“I put my head down, identified a niche, and strove to make a difference.”
– Marsha Osborn, COO
After working for more than 30 years in the high-tech industry, there isn’t much that’s new to me about the issues facing women in our field. And it’s fair to say that while some things have changed, many others have not. It’s still a challenge to move up the high-tech corporate ladder.
Advancing in the business world is tough. Women often face different and additional challenges compared to men. But for me, at least, the answer was to listen, continually learn, be a team player and add value to the bottom line. That’s it.
My area of specialty, operations, supply chain management, and contract negotiations requires the identification of repeatable, reliable and traceable processes. In a way, that discipline has shaped my approach to succeeding in companies largely dominated by men. I started my career in earnest in the 1980’s at Texas Instruments as a manufacturing engineer—even back then, TI was a pretty progressive company when it came to diversity. However, I was still faced with an uphill battle in proving my skill set and earning the respect of my co-workers.
I put my head down, identified a niche, and strove to make a difference. My strategy worked. By becoming the person who made things happen, who created efficiencies and saved the company real money, I was recognized as a substantial contributor. Management positions soon followed.
In the early days of an engineering career, you’re probably in a job next to three or four men, and all of you have equal qualifications. It’s on you to prove yourself as the one to watch, just as it is theirs. Be confident in your ideas and know your own worth, even when others may question it. If your goal isn’t to get to the executive suite, that’s ok! But, do all us ladies a favor and show them what your made of.
I wanted to succeed in this world, so I listened and learned. I made an effort to network with successful, proven people, men and women. My goal was not so much to get career tips, as it was to find out how to do my job better and always make a difference with confidence. I collaborated with them, formed lasting relationships and studied what worked. Then I mirrored the behavior I found admirable and effective.
Stick with what you know, accomplish tasks that make a difference, listen intently and speak when you have relevance to add. Do that, and things have a way of working themselves out.
— Marsha Osborn