esther Archives - WNORTH Connect

5 Sustainable Actions To Drive Your Career & Community Forward in 2023

By | Featured
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At WNORTH, our resolution is to continue on our path to building more women into positions of power while keeping community support as the building block of our success.

We asked our high-performing members what makes the biggest difference in their lives and careers, and here’s what we’ve learned:

1) Expand Your Network Across Industries

Build a network of driven women across industries who inspire you, and stand for what you believe. This will help you see the bigger picture, build community outside of your usual area of focus, and offer perspectives to bring back to your job. 

Tip: Attend a WNORTH meetup to make new connections instantly,

2) Dedicate Some Time To Build Your Negotiation Skills

Communicating your wants and needs is critical in getting the pay, recognition, and work/life balance you deserve. Like everything, negotiation is a skill you can craft. 

Tip: The WNORTH Leadership Hub has countless resources from Negotiation Experts to help you become a master negotiator. We can also connect you with women in our network who can help you get the results you want.

3) Advocate For Other Women

We don’t always need to go outside our way to support those around us. Sometimes, it’s as simple as looking for a person that could use an extra connection, support or advice in or outside of your organization. Alone, we can’t do so little. Together, we can do so much. 

Tip: Join a community in or outside of your organization that will connect you with women looking for resources.

4) Join Peer Mentorship Programs

Who can teach you better than women walking in your shoes? Peer mentorship groups are powerful as they enable you to meet regularly with likeminded ambitious women working on the same goals, helping you to get there faster. 

Tip: Our Forums run three times a year, giving you a chance to meet up to 15 ambitious women who will become your core group of success.

5) Increase Your Influence By Elevating Your Personal Brand

Women are notorious for undervaluing their achievements. Let’s shout them out the roots by utilizing social media tools like LinkedIn to not only share your wins but (and that’s our favorite) stand up for women around you and celebrate their achievements. 

Tip: Dedicate time weekly to building your brand online and connecting with other professionals. Our platforms of choice include the WNORTH Membership Portal and LinkedIn.

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The Role of Mentorship in Creating More Female Tech Leaders

By | Featured
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As a leader, what can you do to help women in the tech industry succeed? How can you bridge the digital divide and lift others with you as you reach new heights?

Many women in leadership are asking these questions. After all, despite the myriad of life-changing technological advancements, a lack of female leaders in tech remains outdated. And although the percentage of women in senior IT leadership positions grew from 21% to 24% between 2018 and 2019, recent figures showed that women still have a small overall share of IT leadership jobs. Women account for only 16% of senior-level tech jobs and 10% of executive positions. This indicates that there are still significant gender gaps in tech leadership positions.

Of course, overcoming gender biases must be rooted in women who exhibit competence for the role. Large tech organizations seeking executive leadership candidates expect you to be able to apply the key tenets of organizational leadership in a very effective manner. This is because leadership tasks expect you to devise effective goals and develop policies that will progress the organization to greater heights in an already competitive tech industry. However, educational background alone is not enough to equip leaders for this daunting role. Any individual who wants to attain a top executive position must have additional mentorship experience to ensure they have well-rounded skills, regardless of gender.

In this article, we will discuss the status of mentorship programs for women in the tech industry and look into how to develop a female-focused training project that will help you retain and support your women talent.

Why Are Mentorships for Women Important?

Having a reliable mentor in the workplace helps you learn the tasks and responsibilities of the job quickly. This is because you get the chance to be exposed to real-life situations, allowing you to apply your skills and knowledge in solving them. If you’ve been mentored before taking a leadership position, you can consider yourself lucky since not everyone has mentors to guide them, especially women in tech.

A study on gender diversity in STEM disciplines revealed that 48% of women in tech felt that the lack of female mentors was one of the biggest barriers at work. In addition, 42% thought there was a lack of female role models in their workplace. These results are concerning because female mentors and role models can have a powerful impact on the feeling of belonging in the workplace, particularly in a male-dominated industry.

How Can Mentorship Programs Support Women in Tech?

If mentorship programs are available for female employees, the chances of more women entering the field and achieving leadership roles will increase. This is evident in an article on successful mentoring of women, which claimed that mentoring increased the retention rates of female employees and elevated their success in obtaining promotions at work. Moreover, mentorships helped them minimize their feelings of isolation and contributed to increased self-confidence and work engagement.

In fact, a survey from a Forbes article shared that 89% of women who participated in mentoring schemes felt empowered by the experience. It just shows that fostering positive feelings through mentoring in your workplace is a factor in encouraging and creating more female leaders in the tech industry.

How Can You Develop Female-Focused Mentorship Programs?

Developing an effective mentorship program requires you to consider your target demographic since this will help you create a suitable project that addresses the needs and characteristics of the mentees.

When designing a female-focused mentorship program, you must remember to involve your junior female employees in the discussion. Because who knows more about their struggles in the workplace than they do? Besides involving your employees, here are other tips you can do to develop a successful female-focused program:

  • Define your program’s goals and expectations.
    By doing so, you can start your program on a clear and strong foundation. This will make it easier for other women to know about your efforts.

  • Find and match potential mentors with mentees.
    Just having a mentor is not enough. For women to flourish, it’s important that your mentorship program take personalities and nuances into consideration.

  • Evaluate the impact of your program.
    Regular evaluations are crucial to ensure that your initiatives are reaching their goals. Through these you can continue to fine-tune your program and enhance your relevance.

Should You Mentor Your Fellow Colleagues?

Lastly, it’s worth considering having women leaders like you mentor junior women team members. Being mentored by women in senior positions allows female employees to realize from the start that gender has no bearing on business acumen.

This realization from early on in their careers gives women a broader and more rounded perspective, which is an advantage for growing their careers.

Similarly, in our recent interview with Esther Ayorinde-Iyamu, we shared more about the importance of connecting with fellow women leaders. This was specifically important for Esther, as she shares the lessons she has learned herself to help other women accelerate their careers and break through the glass ceiling.

As a woman leading in your field, you can also impact the mindset of female employees by being an example of a woman succeeding in tech.

Ultimately, mentoring your women colleagues in the tech industry will not only disrupt the male-dominated sector, it will also open opportunities for them to grow and lead in the profession they love, inspiring younger women to pursue a career in the field, too.

Jennifer Birch Author WNORTH

About the author

Jacquie Beller is a freelance writer and women activist. She believes that women have the power to become outstanding leaders in the corporate world. Today, she continuously writes articles about women’s empowerment to inspire fellow women to chase their passions.

How To Build Your Network When You Work From Home: Advice From Highly Successful Women Leaders

By | Member Stories
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I’ve grown to believe that networking is the lifeblood of career success. However, working from home requires us to lean on virtual connections instead of physical ones common in the office. So, how can we rebuild our work relations and forge new ones in 2022?

If you’ve noticed your network shrinking, you’re not alone. Harvard Business Review released shocking statistics on how the pandemic affected our close relationships. After five months without an in-person gathering, feelings of connection and closeness between friends plummet by 80%.

Now, imagine your professional relationships. A Yale study revealed a reduced network size of roughly 16% in 2021, or more than 200 people during the pandemic.

For many of us, pre-2020, we used events and conferences as a forum to meet new business connections, develop business opportunities and facilitate powerful introductions. The events industry went through a pandemic-induced technology boom, with hundreds of new software options hitting the market that assist with the networking aspect of virtual events. However, virtual events have not quite filled the void of in-person networking.  

You’ll have to get creative if you want to boost your contact list this year. The question is, how do women leaders at the top of their field build and maintain strong professional networks while working from home? I reached out to four highly successful women leaders to find out.

Pay It Forward

One of the most powerful ways to develop new connections is being a virtual matchmaker and paying it forward to someone in your network whom you highly respect. 

“Earlier this year, I focused on using my social platforms to spread recognition and impactful stories,” said Quyen Chang, Global Head of Revenue Enablement at Airbnb. “In March, during Women’s History Month, I shared daily appreciation posts of amazing women. Each day, I shared a story of gratitude to women who have impacted me. I am beyond lucky to have some of the best role models in my work and personal life.”

She encouraged those in her network to connect with the women she featured, and the effect spurred hundreds of new connections. Moreover, the campaign inspired similar movements throughout her network and beyond. 

Build Trust Slow And Steady

April Hicke, Director of Product Operations at ATB Financial, started her new role in 2021, in the middle of the pandemic. This situation made it even more challenging to make new connections. “Studies show it takes three times as long to build connections virtually,” April shared. “As we say goodbye to the days of office chit-chatting and mingling, we have to be present, vulnerable, and intentional about creating time and space for our network.”

What does it mean? Whether you may be starting a role at a new company or simply trying to develop new connections, April believes it’s critical to look at virtual networking as a long-haul game. Otherwise, you risk getting lost in the sea of invitations to connect. What works for me is learning more about the person before adding them on LinkedIn. Dive into their recent posts. Engaging with them directly before clicking the “connect” button works wonders. 

Think Beyond Borders

Before the pandemic halted Carmen Bryant‘s hectic travel schedule, she often lamented about missing certain events in her home city of New York. “Being remote has truly globalized networking,” says Carmen, Director of US Marketing at Indeed.com. “I’ve expanded and stretched my network in less laborious ways than before the pandemic.” 

Those in more remote regions have also benefited from the globalization of networking through online events. Personally, I live two hours outside of a major city with two small children. Even before the pandemic, attending networking events in person had become more and more difficult. The normalization of virtual networking allowed me to double the size of my network in the past two years.

Choose Virtual Events Designed For Networking

Prior 2020, virtual networking was not a popular or common way to meet like-minded professionals. However, these events have grown in popularity in the last years.

“One of the ways to find new connections is through membership communities,” said Natalie Taylor, Senior Lead, Learning Strategy & Operations at Shopify. “These organizations take all the guesswork out of networking and provide a safe space and platform for connections to happen naturally.”

To build quality connections, it’s essential to seek international forums and virtual events where networking is facilitated — events people attend intending to build connections. More than two-thirds of virtual attendees go to an event intending to learn versus network, so select events that call out the opportunity to build your network. Be mindful of the variety of virtual events and choose one that meets your objective to network. 

Seek Connections Through Volunteering

Companies serious about developing and retaining their top talent must consider how they can best support their employees. This includes opportunities to establish new connections to maintain a healthy network during the pandemic. A healthy and supportive community should be considered an essential part of professional development, especially to ensure the career advancement of remote workers. 

Companies can also support their employees’ volunteer experience. These contributions allow like-minded individuals to connect based on their passions and interests.

“Some of the best connections I’ve built were by seeking out volunteer opportunities and events with boards, committees, and organizations that align with your values,” says April Hicke. 

In 2022, building your network won’t necessarily come naturally (or easily, for that matter). Still, engaging and utilizing some of these suggestions will result and form valuable and authentic relationships. 

Esther Ayorinde Iyamu

Supporting Underrepresented Overachievers Through Full Spectrum Wellness At Work – Interview with Esther Ayorinde-Iyamu

By | Member Stories

Esther Ayorinde-Iyamu has been the backbone of the WNORTH community and one of our Founding Members. Esther’s energy is easily spotted in the crowd. Former NFL and NBA professional dancer, Esther’s background boasts 16 years in Tech across roles in Sales, Business Development, and Product Management. 

In March 2022, she posted a surprising update on her LinkedIn profile; “I did a thing! I’m putting on new stilettos as an entrepreneur.”

Esther has turned her burnout recovery into a mission to help underrepresented professionals feel empowered in the tech industry. She founded GrowthQ to make tech sales careers more accessible for diverse communities, weaving in wellness best practices and burnout prevention.

We sat down with Esther to find out how she transitioned from the corporate world into becoming a full-time entrepreneur and what we learned can help many women and people of color who are dealing with the challenges of burnout.

Esther, congratulations on taking the leap and founding your startup! What inspired you to do that?

I had two reasons to take the leap. Burnout and realizing the depth of true wellness at work. Women and working mothers were experiencing burnout at dramatic rates during the pandemic. In the UK alone, one in five mothers has quit their jobs over poor parental leave policies. In the US, a recent Forbes article cited Black Women aging 7.5 years greater than their peers due to Burnout from stress, microaggressions, and inequity in pay. Burnout is more real now than ever and costly to companies. 

My experience was no different. Though my career was accelerating and I enjoyed my work, the isolation of the pandemic coupled with a traumatic health experience took me over my limits into burnout. 

Why did you choose to leave the corporate world?

At the end of 2020, I suffered a 2nd Trimester pregnancy loss, which only happens to 2-3% of expecting mothers. I went back to work about a week and a half later, hiding it from those who weren’t close to me. 6 months later, I was rushed to a hospital with what was thought to be a heart attack. After an extensive cardiac workup, my doctors confirmed it was a panic attack, which has almost identical symptoms, and your endocrine system reacts in the exact same manner. My body finally said, “Esther, It’s time.” 

Thankfully, the company I’d worked for at the time was incredibly committed to the wellness of all employees. My boss, my team, and my peers were all highly supportive and helped me have the space I needed to take a step back and heal. 

During my time off, I researched technology that could help me measure all levers of my body, from measuring my sleep with a wearable to using my breath to measure my metabolism. I also spent introspective time rediscovering my ethos, clarifying my superpowers, and writing a new narrative for how I wanted to spend my life. It’s funny how a dose of mortality will redirect your focus to what’s most important. I’d realized I was working so hard, spending time doing things I was great at, and thus others wanted me to do more of but weren’t part of my life’s mission. I needed to rewrite the narrative of my career to fit with my ethos and superpowers.

I’d realized I was working so hard, spending time doing things I was great at, and thus others wanted me to do more of but weren’t part of my life’s mission. I needed to rewrite the narrative of my career to fit with my ethos and superpowers.

How has your burnout recovery shaped the mission of your business?

I heard a quote once that said, “You’re best poised to serve the person you once were.” I recognized an opportunity to share my story and create solutions to problems I’ve faced. Looking back, I needed two things: First, tools and support to help me navigate my physical and mental health to be in the best position to optimize my performance. And second, a support system to help me navigate this new high-performance lifestyle.

This drove the birth of my company, GrowthQ. We are committed to closing the wage and wellness gaps for underrepresented high performers who want to do their best work in careers that showcase their superpowers. We do this by offering three things: 

  • Educational Content in full spectrum wellness: physical wellness, financial wellness, and job readiness
  • Human connection through intelligent mentor matching 
  • Diverse talent placement as fractional interview panelists or full-time roles


What other initiatives are you working on right now?

Outside of my work on GrowthQ, I’ve been getting deeper into investing in early-stage startups. Closest to my heart has been my Mentor Cohort which is a month-long intensive where I personally mentor and pour my experiences into Women and People of Color who may feel they have hit a glass ceiling. We focus on breaking limiting beliefs, identifying superpowers, and accelerating careers with the lessons I’ve learned over two decades.

Can you share some advice for women who found themselves at career crossroads?

  1. Build your Board of Advisors as a support system for your career. Your Board of Advisors should consist of a coach, mentor, sponsor, and peer group. Knowing the difference between each of those is important to empower them to support you.

  2. Listen to when or if your body tells you it’s burned out or uncomfortable. If you feel triggered, channel what your body is trying to tell you. Fear is a gift, it informs you ahead of pain or absence of safety. Jealousy is a gift, it’s informing you of something you desire but don’t yet have. Pay attention to your inner voice. It shows you your purpose and where to go.

  3. Financial wellness unlocks creative freedom and confidence. 77% of working professionals making a solid living struggle with financial anxiety. Can you believe that? And that’s not from not having enough, it’s often just from the intimidation of financial literacy. I was no different. Moving from a corporate role to being an entrepreneur forced me to become much more financially literate, but honestly, I didn’t have to wait until now. There are immense amounts of free, simple, and non-intimidating resources to help you learn the basics. Making small changes to your financial wellness does wonder for your confidence to focus on your superpowers. 

Overall, there’s never been a better time to try new things and build muscles to get back on the wagon. If you’re uncomfortable with the space you’re in right now, you can use this opportunity, fear, and discomfort to channel yourself into your purpose.

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  • Find a Mentor or Mentee at GrowthQ.co
  • Looking for tech sales talent or diverse interview panelists to help you hire the best? Connect with us at GrowthQ.co
  • Woman in business looking to elevate her career? Join Esther’s next Mentor Cohort; all participants receive a scholarship for a 1-year membership to WNorth Leadership. Contact iva@wnorthconnect.com


Esther Ayorinde-Iyamu

Esther Ayorinde-Iyamu - GrowthQ - Supporting Underrepresented Overachievers through full spectrum wellness at work

Esther Ayorinde Iyamu is Founder of GrowthQ, the Match.com for mentorship, diverse interviewers-aaS, and tech sales talent. Esther also recently joined as General Partner for VC firm, 1Flourish. Esther is a 16 year Silicon Valley tech veteran, a 7 year NFL and NBA Dancer, and investor known for her wellness advocacy, her connected tech industry network, and her Go-To-Market expertise. Esther was recognized as Diversity Women Magazine’s Power 100 executives and The Network Journal’s 40 Under 40 list. She was the first Black Dance Captain in franchise history of the New York Jets and started her first startup at 19 years old in her dorm room at Santa Clara University. As a Tech Sales thought leader, Esther has been a featured guest lecturer at Stanford University, UC Berkeley, Santa Rosa Community College as well as a guest speaker at companies like Facebook, Gong, Snowflake, Cisco, Clozd, and Braze. Her new company, GrowthQ is dedicated to helping close the wage and wellness gaps for underrepresented tech talent by succeeding in a career in tech sales.

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