I recently interviewed Amanda Moore, Head of IT – Customer Projects, Support & Field Services at Schneider Electric, for an episode of the Future of Field Service podcast on becoming more agile, both as an IT organization and as a company. It’s a must-listen if you haven’t already, but what I wanted to share here is Amanda’s insight and advice around being a woman in a historically male-dominated industry.
“I’ve been in an IT role for almost 25 years, which is a male-dominated field just like services,” says Amanda. “I thank my parents for a few formative experiences that helped me survive through the last 25 years. My dad was a fire fighter and an electrician. And when I was small, women were not allowed upstairs in the fire house, but my dad didn’t abide by those rules. He also took me on electrical jobs, to help run cables in small spaces or to hold his flashlight. When he was a repair technician for a chain of laundromats, he took me to work. I learned an appreciation for a hard day’s work and for wanting to understand how machines worked. He bought me a computer when I was 10, and I learned to code at the dining room table. My mom supported all of this. They treated me like a curious, eager child. Not like a little girl that needed to be treated differently from my three brothers. My dad was really my first male advocate, and I’m super grateful for this.”
Like most women have, Amanda has overcome challenges and learned some hard lessons along the way – but the experience she had as a child set her up well to tackle these challenges with confidence. I asked Amanda to share with our readers her advice for other women based on her own experiences.
Stand Up for Yourself
“My childhood experiences gave me the self-confidence to stand up for myself through the years,” says Amanda. But it even with self-confidence, the act of standing up for yourself in certain situations can be difficult. “I learned the hard way that not all men are allies. I wish I had learned to have courage earlier in my career to stand up for myself when it came to way men treated me,” explains Amanda. “The first time I stood up to sexual harassment in the workplace was really powerful, but it took me a while to get there. And I truly believe that things are better in most workplaces in the U.S.A. today, but unfortunately, the first half of my career was full of me-too moments.”
Stretch to Grow
Amanda also suggests that it is important to push outside of your comfort zone. “Stretch yourself,” she says. “Volunteer for roles even if you don’t think you’re ready. No one is ever 100 percent ready, kind of like being a parent. You’re never really ready to be a parent. You’re never ready for that career move 100 percent. But you’ll figure it out as you go. Don’t be afraid to volunteer.”
Build Your Tribe
Finally, Amanda urges readers to always remember the value of connection. “You need a strong tribe,” she says. “So build that tribe. Surround yourself with the best people, even if they’re smarter than you. And people who are different than you, because you need that to attack all the angles and to be the most effective that you can in your job and to grow. Together you and your tribe will help you achieve your goals.”
She also suggests making an investment in connecting others. “Looking for opportunities to connect people is like an investment in your future,” Amanda says. “Even if it’s not about you, if you say, ‘Hey, I recently met someone who’s struggling with the same thing. Let me connect you.’ It’s really about building a bank account of goodwill among your connections, and some day you’ll be able to withdraw in that investment that you’ve made.”
Amanda has not only witnessed a positive evolution in her 25 years in IT, but she’s excited about where the future is headed for women. “The culture around women in technology has changed in general. The focus on science, technology, engineering and math education the last few years has started to remove the stigma around girls in tech or engineering fields,” she says. “As more women study these fields, there are more candidates to balance the pool. It is moving in the right direction. I’ve been working with the services teams for five years, and during those years, Schneider has really intentionally focused on increasing female hires. And in setting percentage targets and holding themselves accountable publicly, reviewing and adjusting, making sure there’s equal pay for equal work and shifting that culture to include really embracing different perspectives and backgrounds. I consider myself incredibly lucky to be in a company that walks the talk and truly believes in the value that women bring.”