Watermark Conference Takeaways: Listen. Support. Inspire. Advocate.
Applied Materials has been actively involved with The Watermark Conference for Women in Silicon Valley since it began four years ago, and this year I was one of more than 120 employees who had the opportunity to attend this influential development conference. After hearing keynotes from some amazing women about empowerment and leading in the workforce, I felt compelled to share some of my own takeaways from the event and invited a few of my colleagues to share some of their experiences as well.
The theme for Watermark this year was #ThePowerofUs, which speaks volumes on what this conference is trying to accomplish. It doesn’t say the power of “one” or the power of “women” exclusively, but the power of “us.” The point being, for real change and progress to occur, everyone—regardless of your gender, culture or background—needs to understand the role we can all play in eliminating bias and enabling equality and equity. The inspiring messages shared throughout the day motivated me to aim higher when setting goals. They also inspired my colleague Erika.
“The Watermark conference was eye-opening and powerful! I have truly been empowered by this experience and I know a spark in me has been reignited for certain things I am passionate about,” said Erika Hansen, a process engineer. “The advice that resonated with me and still is replaying in my head over and over is ‘don’t die with your gift still inside.’ It is a reminder that if you are passionate about something, regardless of what people expect from you or want you to be, you should chase that dream like there is no tomorrow.”
The conference showcased how inclusion and equity are both important to the equation in any successful workplace, and explained how supporting and advocating for this across all demographic groups is a great first step we can all partake in. Inclusion is achieved when you bring different voices to the table. Equity is just as important and is achieved when everyone feels like their voice belongs at that table and is really being heard.
Throughout the day I attended several breakout and keynote sessions. The vast amount of usable knowledge was overwhelming, so I’ve boiled down a few takeaways that made lasting impressions on me:
- Preparation is key. Being prepared equals being confident. It’s better to be prepared than to strive for perfection.
- Networking is worth it. Networking is a great tool to practice at conferences, but you must give before you receive. Take that extra step to build better relationships.
- Build your own board of directors. Find people who will support your goals and advocate for you to succeed.
- Stay positive. It’s so easy to think negatively about yourself and get in the way of your own success. Positive thoughts will turn into successful actions.
- Don’t be afraid to take risks. It’s okay to take calculated risks in professional and personal situations. You will never know what you can accomplish if you don’t try.
“Vulnerability is key in leadership and it is the true meaning of courage,” shared Alyssa Desuacido, a specialist in Human Resources who also attended the event. “One of the keynote speakers, Dr. Brené Brown, did an excellent job of explaining that feeling fear is not indicative of a lack of courage. It is rather what we do to protect ourselves, to build up walls, that inhibits true growth.”
I ended the day feeling fortunate to work for Applied Materials, a company where I can contribute my ideas and have my voice heard. Applied believes in the power of diverse perspectives, experiences and backgrounds to enhance teamwork and accelerate innovation. We are constantly working to achieve an inclusive culture of understanding and empowerment where everyone feels valued and respected and can do their best work.
The conference left me with a lasting and important reminder that every single person can create something extraordinary, and it can stem from a small idea. It’s the small acts we do every day that can lead to creating powerful changes.
I encourage you to join me in being bold, taking risks and bringing your best self to everything you do. You just might change the world!