By Blake Landau (Founder, Artemis)
Get Satisfaction Vice President of Marketing Azita Martin never realized she was the only woman in the room, until she wasn’t. “Now that I’m here at Get Satisfaction, I realize how refreshing it is. You don’t realize how weird being the only woman actually is until you go somewhere else where there is not only another woman, but a woman CEO,” she said.
This is precisely why the world’s top companies have more women in executive positions than the average business in their peer group, according to a recent report by the Corporate Women Directors International.
A recent study conducted on 1000 female executives reported only one in five women have a mentor.
Research shows that women gravitate toward women-led companies. It’s no surprise that after working among men, it’s refreshing for women to have the chance to not only work for women but receive mentoring as well. You get used to doing everything on your own.
Azita said, “I’ve never formally had a mentor, but did network with female executives that I admired and respected.” She is used to being the only female in the room, being one of four female graduates in her aerospace engineering program out of 40 students at USC. She went on to have a successful career holding senior positions at Siebel, LiveOps, Salesforce and as the Chief Marketing Officer at Moxie Software.
“When you have women in leadership they naturally want to help other women grow in their careers. Mentorship is a stronger trait of women,” said Azita.
Women Leaders, Women Mentors
Get Satisfaction CEO Wendy Lea is a mentor, speaker, writer and thought leader on the topic of leadership and talks frequently about how to be a female leader. She’s known for her suggestions on how to be an effective female leader — not trying to lead like a man per se, but embracing the feminine qualities and being true to your feminine self.
You will find small dogs running around the Get Satisfaction office in Potrero Hill, neutralizing the energy of the fast-paced company. The kitchen has an assortment of healthy snacks. People often congregate around the large dining table in the kitchen area that acts as the heart of the office. Wendy was a key reason Azita joined Get Satisfaction.
Together, Wendy and Azita played a key role in influencing Get Satisfaction’s Director of Data and Business Products Ramya Krishnamurthy to join the company. Prior to Get Satisfaction, Ramya worked at Klout and Fox Audience Network.
While Ramya feels fortunate to have worked with great leaders at these companies, she never had a formal mentor. The community of women in leadership roles at Get Satisfaction act as a source of formal and informal mentorship.
Ramya said, “One of the motivating factors in me joining Get Satisfaction was company culture. Wendy in particular was influential.” Ramya wanted to feel part of a company that was growing, where she would be challenged and fully supported. “People are very friendly here and at the same time driven to succeed and help others succeed, a reflection of the leadership of the company.
Earlier in her career, Ramya worked at a bank where as a product engineer, she was the only woman among 70 employees. She said, “Get Satisfaction was the first company where I had the opportunity to work with so many women executives and there are women in every department.”
Engineering A New Future For Women
Facebook Director of Engineering Jocelyn Goldfein is on a mission to hire more female engineers. She told me via email she’s been lucky enough to have mentors, though they were not female. If you’re looking for female mentors, engineering isn’t the easiest place to start.
“I have had many wonderful mentors and sponsors. One of the standouts was a manager at my first job, Matt Howitt. No one before or since has given me such no-holds-barred feedback on what I needed to do better, nor had such whole-hearted and faith in my awesomeness. He’s still my go-to phone call for advice when I have big career decisions to make. Far more of my mentors have been men than women but that’s pretty much representative of the underlying pool of people I work with,” said Jocelyn.
Niniane Wang is the CTO of Minted. She is a frequent contributor to Quora, answering questions around the challenges and opportunities facing women in tech. She said she felt it was important for women to have a female mentor at some point in their lives — someone they can observe on a day-to-day basis.
Niniane said, “There are things you learn from continual osmosis, which you cannot learn just from having lunch with your mentor once every month. I think it is a valuable experience for women to work at least once in their lives at a woman-run company, but I wouldn’t say that they always need to prefer that over a male-run company.”
She attributes much of her success to the mentoring she had at her previous employers Google and Microsoft. These were also male mentors.
Women find themselves being mentored by men — better than not having a mentor at all. As women move up through the ranks, we’ll see more women being hired by those senior executives – and mentored.
Women 2.0 readers: How did you find your mentor(s)? Do you mentor other women? Let us know in the comments.
About the guest blogger: Blake Landau is the founder at Artemis. She is a blogger, speaker and consultant who has worked with brands such as Verizon Wireless on social media, branding, public relations and marketing. She started her career in customer strategy building Customer Management IQ, a social networking site and online business publication. She loves her running, book clubs and living in the San Francisco Bay Area. Follow her on Twitter at @BlakeLandau.