As part of our support for International Women’s Day “Choose to Challenge”, we invited women in leadership to discuss their views on gender inequality and related issues. For this #IWD2021 Ringside, we caught up with Sandra Krief, VP Americas sales, service providers.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
Thanks for inviting me to this interview, I am very passionate about the subject of gender equality and why it is so important in the business world and beyond. I am Canadian, born and raised in Montreal. I moved to New York City over 15 years ago for work and met my husband. We have two kids, Mia is eleven years old, and Samuel nine. I love dancing, laughing and reading.
I’m a computer engineering graduate and started my career as a test engineer. I always loved working with people, so after starting off in engineering I transitioned into Sales engineering and then into sales. I really enjoy the work I do and get along so well with the people I work with everyday.
Make sure your manager/leader believes in you, trusts you, promotes your efforts internally, and embraces your success. Click To Tweet
What advice would you pass on to other women to help them progress and overcome issues associated with ‘the glass ceiling’ in our industry?
The best piece of advice I can share (which I only realised after I was passed for a promotion) is to make sure your manager/leader believes in you, trusts you, promotes your efforts internally, and embraces your success – and most importantly doesn’t feel threatened by it. This will help determine whether a “glass ceiling” existed or not for you on a personal level. When picking a job, we all look for a company we have passion for and truly believe in what they are doing, but one thing to always keep in mind is to also pick the leader you will be working with.
With that, I would also say to work hard, come prepared to your meetings, be the expert on the subject being presented, build genuine connections and (perhaps the most important one) be yourself. It’s so easy to lose yourself in an industry still dominated by a different gender. Don’t let that get to you. Embrace each of your strengths for what they are and never conceal them.
How has COVID-19 impacted your work life balance and responsibilities outside of work? Any words of wisdom you can share on how you’ve managed the past 12 months?
I’ve been working most of my career remotely, but interestingly my first day at RingCentral was the first day of the travel shutdown. My experience in starting this job has been 100% remote in a new company with a new team.
When working remotely in hybrid mode, the lines between work and life get blurry. The best advice I can give if remote work is new to you is to manage your calendar tightly and include important things, like dinner time or a walk and even when your workday should stop.
I have been doing a couple of new things in the past 12 months. Firstly, I walk my kids to school in the morning, I love it, get all the school gossip and get some fresh air. Secondly, I like to work over the weekend to get ready for my week. I schedule specific times just for work, in my office, allowing me to enjoy the rest of the weekend. Thirdly, I have been using the Headspace app to sleep or decompress. Lastly, I get ready for work just like I was heading into the office (makeup and all) and always use video to make each call count.
Why do you think we still have so few female leaders (vs. male as a percentage of total leadership) in the technology sector?
This is a difficult and important question to address. I recently joined the McGill Women, Leadership and Philanthropy initiative in New York as an Alumni. One of topics which comes up often is how can we encourage more women to join programs in technology. I think one major hesitation is the lack of women leaders in this sector.
I believe if we had more mentors for females, I mean mentors who really believe equality is essential for a company’s growth, we would have a lot more female leaders in technology. Technology environments are generally fast-paced, high pressure, demanding and can be intimidating – so it’s crucial for women to have a support network to tap into.
The role of mentoring takes time, dedication, and even trusting people to try new things at work beyond their current boundaries, it’s an investment. We need mentors that can challenge their own comfort to allow their mentee to achieve really great things. I know it is a big investment for any company to really do it right, but I also know the return will be huge.
I truly believe that if we had more mentors for females, we would have a lot more female leaders in technology. Click To Tweet
A massive thanks to Sandra for her view on the importance of mentorship as women progress to leadership positions. Watch out for our next #IWD2021 Ringside tomorrow.