TrueCommerce Celebrates International Women’s Day: Part II
This is the second part of our series celebrating the women of TrueCommerce. In case you missed it, our first blog kicked off with insights from seven women from the global TrueCommerce team who joined me on a virtual panel to mark International Women’s Day. In Part I, they spoke about what it is like to be a woman in the tech industry and what advice they would give to young women looking to enter the field.
Allow me to briefly reintroduce you to these seven amazing women:
Lindsay Renner is a busy mom and crackerjack EDI expert who has been with our US Customer Success Team in Additional Services for more than seven years.
Kari Rivers is an Implementation Specialist on the US team and has been with TrueCommerce for four years. She is based in Rhode Island where she lives with her wife.
Donna Lane, based in the UK, became part of the TrueCommerce family five years ago and has been in tech for 25 years. She is currently TrueCommerce’s Country Manager for the UK & Ireland.
Hirono Noma started working in tech as a single mom of three and is currently flourishing as Enterprise Success Manager at our Columbus office.
May Hu has been Acting General Manager at TrueCommerce’s office in Shanghai since 2017. She is a software veteran with decades of experience.
Helen He has been in the software field for 16 years, and today is the Director of Software Development for TrueCommerce Shanghai.
Amy Xu has been part of the TrueCommerce family for nine years, working in both software development and customer support. She now manages TrueCommerce’s Shanghai Support and Services teams.
We left off Part I wondering how these women keep a healthy work/life balance while working in tech.
Lindsey McGee: How are you balancing work with other parts of your life to stay well mentally, emotionally, and physically, especially given the events of the past year?
Hirono: I have three kids so juggling all that is difficult. My fiancé and I try to communicate with each other about what we need. Right now, work and home life are blended. I have customers emailing me at 8:00 am, 6:00 pm, midnight…so a lot of the lines are blurred. I think you just need to set your standards and say hey, if I can’t do this today, I’ll do it tomorrow. You figure out what the boundaries are just to keep sane. And Lindsay knows that too!
Lindsay Renner: It’s giving yourself that grace. In the past year, even more so than in previous years, there has been that blurred work/life balance. We are all here because of our drive, and sometimes because of that drive, you’re working on a project after hours. In the last year, I’ve had to focus on being patient and knowing my limit. As a parent with two toddlers under four—my life can be WWE and some sort of mud wrestling combo with lots of noise and lots of screaming—I can say that TrueCommerce has always been extremely understanding. That balance has always existed. If I have to take my kids out for an hour and a half just to work out their wiggles and then tack 90 minutes onto my day, that’s something that TrueCommerce has always been supportive of. Before COVID we probably all had nicely organized inboxes and dealt with things in a priority order…we can’t do that anymore. I have to be patient with myself and be OK with having 550 unread emails. We’re still servicing our customers and giving them everything they need. It’s OK that I’m not doing it all.
Amy: I like the motto ‘work hard, play hard’. I enjoy the satisfaction work brings me, but I also love hanging out with family and friends and spending time on hobbies. You have to ask yourself which is more important when you have to make a decision. Reality is not perfect.
Kari: I agree the boundaries are necessary and I have to remind myself that I’m doing the best that I can with the time that I have, especially with COVID. Being a remote employee, you sometimes feel you have to work harder to show that you are doing work. I’ve had to work on being OK with the fact that I’m human and that sometimes I’ll get overwhelmed.
May: Priority is very important. Once we know our priorities, then, we can make trade-offs to calibrate our expectations. This is crucial to containing disappointment and minimizing frustration.
Helen: I agree. I have a 4-year-old son, and a challenge I faced last year was having to pay more attention to him when school was closed because of the pandemic. There was a time when I didn’t even have quiet hours to focus on my work. I taught him how to use Kanban, which is a tool we use at work to visualize workflows, and showed him how to use it to manage his tasks. It worked out perfectly!
Lindsey McGee: How has TrueCommerce supported your career growth?
Kari: One of the biggest things that I’ve seen and love about TrueCommerce is the support from upper management is tremendous. EDI is going to keep evolving and be stressful at times so it’s important to be able to be open and transparent talking with your managers. Transparency is also one of the things that I really love about TrueCommerce. They are transparent about their company goals and with endeavoring to partner with other companies and solutions. They are transparent about where we are going as a company and I think that is important so everyone can understand their role in the company and how we impact the company. It’s not just like being another cog in the machine. And I’ve been able to see other women excel as well.
Donna: I’ve had four different roles in the seven years since WeSupply was acquired by TrueCommerce. I’ve always been encouraged to grow as a person as well as professionally. For me, there have never been any barriers. You work hard and you prove yourself and you’ll get to be where you want to be.
Helen: TrueCommerce has offered me flexible hours so I can schedule time to learn new skills, participate in technical sessions, and take care of my family while doing my job well.
Hirono: Being able to come here and see [more women in leadership roles] was really refreshing and inspiring. It reminds me that I can do more in this industry; I can grow and do more for TrueCommerce because they will respect that.
May: I’m happy to say that at TrueCommerce Shanghai, we are performance-based. Gender is never a consideration for promotion or hiring/firing.
Amy: TrueCommerce has given me more opportunities to advance technology and expand my horizons!
Lindsey McGee: What do you think TrueCommerce can do to attract more women to the business? How can we attract more women to work in technology?
Donna: When I started, I was the only woman in the business. Now, in the UK and Ireland, women make up 40% of the workforce. 40% is okay—but they’re not in the right positions. We need to start elevating women, and women need to push themselves to get higher in business.
May: I believe we all need to make sure that (a) we don’t a priori disqualify anyone by gender, (b) we must encourage girls to tackle engineering challenges if they like to or they are good at them, just like we should encourage boys to help out on housework, (c) engage in constructive debate regarding gender differences/privileges to nurture critical thinking and combat stereotypes.
Amy: We need to have fairness, always.
Kari: I agree with that angle. I believe we should continue to build up the people who are here and to push through the glass ceilings. My other thought is what would it look like if TrueCommerce were to target young people in local schools and even globally? There are more and more STEM programs popping up now. Could we consider internship opportunities in EDI that included more than just admin jobs, where interns are working on a computer through shadowing and mentoring programs?
Lindsey McGee: I personally would like to thank you all for participating in this panel. It’s been wonderful hearing about your experiences and how far you all have come in this industry. I’m sure that I speak for everyone when I say that you are all incredible women. Thank you so much for this inspiring discussion on International Women’s Day.
About the Author: Lindsey McGee is a Marketing Content Writer specializing in supply chain strategy, thought leadership, and education. As part of the Marketing team at TrueCommerce, Lindsey strives to provide thoughtful, accessible information to help business owners grow and manage their operations. Lindsey lives in Pittsburgh with her husband, Cody, and rescue pets, Delta, Bahn, and Izzie.