulsi shared how she continues to have multiple mentors guide her, even though she has built a successful career. Finding mentors, and learning from them, is something that as a young woman in Product I tend to put on the backlog and forget about.

One skill that was repeatedly emphasized was the importance of knowing how to communicate well. Being a part of a Product team, it is essential that we know how to communicate with customers, partners, and within our own organization to effectively progress the product roadmap. This is a skill that is critical from the early to later stages of a career in Product Management.

Though my key takeaways are focused on more factual insights, what made this event different from the other work conferences that I’ve attended was the energy I felt being in the room. It was uplifting. I felt connected with the other women there. There was a sense of eagerness to learn, overcome challenges, and succeed as women in the tech world.

As my colleagues and I drove back to work after the event, I felt a deep appreciation for organizations such as Women in Product that create opportunities for women to connect with each other – especially those working in male-dominated industries.

As the world of software and tech continues to evolve and grow at a rapid pace, it’s fantastic to see so many women at the heart of it. The future looks bright, especially with so many great and inspiring movements driving change. That includes today’s International Women’s Day, a day dedicated to the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women, in addition to reflection on the progress made to accelerate the gender parity and the advocacy for change that is still needed in today’s global society.

Check out our blog from last year for some inspiring quotes about gender equality from Tasktopians past and present.