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Women in Leadership Event – “Inspiring and Motivating” – by Sarah Edwards

by Sarah Edwards, Global VP Customer Solutions.

I found attending a Women in Leadership conference both inspiring and motivating. This annual event, which was organized by our investor company Accel-KKR, was inspiring because it was an opportunity to meet with and to hear from some truly impressive women. And it was motivated because it was also an opportunity to think about the work that is still to be done in terms of bringing women into senior roles.

Women attended from all over the world, representing the family of tech companies in which AKKR invest, including SugarCRM, ClickDimensions, IntegiChain, iSolved, Oildex, Sageworks, Kerridge and many others. Despite the multi-national nature of the group, the cultural fit of the individuals really came through and it was a great opportunity to network and to discuss ideas and challenges.

The point was well-made that organizations with more diverse teams tend to be more successful and more resilient ( a point that Jacqueline de Rojas also addresses here in a Kimble-sponsored podcast). We listened to presentations and attended workshops around some of the issues that many companies in the tech sector face when it comes to promoting equality.

There are some areas, such as my own, Customer Solutions, and Finance – our CFO Annika Robinson also attended the conference – in which women are better represented. At Kimble, these departments are both at 50% or above female. But others, such as product engineering and Sales,  still tend to be more male-dominated.

One of the strategies for changing this that we looked at was the use of language in job adverts – the ways in which a role is described can create subtle signals that attract or put off women. Framing a job specification with this in mind can help to increase the number of female applicants.

Another strand of the conference was about leadership and presentation techniques. Delia Cochran who helps coach leadership and has worked at companies such as Coca-Cola ran a particularly interesting session on ‘Discovering your Story,’. This was about considering what has shaped your career and what are your core values. This feeds into how you shape your leadership style, your “credo”.

There were also sessions on the importance of telling stories when we present. This emphasis on linking slides to tales has made me think about how I can make my presentations even more interesting! Research shows that in the first seven seconds you present, 11 impressions are made of which your physical presence makes up 55% and the sound of your voice 38%. The words you used are only 7%.  It really made me think about the importance of appearing confident and speaking with energy and enthusiasm to have the best chance of engaging the audience.

I have to say, I don’t often find time to step back from the day to day and think of myself as a Woman in Leadership. Attending an event like this was a rare opportunity to consider the bigger picture, and also to think about how the importance of women who are in senior roles raising their profiles and being more visible – hence this blog!