Personal Career Advocacy for Advancement with SThree

Personal Career Advocacy for Advancement with SThree

Written by Women Who Code

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This article has been adapted from the recording of our event, “Personal Career Advocacy for Advancement with SThree.” 

Watch or Listen to this Panel on YouTube

Katrin Kipp, Manager at SThree, sits down with Diandra Kownatzki, CEO, and founder of Kownatzki ENT, Heba Noweir, Business Analyst, and Katarzyna Stoltmann, Data Science and AI at Adesso. They discuss getting out of your comfort zone, changing your perspective on failure, and the importance of mentors and sponsors.

For those who are looking for a career change, how would you build a habit of self-advocacy and personal development so you’re ready when faced with a new opportunity?

Katarzyna: It takes a lot of work to change a career. It’s always good to be prepared for the next steps. Keep updated on what is happening in the world. It sounds simple, but it is very important to look at opportunities and get inspired by the topics and people. Research on the internet and go to conferences. Find a mentor. If you are about public speaking, then do it. Talk to your network, go to panel discussions, go to conferences. Give a talk; then people will know that this is your topic and that you are the person who should be invited to talk about this topic the next time. This could be your next opportunity. Be authentic. 

Diandra: I have a mentor. I work on a daily basis with her and also a mindset coach. Do workshops and seminars, for sure. Keep learning; information is power. Connect with people in the industry. Take action. Go to the next step and look at what’s right for you. Where your passion is will be where you are the best. 

It’s an old saying that you can’t grow if you stay in your comfort zone. Have you been able to get yourself out of that rut to set yourself up for new challenges?

Heba: Learning the German language from scratch was out of my comfort zone. We are going to grow either way. We grow older, only in age, or grow bolder. The child, in order to walk, has to get out of his comfort zone. In order to be able to walk and to grow, he has to try and fail and try and fail and try and fail until he succeeds. It’s exactly the same thing in our career. Sometimes, it is your decision to get out of your comfort zone because you know that you need to go to the next step, and you want to take the challenge. Other times, life kicks you with a brick in the head, and you have no choice but to get out of your comfort zone if you don’t have any other option. Resilience or flexibility, which is how you adapt yourself to a situation, is an important skill. Life is unpredictable. 

Diandra: I program myself to stay positive about challenges. I have a vision wall at home so that I can see clearly, every day, where I want to go. 

During periods of uncertainty, it can be easy to set your goals aside. What have you done to identify your needs and goals and advocate for support from your family, friends, and colleagues?

Diandra: Setting boundaries and protecting my time, energy, and resources are all important. I have this rule that I have four pillars, which is a hundred percent, and each of them is 25%. One is for work, and one is for relationships and family. The other one is for health, including sports. The fourth one is for inspiration. Keeping them in balance gives me focus and more power as a person.

Heba: Sometimes, we have to put our goals aside in periods of uncertainty. We have to think smart. Our goals are like climbing a mountain. You have to climb in small steps. We have to be resilient and adapt ourselves.

What advice do you have to give your teams or colleagues to help them conquer their career fears?

Heba: Let’s change our perspective and don’t call it failure. It is just a trial. Thomas Edison did 99 trials before inventing the electrical lamp. If he had given up on the first trial, we wouldn’t have electricity right now. A failure has to be considered as a trial and experience gained in order to succeed. If you stay in your comfort zone, you don’t do anything. You’re not going to go forward. It is also very important to be persistent and perseverant. I admire those people who learn from the mistakes of others. Life is unpredictable. Sometimes, you will be faced with situations your acquaintances, family, colleagues, and friends didn’t pass through before. You will have to take the challenge alone.

What is your advice as someone starts to action their career advocacy, and do you have any reading recommendations?

Katarzyna: My book recommendation is The Digital Reinvention by Nahia Orduña. What she says is what I also say. Start with research. It’s so important to get the overview. What is everything happening in the world? When we think about new opportunities within the company, we start to research. Speak to the people who are doing it. Talk to the people who are in these areas where you find your inspiration. Read, talk, find a mentor, find a few mentors. Find diversity in your mentorship as well. Also, find a sponsor. A sponsor is a person who sits at the table advocating for you for your next opportunity and trusts and believes fully in your knowledge.