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Risk Taking is Part of Career Building

Find a company that supports your willingness to try new things with your career. Your path is just that – yours.

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I live and work in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. For my company, I’m the first woman to hold the title of CSM country manager here.

This was not the first time I took a leap – to try new things, to be the ‘only’ in a room, to manage technical experts who have skills I do not – and it won’t be my last.

My confidence to embrace this opportunity came from:

  • Years of preparation
  • The realisation that I don’t need to have the same skills as my team to be a strong people manager and contributor
  • A company culture that supports career advancement and risk-taking

More Women Needed in Leadership

In my role, often I am the only woman in a meeting or on a team – and that’s something I want to change. 

We need more women in the talent pipeline for jobs like mine. Diverse groups generate better ideas and more innovative solutions. If we lack diversity, we miss out on crucial, creative input, perspectives and viewpoints.

Raise Your Hand

My willingness to raise my hand, to try new roles and responsibilities, is only one part of the reason I was an ideal candidate for my current role. The company I chose is the other part.

My career has not been a straight trajectory, nor have I had a specific plan of where I would land by when. What I do have is an openness to take on challenges and a willingness to step into situations with a lot of unknowns.

I’m comfortable in that space because I’ve had mentors, advocates and trusted advisors who have helped me identify areas to develop and ways to overcome obstacles.

One of those areas is people management – I’m not an engineer but I manage people who are. My different education, background and experience is not an issue but is seen as an asset – because that’s what my company values.

I’m intellectually curious and I do my best to understand the industry, applications and processes. While I can’t engineer a solution, I can see the big picture and understand the nuances well enough to lead teams of engineers and interact successfully with customers.

A Change for the Better

When you are not in the majority you might have to work extra hard to be heard, and that can be intimidating. I’ve had to work on this over time. My mentors helped me find my voice and gain confidence in my position.

When I started with this company, almost two decades ago, it was much more difficult for women in traditionally male-dominated industries to get a seat at the table – and for leadership to see their contributions.

That’s definitely changing, but that doesn’t mean you can just assume anyone, or everyone knows what you’re accomplishing. My advice to women and men who want to build their careers: Make sure you get the visibility you deserve and do the same for others.

For my current role I uprooted to cross borders and time zones to live and work in a geographic and cultural area vastly different from what I knew. Someone called this a courageous move; I don’t see it that way. This is how I grow and learn new things.

In this and all leadership roles, I hope to:

  • Inspire other women to take a chance now, rather than wait for the ‘perfect’ time.
  • Challenge people managers to look at ways to develop women on their teams to earn future leadership roles.
  • Encourage companies to create a culture where all employees – women and men – can be comfortable bringing their authentic selves to work; and realise equal opportunities for learning and career growth.

Final Advice

Be comfortable standing out. Believe in yourself and your abilities. Opportunities will not find you; you need to find the opportunities.

And finally, you do not need to wait until you are 100% ready to try something. We don’t have to hire for a role; we can develop for a role. If you have the ability, support and desire, and you work for a company that values career growth and risk-taking, you have all that you need to succeed.

Rebecca Ball
Rebecca Ball
CSM Country Manager, UAE, Rockwell Automation

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