By Leontine Van Manen-Esdaile
5 April 2022
I was afraid to show who I was to the outside world but once I realised I didn’t have to be like everyone else, my career really soared.”
In changing her perspective and embracing her uniqueness, Santina no longer strove to fit a mould that wasn’t her.
“To have compassion for yourself, as well as those around you and to aspire to bigger things in an organisation regardless of what walk of life you come from is invaluable,” she adds.
Santina has since become an advocate for the lessons presented by stepping out of comfort zones and facing challenging environments.
The value of having the right mentor for the right stage of your career
“I’m incredibly grateful for my mentors’ support and belief in my potential,” says Santina who attributes the start of her growth journey to having a mentor who could see her potential and understood the steps to get there.
Instead of being put off by perceived obstacles, he challenged Santina to ask ‘why not?’ encouraging her to apply for a vacant role in the software engineering space as a test analyst for a SaaS tech company.
“Despite feeling I had no idea about the role or relevant experience; I took a moment, trusted my mentor and leaned in.”
That opportunity led Santina to where she is today.
Remembering how her confidence grew, Santina reflects on how she started to own her career journey and how, in changing companies, she sought out an external mentor who she’s now been working with for three years.
“There is tremendous value to having the right mentor at the right time … different people can help you at different stages of your journey.”
Being uncomfortable means you’re learning something
Santina’s current mentor has further encouraged her to get comfortable with the uncomfortable, supporting Santina in applying for roles she desired rather than the ones she was qualified for, opportunities her mentor knew would help Santina realise her potential.
During each application process, Santina knew she had the cultural perspective and people leadership capabilities each role required and confidently talked through her desire to build on her background – skills the company could help her gain with on-the-job learning.
Now a Lead of her own Software Engineering team, Santina mentors both young individuals in need of career or academic advice and current, or aspiring, leaders in the software engineering space.
With regards to recruitment, she encourages hiring managers to concentrate on building a diverse skill set within their teams, focusing on what the team and the role needs rather than anyone’s preference for what an ideal candidate looks like.
“Prioritising a big wish list and focusing on your own preferences and perceptions of the ideal candidate inhibits the opportunity to hire the person who will bring the most to your team and company’s success,” she says.
Moreover, her advice to interviewees with that 80% fit?
“Be honest about your current skill set but draw attention to the areas you have a high level of understanding in, and share examples of where you’ve been challenged in previous roles, where you’ve demonstrated passion and confidence to break through barriers.”
Sanita Blair will be speaking at ANZ's skills and knowledge event – 'Build Tech Tip #1: Hiring for an 80% fit is the new 100%' – as part of ANZ's Build Tech Tips speaker series on Building a High Performing Tech Organisation.
View and register for this fantastic free event here.
Read more on Santina via her Lead with heart and purpose blog.
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