Friday, October 19, 2007

GHC: Technical to Management: Expect the Unexpected - A synopsis of two women's first

Jessica R Eidem and Tara G Pelletier, both from IBM, went over their initial experiences - pros & cons - of leaving the technical track and going for management.

Jessica talked about how difficult it was giving up her technical role - she had to purposefully stop making technical decisions, to avoid micromanaging her team. This is a something I've thought about a lot in the past, and that is the main reasons I've stayed technical. I'd like to advance my career, and sometimes management seems to be the only path - but I enjoy the technical aspects of my job so much, I can't let go.

They both agreed that they get a lot of intangible benefits from helping their employees grow their careers, through training or giving them challenging opportunities.

They state how important it is to set expectations up front and acknowledge the work of employees to the correct people. They made it very clear that folks should make sure they really want to go into management, because the work they do will greatly impact peoples lives.

This was an outstanding overview of the pros and cons of making this large career change.

At this point the presentation turned into a panel, adding Bev Crair from Cisco and Susan Miller from Sun, two women who have been in management for many years.

The panel was truly a delight to listen too, full of good advice about MBAs, gender diversity, managing career and life balance and why they went into management in the first place.

Bev reiterated how important it was to not pursue an MBA directly after completing a bachelors degree - the work experience you get is invaluable to understanding the course work in an MBA program. She also recommends taking an MBA program aligned with your own life - for example, if you're working full time, don't try to pursue an MBA full time. It's too much work and you won't be with students in the same mind frame of yours.

All of the women on the panel do have an MBA, and they all seem to believe it's really helped them with their work.

This was a very valuable panel - I really wish they could've been given more time!

Valerie Fenwick

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