In the most recent episode of Taking The Lead, MuleSoft’s Vice President of Product Marketing, Rita Patel Jackson sat down with Christina Brady to discuss a number of topics, including a discussion on empowering women through leadership. A few of the quick highlights in this article:
- Male-dominated industries have seen subtle increases in the number of women employees, however, that imbalance makes it difficult for women to assert their leadership
- Rita Patel Jackson, MuleSoft’s Vice President of Product Marketing has established herself as a leader among colleagues, as well as a mentor to those looking to improve their own leadership skills
- Rita shares valuable insights on building confidence, especially as a woman, when trying to navigate the path towards effective leadership
With an engineering degree in computer science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Rita Patel Jackson is no stranger to being the only woman in a room. She is a versatile woman whose goal is to keep empowering other females to follow their dreams and overcome the fear of public speaking.
In the most recent episode of Taking the Lead, she and Christina discussed women’s position in technology, what young women need to be heard, and how marketers and sales teams should join their forces towards a common goal – the customer.
If You Have a Point of View, People Will Listen
Rita notes that the fear of speaking is widespread among people, especially women. “Being a woman in tech, it’s not been an easy journey. But I’d like to consider myself a trailblazer because I don’t use it as a hindrance. I move forward. And I feel that if you’re open, come to the table prepared, lean in, and have a point of view; people will listen. If you’re scared to talk, people won’t listen.” Rita sees value in challenging people to share their opinions, as it facilitates the building of confidence and more variety in the discussion of ideas.
Rita’s experience at companies including IBM and GE Healthcare have provided her with numerous opportunities for mentorship. Her most valuable lesson in leadership was about the importance of having an opinion, “There’s a lot of people that are just scared to speak up. And I think if you give them space, they will become more confident. ‘Cause I was given the space. I was given the mentorship to say, ‘Rita, just speak your mind and have a point of view.”’
Empowering Women to Enter the Male-Dominated Industries
Women leaders should empower other women coming up. One of Rita’s main goals is to empower other women to embrace technology and thrive in this particular field. “It’s about empowering these middle school and high school children to continue down technology. […] At the high school and the grade school level, children have got to feel empowered to continue. And, hopefully, in the next ten to fifteen years, there’ll be a huge pool of women in tech because we empowered these little girls to say, ‘It’s cool.'” This can be done through numerous ways, even something as simple as discussing the importance of women in STEM while conversing with female friends, children, or mentees.
In order to decrease the disparity in male to female numbers, people must be intentional in breaking the stigmas of gender roles. “The girls are always about girls, dressing things up, your hair, your makeup, and all of that. Everything is about dolls; it’s about princesses; it’s about your Barbies and all of that. But what about the girls that want to build? What about the girls that want the toolbox? So, my daughter went away to college, and I got her toolbox. And it’s a pink one. She’s on her own, doing and building these things, not asking for anything. But I think it starts with us empowering the girls. I met some incredible women that were empowering little girls, and it fascinated me.”
By Speaking the Language of the Customer, We Understand Their Needs
We must speak the language of the customer. As a VP of Product Marketing, Rita cares about building strong relationships with customers. According to her, understanding what the customer wants is the key to success in any business. “We are the translators, and we speak the language of the customer. And I keep saying that what we do is we live, walk, and breathe the customer.” Rita says that learning the customer can be done through multiple ways, “Understand what their journey is. Understand what their pain point is. And then you’ll have the credibility to go in and have that initial conversation with your sales leader and say, ‘I understand your pain. I do. And I want to work with you to help solve it.’ — this is what I understand from a customer. They’re overwhelmed; they’re bombarded by way too much marketing crap.”
Once the language of the customer is understood, marketing and sales tools can be optimized to meet their wants and needs. Doing so will result in far greater success than using a one-size-fits-all approach to marketing and sales. It will also protect against sending too much “marketing crap,” which is always a good thing!
This article is based on an episode of Sales Assembly’s podcast, Taking The Lead, which features top female B2B Tech Revenue Leaders, VCs, Advisors, and Icons. Bi-weekly episodes dive into a tactical topic to help listeners (regardless of gender or seniority level) learn how to be better, faster, and smarter as they navigate the craziness of the Revenue world within B2B Tech.