Advice, Women in Tech

Being a woman in technology: My career crossroads

Career Crossroad

After 4 years in the industry, I felt that I was ready for the next step in my career which was to become a people manager. I was in my early 20s, working in a male-dominant industry, English wasn't my first language but none of those stopped me. So I applied for people management roles within my industry and landed a job in a small agency to help run their online department. My team had 4 people, and 3 of them reported to me directly. While the company had even number of male and female, my team, being a technical team, consisted of all male, except for me. While I built a strong team and we accomplished some great projects, if I have to be completely honest, I didn’t enjoy my time there. At this job, I cried in front of my managers and it was definitely not the finest moment in my career.

I left the company exactly after a year and started contracting to find myself and to be happier at work. I actually wanted to leave after a few months but I was worried about how it would look on my resume so I told myself to stay for at least a year. Would I do that again? No. Now that I am a lot older and hopefully, more mature, I can say a few things contributed to my unhappiness in that role. Firstly, while I was technically capable, I wasn’t emotionally ready to be in the role. I didn’t have a great mentor although I tried my best to be a good manager to my team members. I was so focused on looking after my team and building a great team that I forgot to look after myself. I didn't know what I needed and I didn't ask for any help. And although age is just a number, we can’t forget that we learn many things and experience many situations as we get older.

I spent the next 4 years contracting and freelancing. During these years, I founded start-ups, received awards, got press coverages, appeared in magazines, and loved what I did. I felt very productive and satisfied. I was working 16 to 20 hours a day but it didn't feel like work because I was having a great time, learning new things and building things that excite me.

A lot of life changing events happened during this period too. I got married in 2009 and was pregnant with my daughter in 2011. Being an achiever, I didn't want to do nothing during my maternity leave. So I decided that I would build my start-ups to be profit-generating and would retire from the corporate world when my daughter was born. On the last day of my contracting role and 2 weeks before my daughter was born, I walked out of the building with my heads high, my feet swollen and said, "goodbye workforce, goodbye commute, I won't be coming back". I said to myself that I will be a stay-at-home mum, work for myself and live happily ever after. Oh how wrong I was.

In the next series, I will share with you my motherhood experience and how and why I find my way back into workforce. If you are wondering how this relates to being a woman in technology, well, only us women can get pregnant and take maternity leave, no?

Read the previous articles:

Part I, Being a woman in technology: How it all started for me
Part II, Being a woman in technology: The start of my career