033 – Lessons from Interviewing 50 Women PMs in 50 days – a chat with Elise Stevens
This episode, we are excited to have Elise Stevens, podcaster, speaker and PM thought leader join us on our show! Elise shares what she learned in undertaking the task to interview 50 women in Project Management over 50 days, and gives us some great tips to help us support our fellow PM’s
ABOUT OUR AMAZING GUEST, ELISE STEVENS
For over two decades, Elise has worked closely with project managers to positively impact and innovate effective management processes. She has collaborated with a range of organisations including Queensland Urban Utilities, Ipswich City Council, Coca-Cola Amatil, Hutchinson Telecoms and Ansett Australia.
Elise works with women in project management roles to reinforce within themselves their true value to their team, company and industry. She provides a channel for women’s voices to be heard, supported and embraced in project management. It’s time for women to dream big in the industry, and to know that they can achieve their career goals.
You can reach Elise at:
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Elise’ Current Role [2:01]
Elise currently has a mixed role of being an advocate of women in project management and working as an organizational change manager to bring successful change in organizations. Although her academic life as an electrical engineer is far from what became her career, Elise worked her way up by working on a lot of projects and programs. She wanted something different for herself, and aims to share diverse pragmatic views on project management. The more she worked on podcasting, interviewing, and working with organizations, the more she realized that the PM industry is dominated by men. Hence, Elise wanted to give women the tools they need to increase their visibility, and empower them in a male-dominated industry.
What Elise is doing when she’s not working on projects or podcasts [4:36]
Elise loves to sew and make clothes. To her, creating clothes is like putting together the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. This helps increase her creativity problem solving and running her business.
Most valuable business lesson Elise learned the hard way [5:52]
“Your journey is your journey. You can’t compare yourself to other people.”
You have to stop looking at other people’s career and wondering why they have achieved what they achieved when you haven’t. Each person has their own journey, so we need to stop comparing ourselves with other people and focus more on our own paths.
Elise’ inspiration for interviewing 50 women in Project
Elise was inspired by someone in Australia who did profiles of women in business for a whole year, with the goal of lifting their visibility in business. This inspired her to do something for women on the International Women’s Day, and that became interviewing women. Interviewing them gave them a platform to promote themselves and tell the world what
they have done.
Five Things Elise Learned from Speaking with 50 Women in
Project Management [13:07]
1. It is important to embrace the opportunities that become available to you – don’t wait for people to ask you. If you see people on social media asking for an opinion or someone offering an opportunity to contribute to something, be proactive in sending in your details. Don’t wait for someone to tell you you’re a good fit before you take action, and never assume that because nobody asked you to do it means you’re not qualified. Also, never allow your fear of failure to stop you from pursuing what you want- if the result won’t go your way, accept it and move on.
2. Push yourself to do things outside your comfort zone, and influence your friends to do the same. In order to grow, you’ve got to do different things. Encouraging your friends to do the same could also have a huge impact on their personal development. Why not motivate someone today by telling her how much you believe in her capacity to do the job? This requires little effort and could make a huge difference in boosting your friend’s confidence.
3. Never underestimate your achievements- we all have things to be proud of and share. Be confident in talking about what you’ve accomplished- the more open you become open in sharing your achievements, the more people will acknowledge what you have attained. It’s also important that you become aware of the things that you do well so you know when to give yourself a pat on the back whenever you do them. You may want to create a kudos file in your computer which you can check from time to time so you can be reminded of your achievements, especially during performance reviews with your
4. We don’t have to be constrained by the status quo- if you want to disrupt things, do it. People are normally restricted by the culture they grow in, their families, other’s opinions, or by their own beliefs. If you listen to the negative things that people say, you will never be able to make a change. Instead, if you have a good idea which you think will help, don’t let these negative comments stop you from pursuing it. It may or may not work out, but you will never find out whether it will until you put your idea into action. Project management is all about change, so you have to learn to adapt, even if the turnout is not what you expected.
5. Take time to acknowledge other people’s achievements- it means a lot. Recognizing someone’s wins could make them feel motivated to continue what they’re doing well or even more. These small words of acknowledgement could make a huge difference on how they feel.
Elise’s 5 Practical Tips for Increasing the Visibility of Women in
Project Management [27:56]
1. Share the lessons you learned from your projects to your team and others. This is one way to encourage openness in your achievements.
2. Make knowledge sharing fun – not boring. Conversations tend to be boring when people try too hard in sticking to the format or on how things should be done based on company culture. One way you can make knowledge sharing fun is by introducing new ideas that will challenge people’s thoughts.
3. Use different channels to share your knowledge, experiences, achievements. You may take advantage of team meetings, internal newsletters, PMI local chapter meetings, or even LinkedIn and Facebook Groups. You might feel discouraged by “impostor syndrome”, but you’re not alone. A lot of us feels this way in the when we start sharing what we know. You might think that you’re not qualified, or that someone is more deserving than you to go out there and talk about their experiences. You have to shut down this negative voice, and believe that you have a valid experience worth sharing.
4. Encourage women to be more visible; comment on their posts on LinkedIn, ask questions at PMI meetings, challenge the status quo. And, if you’re a manager, acknowledge your female employees’ contributions while in a meeting, or even put
them on the spotlight, and this will hugely help make them and their efforts visible.
5. Start small – one person at a time. The more people that you can help at a small scale, the more impactful and effective the change is going to be. You can look at one event or one person, and start from there.
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