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Whereoware is proud to have a majority woman workforce, particularly in the male-dominated tech industry. We’re recognizing our WOW women and their achievements in both tech and leadership and sharing their thoughtful insight for the next generation of women in the workplace.
In this edition of WOW Women in Technology, we’re chatting with Raquel Ploetz, Whereoware’s VP of Strategic Solutions.
How has your background prepared you for success in your industry?
The digital landscape is ever-changing. Client needs evolve, as consumer expectations escalate, and it’s our job to make sense of it all.
To succeed, you need to be confident, actionable, and unafraid to fail. Thankfully, years (let’s not ask how many) of experience have awarded me a unique understanding of the intersection between agency, client, customer, media, and digital platforms.
I got here by taking on new jobs where I had the applicable marketing, sales, and strategy experience, but was constantly learning something new. Thankfully I had the support and encouragement of others to take these leaps. It paid off, giving me the depth of experience to build my confidence, the drive to learn what makes me actionable, and the desire to achieve the success that supersedes any fear of failure.
Tell us about your leadership style and philosophy.
After years of being active in sports, my leadership style resembles that of a coach. Whether for a specific deliverable or their career in general, I try to find the best in people and then close the gaps.
People are hired because they are capable of the job, but very rarely do they excel at every aspect of a job when hired. If they do (unicorn sighting), it’s time to help them broaden their role and responsibilities.
As a leader, I look to identify the best in individuals and exploit it by giving them work that showcases their strong skillset. I ask what they'd like to do next to help them navigate a path there, and ensure I socialize their value both internally and externally. We work together to figure out what is needed (e.g., training, resources, tools, etc.) to foster their growth and development, ultimately setting them up to succeed in whatever they want to take on next.
What do you wish you had known before embarking on your career?
I wish I would have known earlier on about the importance of work relationships. When we get caught up investing all our time towards the advancement of our careers, relationships suffer, both at home and in the office.
What I’ve learned over the years is the stronger your relationships are, the more alliances you build, the more people to support you, and the more likely you are to be successful. When I look back at my career, my greatest accomplishment is not the work, but the friendships I’ve made along the way.
Where do you find inspiration as a leader?
I find inspiration in so many people and in so many ways. Growing up, my dad used to tell us to leave the room better than we found it. As an adult, and even more so as a leader, I find myself wanting to leave people better than when we first met.
In my everyday life, I take mental notes when I witness someone’s words or actions causing another to react in a positive way. A teacher to a student, a coach to an athlete, a waitress to a diner, the list is endless. Each encounter is unique and requires a different approach based on the individuals, their relationship, the environment, and the situation. While the message may not always be positive the delivery should be kind and well-intended.
What do you think is the most significant barrier to female leadership?
We’ve all heard, it’s not what you know, it’s who you know. The Old Boys Club has limited women’s access to network opportunities which has hindered the progress of gender equality in the workforce.
Men continue to predominantly hold leadership positions, which means they sit on more company boards, are requested to speak at more roundtables and industry engagements, host more happy hour meet-ups, attend university lectures, etc. The same can be said for casual networking events, like client dinners or getting in a round of golf.
Even though they’d like to attend, women are overlooked and forgotten when invite lists are created making those that do attend feel uncomfortable in a room full of men. Women need to insert themselves into these networking opportunities. If you aren’t invited, ask to be invited and bring a female colleague or four with you. Better yet, host a networking event of your own where you control the guest list.
On a smaller scale, create your own network through mentorships. Seek out both female and male mentors to help elevate yourself and pay it forward through the mentoring of young female professionals. Feel free to hit me up on LinkedIn (wink).
What is the most valuable lesson you’ve learned in your career?
Find the balance. It’s so easy to get lost in your work, but it is a disservice to you and your employer to not take the time to rest, relax, and recharge. When I’m struggling to finish something at work, I’ll find an easy at-home project to get that quick sense of accomplishment.
It’s important to take time for family and friends, and to do what brings you joy. And some days, well some days, it’s best just to sit back, put your feet up and do nothing for a while. Why not, you’ve earned it.