International Women’s Day: I Was Told, But I Persevered

January 25, 2019      By Ultimate Software

In honor of International Women’s Day, we wanted to highlight the strengths and successes of women who refused to let what they were told impact who they became. We didn’t have to look far. Here’s what a few of them had to say:

Being a shy person, public speaking was always a struggle. So when someone told me that all I would ever be is a pretty face, all I could think was, “That’s not true. I have so much more to offer.” That was a big moment in my life where I made the decision to do the things that make me uncomfortable – speaking up and making sure I was being heard, even if people didn’t want to listen. It was hard, but I tried my best. And then I came to Ultimate where people, both women and men throughout the organization, were really interested in what I had to say and what I could contribute. It’s truly an amazing feeling, knowing that my voice matters, my opinion matters, and my looks and gender have nothing to do with it.

-Reannah Gilenson, Product Marketing Manager

There are plenty of studies suggesting that women are less likely to take risks or apply for stretch positions. That honestly does not represent my experience. I value taking risks, and so do many of my female (and male) team members. I can make an educated decision, make a mistake, and correct that mistake before most people can make a decision. Action is fundamental for success, and this is perhaps especially true for women. Be bold! You are stronger than you know.

In terms of leadership, I do not like the stigma of ‘female leaders’ versus ‘male leaders.’ There are great leaders, mediocre leaders, and bad leaders (and everything in-between). It has nothing to do with gender. If you are in a leadership position, it is your responsibility to improve your relationships, strategy, and approach to achieve great business results while taking great care of your people. If you can learn to be your authentic self, take educated risks, and seek connection with both your team and your customers, it is truly a game-changer.

-Julie Dodd, Chief Services Officer

I’ve been in software technology for many years and over those years I’ve been told many things.  From I’m not visionary enough, or technical enough, to even not been nice enough and one thing that I’ve finally come to terms with is none of those negative thoughts or views matters. Others’ opinions can give you insight on your direction or where you are going, but end in the end you just have to be you.

-Montra Ellis, Director, Product Innovation

It’s about finding that magic place where you can turn up every day and be yourself. Ultimate has given me an environment in which I have grown in confidence to become a passionate and creative leader. We value diversity more than any other company I’ve worked for. Being from a different Continent and a woman doesn’t matter here, it’s the respect for each other that makes us strive to do our best work because we’re doing it for the collective whole. No one is out for themselves.

-Christie Lemon, Creative Director

In a past life five years ago, I started a new role to lead a team of 42 software engineers. My first meeting with my entire team, a room full of only male engineers, coincided with 37 weeks of my pregnancy. That was the day when it stuck me how much I would love to lead a diverse team to not only not feel as an odd one out but also leave behind a more diverse world of software development. Since joining Ultimate Software, I have focused a good portion of my energy towards this endeavor. I lead the Women in Technology committee at US where we focus on advancing women who chose STEM careers from classroom to the boardroom.

-Pragya Malhotra, Director, Product Management

When we first started Ultimate Software in 1990, there were four of us: two women and two men. We worked together as one team, helping with whatever needed to get done. We had each other’s backs. It wasn’t about being women or men. It was just US. Fast forward 29 years, and that’s still the Ultimate way. We have more than 5,000 employees, half women and half men. But we’re all members of one Ultimate family. We work together every day to design the best HR software, deliver the best customer service, and make a meaningful difference in our communities. We have each other’s back. It’s still US.

-Viv Maza, Chief People Officer


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