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Women Leaders workshop. When opportunity knocks, are you ready?

Posted: 20 December, 2017

Global technology and business leader, Dr Anita Sands, gave an inspirational talk on being ready for opportunities to a packed room of over 80 women from across DIT as part of the DIT Women Leader?s in Higher Education workshop series.

WLHE - Dec 2017 Workshop


Professor Mary B. Corcoran, Head of Sociology and Associate Dean of Social Science at Maynooth University, chaired the event, welcoming the opportunity to take time, listen and reflect on how to make the most of opportunities that come your way.

Professor Sarah Jane Delany, Assistant Head of the DIT School of Computing urged participants to look forward and seize opportunities as they arise.

Dr Sands, who describes herself as a ‘resident disruptor and change leader’ in her Twitter bio, worked her way from Louth to the board rooms of Silicon Valley. At the age of just 33, she was appointed as Chief Operating Officer for UBS Wealth Management Americas and is now an Independent Board Director for three Silicon Valley companies: Symantec Corporation, Service Now and Pure Storage.

Dr Sands advised the audience to generate opportunities through networking, to think ahead and develop the skills and relationships needed to seize the next opportunity, and to evaluate each opportunity before saying yes as some are more beneficial than others.  

She outlined five steps to prepare yourself for maximising opportunities:  

  • Advertise: See the world as negotiable and don’t be afraid to speak up for yourself. Learn to ask for the things you need to succeed in both your working and home life.
  • Network: Your network is your most valuable asset, be pro-active in growing and cultivating those relationships. You need a stable of mentors and sponsors along your career path. It’s a sign of strength to ask for help, not weakness.
  • Invest in yourself: All 168 hours in the week are investable. Think consciously about what you say yes to, but also what you say no to. Think about the opportunity cost of every hour of your time. You are the most valuable asset you can invest in.
  • Take Risks: Get over your fears. Silence the voice in your head telling you that you’re not good enough. We don’t grow when things are the same, we grow when things change. Change can be difficult, it comes with friction, embrace that.  
  • Authentic Self: Be your authentic self and know your innate strengths. Stay open, curious, collaborative and engaged. You are empowered to design your own life way more than you think you are. Never derail because of a weakness, derail because of a strength that you take too far. Every strength has a dark side, know where the line is.

Following the talk, participants broke into smaller groups to brainstorm on the opportunities for success available to them, the barriers to fulfilling that success, and the solutions and changes needed to unlock those opportunities.

The DIT Women Leaders in Higher Education network was established in 2016 to support, empower and advocate for women in career advancement from across the Institute, whether in management, academic, technical or administrative positions. The network has hosted events on themes such as career advancement and developing your professional network.

If you would like to join the WLHE Network Google group, click here.