Advice for the next generation of women leaders in mobile

Shannon Jessup, CRO at Tapjoy, presents tips for women to get ahead in their careers within the typically male-dominated mobile industry

Shannon Jessup TapjoyRecently, I had the good fortune to take part in the first annual MGS mBolden Awards, an incredible night in celebration of all of the amazing women who work in the mobile industry — of which there are many!

It was a tremendous honor to be named mBolden’s “Mobile Growth Leader of the Year”, and to be recognized alongside such amazing women as Miriam Aguirre of Skillz, Taylor Gobar of Hopper, and Sheryl Tullis of TA Group Holdings. The night was a great reminder that, in many ways, our industry is showing positive signs of change when it comes to gender equity.

Nonetheless, women are still underrepresented at the highest ranks of executive leadership in mobile, just as they are in practically all other industries. Last year, a mere 4.8 per cent of Fortune 500 CEOs were women.

Despite the gains we have made as a society, women still face challenges not only reaching the executive rank, but also staying there. I’ve been fortunate enough to have had several exceptional mentors throughout my career, both women and men, who have directly or indirectly shown me what it takes to not only reach those ranks but excel there. In the spirit of emboldening women leaders, I’d like to share some advice for other women in mobile who want to get ahead in their careers.

Trust your voice
In a world dominated by male voices, it can be hard for an up-and-coming female executive to remain true to her own voice. It’s easy to cave to insecurities or imposter syndrome. My advice for young women is to know that if you’re in the room, that means you deserve to be there. It didn’t happen on accident. It happened because there is immense value in people’s differences. Women have an advantage in that they bring perspective to leadership, one that’s not necessarily a male one. This is a powerful tool that can help shape your company in a different way than your male counterparts. Your voice is crucial. Trust it.

Be your authentic self
There are a lot of books and advice columns out there telling women how they should behave in order to get ahead in the corporate world. I would say that you can’t force yourself to act in any way that isn’t natural. It’s about being yourself and acting in a way that aligns with your personal values and strengths. Don’t try to be something you’re not. Be yourself and appreciate what you bring to the table. If you know what you’re talking about and are trustworthy, people will listen and respect you regardless of gender.

Advocate for yourself — and for others
Respect as a leader will never be handed to you. You’ve got to work for it. In my experience, accountability, honesty and recognizing and rewarding talent and contributions are the most effective leadership strategies to support your talent. It’s very important for me to know all the people on my team, understanding their experience, strengths and weaknesses. That’s key to supporting and developing your people, regardless of their gender.

Breed a culture of acceptance
Lastly, it is incumbent upon women once they reach positions of leadership to build and nurture the type of environment that they themselves would want to work in. Our society has made healthy strides towards greater acceptance and openness, but we still have a long way to go before our corporations are true meritocracies. True leaders make sure the talents of all their people are recognized, regardless of race, sexuality, gender or any other differences.

In today’s day and age, women have more leadership opportunities in the corporate world than ever before, in large part because we have worked hard to create those opportunities for ourselves and for others. My hope is that the mobile industry can continue to lead the way and we’ll see to even more doors open for women in leadership.