Last night, I had the privilege of attending the 6th Annual Women of Influence Awards by the Silicon Valley Business Journal as one of 100 women executives changing the business world. It was an impressive event, with nearly 900 attendees gathered at The Fairmont in San Jose to honor the professional accomplishments of women in tech, legal, finance, education, healthcare, non-profit, hospitality and construction/real estate.
As each honoree took the stage to receive their award, it struck me how much the business world has changed in accepting leadership from women in the workplace. When I started Replicon almost 16 years ago, the tech world was dominated by men, either geeky engineers with brilliant minds or brash entrepreneurial businessmen intent on taking over the world. As one of the few women working in engineering myself, it became clear to me that the only way I could break through was to take charge of my own destiny. So on a gut feeling and instinct, I launched Replicon and set out to build a business on my own terms.
I realized in listening to all these amazing women taking the podium that we shared a common bond. We had a vision for our future that was greater than ourselves, and whether we worked in tech, healthcare, finance or education we were collectively changing the business world not only for ourselves as women, but for making the business world a better workplace because of it. Last night, “leadership” was referenced in terms of integrity, ethics, tenacity, compassion, empathy, commitment, bravery and spunk. Leadership was not just about dominance but more about leaving a lasting legacy for others to follow.
While prominent women in tech like Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg talk about the importance of women in business to “lean in” and embrace leadership, I saw no shrinking violets in Silicon Valley last night. The 2013 Class of Women of Influence are leaning in everyday and making real and positive changes in the workplace. They are changing the business world on their own terms, redefining leadership and making the world a better place for it.