Ep 25: Women of Impact: Unstoppable Advice

Nicole Scheffler, one of the three co-founders of Diva Tech Talk, is a successful Systems Engineer at technology powerhouse Cisco Systems.  She invited the Diva Tech Talk team to conduct this multi-faceted podcast session at Cisco’s annual WOMEN OF IMPACT 2016 event, which is broadcast simultaneously on four continents, and complemented by regional sessions.

Nicole helped plan the Midwest session (the 3rd largest in the U.S.) and nine attending women (customers, partners and employees) told us how they are becoming “UNSTOPPABLE”, echoing the global event’s theme.

Our interviewees included:

  • Jasmine Herbst , Partner Account Executive and Help Desk Manager, AMI Strategies Inc.

  • Cindy Paine, President/Author/Speaker, Cynthia Paine & Associates

  • Carrie Tchijikov,  Account Manager, Cisco

  • Patti Phillips, Territory Account Manager, Cisco

  • Lynn Mackie, Partner Field Solution Architect – Security, CDW

  • Cathy Sionkowski, Partner Field Marketing Manager, CDW

  • Hayley Hoffman, Partner Account Manager, Data Strategy

  • Emily Wiesman, Partner Talent Acquisition Manager, Data Strategy

  • Debra Watkins, Senior Program Leader, GE

Diva Tech Talk asked our interviewees: "What makes you unstoppable in your field?" Their answers ranged from “being grounded/centered,” to “care about customer success,” “prioritize and persevere,” “build relationships,” and “don’t be afraid to make changes.”  One woman commented that “when you make a mistake, just start over again.” Another credited the fact that she was a “perfectionist” for contributing to her becoming successful.  Two others said they possessed both courage and optimism.

Patti Phillips stressed the need to be able to “be adaptable, and help other people be the same.” There was a constant theme of internal fortitude since, as Cindy Paine said, “being unstoppable is an ‘inside job.’" Deb Watkins urged women to “listen to good mentors, and teachers.” And Cathy Sionkowski exclaimed: “Once you have the basic skills, the world is your oyster!”

All of these women are striving for balance in their busy lives.  They shared some valuable tips with us. Deb Watkins spends time every morning on yoga and meditation.  Cindy Paine starts each day with a nature walk, and tries to listen to other inspiring women as she begins her work. Carrie Tchijikov insisted that there is always time to work out, and make time to give back; “be kind to yourself and to others,” she said. Patti Phillips, Hayley Hoffman, Emily Wiesman and Lynn Mackie all discussed the need to prioritize well, focus on the correct things, delegate, and plan. Jasmine Herbst stressed the need to regroup with her family each day, ensuring that her children understand many of the facets of her day, as much as she understands theirs.  

Since this was a day designed to inspire the event’s attendees, Diva Tech Talk asked our interviewees: "What inspires you, every day?" Carrie discussed how she is consistently inspired by helping others; and Patti talked about how she is energized by her customers and partners.  Lynn is proud to be proving that she can do great work in a male-dominated field. Emily and Jasmine both said that their children inspire them, and they work to show them that “anything is possible.” Hayley urged us, all, to “seize the day.”  And Cindy waxed philosophical, ruminating that “we are powerful beings and have more power than we have tapped.”   She is, personally, inspired by helping others identify the limiting fears that hold them back.

Cisco deliberately schedules this annual event to coincide with Women’s History Month. Diva Tech Talk asked our interviewees how they were celebrating.  Emily mentioned that she would spend time appreciating the women who had gone before her, who had “been bold, and paved a path” for other women. Cindy will spiritually honor all the women who have helped her along the way.  Cathy was planning to help promote the month through social media channels. Both Patti and Carrie said that working on this event for Cisco was part of how they were celebrating. Jasmine exclaimed that she was proud to have voted, that week, in the national Presidential primary, and mentally honored the historic women who helped win the right to vote.

Each of our interviewees offered advice for other women carving out technology careers, and creating life missions.  Cindy urged our audience to follow a simple formula: “Clear/connect/create” and “identify your limiting fears or beliefs that stop you.”  Carrie discussed the need to be supportive of yourself and develop a strong inner self-confidence; she also said: “don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it.”  Cathy commented that women should not let incorrect assumptions about technology roles stop them from taking a chance to join the IT field; there are a lot of opportunities! Deb thought each person should ensure they make time to pause, reflect and be grateful at the end of every day.  Jasmine felt that “women are where technology is going!” and her best advice was “don’t be afraid to ask. You have to be continually learning in this field.”

Local sponsors for the 2016 Midwest Cisco Women of Impact Event included: SHI, KLA Laboratories, Data Strategy, CDW, Logicalis, and World Wide Technology (WWT).  Diva Tech Talk would like to thank them and Cisco for the insights and energy that the event provided.

Cisco is found at www.cisco.com.

Social media tags for the CISCO 2016 WOMEN OF IMPACT event @Cisco_WOI; the Cisco Empowered Women’s Network is @CiscoEWN; and on Facebook you can find the Cisco Empowered Women’s Group at /CiscoEmpoweredWomen.

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