Business leaders tell how they take on challenges to build invigorating careers in the male-dominated technology industry.
Success in life can be the little things: playing a gratifying tennis game, finding time to read a novel or watching your kid’s soccer game. It could be traveling the world tasting wine, winning skydiving championships, running trails or riding motorcycles.
Or it could be rising up through the ranks to become a leader in a corporation that’s dedicated to improving lives through technology. The following 10 women are successful – both in life and at work.
In celebration of Women’s History month, we collected quotes from women leaders inside Intel who recently shared their best career advice, how they bypassed bad bosses and came through tricky situations stronger than ever.
The respondents in this group represent three geographic regions, four countries, and seven business groups. They include Intel’s Bernadette Andrietti, vice president of the Sales and Marketing Group and director of Marketing for Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA); Becky Brown, vice president of Global Marketing and Communications; Rupal Shah Hollenbeck, vice president of Sales and Marketing and general manager for Intel China; Ayse Ildinez, vice president of the New Devices Group; Sandra Lopez, director of strategic alliances for the New Devices Group; Jo Levy vice president Intel’s Law and Policy Group; Rose Schooler, vice president of the Internet of Things Group; Asha Keddy, vice president of the Communications and Devices Group; Kumud Srinivasan, vice president of Technology and Manufacturing Group and president of Intel India; and Kim Stevenson, vice president and Chief Information Officer.
Q. What’s the one piece of career advice that has helped you in your career?
Levy: I was debating making a move, and giving up a career path as an aviation attorney in which I had invested many years. And I thought, “I’ve invested all this time. I’ve established my reputation.” But then a friend said, “Life is long,” and it took the whole weight of the past off my shoulders. I could reinvent myself, do something new, and I knew I would be just fine.
Ildinez: You’ve got to be able to find the win-win-win. First, what’s good for the company? What’s the right thing to do to make the company successful? Then make sure that you marry it with your desires. If you can find this combination, it’s like winning the championship.
Keddy: Focus on the mission, be passionate and give it all you have.
Andrietti: I think the one for me that has been the most useful is my two maternity leaves, because each time I came back with a baby of two months, I had to change, and it’s something that I would have never done. I always encourage women that come back from a maternity leave, and who are afraid to change. I say, “No, take it. It’s the best, fantastic opportunity. Do it.”
Brown: I’ve received a lot of career advice in my 21 years in technology, and one of the best pieces came from my first sales manager who said, “Never lose a design alone.” That philosophy has stuck with me over my career. I’ve used this in a variety of capacities — to not be afraid to ask for help, to raise important issues and to create a win-win for everyone involved.
Shah Hollenbeck: There’s something I hold on to when doubt creeps in which is quite often. Which is, “Believe in the people who believe in you.” There are often times where I’ve thought, “I’m not capable of that. I can’t do that. Are you kidding me?” But there are people out there who see things in you that you don’t see, and you have to embrace that, and you have to believe those people who believe in you.
Schooler: This is an easy question! My coach once asked me what my biggest fear was…and my initial response was, “I don’t have one.” After a lot of reflection, I realized that I was petrified that my success was unwarranted. I had a huge self-confidence problem. She didn’t immediately respond — she simply acknowledged the concern. Then she proceeded to ask a million questions about my business. At the end, she said “You are incredibly capable. You know how to run a business — now we just need to make sure you know that.”
Stevenson: I was not good at influencing people early in my career. I realized I needed to see everything from their perspective before I formulated what I wanted to get done, or what I wanted to get from that conversation. When I position it more from their lens and less from mine, it immediately moves the discussion forward.
Lopez: Whenever I have an opportunity to mentor the next generation — I quickly raise my hand to share my experiences. One of the first things I share is that destiny does not find you; you find destiny. You need to marry your passions and goals with your job. If you do not see synergies then perhaps you are in the wrong position. Don’t wait for someone to tell you are in the wrong job — take ownership of your professional career and find your destiny.
Q. Can you describe a time in your career when you felt like somebody was not listening to you because you were a woman? How did you deal with that?
Stevenson: I’ve had one really bad boss in my career. I had been highly respected, and then suddenly a new boss, and I wasn’t. I let the frustration build, and I was about to quit.
Somebody I trusted said, “You need to confront it.” So I went in and had a conversation with him. Without judging, I said, “When you do this I feel this. When you do that I feel this.” And it wasn’t saying his behavior was good or bad. It was about making him realize what he did was destructive to a relationship that should be very constructive. And so we ultimately worked through it.
Shah Hollenbeck: I had a boss in the late ’90s who stereotyped not only my gender but my age. There were some very inappropriate comments on where I should be in my life with respect to the fact that I was just recently married, and an expectation about when I would start a family.
I didn’t confront it. I actually left the group and took a new job. A couple of years later this manager did this to someone else and this manager isn’t at Intel anymore. So one of my biggest regrets is that I didn’t confront it. It’s one of my biggest lessons, and probably one of my biggest regrets, too.
Levy: When I was at a law firm, a partner told me that he could never let me second chair a trial with him because he could never have a woman carry his bags. And he was not kidding. I had to drive him to a client meeting so he was trapped in my car for about 45 minutes. That’s when I confronted him, told him how unfair it was, and all the reasons why I would be a great second chair at trial.
He was very unhappy that I confronted him, but at the next trial, I actually did second chair — and I didn’t have to carry his bags.
Ildinez: I think my most challenging has been when they appointed me to run the Middle East and Africa as a director. I was a woman, single, young, Turkish with this American accent who didn’t necessarily fit in to Middle East or African cultures. And I had big push back from my colleagues when I became their manager. And all of them were probably 10 years more senior than me. They were asking, “What’s up with this woman? Where did she come from, and why is she the one?”
It took me probably six months to a year to grasp the situation and establish my credibility and build respect. It was a journey, an amazing journey of learning.
Srinivasan: Very early on in my career I had a manager who said that I was too aggressive for a woman. I thought about becoming less aggressive, and then realized, “Well, that’s putting me between a rock and a hard place because if I become less aggressive, then I’m not as competitive.”
I decided I needed to go talk to HR. The HR person said, right off the bat, “He was wrong.” And she said, “I’m going to go talk to him,” and she did. He called me back and he said that I had completely misunderstood his remark and I said, “That’s okay.” So we moved on.
Q. Intel just announced a new diversity and inclusion initiative. What do you think it will take to increase retention of women at Intel?
Stevenson: First, you have to realize that people generally decide to leave a company 6 to 18 months before you ever know. If we simply react to trying to save people when they say, “Hey, I’ve got a better opportunity,” we are way too late. We need to work on the basics — constant conversation. What’s important to the person? Where do they see their career? What challenges do they want to undertake? Most women want to progress. They want to take on more challenges.
It’s the manager/employee relationship that really matters here. And the manager should see it as their responsibility to help the person fulfill their career aspirations if they can’t help them find a place where they can. Otherwise you will lose them.
Brown: I’m thrilled about this effort from Intel, and it was a bright day at CES when Brian announced the diversity initiative. Retention requires two things: increased opportunity and a supportive network. Women need to help other women in finding new jobs, exploring new opportunities, and mentoring young and ambitious up-and-comers.
Srinivasan: In India, we’ve been working on a concept of career identity. As the girls are going to school, they get a lot of encouragement from their parents, including the father, to do really well. But once they graduate from school then there seems to be a very weak sense of identity beyond being a wife and a mother. And so we ask, what would each individual aspire to in terms of their career identity? We are working to see whether by using that language we can get women to stay on at work as they go through marriage and first child and second child.
Andrietti: We have to include more men in this. Many women are leaving because they don’t speak the same language as men. Once, I was able to see that two women had looks on their faces that something was not going well.
Keddy: We need good management practices, listening skills and the ability to value different styles. At the end of the day, employees want to feel they made a difference and we need to help them achieve that. Diversity begets diversity
Schooler: I think there’s a feeling of isolation. We recently brought these interns who were wonderfully brilliant and talented young women from the National Center for Women & Information Technology aspirations program.
We spread them all over the company, and when we talked to them at the end of the summer, they said, “I felt really lonely here. I really didn’t have anyone to talk to, to have lunch with, to hang out with on the weekends.” We need these young people to feel like they have a cohort, a network of people with common interests.
Lopez: I talk a lot about bringing awareness to micro-inequities. If a male leaves the office to coach his kid’s soccer practice, he is applauded; if a women leaves the office to attend her child’s Halloween parade, she is questioned.
Mostly my male counterparts are not even cognizant they were being biased — and my female counterparts appreciate the acknowledgment. Sometimes it is simply raising awareness of the micro-inequities that are occurring around us.
Q. Was there someone in your life whose encouragement or inspiration influenced your career path?
Levy: When I started high school, my mother was 50 and she started law school. In those days, there were very few women in law, and she was one of only two people over the age of 30 in her class. She used to take me to her law school class, and I used to help her with her studies. She went on to practice for more than 25 years.
Shah Hollenbeck: I recently had the opportunity to attend the Fortune’s Most Powerful Women Next Generation summit. I was so inspired. There was one particular young woman — Shiza Shahid — who started the Malala Fund. When she found out about the violence, she was working at a consulting firm in the U.S., having graduated from Stanford. And she said, “That’s it. I’ve got to take a leave of absence, and I’m going to go take care of my friend.” It was just so inspiring to see young women doing these kinds of things.
Brown: An executive vice president at Intel, Carl Everett, was responsible for getting me in the door and helping me along the way. He continues to be my strongest advocate, and is always pushing me to be more myself, giving me confidence and sharing insights he’s had along the way in his career.
Schooler: My mother started as a secretary to the president at a little local bank when she was 17. She had no college education because my grandfather would not pay for his daughter to go to college — only his two sons. She went on to become the first female branch manager in the area then eventually senior vice president running operations of about 400 people. About four or five years ago she wanted to try something new, so she went into business development and secured over $100 million of new deposits, far exceeding her predecessors and all expectations.
I could not have asked for a more inspirational, better female role model than my mother.
Lopez: It is not any one individual but the characteristic traits of several leaders that I admire most. I respect Frida Kahlo for standing up for what she believed in; Rosa Parks for not giving up; and my father who, despite a stroke that paralyzed half of his body, leveraged his passion and continued his vocation.
Ultimately, it is about embracing your individuality, values and goals and reflecting on those that came before you, and the people around that inform your professional compass.
Learn more about Intel’s diversity initiative here.
This article was adapted from a story written by Intel’s Employee Communications team.