Rebecca Dobson (Corporate Vice President, EMEA at Cadence) believes ‘success’ is very personal. She shares her career journey from startups to big semiconductor companies, and talks about dealing with personal and professional setbacks, and how you can achieve your goals.
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Angie Chang: My name is Angie Chang, I’m the founder of Girl Geek X, and we are so excited to have with us on International Women’s Day Cadence corporate vice president of EMEA, Rebecca Dobson. She has spent time as successful start-ups and then joining the semiconductor industry. And she’ll be telling us all about her career journey with some real talk leadership and career advice that you won’t want to miss. So grab some tea, grab some coffee, and get ready for Rebecca’s story and you’ll be sure to walk away with plenty of insights to take to your own career and climb that career ladder. Welcome, Rebecca.
Rebecca Dobson: Thank you Angie. Well, a lovely introduction. It’s really great to be here, all the way from snowy London. I’m here today to talk about tenacity and owning your career. And the reason I wanted to cover this is, because we really want women to be successful, but we want to give women as much opportunity as possible, but it’s also really important that they want to own it for themselves. So as Angie mentioned, I’m the Corporate VP for EMEA at Cadence. I’m going to talk a little bit about my journey and share some insights and some quite personal and professional challenges, which I hope helps you whilst you are driving your career. But one of the first things I really wanted to touch on was a little bit around success.
Rebecca Dobson: We talk a lot about success, but I think it’s really important to think to yourself about, what does success mean for you? Because the reality is that it’s very personal for all of us, and means something different for all of us. For some of us, it means about being the expert, being the best individual contributor you can possibly be. And remember, you don’t have to manage people to be a great leader. Some of the best scientists in the world have been individual contributors, and changed the world we live in, such as Marie Curie, Ada Lovelace, and of course Charles Darwin. If that’s what you want to be, then that’s what you want to be.
Rebecca Dobson: Sometimes we look at jobs or careers, and sometimes you don’t want a career, you want to have a job. Just identify what your priority is. I think also there’s obviously lots of us that want to be in leadership roles, leading teams, setting direction, running companies, and inspiring others. It’s a very people-orientated role. Very important to understand why. That’s what success may mean to you. It also may be in status. It may be mean having the best of everything, or it may be being a parent. Being a parent is a big thing in a lot of women’s lives, because many of the times we are the primary caregivers, whether it’s extended family, children, friends, and this sometimes impacts on our choice of career. And then finally, we also talk about family, because family is different to just parenthood.
Rebecca Dobson: Determine yourself, what’s important for you, because the success really does mean something different to everybody else. Talking about success, I’m really going to spend quite a lot of time focusing on what does it mean, and what does it take, to make us successful? And success you can see, can be described as iceberg.
Rebecca Dobson: We often see people at the top who are very successful, but underneath it all, what it takes to get there is actually a huge amount of sacrifice and also a lot of mistakes along the way. We’re going to talk about some of the things that I’ve learned on my journey, which I hope they really help you but learn. The one most important thing I want you to take away is why tenacity is important. And we’re going to talk a little bit around tenacity, but also learning from your mistakes. It’s always great to get everything right all the time, but actually, the reality is, you learn more from mistakes, than you do from successes.
Rebecca Dobson: What does it take to be successful? I personally think a really important thing is to understand your non-negotiables. And when I say your non-negotiables, this is what you won’t compromise on, and there are lots of different things you may think about, that are important to you, that you won’t compromise on, and those non-negotiables will change as your life, and your career, goes on. For example, when you are a grad, you might think, “Okay, well I have no non-negotiables. I’m prepared to move to anywhere in the world, to do any sort of job that I think fits with my aspirations. I have very few non-negotiables.” But then as you get a bit older, and maybe you get married, or you have a family, or you’ve got caring commitments, you may then think, “Actually, you know what, I’m not prepared to be away from home so much, so I need a job that’s going to keep me grounded and keep me close to home.”
Rebecca Dobson: It may be that I want to retain in my specialism, for example. I always want to be a programmer. I’m not prepared to go into the commercial world. I love what I do that is one of my non-negotiables. Whatever that means for you, understand your non-negotiables, but also expect them to change as your life and your career moves on. Secondly, I think this is just so important, particularly for someone who has spent a long time working out what I’m good at, because I think I was very aware of what I wasn’t good at. But the most important thing is focus on your strengths. You will have a lot of setbacks in your career, and how you deal with them will be down to your strengths. But this is also when you start leveraging your personal brand.
Rebecca Dobson: Your strength should really be what helps you develop your brand. Think about what you are good at, what you are really good at, and think about how you can leverage them in your career or in your job, whatever that may mean to you. Think about if you see a gap, what can you do to help fill that gap? Maybe there’s something in your team that someone else can’t do and you think, “Well actually I can do that quite easily.” Be curious, step into that gap, and see if you can help out. People are often unlikely to say no when you offer your experience and expertise, so focus on your strengths, and be tenacious in using them.
Rebecca Dobson: Set goals. We often talk about having massive career plans, and knowing where you want to go, and lots of interviewers always say, “Where do you want to be in five years time?” which is just a horrible question to ask on so many levels. But I think the important thing here is you don’t have to have a grand plan the whole time. I think if you speak to many senior people, men or women, a lot of them will say, “Actually, I didn’t really have a plan. I didn’t really know where I wanted to be.” The most important thing is that you set yourself goals and they can be short-term goals. “What do I need to develop? Am I good at presenting? Am I good at writing technical documents?” Try and identify short-term, what are some of the building blocks that will help broaden your expertise and broaden your career?
Rebecca Dobson: And then, long term, and that could be three years, it could be two years, it could be five years, whatever you feel is important for you, have an aspiration of where you want to be, and then how those short-term goals can help you get there. Sometimes you have to understand what the big thing is, in order to set the short-term goals to help you get there. For example, if someone had said to me six or seven years ago, you are going to be running Europe for Cadence, I would’ve said, “Don’t be so ridiculous.” Because in my mind, I probably had too many gaps that would help me get to the role that I’m in. But if you set those short-term goals, with a long-term aspiration, you start closing the gaps to where you want to be. So that’s really, really important.
Rebecca Dobson: I think this is critical, and I’m going to talk about this a lot when I kind of share a personal experience on my journey. It’s really, really important, particularly very early in your career, to find someone that you respect and can learn from. Now quite often that is someone that you work for, and there’s a great HBR article which I’ll reference at the end, which also talks about this in a bit more detail. But having someone that can coach you, whether it’s a direct manager, or someone that you know and that you respect, is really important. You can learn so much from them.
Rebecca Dobson: It’s not necessarily just about technical skills, it can be soft skills. Because I work in the commercial world, understanding how to speak to a customer is really, really important. Really prioritize identifying people around you that you can learn and respect from. And always have a boss that you respect and you can learn from. And always remember, no matter what job you do, no matter how senior or expert you become, you never stop learning.
Rebecca Dobson: Don’t expect to know everything all the time. Once you stop learning, it’s time to move on. And then a big one, I think you’ll probably hear a big theme today, is about embracing opportunities, whether they’re big or small. You need to embrace opportunities as they come to you, which does sometimes happen, and they sometimes come to you if you’ve been very vocal about what your aspirations are and what you want to do. But sometimes you have to make opportunities to build momentum. It may be something like I was saying before. If you see a gap and you think you can fill it, then go and ask, “Look, I can do this. I think I can help you.” People will say yes, okay.
Rebecca Dobson: It could be that you are asked to do a project, you think, “You know what, that’s out of my comfort zone. It’s not really my core strength. I’m not comfortable doing it right now.” Okay, you may decide to say no, but often in life, people regret more often the things they said no to, rather than things they say yes to. And remember, you can manage any sort of impact of doing something not as well as you wanted, as long as you’re honest. Embrace opportunities, I think that’s really, really important.
Rebecca Dobson: And then finally, I can’t tell you how important this is. Hard work is incredibly important for success. And when I mean hard work, it does come down to sacrifices. Everyone always says you can have it all. For example, I’ve got two boys, one is 11 and one is nine, and I’ll talk about them a little bit later, but I have to still now prioritize what I’m doing when. I work really hard. I have to think about the times that I’m working hard, the impact it has on my job, and the impact it has on my family. But working hard is really, really crucial to success. And no one should ever expect, no matter how smart you are, or you know what you believe that you are giving, you can’t do it without hard work. Always bear that in mind.
Rebecca Dobson: I will also always say that you have to balance that hard work with a way to decompress and manage your stress, manage what’s on your mind, and look after yourself. I will always say there are two things, right? No one’s ever going to drive yourself as hard as you, and no one’s going to look after themselves in the way that you need to look after yourself. It’s really, really important that you think about your role in your career, but also looking after yourself. Those are the really key things that I think are really important in driving success for yourself. Don’t underestimate when you see everybody and lots of really amazing people talking today, they would’ve made decisions and sacrifices to get to where they are.
Rebecca Dobson: I really do believe you can be very successful with compromise, but it is impossible to have everything, so there will be sacrifice. I want to talk a little bit around my personal journey and professional and personal setbacks. It’s a very honest description of some of the challenges that I’ve faced and some of the things that I’ve kind of challenged myself with overcoming. I hope it’s useful for you.
Rebecca Dobson: I joined the tech industry 23 years ago now. I started out of university, I did a technical degree doing programming. I’ve never been a programmer since I’ve graduated. I’ve always wanted to work in the commercial space. But I think one of the first setbacks as well as one of the first transformational parts of my career journey were that when I joined Sensaura, which was a startup out of a research lab, I joined doing public relations, and I was absolutely awful at it. I mean awful. I hated every moment of it. I hated speaking to journalists, I just didn’t understand it. I just hated it.
Rebecca Dobson: I was very lucky because I worked for the CEO and he was amazing and he was someone that I’m still in contact with today and actually gave me a job later on in my career. And he was someone I respected and learned from. And he said to me, “Rebecca, I don’t think you’re very good at what you are doing.” And I said, “I’m not very happy doing it either.” But this was like, “What do I do?” But actually this is when it probably provided me with the biggest opportunity.
Rebecca Dobson: He said, “I can see in you something that you probably can’t see in yourself. I think you’re brilliant at speaking to customers. Why don’t you think about going into sales?” That’s when I made my first move into sales, and for a couple of years, I worked for that company running all of our sales in Europe.
Rebecca Dobson: I then decided to take a career break. I’d been a backpacker in my university days, so decided to go off and do a little bit of South Asia and finished in Australia. And when I got to Australia, I was really lucky, I’d run out of money, but I was really lucky because I got a job with what is now Dolby. This is probably one of my first biggest personal setbacks happened. I just got my job at Dolby literally one week, and I was due to start on the Monday, and I got a phone call from home in the middle of the night, and my father had had an enormous heart attack, and it was horrendous. I knew that I couldn’t stay in Australia. I thought, “I don’t even know if he’s going to survive this.” I got on a plane in, first plane I could get, and I flew back to the UK.
Rebecca Dobson: I was very lucky when I got back. He was ill for quite a long amount of time. He had another heart attack, almost immediately after the first, which that one doesn’t represent, but I looked after the family business. When I got back, I couldn’t go back to starting my career. I looked after the family business. But I have to say this did teach me a lot about resilience. It’s a very traumatic time when you experience illness in your family, and I also got thrown at the deep end running my family business, which I didn’t really know a lot about at the time to be honest. But I thought, “What’s the worst that can happen? Someone’s keep it going.” My dad’s got to rest when he came out of hospital, so I did that for about six months, and it taught me a huge amount about being determined, about being resilient, really looking at what the setback was.
Rebecca Dobson: I was thinking, “Well, it’s not about me, it’s about my family business, looking at the bigger picture of how I could help.” I got loads of experiences a result of it. I had to speak to the accountants, I had to speak to the lawyers. It gave me some great experience. Then I went and got a job again. Again, my last CEO from my last company, hee said, “We’ve just set up a new one, Rebecca, would you like to come and work for us?” And that was amazing. I had an amazing journey for about six years with this company called Sonaptic. My boss, who is the CEO, gave me amazing opportunity. I learned everything from how to work with our lawyers to set up precedents for contracts, negotiating commercial deals, and then toward the end of that time before we got acquired, I was running the European sales, and I was personally looking after Nokia, which at the time was the biggest consumer electronics brand, particularly in mobile phones at the time.
Rebecca Dobson: My father had another heart attack. This is a theme, you may see coming on here, but then we were acquired, and we were acquired by a company called Wolfson who’s been acquired subsequently, but we were acquired because they wanted our relationship with Nokia, to help them leverage their business. And I have to say this professionally was probably the first time I was devastated about a role. Shortly after we were required, Wolfson said, “We don’t want you looking after Nokia anymore.”
Rebecca Dobson: Someone I was working for was brave enough to tell me at the time they thought I wasn’t experienced enough, and granted, I was in my late twenties at the time, so I certainly wasn’t experienced enough as some of their sales team. But as a startup, we had managed to sign a contract with this multi-billion dollar company, and we were only about 30 people, and we’d done what this bigger company hadn’t managed to do, and they’d acquired us to do. And so I was kind of blown out the water. They’d asked me not to run Nokia anymore and they’d asked me to work for someone who I didn’t really respect, which I found very difficult because I’d worked alongside them as a peer and knew what they were, how they operated and what they did. And at that point, I just thought to myself, “I don’t think my career is going to be here.”
Rebecca Dobson: That setback then put me on the road to looking for a new role. And ironically, at the same time, I was approached by ARM. And ARM, some of you may be familiar with, it’s the biggest intellectual property provider in the world. It’s a massive cornerstone of the semiconductor industry. And I was approached by ARM to come and join them to run Southern Europe for them, and I have to say I had massive imposter syndrome. I was absolutely terrified. I thought there’s just no way I’m going to get this job. This is even before the interviews.
Rebecca Dobson: And then when they offered me the job and I arrived, I was the youngest, I think I was the only the second other woman in the team as well. And I just found it completely overwhelming. But the great thing was, I had an amazing team around me. I worked for someone who was fantastic, and they gave me amazing opportunities. After nine months of running a relatively small region, they asked me to step up and run one of their biggest accounts, and it was definitely their biggest accountant in Europe, and I think it was possibly one of their biggest accounts globally as well.
Rebecca Dobson: And I looked back and I thought a year ago there was me being told, “You’re not good enough to run this account for us.” Then moving onto an even bigger company, being asked to run one of their biggest accounts, I just thought, “Oh my goodness, this has happened in the space of 12 months.” And if I’d stayed there, if I’d stayed in that role, I wouldn’t have got this opportunity, but it was scary and I really had to be brave.
Rebecca Dobson: One of the reasons that I managed to make the move myself was, because I had amazing support at home. My boyfriend, now husband, has always been massively supportive, and he just used to say to me, “Oh God, I can’t believe you’re even thinking that you can’t do this. Of course you can, just go off and do it. You’d be amazing.” Now if he hadn’t pushed me, I don’t know whether or not I would’ve been brave enough to even go to the interviews for ARM. And I look back now and think, oh my goodness, I can’t believe that I even doubted myself.
Rebecca Dobson: I then had a really great career in ARM, but then my father had another heart attack. But then, about 11 years ago, I had my first son. I took him a little bit of time out on maternity leave, and then I came back from maternity leave, and then they asked me to pick up lots of different areas. In ARM, I moved roles quite often, so whenever I was asked to take up an extra project or extra responsibility, I always did it, even if it was for a short amount of time, deputize for my boss, or picking up another region, I always did everything. And then in the end, I got some great experience across the region, although I was not promoted in that time. I was probably there five years doing lots of different things without being promoted. Came back from having my first son, like I say, got a broader role and then I fell pregnant with my second son. And then I think probably one of the most devastating things happened.
Rebecca Dobson: My mother had a massive stroke, and she was incredibly ill for a really long time, and we didn’t think that she was going to survive. And I was actually eight months pregnant at the time, and in that last month of pregnancy, I lost 14 pounds in one month, just purely down to stress, which for any of you that have been pregnant, you’ll know that losing weight in pregnancy is very unusual, let alone in the first month, in the last month. It was an incredibly stressful time. And it was also an incredibly stressful time because at work I was doing a deal with a customer that I had been looking to close a deal with ever since I joined, and we’d never ever got there. And finally, right at this point, that’s when I managed to close that deal.
Rebecca Dobson: It was a really hard time. My mother was really, really devastatingly ill. I had a newborn baby, closing a deal at work and we’re also doing building work at home. It was unbelievably stressful, but I did just keep on going. And I think one of the reasons I kept on going was, because I just thought, “What are the alternatives?” I had a little baby to look after, I had a toddler to look after, I had to think about my mother who was incredibly sick, but I knew I always wanted to go back to work, so I took a full maternity leave, which in the UK is quite generous. I think I took about nine months off after I had my second son, maybe 10 months, and I spent a lot of that time kind of helping through the family with my mother being sick.
Rebecca Dobson: And then I was really lucky. I went back to ARM, and as soon as I got back, I think I was back three months, they then promoted me to director. And then I scooped up a lot more of responsibility in the team, and then had an amazing journey, and then a couple of years later, finished as VP. But, it was really hard and I think my natural tenacity to just keep going, and problem solve, and I am someone who loves problem solving, really helped me pursue that career, and really helped me develop in that role as well.
Rebecca Dobson: Then about four or five years ago, I decided that probably I really wanted to move on from ARM. The danger was if I carried on there, I probably would stay there the rest of my career. And I thought, “I don’t want to spend another 20 years, so I want to go and do something different.” And then I really did challenge myself. I thought, “Right, I am going to move out of the industry, and g,o and do something completely new.”
Rebecca Dobson: I joined a British satellite network provider called Inmarsat, and I was there to run the sales team. They very quickly promoted me, and I picked up the marketing team, and became an SVP as well, and I was there to transform the business. So it was kind of like a channel business, and I was there to transform it into an IT solutions business, and I was only there 14 months because Cadence had approached me about joining them. And like I said, this role at Cadence was something which I’d never considered, I would’ve been good at doing, but I had learned a huge amount of time at Inmarsat, although one of the main reasons I was happy to move on was because on my second day, they told me that the investment they promised me when they gave me the job, I was never going to get.
Rebecca Dobson: Again, I thought, “Well, how can I transform this business if you’re not giving me the investment I’m supposed to have?” It was quite a problematic business, so I went through a transformation, transformed the business, restructured the business, and then moved on from that to Cadence. And I have to say Cadence, I’m now three years in and it really is an amazing place to be. But there have been some big challenges since joining Cadence. If you think I joined three years ago, I joined eight weeks before we went into the pandemic and went into lockdown, and this in itself has presented me with lots of challenges. I had to think about how was I going to build my networks with HQ, which obviously is in the [Silicon] Valley when I’m based all the way over in Europe, different time zone, I don’t know the culture of the business.
Rebecca Dobson: And it’s very difficult to understand the culture of the business when you’re not in the office, you’re not with people all the time. I then spent to spend another two and a half years behind the screen, basically, still just trying to set myself up. So I had to get to know my team, get to know HQ, get to know the politics, get to know the networks, understand where the powers of influence, and everything were, all remotely. And it was really, really difficult. The first year itself was probably the most challenging year, and then I’ve kind of moved on from that now and got to know people, but I’m still now only really just getting out into the field to get to know different networks in the US and both in Europe. So there have been lots of challenges along the way.
Rebecca Dobson: I’ve always worked incredibly hard. I’ve always thought about what I’m happy to compromise on and what I’m not happy to compromise on. And I would urge you to think of those things. Think about what are your non-negotiables. Think about what’s important to you, and that you are not going to compromise on. And like I say, those will change as you go through your career.
Rebecca Dobson: Create and take opportunities, so don’t always wait for everything to come to you. Make sure you are making opportunities as well as taking things that are offered to you. Sometimes it’s okay to say no, but if people offer you lots of times and you keep saying no, then they won’t come back to you. So really, really think about those opportunities. Networks, you’ll hear a lot about networks again today. Networks are so important in helping you dealing with setbacks, whether it’s your personal networks, your friends, support at home or people in the business.
Rebecca Dobson: I look back at a lot of those times when I had challenges both professionally and personally. It was probably my professional friends, like people in the business who are really important to me, that probably kept me going. Either saying, “Look, this is a period in time, this is a period in time, it’s going to get better.” Or giving me tough love, it’s nothing like tough love, right? People to give you a bit of feedback.
Rebecca Dobson: Evaluate your successes and your setbacks. It’s very easy sometimes to go, “Yeah, I smash that, I’m so happy. And move on.” Look at those successes and understand why you were successful. But also even more importantly, look at your setbacks and understand why it went wrong and what you would do differently now based on understanding the outcome of that. It’s making sure you’ve got a balance, ok? It’s really, really important.
Rebecca Dobson: And then take calculated risks. You have to be brave, but you have to be bold as well. We all have to put ourselves out there. And sometimes, like I say, people make mistakes. You will learn more from those mistakes than you learn from successes. And one other thing I just wanted to mention as well about networks. Good relationships really are critical. No one wants to work with people they can’t get along with. Make sure that you are great to get along with, and humble, and people will do the right thing for you as well.
Rebecca Dobson: Be bold, be brave, take calculated risks, utilize your networks and leverage strength wherever you can find it. Friends and family are so important. Friends at work are really important. Find someone at work that you can talk to that you can trust because sometimes they understand the context of some of the challenges that you have.
Rebecca Dobson: And make sure that you enjoy everything that you are doing. Don’t always look to the end point and think, “Oh, when I’m there, it’s going to be better. It’s going to be better.” Actually, enjoy the journey. Enjoy everything that you are doing, enjoy every role that you have. And I want to say, come and join Cadence. We are hiring. If you go to our careers page, you’ll find lots of fantastic open roles. We’re always looking for engineers both in the sales team and also in R&D.
Rebecca Dobson: I know you’re going to hear from one of my colleagues, Luiza, this afternoon, and she’s going to talk to you as well, about looking after advocates, and looking for support your network. Make sure you listen to Luiza and then the resource that I mentioned as well, which is in from at the Harvard Business Review, which is all about how successful women sustain their career. There’s six key points in there, which I think are really, really important to understand.
Rebecca Dobson: I hope you’ve enjoyed a little bit of insight. We all have personal and professional challenges. Make sure that you understand you’re human, you’re not superhuman. Don’t try and do everything all the time. Just do what’s important for you, makes you happy, and makes you successful, whatever success means to you. Thank you very much and really enjoy the rest of today’s conference.
Angie Chang: Thank you, Rebecca. That was an excellent talk. I enjoyed that thoroughly. It was very inspiring to hear about your entire career and the ways that you can pivot and work through the family health crisis that happens to all of us. We actually had a speaker cancel for today because she is out sick. So we have a little bit of time if you would like to take some questions. I just want to let you-
Rebecca Dobson: Oh yeah,
Angie Chang: … Yeah. Our next speaker, Cassandra is sick. So we have about five, 10 minutes if you would like to take any questions that have been asked or we can…
Rebecca Dobson: Sure. Happy to take questions, Angie, if that’s good. I’m very happy to take questions.
Angie Chang: Yeah, is there any questions anyone has for Rebecca? It’s a good time to ask it.
Rebecca Dobson: Okay, here’s one, “If we’re ready for C level, or how can we pursue them when they’re rarely get posted?” Okay. This one is a really good example of your networks. A lot of the time roles like that are absolutely not advertised. They are absolutely word of mouth. Someone may recommend you or they’ll go through a headhunter. This comes back to making sure that you are talking to your networks about your long-term career aspirations. You are extending your network.
Rebecca Dobson: I think sometimes women are not particularly good at maintaining their networks. My recommendation would be anyone you meet, link in with them, make sure you maintain that relationship, make sure you check in with them, make sure that you are making your social media presence visible. I didn’t touch too much on brand, but this whole setting yourself up with non-negotiables and being clear about what you want is your brand. That’s who you then become and people acknowledge you, but your networks will help you get exposed to these non-posted C level jobs.
Angie Chang: Great. That’s a good answer. How do you recommend staying in touch? That sounds like a lot of work.
Rebecca Dobson: Yeah, I mean it is important. I think if you are someone that’s going to conferences and attending these things, I think it’s always good. Drop someone a note and say, “Look, I’m going to be there, do fancy meeting for a coffee or be great to meet you beforehand.” I don’t live in the center of London, but if I’m going into London, I’ll say to one of my old contacts, “Hey, do you want to meet up? It’d be great to see you.” Luckily these days, LinkedIn’s brilliant, you can just drop them a note, “See things are going well, how are you? Not heard from me for ages.” You’ve got to manage your time, can’t be with everyone. But it is important to maintain those contacts and those networks and have positive relationships with people.
Angie Chang: That sounds like great advice. That’s a good reminder to take a little bit of time to find a quick coffee or lunch, when you go to a work event or a conference, to just reconnect with somebody, and get recharged and re-inspired,
Rebecca Dobson: Our CFO at one of our women’s conferences. He said something which I thought was really powerful, he was like, “Networking is not for weekends. Networking is part of your job. So take time as part of your job to make sure you network.”
Angie Chang: That’s excellent advice. I think your Harvard Business Review articles are really inspiring. I love sharing articles about the latest in the research about how women in tech and business can be successful or help raise red flags for ways they’re not, so that we can all address the issues. And I think sharing articles like that has been a fun way to break into people’s LinkedIn in boxes and people share news all the time and we’re always looking for that cutting edge research to bring back to work and apply with our teams. And that can be a part of that networking and messaging each other saying, “Hey, did you see this cool article? Maybe you’ll get some useful use out of it.”
Rebecca Dobson: Yeah, you’re right. Absolutely right.
Angie Chang: Great. If you have to go, we can let you go and I will be here. Once again for anyone that joined us, Cassandra is out sick today and we are looking forward to hearing her talk at a later time and we’ll be sharing that with everyone. The voice within was a great talk. I felt like when I heard the dry one it felt like very therapeutic. Look forward to that coming, not today but another day. But is there any more questions or we can let Rebecca-
Rebecca Dobson: There’s one I’ve seen here that I think is quite interesting, which is about focusing on your strengths. “How do you identify your strengths?” Sometimes people are very self perceptive and they know what they’re good at. I know what I’m good at, but it’s taken a while to work that out. And one of the ways you do that is asking for feedback. not just your boss but people around you and being really thick-skinned when they give you the feedback. Quite often with my team, we do top, start, and continue. We go and ask people three things they should stop doing, three people things they should start doing, three things they should continue doing and it helps them understand what they’re good at, maybe where they need to develop. Feedback is really important. Make sure you ask for it, but listen to it.
Angie Chang: That is so scary, but also so true that you have to ask for feedback, listen to it, process it and work on your strengths and weaknesses, or strengths.
Rebecca Dobson: Strengths, yeah. Strength based is always good, right? It’s always good, yes.
Angie Chang: Any more questions? We have a few more minutes before the next session.
Rebecca Dobson: “How is the work culture at Cadence?” Okay, so that’s a great question. I’ve been at Cadence three years. I think it’s a great environment. So it’s a highly intellectual environment. We’ve got a huge amount of technical employees. It’s an environment where people are trusted. For example, we’re going back to the office now and some people are saying, “Well how are you saying we’re going to go back to the office?” And say, “Look, we just trust everyone to do the right thing they need to do.” It’s a very outcomes based company. We have some amazing individuals within our field, like real experts in our field as well, and so it’s a very insightful business, but it’s a lovely place to be. It’s a very warm and welcoming place to be, and we’re a very international business ,and so culturally very diverse as well.
Angie Chang: That’s great. That’s great to hear. Okay.
Rebecca Dobson: Oh, that’s a hard one. I think grief is one of those things that doesn’t ever go away. A lady that worked for me, her husband unfortunately had a very unexpected heart attack and she struggled with grief for a really long time. And she said, “Oh, everyone keeps on telling me that it’s going to get better with time.” And she said, “It’s not getting better with time.” I think, you need to find your way. Quite often talking to people really makes things better. Maybe talking to someone who understands, who’s been through it and also someone who maybe know the person as well that you are grieving with. But I think the most important thing is don’t rush trying to recover from something like that because we’re all… Same with everything, we’re all individual in it. It’ll mean something different to other people.
Angie Chang: It does feel like we’re always moving through a lot of different griefs in our lives, so sharing them with others when you feel ready or finding support groups has been something that I found very useful. And this day and age of Facebook, it’s actually very easy to find a Facebook group where people were struggling through, very, not similar but different things.
Rebecca Dobson: Yeah, it’s someone who understands, isn’t it really, that you can… Yeah, it’s important.
Angie Chang: You have one more question.
Rebecca Dobson: “When things don’t work out, how do you ensure you accurately understand how things got there and take away the credit lessons?” It depends on the complexity. Sometimes you need to really get a lot of people together to unpick what happened and go through it step by step. At what point did something not work or not become successful? I think you need to really make sure you’ve got the right people involved. You can’t do this stuff on your own always. Make sure that you’ve got the right people involved. Go through it as a process, understand what happened, where and when, and then really do some research around it as well. Look at best practice depending on what you’re looking at. See if we can understand best practice and then think about lots of different potential outcomes. I think really having a group of people who are both involved and also not involved to cast an eye over it will help you understand how things may have gone and maybe what should have been done differently and learned lessons.
Angie Chang: Yeah. Thank you Michael for asking that question. We actually do get about a few percent of our Girl Geek X event attendees have been people who don’t identify as women. So I’m always encouraged to see men and allies come to our events, learn something, ask questions, and have fun, share the takeaways and expertise with other people. I think Jamie said we have one more question. You have to answer that.
Rebecca Dobson: This is a great question. I think this is down to people getting to know you. So I’m sure if any of my team are on the call, well, I am very firm, I’m very clear, but I’m very fair. So I think as people get to know your personality and they understand your non-negotiables and they understand kind of what the boundaries are, then they understand. But also if any of you are fans of Simon Sinek, as I am, explaining why is really, really important, not just what. So you think about when you are explaining something like you mustn’t do this or we can’t do this. It’s always the context of why. I think that’s really, really important. And the simple things, don’t be emotional, don’t be out of control. Just be really reasoned and sensible as you would expect someone to be in a professional environment. And then people will see that you are making the right decisions and being fair.
Angie Chang: That is very fair. Thank you. I think hearing from people like you, Rebecca, and being inspired by, you’re very measured, very fair, very firm, very empathetic personality, it’s really inspiring to see on International Women’s Day. So we’re going to wrap up this session and go to our next session. So thank you all for joining us and thank you especially to Rebecca for joining us from London.
Rebecca Dobson: Pleasure. Thank you so much. Have a great time.
Angie Chang: [inaudible]. So thank you so much and we’ll see you in the next session.
Rebecca Dobson: Super. Thanks Angie. Thanks everyone.
Angie Chang: Thank you.
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