Updated: Apr 19, 2019
This week we’re talking with Rashim Mogha, Senior Director Product Evangelism at Oracle.
Rashim is a thought leader and cloud evangelist who empowers professionals by articulating complex cloud capabilities into crisp, clear, and attainable business benefits. A keynote speaker and #1 Amazon best-selling author of “Fast-Track Your Leadership Career”, Rashim speaks at conferences around the world. Her insights have appeared in publications such as Forbes and ATD. With a goal to empower women leaders, Rashim founded eWOW- empowered Women of the World, an intellectual platform to help women with their technical and leadership skills to be successful, to thrive!
What is your favorite leadership quote?
I had this quote even before I had a career, “Tough times don’t last long, Tough people do.” From the leadership perspective, this quote embodies so many qualities – persistence, resilience, perseverance and having a clear vision. You know where your vision is and you continue to go towards that vision in spite of what comes your way. I often use it.
What attracted you to your current industry and role?
I come from a training and enablement background for 7 years. I see education and empowerment as the core for any business to allow them to grow. I studied software development and like others all I wanted to do was build products. Early on though I had an opportunity to write a book and that helped me realize I would be able to reach out and meet so many people and spread knowledge around. My current role is all about empowering people - giving them enough information to make decisions. When we look at products and services today, people don’t buy products and services, they buy the value of that product or service. For example, if we are selling our cloud services, we are empowering cloud users to make the right decisions - is this the right time for them to move to cloud, is it the right thing for them, should they go all in or a hybrid model? It is all about empowering the world.
What is the most important thing you have learned that has been critical to your career success?
I would have to say there are two things. One is knowing my super power, which has always helped me and second is to take risks and continuously learn. For me, I always knew that I have the ability – and everyone has a super power by the way we just don’t take the time to identify it. My super power has always been that I can make things happen - creating a strategy and then executing on that strategy. Because I know I can do it, I have taken risks, been in different organizations, pitched a new role at organizations and say this is what your clients need. When jumping into a new role I have never known 100 percent what I needed to know to do that role but have figured it out. Early on I used to think I need this certification or that training – I need Software development - and this is going to be my 20/30 year career. But I learned when I got into the industry that we don’t live one life. We live many lives and you can be successful in each as long as you are willing to give what it takes.
And you don’t move into something new because you have failed in that space but because you have learned and you want to learn and grow.
What is your leadership style?
I am a mindful leader. Empathetic. My team getting an opportunity to grow is very important to me. It is all about fostering that trust and giving everyone the opportunity to learn something new. The team is like an organism and a leader is somewhere between the heart and the brain. As most of us are not trained to be a leader, it is critical that we remember that. I became a manager because I excelled at my job as an individual contributor. When I was first a manager I was probably a bad because all I wanted was for my team to work. I had the opportunity to be a manager very early on in my career – about 6 months into my role – which was very exciting as an opportunity but also when you are a new manager there is some ego around it. I was also aware women don’t get that opportunity so there was pressure to succeed. As I have grown in my career the relationships that work best are those where I lead the way, providing an example for the team and then giving them an opportunity to have a mind of their own.
We hire smart people. And then somewhere along the way managers don’t expect their teams to think. They expect them to just follow orders and that is not correct and doing so prevents the diversity of thought on the team.
What advice do you have for aspiring leaders?
First is to be an empathetic person. That is the core of it. Be a mindful person yourself. When we talk about mindfulness, people think about meditation but there is a lot more to mindfulness than that. Mediation is just one way to bring in that clarity of thought. Secondly, provide clarity of vision. Know where you want to go as a person. Lastly, be a good listener. If you cannot empathize and cannot put yourself in their shoes you will not be able to be a good leader.
What tools or resources have you used that have been crucial to your success?
Continuous learning is key. I still spend 30 min each day learning something new. For technical skills, I tap a lot into free resources like edX that are available. They have a series of technology courses provided by MIT, which is available for everyone. I look at LinkedIn Learning as well. For me it is always about learning new technologies and how to do things different ways.
Reading books is also so important, including those that help build soft skills. The more you look at data, algorithms and machine learning will make our lives easier as programmers but what will be harder is soft skills. And to be able to build systems that actually have the concept of empathy is key.
What steps are you currently taking to improve yourself, professionally?
I go to a lot of women in technology focused events and I speak. There is so much information that I am exposed to when I talk to mentees or attendees who are there. This is going to sound crazy but I try to go to at least one event a week. The idea is I want to give back because so many have helped me in my journey. It also helps me learn so much about different personalities and how to improve in my leadership skills. I would also not be aware of the amazing work that emerging women leaders are doing to promote women in technology and diversity if I was not out there.
What is your proudest achievement?
I have written 4 books but this year I launched my first leadership book called Fast Track your Leadership Career. It was an Amazon best seller within 11 hours of launching. That gave me the courage to launch the Empowered Women of the World initiative. We are building out that initiative as an intellectual platform to bring women together globally and provide resources that will enable them in leadership tracks, technology tracks, and mindfulness tracks. As part of that I do a weekly podcast and we talk about technology (like cloud computing) but we also talk about navigating bias at work and imposter syndrome.
What do you think needs to happen or have you seen done successfully in the past to create an inclusive workplace/corporate culture?
I haven’t seen it done well anywhere but I can tell you what I would like to see – and I love that you used the word inclusive there and not diverse. We need to be moving past just diversity and understand that because we have a diverse workforce it does not mean we have an inclusive environment. I have myself been in many team meetings where I am the only women at the table, having put my idea out there, and my idea is ignored. Then a man says the same idea and it is taken seriously. I think what is really important is to start looking at it differently.
For so long roles like Product Management have been male-centric while Education and Marketing have been women-centric. I think a great way to bring in more inclusivity in the workplace is to start doing 6 month rotations when they come in and get an opportunity to be on the engineering team or development team. Those teams then get change to do product marketing. We have women who don’t even realize they would be awesome developers or product managers because they have not had the opportunity. Everyone wants people to come in with 10 years experience but where are they getting the first day of experience? Organizations talk about ensuring the pipeline does not dry out. It would not dry out if they used a rotational program like the one being used at Intuit. This is also a great way to retain your people while benefiting the organization’s efficiency. It takes at least 6 months to ramp up a new employee and that is mostly learning how the organization works. It will bring in more inclusiveness and expose employees to new potential roles.
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