Advocate for Yourself: A workshop by Advancing Women in Tech (AWIT) and Ascend

Feb 03, 2022

Credits: Thanks to the Advancing Women in Tech NYC Team and our speaker Shivani Berry, CEO & Founder of Ascend.

It’s the new year and most likely you’ve set new goals for yourself, both professional and personal. To help teach us to visualize and achieve those goals, Shivani Berry, CEO and Founder of Ascend, and Haarthi Sadasivam, AWIT NYC Programming Lead joined, for a small form workshop to teach the first step in the Ascend method: Advocate for Yourself.

Shivani Berry, CEO & Founder of Ascend

The workshop focused on advocating for yourself by creating the right mindset and finding the right sponsors but also emphasized owning your career development and creating a “business case” for your ask. Whether you’re interviewing for a new role, asking for a raise, or asking to be put on a more impactful project, reformatting your asks as a business case helps demonstrate your value. In this post, we’ll highlight two key factors that make a successful business plan: (1) knowing your audience and (2) creating a story with data and metrics.

Knowing Your Audience

In “How to Write a Winning Business Plan”, Stanley R. Rich and David E. Gumpert argue that ensuring that all effective viewpoints are represented in a business plan is critical to its success. They describe the three viewpoints as:

“1. The market, including both existing and prospective clients, customers, and users of the planned product or service.

2. The investors, whether of financial or other resources.

3. The producer, whether the entrepreneur or the inventor.”

In the workplace, these three viewpoints correspond to:

  1. Your overall company

  2. Your team/manager and

  3. Yourself

When thinking through how you want to advocate for yourself, ask how your accomplishments or goals will help your company grow and work towards its higher-level mission, how you help lift up your team and help them achieve their goals, and how you create value in your own work and work towards your career goals.

Storytelling with Data & Metrics

In product management and technology, we are constantly focused on making sure we collect the right data and metrics for our products. We then use that data to tell a story of how our product has experienced growth, how our changes have impacted that growth, and where there are opportunities for iteration and improvement. The same analytical mindset can be applied when advocating for yourself.

During our workshop, Shivani asked us to think critically about the projects that we take on. Specifically, she suggested thinking about whether a project aligned with our team/company goals, had a clear measure of success, and offered growth opportunities.

As the year is just starting, take a second and reflect on the projects you’ve worked on so far and those that are coming up in the new year.

  • What skills do you want to gain from these projects?

  • What will be your measure of success?

  • What story does your collected data tell you?

  • How can you realign or add to your projects to get to the skills that you are looking for?

Throughout the year, AWIT will have events where we continue to empower the next generation of women and men product leaders. To participate and learn more about AWIT, sign up here!