Mapping Your Career With Women Leaders of High Alpha: A Blue Angels Event Recap

by Paige Haefer

The Blue Angels, a portfolio-wide women’s development group at High Alpha, hosts one professional development and one personal development event each quarter encouraging our female employees to connect, grow, and learn together. On Thursday, October 26th, women from across the High Alpha Studio portfolio gathered together for a morning of professional development, networking, food, and fun.

Across our portfolio, we have many women in leadership that have a variety of backgrounds, experiences and stories to share. Through this, the women leaders panel was born. After some great coffee and conversation, myself and the other 40+ women in attendance settled in for a panel discussion.

Facilitated by M.T. Ray, High Alpha’s VP of Talent, the panelists, all in different leadership roles, recounted their journeys to where they are in their careers now. Our panelists included:

Left to Right: Rachel, Haley, Amy, Megan, M.T.

For someone who is just launching their career, is brand new to the world of tech, and generally fairly uncertain about the path I want to take down the road, this panel was truly invaluable. Topics covered included: career path overviews, mentorship, asking for feedback, balance, highlighting your accomplishments, confidence in asking for a promotion or raise, serving as the only woman on a leadership team, and the scenario of being the only woman at the table.

All four women had great responses and insights into all topics but I wanted to share the three main takeaways that were personally impactful for me:

1. Mentors Take Time

“No mentor relationship is formed over one cup of coffee.”

—Megan Jarvis

Mentors lift us up. They guide us through crisis, provide words of wisdom as we navigate our careers, and offer support and understanding, but sometimes it can be tricky to determine who is truly a mentor in your life or how to go about acquiring a mentor. The key takeaway from the panel: time. All relationships take time to develop and mentor/mentee relationships are no exception. Haley Altman offered the advice of approaching networking as an opportunity to meet new people and focus on establishing new relationships, not with the pressure of seeking out a mentor. Megan Jarvis followed up by emphasizing the importance of asking for more time with someone, asking for that coffee meeting that will allow you the opportunity to learn more. If we focus on building relationships with those we admire, mentorships will come naturally.

2. Make Your Voice Count

“You have to find a way to have the confidence to tell people what you’re doing and let them see that.”

—Haley Altman

A challenge we all face at work is finding the appropriate time and context to add our thought or idea to a discussion at work. If we are in lower positions at a company, it can sometimes be intimidating to speak up and share an opinion or idea. As women in leadership roles, our panelists shared that it can also be intimidating to speak up as the only woman in the room. Amy Condle is currently the only woman on the leadership team at Zylo. She shared that something she really tries to be conscious of is making sure she adds value to every conversation or decision-making opportunity she is a part of. At work it’s important to make your voice count. Reflect on what you have accomplished, what you know to be true, and really spend time developing new ideas so that when you have the opportunity or take the opportunity to speak up, your voice adds value and really makes that extra impact.

3. Ask for More

“Focus feedback is a powerful word. Ask for it.”

—Rachel Clark

Don’t be afraid to ask for more. Ask for feedback. Take in that feedback and let it drive you for more. Ask for it on specific, pointed aspects of your work so you can truly hone in and improve. Ask for an opportunity. Rachel Clark shared a powerful story where she asked a former boss for a new leadership opportunity. He gave it to her and emphasized that although he didn’t think she was quite ready, he believed in her and wanted to give her the opportunity to prove him wrong as she had asked for it. Rachel was given this new opportunity because she knew it was something she could do and she asked for the opportunity to showcase her skills. Asking for a promotion or raise is one of the most daunting aspects of work, however, this panel made it clear that if you can showcase the work you have accomplished, you should make the ask. If you can justify it, you deserve the opportunity.

Overall, the experiences shared by Megan, Amy, Haley, and Rachel were powerful. Through the Blue Angels and events such as this one, I have become more and more aware every day about the powerful female network that does exist in the tech world and in Indianapolis. As I continue on the path of my career journey, I hope I can someday inspire other women they way the female leaders at High Alpha have inspired me so far.

These were just my takeaways, I encourage anyone else that attended this great event to share their takeaways in the comments below!