How To Become A Leader And Build Your Own Personal Brand In Tech
Do you know your niche in tech?
Becoming a leader in tech comes with many professional and financial benefits. However, the journey to becoming a leader can be challenging. So, you may need to upskill or evaluate what qualities you’re bringing to the team. But most importantly, you need to define your niche in tech.
That’s why Xena hosted a whole Meetup dedicated to helping you discover your niche in tech. So what do we mean by “niche”? By niche, we mean, defining what makes you unique in your job, and how you can use this to become a leader, or even develop your own personal brand.
Niche, right? We thought so.
Couldn’t attend our Meetup? No problem, because we’ve put together the key insights and learnings we made from each of our speakers.
But first, let us introduce you to the trailblazers at our last Meetup:
Antonia Landi | Senior PM in Product Ops | AVIV Group
Dipti Dhawan | VP Engineering | Omnius
Lena Reinhard | Prev VP Engineering | International Public Speaker | Leadership Coach
Jessica Ulyate | Associate Director of Product | HelloFresh
So here are the questions we asked our experts, and here are their answers:
How can candidates build confidence and prepare when your work is not recognised and you are hesitant to ask for rewards?
Ask for feedback
The first thing you need to ask yourself is, “why do I want this reward?”. If you feel your work is not being recognised the simplest answer is to ask for feedback.
~ Dipti Dhawan
Keep a record
If that’s not getting you the recognition you deserve, one practical thing you can do is build a case for yourself. Whenever you complete a task, write it in a document. Criticism or accomplishment, you should keep a record so you can track your performance.
Find allies who are peers or people on your team who will give you feedback. If you have a mentor, or an advocate, or someone who is not necessarily in your direct line of reporting – great. Speak to them and explain your concerns. They may know what it’s like working with your manager, and they may be able to advise you on how to deal with the matter.
Consider changing jobs
Finally, the question you need to ask yourself is, “Is the worth the fight?”.
~ Antonia Landi
Sometimes you may need to move on from that role if you can’t get the recognition you deserve. In that case, you should ask yourself three things before making your decision:
1) Is there a process around recognition?
2) Is there someone I can rely on?
3) Is there someone in a senior-level position who is not necessarily your boss, but you can ask them for advice on what you should do differently?
A lot of women tend to be really good at soft skills which are hard to quantify. Remember, your manager is temporary, but these skills are also important for your career going forward.
What qualities are needed for an employee to move towards a leadership position?
The three key characteristics of leaders are:
1) People who get things done
2) People who value pushing things forward
3) People who are reliable
When you push to get things done in your role and ensure there is value, people will respond to that kind of energy. What pushed Dipti Dhawan into a leadership role was that, “I was unhappy and I wanted to change it”. When you’re unhappy with something there’s an opportunity to fix it.
Understand your flaws
If you understand what flaws you have then you have to fill in the gaps. A good leader can recognise their weaknesses and build their team for success.
Remember you don’t always have to be a manager
An important level of leadership is switching to strategy. You need to think about the bigger picture, and if you’re really using your own time and your team’s time efficiently.
Ambiguity and change
“I firmly believe in leadership at all levels. Management is handling change, leadership is handling ambiguity”
~ Lena Reinhard
The ability to handle ambiguity and change is one of the biggest leadership traits. You should be getting involved in things that are outside of your team. Talk with revenue teams, talk with marketing teams, and if you can navigate that side of the business you will find yourself progressing towards a leadership position.
How can anyone truly overcome their fear of public speaking?
Let’s be honest, public speaking can be a petrifying experience. Whether you’re presenting to your team, speaking at a Meetup, or you have your first public speaking gig, here are our key takeaways to set you up for success:
Believe in the fact you have something worthwhile to say
Remember, if you’re in a position where you need to speak in public, then someone put you in that position. Trust the person who made that decision, and trust the person who hired you for the job.
Command the stage
You should make public speaking fun, feel like a superstar and like a rockstar – because you are one. Be loud, and be big.
Make sure you know what you’re talking about. Read into the topic you will be discussing and prepare the key points you want to get across. Rehearse it, even find 2-3 friends who can listen and give feedback.
If you can’t find some friends or peers to practice on, record yourself and listen. “You’ll be surprised by how much you can talk, and perhaps you’re not really listening to what you’re saying.”
~ Jessica Ulyate
Physical activity can actually fight anxiety. Exercise is recommended to calm your nerves before public speaking, but not right before you speak. Try fit in some jumping jacks a couple of hours before your next big gig – this will help you get rid of any built-up adrenaline.
Fake it till you make it
The oldest trick in the book. The first 20 keynotes made by Lena were around preparation, but sometimes confidence is around faking it until you make it.
Why should anyone consider building a personal brand in tech, and what are the benefits?
Know your USP
Everyone is unique. If you figure out how to leverage your past experiences, you will find your niche. If you’re authentic, you’re going to have a brand one way or another.
Be honest on LinkedIn. Don’t be afraid to share your biggest wins, and even losses. Let other people learn from your mistakes. What’s nice is that people will start reaching out to you. Whether it’s for advice, or to speak at an event about your experience. So don’t be afraid to leverage LinkedIn, it could be your calling card.
In the end, it’s all about how you position yourself. Position yourself talking about certain topics you’re passionate about. Do what you enjoy, and what values to you the most, and talk about it. This is how you can build your own personal brand around these topics.
Put yourself forward
If you want to become a public speaker the only person stopping you, is you. Reach out the conferences or Meetups you want to speak at, and submit your story. Once you’ve done a year in the conference circuit you’ll be surprised at how many requests you will get going forward.
~ Lena Reinhard
How do you brand yourself as a woman in tech? How do you take ownership of being the only woman in the room?
Remember what you say matters
Always remember that your perspective is unique, and it’s important. You need to remind yourself of this regularly. One practical bit of advice you can follow is to define one topic that you’re passionate about, and talk about that at every opportunity. The things you care about make it interesting for people to listen to. Just by virtue of being yourself, it will also help you bring energy to what you’re saying. This is what will help you define your niche.
Take ownership of being the only woman in the room
It’s no surprise that women can often still experience being “the only”. Whether that’s in the room, on a video call, or as a speaker at a conference. You need to take ownership of being the only woman, and call it out. If you’re feeling marginalised, or left out, you should address it. Remember it’s ok to talk about it, and to point it out. By addressing the matter, you’re addressing the bigger issue at large, and paving the way for more women to enter the public space in tech.
About our partners
★ About HelloFresh ★
HelloFresh is on a mission to change the way people eat, forever! Since their 2011 founding in Europe’s vibrant tech hub, Berlin, they’ve become the world’s leading meal kit provider, delivering to over 4.2 million households worldwide in 15 countries across 3 continents. At HelloFresh they embrace and welcome diversity and they currently employ over 15,000 individuals globally who contribute to this.
★ About Factory Berlin ★
Stealth Mode is a 3-month mentorship program for women and non-binary founders looking to take their early-stage tech startups to the next level.
To support the next generation of women, non-binary, underrepresented founders, Factory Berlin is launching the 4th edition of the Stealth Mode program, powered by Google for Startups and Henkel dx.