When thinking about advice for aspiring women leaders, I reflect on the trajectory of my own career.
As an undergraduate student in art school, I wanted to explore new creative tools. It was the 1970s, and I realized that digital technology could become the tool to create new forms of expression. Computers would not only be number crunchers but could help us create, learn and communicate in completely new ways.
It was then that I decided to dedicate my career to creative applications of new technology, believing that the artistic and feminine perspective could add an important dimension to a technological development that could affect all parts of society. This became my passion and is what still inspires me today.
To add to my challenge, I was stubbornly determined to not only enter the mostly male field of media technology research, but to take on a leadership role as an artist, director and visionary. With a few exceptions, the emerging world of digital computers was not yet an established field, and I believed that my hybrid role as an artist working in technology research might allow me to slip through barriers and make a mark.
Passion for your work is certainly key and is usually what makes it fun. Strong leaders need to know how to find passion in themselves and how to bring it out it in others. A highly motivated team is a key ingredient for success. But you also need to start with the right vision and a well designed plan combined with strong determination and perseverance to see the job through.
Sometimes career success can be uncomfortable. It can bring more responsibilities, more pressure, more attention and scrutiny, and a need to set the bar even higher. With each step up you may give up some of the handson work that served you well in order to focus on the big picture. For some women, it can feel awkward to succeed in a career and move up the ladder.
But a successful career can bring tremendous joy and a sense of fulfillment. The key is to find work that inspires and challenges, and find the right balance between work and life. And know that your inspiration and balance may shift and evolve, just to make it more complicated.
To sustain success in work and life, you need to keep learning and growing. Understand what it takes to maintain your self-confidence and try to be true to your vision. I haven’t yet achieved this but I know that failure is part of success and I like to keep trying.