Pledge 1%’s #WomenWhoLead series celebrates female leaders who are paving the way for the next generation. While our featured leaders come from a variety of backgrounds and industries, they are united in their efforts to promote equality for all women in the workplace. We’ve asked them to share a bit about their journey to success, as well as lessons they’ve learned along the way.
What is your name and title?
Pamela Wickersham, VP, Product & Engineering at Litify.
Briefly (1-2 sentences) describe your current role.
In my role I’m responsible for setting product strategy and roadmaps for all of our product lines at Litify. This requires working closely with our customers, partners and internal team to understand what will make customers happy but also propel our business forward at the same time. The best part is working with the product managers, user experience designers, engineers and quality assurance teams to bring those ideas to life and release amazing products.
How did you get here? Please share any quick stories from past work experiences.
I’ve worked in cloud tech for the past 12 years and more specifically with document management/generation platforms, so when I met the Litify team and knew they wanted to invest in creating a new document product line for legal it was the perfect fit. My experience with writing code, and then leading implementation teams and working directly with customers and seeing the problems and frustrations firsthand led to being able to create a new piece of software that could address pain points and work the way the legal industry needed it to.
In your opinion, what’s the #1 decision or move you’ve made that has helped advance your career?
Early on as a software engineer I had a choice of the next feature I was going to work on. It was between a ticket for a new document action or to learn Salesforce and write apex to create the first integration to our platform and package it for the app exchange. Everyone else was avoiding the Salesforce tickets so eventually, I grabbed them all and decided to learn something new and get it done. Our company pivoted to focus solely the majority of our sales effort on the Salesforce ecosystem 6 months later and I was the only person that knew anything about the platform and integration and it catapulted my career into an upward direction that I’ll never forget. All these years later I’m still working with Salesforce and now leading the team that builds out of software that runs entirely on the Salesforce platform. Definitely happy I took those tickets over a decade ago.
What is the most important lesson you’ve learned this past year?
Would have to be that flexibility is key to the success of a company, team and individual. So many curveballs lobbed our way as a whole this past year and almost every decision that we made before the pandemic had to be re-evaluated and maybe even completely halted. While it was a year of making difficult decisions, some much easier than others, the way we got through it as a company and team was to allow ourselves to make a decision and then if it wasn’t the right one, change it. It’s painful to start on a product and abandon it or restart it later with a different objective but if it’s right for the company and the market then it’s what we needed to do. Those that understood and were also flexible and patient were able to react with grace and poise better than others. It’s hard to be flexible but it’s led to better product, better outcomes and us becoming a better team.
What’s the number one challenge you face as a woman in your industry?
Early on and sometimes even now, I still think the challenge is not being heard. I learned pretty quickly that I wasn’t going to be asked for my opinion and waiting patiently for my turn to speak wasn’t going to get it done. I had to speak up, maybe even speak over and demand the attention of the room to get equal time in a conversation. Adding some humor goes a long way. I am often the only woman in a room or on a team and have tried to turn that into a strength, knowing I often bring a different perspective and have earned my spot at the table. I’m lucky to be with a team now where I’m just seen as part of the team and a valued member of that team, it’s one thing that drew me to Litify and continues to impress me.
Do you have any mentors? What does mentorship mean to you?
I consider the past CEO I worked for as a mentor because he taught me so many things and I didn’t even realize it at the time. I thought I’m an engineer, why do I need to know our sales targets and other “business” data, and he changed my mind and grew my business sense and other softer skills in ways that have benefited my career so much. He also taught me the importance of making sure everyone feels important and heard. He had this way of making everyone in the room shine a bit more because he took the time to get to know something about them, always remembered everyone’s names and looked for a way to include them in the conversation. He’s an amazing leader and I’m grateful to have spent so much time with him.
What advice do you have for women who are just starting their career?
Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and try something. So many times I thought I’m not quite qualified enough for that, or there’s no way I’ll get that job. I talked myself out of something before I even applied or started. I also saw male counterparts going after those opportunities with less experience and fewer qualifications and going well and realized that I had to throw my hat in the ring and be bolder. Not being afraid to fail and feeling happy that I tried became my new way of looking at things. Go after what you want, don’t self-doubt, don’t let others talk you out of it, you’re a big deal, you’re amazing, they’d be lucky to have you.
What is one thing companies can do, big or small, to help create an environment that advances women into leadership positions?
I would suggest making sure that female candidates are always included and the team evaluating these candidates is also diverse. Many times I see a pool of all male applicants and an all male hiring team. We have to remember to be more inclusive at the top of the funnel to expect any change to occur. In my experience women also want to be able to see women on the leadership team at a company to know it’s possible for them. It starts with one and from there the change is already occurring.
What is one thing you hope to accomplish in the next year?
I am doubling the size of my team next year, and while more product and faster releases are an expected outcome, I’ll know we’re succeeding or not by how the team is working together. I would like to promote from within, see new leaders emerge and watch those leaders take over. When I see the team taking initiative, working together, motivating each other, challenging ideas and answers while also lifting each other up, the rest of the product goals just fall into place. I hope to foster a team environment where this is possible and everyone feels comfortable, understood, heard and valued.
Is there a cause that is particularly close to you? If so, why this cause and how did you get involved?
Encouraging more women to go into tech and/or write code. I need to get involved directly in an organization again but love talking to anyone considering that type of role and being a positive influence on that decision. I think that women tend to talk themselves out of things before trying so just being there to say it’s possible, you can do it, and look what a career in tech can lead to is impactful and I hope to do more of it.
When did your company join Pledge 1%? What does your impact program mean to you?
We joined in October of 2019. It has helped us maintain our focus on giving back within our local communities and continuing our own to push our .org efforts within Litify. More details on that program here.
What do you like to do outside of the office? Any interesting (or unique) habits or interests?
I’ve always been into running and have completed a couple of marathons but have more recently started attending a mega reformer pilates class that I absolutely love, no better way to start the day than with a good workout and then immediately after coffee. On the weekends, that turns into hours of beach volleyball to enjoy the beautiful Miami weather.
Are you reading/listening to anything interesting at the moment? Please share your most recent favorite book or podcast!
What’s been the one (or two!) things that have helped you navigate this past year? Any tips or tricks to dealing with remote work?
I didn’t like working remotely at all before this year, I found it distracting and less engaging at first. I felt the same way last March but then switched it up and realized how important a routine is. I make sure I wake up around the same time as before, get a workout in and get ready for the day like I was heading into the office and then go out to grab a coffee and head back to start my workday. I also like making sure that my camera is on for most if not all meetings to get that personal interaction with my team. I know it’s not for everyone but seeing someone’s face vs a phone call helps me feel more connected. Also, being home with my dog is a nice bonus and I love getting to steal a moment with her to give me a little boost of energy.