Advancing Life & Work

Re: Don't be afraid to get out of your comfort zone........past failures teach the best lessons



I had the opportunity to be interviewed by Fairygodboss Radio, a tremendous resource for empowerment, solid advice and recruiting. The definition of a Fairygodboss is someone who elevates women at work - how great is that? So a podcast is basically a chat and mine was with the leader of Fairygodboss, Romy Newman, Founder and President. We chatted about a number of areas that underscored how to grow in your career by getting out of your comfort zone. Here are the highlights:

A failure: so how did I get into technology?

I dreamed of a career on Wall Street, but my dream career brought me back to Houston to work in the community I grew up in. I moved from Financial Services and Technical Services after working in community banking and stock brokerage roles. I decided to move during a deep recession, a career fair and the absence of a clear career path in retail banking. Compaq was nearby and I saw an ad in the local paper. I might be the last person that anyone reading this blog knows who got their job from a paper “want ad”. I will be celebrating my 25th anniversary in January and rather than 25 years, I’ve actually had about ten different “adventures~ where I have had an opportunity to gain experience in new technology areas and take on cool new “extra” roles

How has been a woman played a role in my career?

I am lucky as a child growing up in Scotland, I didn’t learn traditional gender stereotypes. I actually participated in many family activities that weren’t traditionally female so I didn’t know that I didn’t know that might be gender stereotypes. My first career had few female role models and those few built fortresses that insulated them from the rest of the company. I love the tech industry because it’s the great equalizer. I believe strongly in all people, especially women, need economic empowerment.

 Importance of role models

Women need supportive women and men in their network. Find people who can open doors and give advice in order to further you in your career journey. Pay it back by building an inclusive and diverse culture … mentor all the genders and help men become change agents and sponsors. I try to think about what I can I add to this person’s experience, how does it nudge them in the direction they need to go?

 What is a good manager?

Being a good manager is practicing being a good human being with common sense and the following things:

  1. Great vision
  2. Good communication
  3. Encourage employees to go out of their comfort zone
  4. Holding people accountable to get great results
  5. Inclusive, fair, accountable

Work-Life Balance in a world of no technological boundaries

Work-life balance is an area that is my greatest challenge. Life is 24/7 I work for an international company and have meetings in several time zones. If you are adding value to the company, flexibility can work for you. I see balance is more of an ebb and flow to meet demands. It’s not the time you put in but it’s the results you deliver. 

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 Summing it up

The concept of career growth and getting out of your comfort zone is not once and done, it’s more of rinse and repeat … a lot. Just last month I was in Spain, hosting one of HPE's customers from Purdue University College of Agriculture, literally standing next to mini wheat fields to promote our collaboration with the World Economic Forum to stop world hunger. Learn more here about our digital agriculture efforts. To find out what I do next to grow, follow me on Twitter or Linked In.


 To learn more .. including more work-life balance challenges and making mistakes check out the full podcast here

About the author

Jill Sweeney, Technology Leader for HPE Hybrid ITJill Sweeney, Technology Leader for HPE Hybrid ITJill Sweeney leads technical Knowledge Management for volume servers, high-performance computing and Artificial Intelligence (AI), and composable systems at Hewlett-Packard Enterprise.  Jill and her team are transforming the technical experiences customers, and partners have with HPE's products, solutions and support information to foster positive customer business outcomes. No stranger to change management and transformation, Jill has held technology focused and marketing roles at HPE including launching both the Internet of Things (IoT) and mobility go-to-market programs as well as managing global brand programs for Hewlett Packard's Starbucks Alliance and employee culture and engagement. Prior to the HP/Compaq merger, Jill drove alliances for a Compaq owned start-up, B2E Solutions.  



Jill is a champion for Inclusion, and Diversity as well as science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) Careers.  She actively supports CodeWars programming competition, HPE university recruiting and serves as a mentor to early and mid-career employees seeking to move outside their comfort zone.

Learn more about HPE Culture by exploring HPE Careers and join us! 



Susan Graye
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Peter French

Really liked the discussion on work life balance and could relate to the ebbs and flow of work and home life. finding balance is key.