For any of you who have considered the question, ‘What do I need to know to be successful in my career?’ this book is an incredibly useful tool. I am pleased to have been asked to write this foreword.
In my current role, I have the pleasure of working with many women who are interested in or engaged in a technical career. There are many pieces of advice that these women receive, but one of the most common is ‘find a mentor’. Mentoring has been shown again and again to be the most effective way to empower a career, particularly for women. Although most of my mentors were men—all truly wonderful and helpful—my few opportunities working with female mentors allowed me a very different experience. In particular, those experiences provided the opportunity to discuss a broader range of topics than I was able to cover with my male mentors.
Technical women often find themselves working in environments where there are only a handful of other women, and female Technical Fellows are still very uncommon. The chance for an in-depth series of conversations with a successful technical woman can be a life changing experience. This book allows you to see into the mind and heart of an IBM Fellow, and learn how she made the decisions that led to her success.
My focus may be women, but Dr. Mitchell’s focus is people. Almost nothing in her book is targeted to women specifically. Since she mentors and is mentored by both men and women, she knows the special value of each. The information she offers is important to everyone—including her advice to have at least one mentor of the opposite sex.
Dr. Mitchell does not shy away from the many and diverse topics that successful people cope with. As surprising as it sounds, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve answered questions about how to dress. The book’s topics range from dress and personal organization, to the more important matter of systematically designing your career Joan’s down-home style brings to life the importance of writing skills, the always formidable matter of presentation skills, and the need to be the CEO of your own career. If you read this book, and think about her advice, you can change the course of your career. You are, after all, in the driver’s seat.
Thank you, Dr. Joan Mitchell, for this important contribution in area of mentoring, I wish I had had it when I was just beginning my career.
Dr. Telle Whitney
President and CEO
Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology