The brand colours of MyVoice.

MyVoice: The key role of women in leadership

Published on January 12, 2022 in Working at Geotab by Inshaal Badar


Learn more about Geotab’s first-ever internal women’s conference.

Women make up only 28%of the workforce in careers related to science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). While this number is slowly increasing, there is still a long way to go. Geotab recognizes the important contribution of women in the workplace and is committed to stimulating innovation and fostering company growth with the help of an inclusive and equitable culture.

Geotab hosts first MyVoice conference to celebrate women

On December 6, Geotab held its first-ever internal women’s conference — MyVoice — to celebrate women Geotabbers and their work. The event brought together women and allies from across the company to share their experiences, discuss challenges and exchange tips and tricks. It also provided attendees with an opportunity to form new friendships. 

 

Read some of the key takeaways from the event and a personal interview with the keynote speaker, Zahra Al-Harazi, an award-winning entrepreneur and human rights activist. 

Confidence is key 

Michelle Calloway, Director, OnStar Business Solutions at General Motors spoke at the event with Sherry Calkins, Vice President, Connected Car Business Development at Geotab about becoming a leader in your organization by being confident and ready to learn. 

 

Calloway discussed the importance of having a mentor, and someone who can help you navigate the industry. She also believes in working at a job that you love. “One of the things I encourage people to do is to look at what they love to do. Find what you love and find what needs exist in the business. Find the intersection between what you enjoy and what excites you,” said Calloway. 

 

The biggest tip is to not be afraid to speak up. In order to advance in a field that is dominated by men, she explained that it is important to set goals for yourself and ensure that your voice is heard. 

Michelle Calloway, Director, OnStar Business Solutions at General Motors presenting at Geotab’s first-ever internal women's conference. 

Don’t let gender stereotypes hold you back

Gender stereotypes refer to the generalized view of characteristics or personality traits that some believe women or men should possess. Dr. Janet Morrison, President/CEO of Sheridan College believes this should not hold anyone back. Instead, it should motivate you to excel even further in your career. In a panel led by Marion Karol, AVP Compliance at Geotab, Dr. Morrison talked about the times in her career where she had to deal with stereotypes of women because her role was usually held by a man. 

 

She powered through by believing in herself and not giving up. She also stressed the importance of sisterhood, “Genuine, authentic sisterhood has been a tenant in my life. If you don’t have it, find it. It can be a great source of support,” said Morrison.

Dr. Janet Morrison, President/CEO of Sheridan College discussed the importance of sisterhood and not letting gender stereotypes stand in the way of your dreams.

Overcome imposter syndrome

The last panel of the conference featured women in leadership positions at Geotab: Helen Cook, Associate Vice President, Information Technology; Fara Saeedi, Associate Vice President, Software Development; Stephanie Voelker, Vice President, Strategic Business Consultation Sales; and Sabina Martin, Associate Vice President, Product Management, Solutions Engineering.

 

The panel discussions included two main topics: unconscious bias and imposter syndrome. Imposter syndrome is when an individual doubts their ability, strength and accomplishments because they feel they are not worthy or deserving. According to Forbes, more than 70% of people have experienced this feeling before. While it is easy to want to fit in and conform, the panel concluded that women need to feel comfortable in their authentic selves. 

Find your purpose: Interview with Zahra

The keynote speaker at MyVoice, Zahra Al-Harazi, is an award-winning entrepreneur and purpose-driven leadership expert. She is also a consultant who has worked with thousands of leaders on employee engagement, navigating disruption, leading change, shifting stakeholder values, corporate social responsibility and brand transformations. In an interview with Geotab, Al-Harazi shared her best tips and tricks to becoming a successful and powerful woman. 

Zahra Al-Harazi at the MyVoice event

 

Geotab: In your opinion, what does it mean to be a powerful woman?

 

Zahra: The true definition of power is “the capacity or ability to direct or influence the behavior of others or the course of events.” At the end of the day, what makes someone powerful is not the method they use, but the level of success they achieve in influencing the world and people around them. A powerful woman has inner strength, outer compassion and an ability to bring people to the table. She knows the difference between needing a gentle hand or a firm handle. She stands up for herself and others, tackles problems head-on and doesn’t hide from the truth no matter what it will do. She can lead and she can follow, she can influence and she can listen and empower. 

 

Geotab: What is the significance of an inclusive and diverse workforce?

 

Zahra: Diversity and inclusion on a team and as a part of a company’s strategy are imperative to a business because it is important on so many levels. Research shows, time and time again, that companies with diverse leadership teams deliver higher profits, more revenue and better innovation. Companies with the most gender diversity on executive teams were 21% more likely to have industry-leading profitability and companies with the most ethnic and cultural diversity on executive teams were 33% more likely to have industry-leading profitability. 

Diversity and inclusion is not just a feel-good move. It’s good for business and it has been proven that diversity leads to more creative teams and increases a company’s bottom line.

 

Geotab: How can women amplify their voice in fields dominated by men?

 

Zahra: The answer to this is the same reason I started my speaking career and used my voice. If I could use my reach and influence to help others, I had a chance to support and empower other women. I've learned through my entrepreneurial journey that there are a ton of benefits in using my voice. To myself, to my career and to others who might not think the same way. Use your voice, speak up, share, empower, reach out, open doors, build opportunities and relationships, embrace your influence and dare to be loud. Increase your knowledge, your skills and your ability and talent. The only way to be heard is to be visible.

 

Geotab: What are your top tips for gaining confidence?

 

Zahra: Am I confident? Yes, at the moment I am; in an hour, I might not be. Confidence, like power, is also not a male or female trait. We all have our moments of great belief in ourselves and our moments of shaky ground. The key is not to expect to always stay confident. The key is to recognize why you might not be and find the tools and skills to overcome that. Increase your knowledge, your skills and your ability and talent — that is the only way.

 

Geotab: How do you stay grounded?

 

Zahra: I learn to laugh at myself. Be okay with failure. Seek knowledge and advice. I also actively read everything I can get my hands on and always try to put myself in other people’s shoes. I get involved in the community and find situations that I am not totally comfortable in. I believe that I will be okay no matter what and always be grateful and thankful for the life that I have.

 

Geotab: How can one develop their leadership skills?

 

Zahra: Get involved, develop your soft skills, by doing, not just reading about it. You will never learn empathy, teamwork, leadership, courage, character, commitment, creativity and communication from anything but by getting involved, testing, evolving and growing your ability and understanding. “Go do things” is my best answer.

How Geotab supports women in STEM

Geotab is committed to broadening the scope between women and men in STEM. MyVoice was planned by Women@Geotab, a group that was founded to empower women to reach their full potential and to increase diversity and inclusivity in the workplace. Along with planning events, the group aims to provide women with the resources needed to succeed in the workplace, increase representation and voice achievements of women leaders. 

 

If Geotab and our commitment to diversity and inclusion is something you would like to be a part of, check out the open positions on our Careers website. For the latest Geotab news, photos and career updates, follow @InsideGeotab on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.


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Disclaimer

Geotab's blog posts are intended to provide information and encourage discussion on topics of interest to the telematics community at large. Geotab is not providing technical, professional or legal advice through these blog posts. While every effort has been made to ensure the information in this blog post is timely and accurate, errors and omissions may occur, and the information presented here may become out-of-date with the passage of time.

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