International Women’s Day, March 2021 and there is a woman in the White House, finally! We must take a moment and acknowledge the change that has happened over the years. Women more than ever are beginning to come out of spaces they were relegated to. Women have been breaking barriers for a while now and have found success across industries like health, fashion, technology, sales and so on.
Today, we speak to Mona Dash who dons multiple hats — a customer service director, an author/poet and a mother; all at the same time.
How are women making a way in so-called male-dominated fields like Sales, Automotive and the like?
A: I remember the time when I was often the only woman in meetings or one of a handful in Telecoms/IT industry events. I also remember a more recent time when recruiters would call and say that a certain company is keenly looking to recruit women in sales as they have a mandate to promote diversity. Over the years, I have seen a positive shift, with more women colleagues as customer stakeholders. A recent report by Catalyst says that the gap between the number of men and women in STEM starts early, towards the very beginning of higher education. They cite, only 30% women as opposed to 52% men take STEM subjects in university. This needs to change as well, so that the shift is more pronounced.
Woman in sales: How is that going for you as a career?
A: Sales as a career is challenging for anyone; but with the added complexity of being an Asian woman in Tech sales in the UK, it has been doubly difficult! I have been here for twenty years. I have often attended interviews, where I was asked, if I would consider other roles - anything more ‘suitable’. At the same time, there have been broad-minded companies and managers, who believe success in sales is not gender-specific, but in the company’s DNA. I believe that women needn’t be forced to cultivate the traditional sales style accepted as normal in a male-dominated industry, since different viewpoints and styles are needed and can be as successful in any industry. At the end of the day, sales is about understanding your customers, communicating effectively, being resilient and determined. And women can be all of that!
How do you hustle between the 2 worlds: Sales and writing?
A: Indeed, I have two poetry collections, one novel and my award-winning memoir, which was published in 2019. Several of my short stories and poems have been published in international journals and in more than eighteen anthologies. Since I chose not to self-publish, I had to work hard to receive validation and support from the literary world and have my work accepted by publishers. I pursued a Master’s in creative writing (part-time), joined writing groups, submitted my work to publishers (and got rejected!), but continued to immerse myself in the craft.
Since my writing doesn’t overlap with my job, a completely different set of skills are in use and there is hardly any brain fatigue. I tend to compartmentalise the two roles as best as I can, though work deadlines take priority. I write on weekends, holidays or late at night. The flip side is that when two environments are so different, one’s engagement style with each role has to change. You have to dexterously balance both these demanding roles, like a master juggler and learn from trait commonalities such as learning to deal with rejection, both in writing and sales.
What is your piece of advice for women or girls who want to break the clutter and choose art, writing or sports as their full-time career?
A: For creative women who want to break free and pursue a passion, my suggestion is, keeping your day job is often the more sensible thing to do. Work on your creative interests, until you reach a level where you are happy about your skills. Also, be aware that there can be lull periods. Make sure you can lead yourself through such lull periods, both mentally and financially and then, take the plunge! As always, believe in yourself!
Check out how Mona Dash manages it all with her CAN-DO attitude and defines the new normal in the society.
Diversity and inclusion are a huge part of the culture at Coastr. Hear from #TeamCoastr as they share their #ChooseToChallenge pledges to support inclusive environments, create a future of equal opportunities and promote diversity.
More about Mona’s writing at www.monadash.net