Early in my career, my boss used to joke about the women’s club at his company. It would be an opportunity for him to relax and the women would play badminton. This is my workplace today.
I’m in a men’s organization. It’s about 90 percent male. We are an informal group with stories of drinking beers from your cup, a regular merit-based dinner and a not-so-subtle promise to attend the mermaid reveal. But, all of us have a common goal of leadership.
I was always fascinated by the customs surrounding the NFL Draft. Everyone invited in the room except for one team — the Houston Texans — put their name into a big bowl, where the general manager had a chat with whoever stepped up to the plate. The owner would call to congratulate the man he just jousted with in the sack drill. The pick was made for the team, if not the individual.
It’s not just football.
The thought of having a single entry point into a community of like-minded individuals is powerful. It fosters enthusiasm and ambition, and it makes people less afraid of failure. But, this is how it should work. No one should be shoved forward to change careers for the sake of “forcing” yourself into a job just because it might give you a path.
If you are forced into a job because you are not thriving at your current one, then there’s a problem.
To balance that, you have to know the company. If you do, you will know what your role will be, when you will be expected to do it and the company’s expectations of you.
Before I decided I was going to try to take a role in online marketing, my boss said, “Let’s get this straight. Are you going to be CEO of the online shop?” It was a hard question to answer and take the job.
One of the biggest nonstop internet websites is sponsored by Budweiser. The bottles are sponsored by the beer brand. So, my first job in online marketing was the Budweiser digital account.
When I had started in digital marketing, the company had a strict prohibition on taking the contract away from the account. We were told we could not work on any other account for six months. You have to stay up to date with new client services and the latest solutions. Your work on the previous account needs to be killed off so you can hopefully land on your feet as soon as possible.
I was not ready to kill off an important account. Therefore, I worked on the Budweiser account as much as I could. This gave me an opportunity to learn from some of the best tech and digital marketers I could ever hope to work with. During this time, my boss told me I would be promoted up to a senior leadership position because the account had been performing well and Budweiser needed additional help.
When the six-month time frame ended, I learned that the other accounts I was currently working on did not need support as well.
I had missed out on some really great opportunities because I had spent so much time on an important client. I should have learned from this and gone out and pursued opportunities that were a better fit for me and my skill set.
And, I would definitely make the same choice today if I were the boss.
So, as women, we must not get stuck with one particular goal or career path. We must diversify our paths to prove we can handle any situation. All of our paths are necessary if we want to achieve the career we want.