Welcome to the first instalment of our series for International Women’s Day “If I could say one thing”. In this week-long interview series, we will hear words of wisdom and advice from three leading women in Intellectual Property.
To kick things off, we’re asking “If I could say one thing to my younger self at the start of my career”. The start of any career can feel daunting, and it’s not uncommon for anyone, particularly for women, to struggle with perfectionism, imposter syndrome, and fear of failure. We asked our interviewees for the one piece of advice they would give their younger self at the start of their career.
We hope this advice provides you with inspiration, comfort, and encouragement, whatever stage of your career.
Carolyn Herzog is EVP, General Counsel at Arm. Arm is committed to connecting its employees with the positive change they create for people, communities and the environment. Carolyn has taken leadership roles in women’s rights advocacy throughout her career.
“It will be okay.”
I spent so much time worrying that things would not work out. I studied harder and longer, I worked harder and longer, I looked over my shoulder and worried, when I could have enjoyed. This is not to say that I didn’t have fun -I had a LOT of fun. I travelled and explored, I sought happiness and I found it. But, perhaps typical of women and other under-represented groups, I worried that I was not good enough – just not enough, and I no doubt over-compensated and worked later than I needed to when I could have been home and enjoying my young children. People often ask me if I have one regret in my career and this is the only one. I have been so fortunate in my career – I have had great bosses, great team members, and truly great opportunities. But I do try to offer to all members of my team, that working longer hours is not the key to success. You do need balance in your life, and I encourage people to spend time for yourself, no matter what your personal interests. It will not sabotage your career to spend time with your young children or on your personal interests. And until men and women do this equally, we will not have equality; until male and female managers encourage this equally, we will not have equality.
Line Køhler Ljungdahl
Line Køhler Ljungdahl is Executive Vice President, Chief Legal Officer, and member of Bang & Olufsen’s Executive Management Board. As one of the most iconic audio-video brands, Bang & Olufsen recognise “equality and diversity are the basis of true innovation and an enabler of success”.
''Dare more and ask for help.''
Let me give you an example. My husband has never been afraid of reaching out to people to ask for support or help, even if he hasn’t spoken to them in ten years. That was a challenge for me – and to some extent it still is – even when I know there are people who can support me. I have always thought that they might not want to help me, but the reality is that most people would love to help you. But they need to know that you need their support. As my husband will say: 'What’s the worst that could happen? ‘That they say no’. ‘Then you ask the next one.’ I have come a long way in terms of daring, but I still work with it every day.
Kalpana Srinivasan is an IP litigation lawyer and Co-Managing Partner at Susman Godfrey. In 2020 Kalpana was named in the Top 100 Lawyers in America and the Top 10 Women in Litigation by Benchmark Litigation. Susman Godfrey is fiercely committed to growing and maintaining diversity, the firm has a Racial Justice working group which is “dedicated to improving diversity within the firm and advocating for racial justice in our community.”
“Don’t sweat the small stuff.”
This profession is a marathon, not a sprint, which is really hard to see when you are starting out. At the beginning of your career you think every day is ‘the day’, and that every day has the potential to make or break your career. Every small issue can feel important, but remember: not every problem you face needs to be a battle. Keep your energy for the important things. Worrying about every small point will get you down and lead to burnout, making it hard to want to stay in the profession long term.
As a young lawyer, you can easily start to question yourself. I remember one opposing counsel saying very aggressive things to me when I was a young lawyer, and it was very hard to block that out at the time. When we went to trial in that case, I realized the lawyer – who had been practicing for some time – actually did not have any real trial experience and that a lot of his big talk had been bluster. I learned over time that some opposing counsel will try to project their own insecurities or lack of authority on to you; you need to ignore that and stayed focused on the end game.
Over the long haul, there are always ups and downs, ebbs and flows. If you go to trial enough, you are going to lose a trial. In fact: if you do any task enough, you will be unsuccessful at some point. Remember the bigger picture, and remember why you wanted to be in this profession in the first place. Focus on making work sustainable for a long career. Having that perspective at the start of your career is a real challenge, but is essential to keep you excited to stay in the profession long term.
The second part of the series will explore the topic ‘If I could say one thing to women in a male-dominated profession’.
We thank Emily Collins for this interview series with such an impressive group of women for International Women’s Day, as well as Amy Auger and Erin Turner for their help in interviewing and editing the series. Of course, we thank each of the amazing women we have interviewed for giving their time to help others to benefit from their wisdom.
Emily’s own passion for Inclusion & Diversity, equality and mental health has enriched our website many a times, see below.
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