Career Advice from 5 Powerful Silicon Valley Women

5 impressive female leaders in the tech world give their ceiling-shattering advice.


Ursula Burns

Career Advice from 5 Powerful Silicon Valley Women

Ursula Burns (left)

“You have to have a very strong opinion with some facts and data to stand it up, you have to prove that you are right more times than you are wrong, and then you better walk into the room with something to say because otherwise you don’t really add a whole lot of value to the group.  So if you are going to be in the group, I want you to actually come in … and have an opinion. And I don’t mean just opinion like, ‘I like blue or I don’t like blue.’ This is, ‘We have this problem. Here is my take on the problem, here’s what I’ve learned. My experience is telling me this and this is how I would approach it.’” – Ursula Burns

Ursula’s story is a true American dream story. Burns was raised by a single mother in the Baruch Houses, a New York city housing project. Both of her parents were Panamanian immigrants. Burns worked her way up from a lowly intern at Xerox, to executive assistant, and now serves as Chairwoman and CEO of Xerox. Incredible, right? As such, she is the first African-American woman CEO to head a Fortune 500 company. She is also the first woman to succeed another woman as head of a Fortune 500 company, having succeeded Anne Mulcahy as CEO of Xerox. She serves on numerous professional and community boards, and is a mentor to many. In 2014, Forbes rated her the 22nd most powerful woman in the world. Rightly so!

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Avatar of Hilary Rowland

A writer, artist, and designer since she was young enough to put pencil to paper, Hilary taught herself code and created Urbanette when she was a teenager. Currently, she lives in Monte Carlo, but spent the past decade living in NYC, still considers herself a New Yorker, and visits regularly. She's always traveling, looking for hot new topics, destinations, and life hacks to bring to Urbanette readers.

Reader Discussion: 172 Comments

  1. Avatar of Jodi Thil

    Men are so annoying in the office. They’re very discriminating against women and would only lean towards other men in helping with bigger projects.

  2. Avatar of Valerie Fritz

    Valerie Fritz

    I’ve been with companies that only looked at men as the only way to boost their company’s income. I had to resign because I knew I was in the wrong place.

  3. Avatar of Monique Malick

    Monique Malick

    There are companies who support women no matter what. You just have to find the right company that fits all your ideals. I know that this can be hard because work is work and career is career, but when you’re not in the right place, you won’t bloom because your roots won’t reach deep and you won’t be as strong. Choose the perfect place for you to be “planted”. Women are strong and even back in the days, we’ve always been capable of so many things.

    • Avatar of Laronda Walker

      Laronda Walker

      Yep, you can’t grow with just any company. It has to be THE company.

  4. Avatar of Linda Bowman

    Linda Bowman

    Yes! Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do it. It’s one of the reasons why you should DO IT.

  5. Avatar of Bonnie Bailey

    Bonnie Bailey

    Women are great beings. We’re very independent and we’re really motivated people.

  6. Avatar of Louise Summer

    Louise Summer

    I super adore audible. Anyway, great recos! Definitely going to check them out ASAP.

  7. Avatar of Jenni Morgan

    Jenni Morgan

    Don’t be afraid to take risks. Sometimes, it’s the risk you take that will take you in higher places!

  8. Avatar of Roze Carloze

    Roze Carloze

    If you happen to be with a company that doesn’t support women in the upper management, start questioning about where you are.

  9. Avatar of Jean Eide

    Jean Eide

    If you want to be as powerful as them, you have no choice but to let go of your fears and just embrace the thrill.?

  10. Avatar of Karen Cooper

    Karen Cooper

    In life, you can’t be ready. I also think that if it doesn’t scare you, it won’t help you grow. Life is all about making big decisions and making crazy ones that are out of your comfort zone. If you’re always living by the rules and all you do is do whatever everyone expects you to do, you are being mediocre. You will never stand out and you will never achieve anything beyond your dreams. Not to offend anyone but that’s the truth. We have to do more in order to achieve more.

    • Avatar of Louise Summer

      Louise Summer

      I totally agree with you. Getting out of your comfort zone is probably the best thing that you can do.

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