Today’s modern business space is a complex and multifaceted community with important interactions between its various players for both business and personal goals. Advancing and growing in such an interleaved environment demands not only good personal skills and knowledge, but also good connections with colleagues, superiors, and clients.
For young professionals—especially women—establishing a foothold and developing a career in the electronics, microwave and RF design and manufacturing space can be daunting.
Recently, a joint Panel Session between the Women in Microwaves (WiM) and IEEE Young Professionals organizations, composed of female tech leaders and entrepreneurs, discussed what young professionals need to flourish in the electronics and microwaves industry.
Held during the IMS 2023, the panel was moderated by Michelle Kopier, Group Associate Publisher of the Design & Engineering Group at Endeavor Business Media. She was joined by Shirin Montazeri from Google’s Quantum AI Team; Maddie Frank, an additive manufacturing engineer at Fabric8Labs; Wendy Shu the CEO of Eravant; Sathya Padmanabhan, General Manager at Maury Microwaves; and Anouk Hubrechsen, who is the CEO as well as a co-founder of AntenneX.
One of the topics discussed was the importance of mentoring and leadership. While this area is shared to a degree by any young professional entering the marketplace, women in particular are especially sensitive to workplace pressures.
One of the points the panel brought up and discussed was the must-have aspect of good mentoring, as not only can mentors be critical enablers for career advancement, they may be the only workplace support that person has in complex situations. This is closely related to the desire for enlightened team management to provide the leadership needed for the right career development environment.
“The discussion between the panelists was enlightening to hear regarding not only the importance of a mentor, but also how to find the right mentor for a young, women professional,” said Kopier.
“I’m a big proponent of finding your mentor within your organization,” said Wendy Shu, CEO of Eravant. “Does that person have visibility into the strategy of the organization? Can they guide you in a way that you will grow along the trajectory that the whole organization wants to grow in? Are they someone that will give you true feedback?”
Sathya Padmanabhan, General Manager at Maury Microwave Corp., added an important preliminary step before venturing into a mentor-mentee relationship: “Be a sponge. Listen to every nugget of information. If you choose to be a student, you’ll start seeing mentors pop [everywhere].”
Padmanabhan continued by also reminding young professionals that they must be brave enough to not only try hard things, but be willing to make mistakes and fail.
Other topics raised include the difficulties of gaining respect as a young person, and some of the inherent problems women have gaining a voice in their industry. Often in situations where an opinion or observation is provided, such as in a business meeting, others in the conversation may not hear what the person is saying because they have difficulty getting past their biases. The panel underscored the need for mutual support in such situations, to move past subconscious resistance and get to the matter at hand being discussed.
Overall, the panel discussion had a very positive tone, with both men and women filling the seats to hear the panel discussion. The attendance underscored the importance of forums of this nature to expose issues and explore solutions to pressing workplace issues. Understanding these workplace and marketplace issues are critical for all, not just the young and female, to more harmoniously work together for our mutual benefit.
Read more articles from our IMS 2023 coverage.