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In honor of Women’s History Month and inspired by the United Nations theme of “Women in Leadership: Achieving An Equal Future In A COVID-19 World,” we’ll be featuring five of Codility’s inspirational leaders. Each week in March, we’ll share these Q&A sessions to inspire, encourage, and support anyone in tech looking to elevate their leadership skills. 

Today, Anne Chadwick, our Director of Customer Success in EMEA, shares why it’s okay to make mistakes, actionable tips to develop leadership skills, and how she promotes authenticity in her team.

What is your role at Codility, and what do you aspire to do in tech?

I’m the Director of Customer Success in EMEA & APAC. I aspire to be inclusive and to believe that nothing is impossible. I want to maintain forward momentum in my career and eventually be CCO or COO in tech.  

What has been the most significant barrier or challenge in your career?

When I was asked to complete this Q&A, I read through the list of questions and took a few days to ponder them. This question has been the one that has given me the most trouble. I read an article recently regarding the gender disparity in leadership in the tech space. There was a quote in it from Amy Cuddy, a professor at Harvard Business School that said, “Sexism is not a glass ceiling. It’s a labyrinth of micro-inequities that add up over a lifetime.” 

It resonated with me in a way that I hadn’t expected. It made me think of the early days of my career before moving into tech (I worked in Insurance/Financial Services). It was very much a “boys club” being able to access the same opportunities as my male counterparts was challenging. I feel that I had to do more with less to prove my worth and prove that I was deserving of my seat at the table.

I believe that things are getting better for women in business, but we’re still far away from being the equals that we’ve been advocating for so long. I think until this becomes a non-question, we’ll still be fighting a battle.

International Women's Month Women in tech Leadership

What advice would you give someone who is aspiring to grow in their leadership responsibilities? 

To look at the very best leader they’ve ever worked for/with and ask themselves what that person does that makes them the best? Then work on fostering similar skills in yourself. For those people who are starting to gravitate toward leadership roles naturally – my recommendation is to speak to your manager, ask for their advice on taking additional responsibilities.

Possibly ask to be given a project to lead to demonstrate your leadership and organizational skills, or if you volunteer yourself to deputize while your manager is out of the office for a couple of weeks. When you excel at this, you’re much more likely to be assigned that type of role going forward.

Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. As long as you’re transparent and learn from them, nobody will think badly of you. I would also add when you’re talking with your manager about your desire to take on a more leadership role. They will be able to recommend some specific training for you. They might have you shadow them or work with you to establish a mentor/mentee relationship with someone that has the experience that might help you grow.  

What strategies have you implemented that have helped create a safe environment that fosters diverse ideas and promotes authenticity?

It can be tricky to grasp that some of the things you’re doing are actual bonafide strategies that can be implemented and not just something that happens naturally. 

I always try to be the change I want to see. As such, I make sure that I am my authentic self in every interaction I have. I often make myself vulnerable to those around me and ensure that our team is a safe space. We build trust amongst each other, and in doing this, I can foster discussion, ideas and have an incredibly open dialogue. I also make sure that we all get the chance to discuss different topics (often about our personal lives, not just work-related issues). Being exposed to differing opinions and experiences is crucial for personal and professional growth, and we need to celebrate our differences! 

Do you have any closing thoughts? 

I’m still new to Codility, with this being only my 6th week, but I feel that this is by far the most encouraging, welcoming, progressive, and aware company I’ve ever been involved with. The commencement of the ERG’s this week covering different demographics is an excellent place to start conversations and take things directly from our people. I feel that as a woman in this specific company, my gender is a non-event. This is as it should be in business, but this is the first time I’ve ever truly felt it was this way. 

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Anne Chadwick is Director of Customer Success in EMEA at Codility.

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