By Wendy Johnstone, General Manager, Marketing and Operations, Microsoft Asia Pacific.
Katie Dufficy, an ex-colleague and good friend introduced me to a wonderful children’s book called ‘Rosie Revere Engineer’ by Andrea Beaty. It’s about Rosie Revere, a shy young girl who dreams of becoming a great engineer, but hides away her fantastic inventions because she is embarrassed when her uncle laughs at what she creates for him. That is until her great-great Aunt Rose, an aircraft engineer, shows her how failures are just a stepping stone to success. And that they should be celebrated!
This story is a powerful reminder that professions are gender neutral. Skills are gender independent. And passion is gender blind.
My daughter Sienna loves this book and we read it together at least once a week. It has helped us to tackle important life lessons on family, confidence, commitment and working hard, having someone believe in you and most of all, that we should love what we do.
These lessons are so universal, whether you are a parent, child, sibling, teacher, leader or employee. Which is why I wanted to share it with you on this day that we celebrate accomplishments and strive for a world that is balanced. Here are the four lessons Sienna and I took from ‘Rosie Revere Engineer’.
1. Gender does not determine your career path
We all need to foster a world that values the talents, skills and attitude of an individual rather than prejudge a person’s aptitude for a subject based on their gender. Many organizations today are realizing the importance of gender impartiality when hiring or promoting, and benefiting from the diversity it brings.
2. Role models can inspire you to achieve more
When I was growing up, I saw my mother and father juggle putting themselves through university, working full time and looking after my brother and I. That had a lasting impact on me and taught me that anything is possible with hard work. Many young girls don’t pursue their passions because of a lack of roles models. Without other females showing them the way in an industry that may be male dominated they don’t pursue their passion. If only they had a ‘great-great Aunt Rose’ in their lives, could you imagine how transformative that could have been for them, their families and their futures?
3. Empathy is at the core of innovation
Rosie created solutions. She had a genuine desire to help people. She created a hat made from cheese to help keep snakes away from her favorite Uncle’s head and a “heli-o-cheese-copter” to help her great-great-Aunt fly. So many great inventions, products and designs start with solving a problem. At the core it’s about empathy for someone else. I love that this story shows us the human side of engineers and inventors.
4. Never give up
Experiments lead to discoveries lead to failures lead to success. And being persistent is a key part of having the passion to invent and innovate. To be successful you need to work hard, fail fast and have bucket loads of grit.
As a mother, these were amazing lessons to share with Sienna. As a leader, these lessons are equally important to share with my team. And as a scholar highly relevant lessons for my personal development. Make sure you are passionate about what you are doing and remember anything is possible. Ask yourself what am I role modelling and who am I helping today ? And never forget that it’s OK to fail.
As Rosie taught us, the only true failure can come if you quit.