Innovation, STEM Careers and Mentorship at the Final Four Innovation Summit
By Marian Croak, Senior Vice President, Domain 2.0 Architecture and Advanced Services Development
A lot of people think successful innovators and entrepreneurs rely on some flash of genius to come up with great ideas and turn them into world-changing products and services. But as I’ve learned throughout my career – and as I was reminded a few weeks ago at the Final Four Innovation Summit in Dallas – hard work, perseverance through failure, and a general curiosity are much more critical.
I was lucky enough to participate in a panel discussion with some truly amazing people. These folks included everyone from young student innovators already starting to make a mark in the world to experienced entrepreneurs and business and sports leaders sharing their lessons learned. You can check out some of their insights in the video below.
I was particularly inspired by the three young women on the “Student Innovators” panel, as encouraging more women and girls to go into careers in science and technology is a passion of mine.
Sometimes technology and telecommunications can be intimidating to young students considering careers in those fields. But, as I shared during my panel, the most important thing to have is a child-like sense of wonder and curiosity. When I was a girl, I was always fascinated when a plumber or electrician would come to our house to repair something. It was amazing to see how you could take something apart, fix it, and get it running like new.
Along with that curiosity has to come a willingness to experiment, to try new things, and to not be discouraged when your first (or second, or third) approach fails. Look at those as learning opportunities. This was an insight I’ve certainly learned during my career, and it was a comment I heard echoed many times by the other people on the panels.
And for managers out there working with new employees just starting out in technical fields, the last piece of advice I shared was that mentorship and encouragement are vital. But this outreach doesn’t necessarily require long meetings and formal guidance. Sometimes, a few words of encouragement, even a smile, can go a long way in helping new recruits to understand that their contributions and ideas are valuable and appreciated.