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NetApp Women in Technology—Speaking up and giving back

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Mary Jean Schmitt
Mary Jean Schmitt

If you have attended the annual Grace Hopper Celebration (GHC) for women in computing, you know that it offers a dazzling array of leadership speakers and technology and career development workshops. Attendees also have opportunities to network, network, network with other women in technology around the globe.

NetApp has been a proud GHC sponsor and contributor since 2008, sending over 200 employees to last year’s virtual event. Although the virtual format may reduce networking opportunities, strives to ensure that the content is topical and accessible. GHC 21 also provided an extra benefit to attendees: a yearlong membership and access to the platform.

For continual inspiration and career growth, the platform extends the robust content of a weeklong GHC conference to a full year of additional speakers, workshops, and local and regional networking. NetApp speakers are thrilled to give back to the Women in Tech community with two timely sessions that are built on papers submitted for presentation at GHC 21. 

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Use constructive assertiveness for career advancement

Amy Vargas, NetApp senior software developer, will lead the January monthly mentoring circle on “Effective Communications” on January 26. This hour-long session will dive into why career advancement requires assertiveness and how to adjust your communications to be forceful and confident for positive results.

Is being assertive always an asset? How can you be assertive while also being recognized as a friendly, confident, and approachable person? Amy will mentor attendees on the common misconceptions about forcefulness and the balancing act to use assertiveness for constructive instead of detrimental outcomes. Mentoring circles are one of the most popular GHC formats, so be sure to grab a spot in this session.

Effectively handle interruptions to make yourself heard

On February 15, NetApp® tech leaders Mercedes AdamsMariama Beemer, and Mekka Williams will discuss the gender imbalances that women face, in settings from high-stakes political debates to team meetings. Their interactive workshop, “I’m Speaking: Prepare for Interruptions,” will use recent public events and personal stories (bring yours!) to discuss a topic that’s more relevant than we might want to admit: being interrupted. This trio will share research and practical tools to help you handle interruptions with poise and power.

Interruptions can be a conscious power play or an unconscious act, so what are effective ways to navigate different scenarios? What impact do interruptions have, and how should you handle them if you’re not the most senior person? And how can you help when someone else is interrupted? Learn and practice techniques for different contexts, from side conversations to pushing back or pushing through to stay calm when you are cut off or talked over.

This workshop will explore when interruptions might be appropriate and how to refocus dialog to make sure that your thoughts are heard. Join this session, which may tug at your emotions but will teach you how to handle them effectively in stressful scenarios.

Start the year with better communication—Register today

What better way to kick off a new calendar year than to improve your communication style and skills and ensure that your voice is heard despite intended or unintended interruptions?

These two sessions are available to members only. So if you’re an member, take advantage of that membership and head to the Members-only site to register today.

If you’re not a member, consider joining now to attend GHC and these two NetApp sessions—and to reap many other benefits.

Mary Jean Schmitt

Mary Jean (MJ) Schmitt has almost 40 years of experience working with technical and sales teams to help Federal agencies use data more effectively to deliver citizen services. An academic at heart with a background that combines engineering and liberal arts studies , she was destined to work with multi-disciplinary teams.

At NetApp, MJ is an active participant in the Women in Tech community. She co-founded the NetApp Women in Tech Speaker Series to encourage and facilitate public speaking skills and opportunities for co-workers. MJ presents regularly to customers, partners, and colleagues on team projects and proposals. MJ has contributed to Grace Hopper as a proposal co-author (GHC18 Panel Discussion “Career Confessions”) and Scholarship/Proposal Reviewer (2019, 2020, 2021).

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