October 20, 2022  —  Acronis

Paying it forward: Inspiring the generation that inspired me

Acronis #CyberFit Summit

By Gabrielle Stenzel, Cloud Support Supervisor, Acronis

I love to write. To me, writing is like a puzzle — finding the right words and putting them together in a way where they fit, and the sense of accomplishment you feel when finding the right combination is all the same. With just words, you can express complex ideas and make waves in communities with the seeds of your ideas. Words can create action, and action can create change. I don’t write to be recognized; I write to influence.

Like a lot of my peers, I consider myself a passionate woman, with all my passions — my four pets, reading, video games, and Star Wars, to name a few — all intertwining in my daily life. But perhaps the biggest passion and influence in my life — and writing — is my drive to see women succeed and flourish in their respective careers.

I have experienced firsthand corporate neglect and a restriction on my growth as a valuable team member solely for my status as both a woman and a person of color. Despite all the social and civil progress we’ve made as a country in the past century, a lot more work still must be done. Before working at Acronis, I witnessed fellow employees being excluded for their gender, race or disability. Although they weren’t actively being targeted or harassed for these traits, they felt unseen and neglected — often passed over for promotions these individuals were more than eligible to receive.

Gabrielle Stenzel

Leaders need to do a better job of listening to their employees. We work and live in a “me, me, me” society — always waiting for our turn to speak instead of actively listening to those around us. This causes environments where people may feel as though they have a voice, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that voice is heard. Women and people of color especially suffer from having their voices ignored, with a 2018 Dice survey reporting that 62% of women feel their ideas are ignored until repeated by a man.

Ideas are also frequently discarded because other people might disagree with those presented without considering compromise. A team at work is just that, a team, requiring cooperation and support for every individual instead of competing against one another for approval or bonus points — a trend I’ve noticed in previous work environments. Very rarely are issues black and white, and very rarely are people unwilling to budge on their ideas; and, as I’ve discovered, there’s always a grey area people are willing to settle on that keeps everyone feeling seen and satisfied.

Despite the industry’s blind spots, I’m constantly inspired by the women I interact with at my job. I’ve interviewed women of various backgrounds, such as hairdressers and teachers all looking to break into the tech industry — especially as the pandemic highlighted the benefits of remote work and the skyrocketing number of tech positions opening. Every day, I interact with women who bring new perspectives into my life, challenging traditional norms in the tech industry, and refusing to go unheard. I have no doubt the future of this industry will see a new generation of women leaders, and creating nurturing work environments will only encourage that vision.

Networking, such as through conferences and summits, strengthens the bonds between women and forges new and valuable relationships — an especially important proactive measure as on-site work becomes scarcer. I love going to these conferences and reconnecting with old friends and meeting new ones, where we freely discuss our careers and the different paths we’ve taken, and I encourage everyone to attend these events as often as possible.

Ultimately, I write to spread my knowledge and influence those around me — both to people who have gone through similar experiences and those looking to learn more about worlds they’re unfamiliar with. I feel privileged to have a platform for my voice, but not everyone has that luxury — especially those with disabilities and fellow women and people of color. I hope that my writing and influence will inspire those who struggle to speak up and recognize they deserve better, and that there are tech companies out there that will appreciate your value both as an employee and as a person. Network and find people who have traversed the same path as you — you will find there’s a world out there eager for your input and help.

About Acronis

A Swiss company founded in Singapore in 2003, Acronis has 15 offices worldwide and employees in 50+ countries. Acronis Cyber Protect Cloud is available in 26 languages in 150 countries and is used by over 20,000 service providers to protect over 750,000 businesses.