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The Importance of Finding Your ‘Personal Champions’ as Women in Tech

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To mark International Women’s Day, we opened up the floor to two of our senior leaders to share their experiences as women in tech. Here, Victoria Mileham, Head of Global Recruiting, and Murielle de Gruchy, People Business Partner, Global Finance and Ops and EMEA Region, discuss women’s superpower, fostering the right environment, and the importance of male champions.

Harnessing a Hidden Superpower

Murielle kicked off with an intriguing point: "Women have a hidden superpower”. Through gender socialization, women have been encouraged to be attuned to other people's emotions and needs. 

While this could be seen as a double-edged sword — with women perhaps more inclined to appease others and take on unwanted tasks — Murielle considers this empathy a source of influence and a vehicle for career advancement.

She highlighted how “being attuned to other people’s emotions can work in a very positive way for women. If you understand what is driving a person then you can engage team members in a way that is compelling and motivating. And, importantly, gain real influence over decision making and progressing your career.”

Finding Personal Champions

For Victoria, building a personal network has been invaluable to creating a psychologically safe environment to learn, grow and develop. She was introduced to the concept of creating a ‘personal board of directors’ following an exercise at a Confluent company event and is a big advocate of this approach.

"Over several years, I've developed a ‘personal board’ of people from a variety of socioeconomic backgrounds, with diverse experiences and roles who I can connect with and bounce ideas off,” explains Victoria. 

“Diversity in this group is really important, but they all have one thing in common — a collective interest in wanting me to be the best I can be. That’s incredibly empowering.”

Cultivating Advocacy and Mentorship

Support for women is something that both Murielle and Victoria have experienced directly at Confluent too. 

"I've been pleasantly surprised by how much advocacy I see for women at Confluent from men and our business leaders," notes Murielle, highlighting the proactive efforts to spotlight women’s achievements, particularly through the Confluent Women Inclusion Network (WIN).

Victoria reveals her upcoming role in strengthening this network, joining the WIN in Europe. She praises the open-door policy at Confluent: "I've never felt that executive-level women were unapproachable. Women in our organization willingly share their knowledge and experiences. The mentorship here is outstanding."

But it’s not only women who are championing female career development. Men are actively involved in the WIN initiatives but as Murielle is quick to point out. “They aren’t leading the conversation, but instead flying the flag for women at Confluent and making sure that our voices are heard,” she said. 

Progress and Inclusivity

On the subject of inclusivity and equality for women in tech, both Murielle and Victoria agree that while the industry is still viewed as male-dominated, the landscape is changing.

Murielle highlights that the proportion of women in senior roles at Confluent has increased exponentially, through both internal promotions and external hiring. 

Victoria observes that while that’s the case in Confluent, across the tech sector women are still likely to be seen in roles like HR and marketing, rather than engineering or sales — and as a sector we need to strive for change. 

Murielle points out how "remote working and a greater awareness of equality are leveling the field for women." And it’s clear that progress has been made when Victoria shares her early career challenges, juxtaposing them with the current scenario. "When I started out in tech I was faced with comments in an interview from a CEO asking, ‘Do I need to be worried about any blue sticks?’ That’s a huge difference to where we are now."

The conversation between Victoria and Murielle not only celebrates the strides made by women in tech but also serves as a beacon for businesses intent on nurturing a diverse and vibrant workforce. 

As Victoria summarizes, “To be innovative, to drive the right business strategy, and to progress as a business, companies must ensure that female talent is across every part of the organization.”

  • Becky Straker has as spent the last 15 years in software, covering EMEA A&C Comms, Customer Advocacy, EMEA Corporate Communications, Internal Comms and International Comms (EMEA & APAC) and currently serves as Confluent's Director of International Communications.

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