Career Advice from 5 Powerful Silicon Valley Women - URBANETTE: Lifestyle Magazine & Blog


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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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 spends most of her time traveling around Europe, with pied-a-terre's in Zurich, London, Milan and Lyon, France. Hilary spent the past decade living in NYC, still considers herself a New Yorker, and visits regularly. She's always looking for hot new topics, destinations, and life hacks to bring to Urbanette readers.

Reader Discussion: 153 Comments

  1. Meghan Medina

    I’ve recently discovered that a big contributor to the glass ceiling syndrome is the ‘sticky floor’ phenomenon – making yourself so indispensable at a lower level that your employer won’t promote you because they can’t find anyone else to do that dull but essential job as well as you can. Stepping off that sticky floor can require a huge amount of assertive discussion.

  2. Kelly Osborne

    The women in this article strived harde than everyone else. So should you in order to be on the same level as them. Although you have to keep in mind that there may be differences in the field and level of achievements, you know what I mean.

  3. Maxine Hanson

    To get ahead and reach the leadership level you want, you need to champion and market yourself. That means proactively managing every step of your career. If you can’t seem to break through a glass ceiling, you might have to work harder than others. We can’t all be exactly the type of upper management person our company wants. What we can do is develop the skills that the company values. Arm yourself with a development plan as well as the help of your boss, a strong network, and, hopefully, a mentor. You can then build and showcase the skills that will help you climb the corporate ladder. Push yourself beyond your comfort zone, and you may find new zones of opportunity.

  4. Tara Norman

    While there have been gains in the numbers of people who were formerly underrepresented in senior positions, there is still a lot of room for improvement. Carefully managing your career will help you to better navigate the management channels. It might just help you see that maybe you’re in the wrong channel and your energy needs to be someplace else where you can fully grow.

  5. Katie Rodgers

    There are lot of things that women can do in order to break the glass ceiling. One of it is to be the best version of themselves and to set sail in unusual teritory. It’s bound to be an experience and a long journey, but how can success be achieved if you kept swimming in familiar waters?

  6. Verna Clarke

    These women are inspirational, and let’s take their word for it in order to be better in the workforce.

  7. Hannah Rose

    Let’s be one with those women who broke the glass ceiling.

  8. Leticia Bass

    Your comfort zone isn’t synonymous to success. Getting out of it is.

  9. Mamie Thomas

    Work hard, ladies. In time you’ll be able to achieve things you didn’t think you could!

  10. Rachael Patrick

    You’re a strong woman that can’t be bound to rules and restrictions. You deserve to be successful.

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