As we turn the calendar to a new year, I’m reflecting on 2017 highlights, as well as identifying areas that may require a different approach in 2018. One of the highlights for me was the launch of JDA’s Wednesdays for Women blog on July 19. It was a bit of an experiment, really; I didn’t know what to expect. If we wrote a blog telling the career stories of women who work at JDA, would people read them? And if we added opportunities for women to share their points of view on topics such as work/life balance, when to say yes – and no – when opportunity presents itself, etc., would anyone care? Turns out the answer is yes – people do read and do care, as these blogs rank among our most popular every week. Along the way we even added perspectives of some male colleagues, and profiles of successful female executives among JDA’s customers.

One of the most wonderful outcomes for me is the opportunity to meet women that I would never had encountered had I not reached out to them for our Q&A series. We’ve had some great discussions about work, family, our career twists and turns, and I’ve learned so much from them. That was one of my goals – to help women see themselves in others so that they know what’s possible for themselves, and are “introduced” to women within their own company they can network with. Additionally, through others’ shared points of view I am provided an opportunity to consider my own perspectives and grow through their vision and experience. I think we’ve only scratched the surface as to what this blog can be, and welcome your feedback as we move into 2018. In the meantime, I went back through some of the Q&A interviews from this year and pulled some advice my peers shared from their career journeys; I hope you benefit from their wisdom as much as I have.  Thanks for reading this year. I wish you all a safe, successful end to 2017 and look forward to an exciting year ahead. Happy New Year!

What do you know now that you wish you’d known when you were starting your career?

Danielle Manning, JDA Senior Practice Director, Consulting Services: I would go back to the advice to stop talking and listen. If I always had that approach to customer engagements, I think I would have had fewer clients screaming at me. I realized that if you stop, listen and take the time to build the relationship, in the end that’s going to make you more collaborative and help you build partnerships earlier.

Akhila Dhamotharan, JDA Solution Director:  The importance of choosing my battles! I don’t think I’m great at it now, at least that’s what my family and my manager tell me! But it is something that I wish I’d known earlier. Sometimes I tend to sweat the small stuff, and it’s just not necessary.

Dianne Bender, JDA Product Documentation Manager: I wish I’d known how much more learning there would be. It’s constant! In technical writing, we are always learning about the products and their new features. But there is also a significant amount of change in tools and processes, so you need to learn to embrace change.

How do you find balance?

Reshma Deshpande, JDA Director, Support: There will be difficult times where you ask, “Am I doing justice to my kids and my family? Should I be spending more time with them?” I think all of us probably go through that phase. But I feel it’s just a phase. When my kids grow up, they’ll understand and feel proud of their working mom. I felt that about my working mom and because she was working it probably gave us a sense of being independent; that sense of achieving something. There are phases where you feel stressed out and are getting pulled in all directions. But my advice is don’t quit. Build a support system. Hang on.

Christine Shulman, JDA Senior Director, Global Value Engineering: I make boundaries and balance my commitments to family and work. With my kids, I know I won’t be there for everything, but I will be there for the things that count most. I ask myself ‘will this matter 10-15 years from now if I am or am not there?’ and make sure I am there for those big events.

At work, I try to remember that what may be a priority for someone else, may not be for me, and balance that.  I once asked someone how they get it all done, and they said ‘work more hours’ and I knew that was not the right answer; there had to be a better way. So, I built out, with my team, a response time priority framework to guide our priority requests and set expectations and it has really worked well. You also must make time on your calendar to get work done or else you could be in meetings from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

What is the best advice you ever received?

Tonjah Wilkins, JDA Senior Telecommunications Specialist: The best advice I ever received was from the commanding officer (CO) of my first duty station (Tonjah is a U.S. Navy veteran).  His advice was simple: Everything you do now will pave the way for the rest of your life – good or bad.  That was etched into my brain, even today.

Chrystel Black, JDA User Experience Director:  My grandmother used to tell me, “If you don’t know something, instead of losing time trying to find the answer, just ask someone who knows.” Asking people for help is a strength, not a weakness and by recognizing other peoples’ qualities and exploiting them, we all win. You can always find me in the UX corner here in Montreal asking for help!

Donna Williams, JDA Enterprise Solution Architect: The best advice comes from my mother, who has always told me that no matter what, I can do and be whatever I want to be, and to never let anybody tell me otherwise. Also, apply yourself to everything that you do. She’s still giving me great advice today.

Dorien Weijts, JDA VP of IT Applications: I had tremendous support from my parents when I wanted to leave my career in the UK and follow my boyfriend – now my husband – to the U.S. to study, not knowing what was in the future. They said “Carpe diem! Do what feels right for you. Go on the journey, and see where you end up.”

What advice do you have for women starting their career in supply chain or technology?

Vicky Marco, JDA Customer Executive, North America Manufacturing: When you are given opportunities, you should just try them, even if you don’t think you’re qualified. I liked being a consultant. I liked being in presales. When I was approached about trying something new, saying yes carried me forward. I was given an opportunity and took it.

Shwati Mohapatra, JDA Senior Product Manager: Have faith in your abilities, work on your content, and be the best in what you do. Be fearless and never be afraid to take risks. And most importantly build and invest in your support system.