27 September 2023

Women’s business: How to succeed with the help of other women

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Laura Bergerson Koob* says she has succeeded because of the sage advice, insight and leadership offered by other women.

Photo: CoWomen

A 2019 study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences recently piqued my interest.

The study found that “for women seeking to break into a leadership position in the corporate world, the key to success may in fact lie in other women”.

It went on to say that “77 per cent per cent of the highest-achieving women had strong ties with an inner circle of two to three women”.

“The lowest-achieving women had a male-dominated network and weaker ties with other women in their network.”

This news confirmed what I’d already experienced in my own journey: my career has taken shape, in large part, because of the sage advice, insight and leadership offered by other women — as well as doors they have opened for me.

Since founding my own information technology (IT) channel services business (Channel Impact) in 2005, I’ve made it my mission to pay it forward.

That’s why I’d like to share three of the most important lessons I’ve learned from women leaders in my career:

Know your value and don’t be afraid to ask for it

Luanne Tierney was one of my Cisco managers early on in my career.

She advised me to never feel uncomfortable asking for fair compensation.

Luanne’s mantra was, “know your value and don’t be afraid to ask for it.”

We work because we get paid, so we must speak up and advocate for ourselves when it comes to fair and equal compensation.

This is advice I regularly offer my team and women I mentor in the technology industry.

Embrace each of your roles and understand your limits

I am not only an entrepreneur but also the mum of four children, ranging from four to 16 years old.

I take time out to be active in their lives with room parenting and field trip chaperone responsibilities as well as Cub Scouts and fundraising projects.

You can still be awesome at your job even if you put your family first.

I’ve learned to own it: I’m a mum, and I love my career!

We can have everything — just not at the same time.

When I’m with my kids, I’m 100 per cent present.

When I am working, I am 100 per cent focused on that.

When I mentor women who ask how I “do it all,” that is my response.

Open doors for other women

My first tech job was at 3Com.

Diana Roberson, a neighbour, worked there and opened the door for me to be a summer intern after I graduated from the University of Oregon.

After the summer was over, I was hired as a channel marketing specialist and I stayed there for three years before joining Cisco.

Diana opening the door is why I was able to establish Channel Impact, and why I continue on as CEO today.

I often tell young people — say yes even if you don’t feel 100 per cent confident.

You never know where stepping through that door will take you.

Diana and Luanne opened doors for me and I strive to open a door every day.

The investment they made in me is compounded, illuminated and amplified each time I make that same investment in the careers of other women.

* Laura Bergerson is founder of Channel Impact. She tweets at @laurabergerson.

This article first appeared at www.business2community.com.

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