Talking About Women in Project Management
Elise works with women in project management roles to reinforce within themselves their true VALUE to their team, company and industry. She provides a channel for women’s voices to be HEARD, SUPPORTED and EMBRACED in project management with her podcast series, personal training, digital courses and workshops.
Listen to #47 episode to learn about Elise’s inspiring perception of women in Project Management,
and how she stays on top of her work!
Keynotes of this episode:
- Being generous
- What you should pay attention to when networking
- The most important moments in Elise’s life
- Do women have it more difficult in the PM than men?
Connect with Elise
This episode is dedicated to all the girls around the world. So let’s talk about women in the business world.
Today, my guest is wonderful Elise Stevens. She works with women in project management roles to reinforce within themselves their true VALUE to their team, company and industry.
As Elise says, It’s time for women to AIM HIGH in the industry, and to know that they can absolutely achieve their career goals!
So let’s find out how to aim high and what’s the recipe for successful and fulfilling personal and work life!
Kate: Elise, thank you so much for joining me here on Stay On Top Of Your Work Podcast, I’m very excited to talk to you.
Elise: Thank you so much, it’s lovely to chat with you as well this morning.
[00:01:06 – 00:01:35]
Kate: Amazing! My first question is, if you could say a few words about yourself for those who don’t know who you are?
Elise: My name is Elise, I live in Brisbane, and I’m passionate about helping women get the careers they want. Whether at being project managers and climbing as high or doing as many projects as they want. Or women over 40 having the career opportunities that they deserve.
[00:01:36 – 00:02:44]
Kate: Wonderful. I’d like to begin by talking about your book Age Defying Careers for Women at 40: A Practical Guide to Understanding You, Identifying your Career Passion and Developing your Plan. I don’t want to reveal what the entire book is about but can you say a little bit about it? And why did you decide to write the book?
Elise: I decided to write the book because in my work, my consulting work, I saw a number of women over 40 not coming out off restructures very well. And they didn’t have a plan B. And I was listening to my friends talk about themselves or their friends worried about ageism in the workplace and I was also seeing these women coming out the other round of divorce with nothing and no careers and they had to reinvent themselves.
And so I felt that I could help them. I could give them some tools to help them celebrate who they are, find out what they wanted and work on a way to achieve them, achieve their goals.
[00:02:45 – 00:03:52]
Kate: I love how you said to celebrate who they are. This is amazing. Because I think very often people, and women especially, don’t realize how wonderful they are, don’t you think?
Elise: They don’t play it. Or they don’t need that, or they don’t need that. But then they go, yeah that’s fantastic. And if we are not our own cheese quad, who’s going to be.
Kate: Right, exactly. So do you think the book is good also for the young women who enter the world of project management?
Elise: Yes. There’s no fluff in the book. It’s a series of activities that help you find out what you… There’s a series of activities so that you can find out what makes you special, what is important to you, what kind of goals you want from a career and how that fits into your life. And also, how about setting goals and seeing if they’re still working for you.
[00:03:53 – 00:04:53]
Kate: Wonderful. So do you think women have it more difficult in project management than men? Because I think still we have that stereotype; but I think somehow are treated equally as men. But what do you think about it, from your experience?
Elise: I think is a very complex issue. I think some women do okay. And I think it really depends upon the organization that you’re working for. But if you look at the lack of women doing major projects in the UK, as an example, they’re just not there. And so, where are they? Why aren’t they there? Why aren’t they given the same opportunities as men to do these things? Is it an experience thing? So what’s wrong with the pipeline? Have all the senior women left and done other things?
So there’s always questions without answers. And no one seems to have any answers.
[00:04:54 – 00:06:26]
Kate: And it seems like a really difficult and, as you said, complex problem.
You have a project called Celebrating Women in Project Management. Can you say a little bit about it?
Elise: I wanted to provide a platform for women to showcase their achievements and to share their insight. I feel that women’s voices are missing in the online world. And if we’re not visible, then we don’t get speaking opportunities at conferences to come and talk to other people. And so, it’s mainly men talking.
But where are all the women and their experiences at these conferences? Where are the women sharing their insight and inspiring women to achieve more and be visible? And, McKinsey, in their report about gender diversity said that if women aren’t visible, then other women don’t see the possibilities. So it’s this chicken and egg thing. I’ve highly summarized McKinsey report, by the way, there’s a lot more to it. But that’s the general gist of it.
And so I think that, I thought, well, why not put a platform together where women can share their experiences, share their insight. And get used to talking positively about themselves and what they’ve achieved. And share and inspire other women to continue in the profession or join the profession. Or just celebration, in general.
[00:06:27 – 00:08:52]
Kate: Wonderful. And women there are asked 7 questions. Can I ask you all these questions?
Elise: Yeah, sure!
Kate: Okay, so the first question, what I enjoy most about being a project manager is?
Elise: Delivering good outcomes for the customer.
Kate: The three most important skills I use to successfully deliver projects are
Elise: Communication, oh, I have to think. Communication, stakeholder engagement, and ninja skill, ninja project management skills.
I stole that one from Emma.
Kate: Okay! Sounds great! I built and nurture my professional network by
Elise: Reaching out to and connecting with other women and supporting them, but also encouraging them to step outside their comfort zones.
Kate: At the start of my career the one thing I wish I had known is
Elise: One thing that I wish I’d known was there’s no such thing as perfection, and that striving for perfection was a few tunnel task and that no one is perfect.
Kate: Women who inspired me so far in my career journey are
Elise: The women that have inspired me in my career journey so far are Naomi Caietti. I’ve also been inspired by other women such as, I do like Oprah, like everyone. But I’ve also been inspired by other women that have managed to climb the… to achieve things in their fields and have been a bit of a troubleizer for other women.
Kate: Okay. The most valuable advice I have ever been given is
Elise: The most valuable advice I was ever given was that it’s okay to be yourself.
Kate: Okay, and the last question, my advice for women on finding success as a project manager is
Elise: To believe in yourself, believe in your ability and to wear as much color as you want.
[00:08:53 – 00:09:42]
Kate: Elise, so you work with women so I want to ask you what are the most important things that you’ve learned from other women throughout your career?
Elise: The most important thing I’ve learned from other women is that there is no one formula for success. It’s such an individual thing. And then, we need to be supporting each other and not trying to be like the queen B and, you know, “get out of my way.” We need to reach back and help other women. And I think it’s really important to celebrate everyone’s achievement and be thankful that we’re all individuals and we’re not all the same.
[00:09:43 – 00:10:42]
Kate: That sounds so beautiful. So why do you think women should support each other? And why is it, you know, that in today’s world women so often do not do that?
Elise: I don’t know but I think it gets back to the generosity of your spirit. Being generous with who you support on LinkedIn or who you go to meet with and inspire. I think it’s so important. And yet, I think for some women, they feel that because they see, perhaps see other women as the threat to their own position and their own insecurities, potentially that it’s better to be like the queen B and not let anyone in, than to be generous and encourage others to succeed.
[00:10:43 – 00:12:59]
Kate: You connect with a lot of amazing women. What advice would you give to want to start building a network and want to know more people?
Elise: That’s a really good question. How I’ve built my network is, firstly, by being generous, and whether that be permitting and supporting other women, and saying what a great job they’ve done. And it’s about seeing who I know they might be out to live reach. Who in my network can help those other women. Who can I connect those women to that might be out to help them?
But also, I reach out to other women on LinkedIn to connect, and hopefully, I take a chance, I take small risk in reaching out to people and hopefully they see me as being a positive person and not someone that’s trying to stalk them or ask them to do something.
But I think that that’s important that sometimes you gotta put yourself out there a little bit and take small risks. Whatever risk you’re comfortable with to make contact. So if we take Naomi, for early on in my podcasting career, I reached out to Naomi, I was just studying out and I said, “Hey, would you like to podcast with me?” And she went, “Yes.” And I didn’t have much of a profile and yet she was generous with her time and we’ve gone on to do other things together.
And the same with a number of other women that I’ve connected with. A whole lot of other women I’ve connected with. They often up opened their networks to me and say, “Hi Elise, have you thought about interviewing this person or that person.” And I just think it’s encouraged me to be more generous.
So when people are generous with me, it makes me want to be a better person and be generous to other people.
[00:13:00 – 00:14:37]
Kate: We need more women like you, this is amazing.
Was there a certain event in your life that influenced you so much that you remember still to this day?
Elise: So I did a degree in.. My degree is in electrical engineering. And it was hard. It was way hard. And, you know, there were times that I really thought that I wasn’t gonna be able to make it. That I should look at something else, something a lot easier. But I persevered and I kept going, and eventually, I got to the end of it. And I graduated.
So that to me is one of the pivotal points in my life; about just continuing to strive forward, just do what you have to do to make things happen. And it did take a while to do but I did it. And I haven’t used it since, I must confess. I wouldn’t become a programmer after that. But to me, that’s still one of the biggest achievements.
And the other achievement is deciding that I needed to have a plan B for my career and not rely on organizations to think about what my career was. And I think that’s a big thing, you know, taking control of what I wanted to for my family and making sure that I at least try to do something.
[00:14:38 – 00:16:05]
Kate: Yes, these are really big achievements. It sounds really amazing and inspiring.
So how do you manage your time, as a project manager, as a woman who works with other women and is always busy?
Elise: I do have to be super organized but I also have to make sure that I allow enough time to do the things I enjoy. So writing the book was really tough. And I didn’t really have enough time left over for me and my family. And I found it quite stressful to do it but I just had to keep going. And once again, there were times where I just thought, “oh, I can’t do this.” But I just had to keep moving forward and eventually it all finished and I got a book.
But in order to achieve that, I had to make sure that I set aside a certain amount of time for the book. But also, I had to set aside time for me and my family. And I think in some respect you have to draw very good boundaries and say, “yes, I know this task is a big task but I’m only gonna give it x number of hours over these days. And then I’m going to make sure that I can still exercise and do these other things as well.”
[00:16:06 – 00:17:03]
Kate: So what books do you read? Do you have your favorite titles? Or something you recommend to project managers or women?
Elise: I like Ruth Pearce’s Be a Project Motivator the vial skill strengths. And I like books on creative thinking and thinking a bit differently about problems. And I also like books about different ways of solving problems. So creative thinking and problem solving are the ones I enjoy. And a good cookbook. I’m a big fan of food porn and I find it very therapeutic to read cooking books.
Kate: That’s great, that’s interesting! So my last question to sum up our interview is how do you stay on top of your work?
Elise: With the very good to-do list. You gotta make sure that you know when things are due that you keep on updating your to-do list and making sure that things have high priority are going to be finished quickly. And trying to achieve the things that need to be done urgently.
I know there’s a school of thought that you shouldn’t get things urgent.
Kate: Everybody is different, that’s what’s important, that’s what makes us different.
Elise, if we want to find you, where can we look for you?
Elise: Well, you can connect with me on LinkedIn, I’m easy to find on LinkedIn and also you can go to my website www.elisestevens.com and I always enjoy connecting and talking with new people and all my current connections as well.
Thank you for listening!