On Sunday April 12th, the PWiC Silicon Valley team hosted their first online event — an IamRemarkable workshop facilitated by Sundas Khalid. The workshop, originally planned to be held in person, had to be adapted to an online format following the recent COVID-19 stay at home orders.
#IamRemarkable is a Google initiative empowering women and underrepresented groups to celebrate their achievements in the workplace and beyond.
To learn more about the #IamRemarkable initiative, or to become an IAR facilitator visit : https://iamremarkable.withgoogle.com
Since the workshop was adapted to an online format, we had to limit the participation to 10. Each attendee had to turn their video on, and microphones had to be muted (except when speaking). A pen and paper was also required for the interactive exercise at the end.
About the Facilitator
Sundas Khalid is a Senior Analytical Lead at Google based in Seattle, WA. Prior to Google, Sundas was a data scientist at Amazon, leading large experimentation and data science initiatives. Being the first-female in her family to graduate and pursue a career, she is an advocate of women’s education and workforce diversity and currently serves on the board of Pakistani Women in Computing and North Seattle College. Outside of her day-job, she enjoys public speaking and also runs a small career coaching business.
With this workshop, she aims to improve the self-promotion motivation and skills of women and underrepresented groups.
We had a full house for the event (and a full waiting list ). The workshop started with Sundas describing her career journey and then giving an overview of the workshop and its goals. The workshop is aimed to make women more comfortable with self promotion and help break modesty norms, which are prevalent in underrepresented groups.
The interactive session encouraged everyone to actively speak up about their experiences. The environment was a safe space for people to share their reasons for being uncomfortable when talking about their successes. There were a lot of commonalities in all of our experiences and it was a good exercise in recognizing these subconscious habits that have developed over time — partly due to our culture and partly due to global societal norms for women.
The workshop focused on an important reminder that accomplishments do not speak for themselves! It highlighted the need to promote your work to raise visibility and ultimately get due credit that you deserve. The most important thing to remember is that when you are promoting yourself, it’s not bragging if it’s based on facts. There is work to be done to ignore the inner voice that tells us that our accomplishments are not enough, that highlighting our successes is showing off, and that we need to be timid and ladylike.
The second part of the session was an interactive exercise. Everyone was given a few minutes to write the reasons why they are remarkable, both in their personal lives as well as professional. After writing these down, the participants were encouraged to share their reasons, and then later talk about why they found the exercise difficult to perform. The general consensus was that it was difficult to write down the first few reasons, but after that it became easier. It was also a lot easier to write them down — than to talk about them or say them out loud.
It was an emotionally taxing exercise for most of the participants — and in the end, we all cheered for each other’s successes. It felt good to be reminded of all the reasons that make us remarkable, to bring those reasons to our active conscience and have them written down for those moments of self-doubt.
Sundas concluded the session with these action items:
- Practice Remarkable Wednesdays : Get a group of friend and share achievements out aloud every Wednesday
- Practice & Perfect : Practice paraphrasing and expressing 2–3 professional achievements with your friends/colleagues/manager
- Track your achievements : Keep a log of your accomplishments so that it’s ready when needed
- Act and Review : Share accomplishments in a professional setting, review and improve
- Set a stretch goal : Use these self promotion skills to set and achieve a career goal for yourself.
The session was very well received and we were requested to hold more online sessions even after the COVID-19 situation is over. We noticed that it was easier for people to attend from their homes so we will definitely keep this in mind when planning future events.
Watch this space for future events: https://pwic.org/events
Thank you for reading!
About the author
Novaira Masood is PWiC Chapter Lead for Silicon Valley and currently a Software Manager for an R&D group at Apple. She has 15 years of industry experience in computer graphics and computer vision. She worked on the first version of Hololens at Microsoft and prior to that she used to work in R&D for visual effects in movies. She has an MS in Computer Graphics and likes working on unsolved, creative and ambiguous problems.