There are certain industries that require 15-20 years of work experience before you are taken seriously. Technology is certainly NOT one of those industries. In an industry of 20-something year old CEOs, being over 40 may make you feel like it's time to retire and collect a pension. On the contrary—individuals over 40 have the knowledge, skills, and experience that can add value to the technology industry. If you are over 40 and in tech, read on for some tips that will allow you to remain relevant and be taken seriously in this dynamic business.
1. Prepare to Change.
Don’t think that you know it all. People will not take you seriously if you stay committed to only traditional approaches and refuse to be innovative. Don’t say, “We have always done it this way.” Keep your perspective fresh. Continue to find ways for learning about new and emerging technologies and devices. Stay updated on industry and business trends in the field, and look for opportunities for education about tools and ways to promote your technological literacy.
Become the expert. Develop strong, subject-matter expertise on a specific, in-demand area. For example, fintech (financial technology) is a broad area. However, if you specialize in a niche area, such as payments technology, colleagues will view you as a valuable resource. Demonstrate your value and expand your role by providing training to colleagues, giving presentations at industry conferences, and contributing papers to industry publications and blogs.
3. Be agile and adaptive.
Learn to work in an agile development environment. The days of “big bang” delivery and waterfall development have faded out. Being agile requires people to adapt to change, strive for continual improvement, and be responsive to shifting priorities in a rapid manner. User requirements and solutions should evolve through a collaborative effort. Cross-functional teams and end users should have continuous input into requirements.
4. Focus on security and controls.
Cybersecurity, data protection, and IT risk management are realities about which all professionals must have an awareness in order to be taken seriously. Demonstrate that you are focused on technological security and controls in your day-to-day activities. Champion efforts that focus on improving security and controls in technologies and beyond.
5. Focus on user experience and design.
In order to be taken seriously in technology, one must have an appreciation for design and user experience (UX). Enhancing user experience should be a top priority, because it can lead to loyalty. Always be in communication with users and collect user feedback and data. Demonstrate that you take your consumers seriously, and they will take you seriously.
6. Connect with industry peers.
7. Know Your Competition.
You will be taken seriously if you demonstrate a deep understanding of your company’s competitors and the factors that lead to competitive advantage. Ask clients, colleagues, and industry peers about their views on the competitive landscape. Understand who are the leading players and why that are leading the industry. Subscribe to Google alerts that keep you informed about your competition.
Taking the time to learn new tools, demonstrating a willingness to adapt, seeking out learning and networking opportunities, and defining your role and specialty can go a long way in keeping you up to date with the industry and maintaining your relevance in the tech world.
With over 20 years on Wall Street, Cecilia is a tech start up founder, a senior women working in FinTech, and a champion of diversity in technology. Her previous roles include being the COO of Citigroup Markets and Securities Services Technology, and positions with Morgan Stanley, Barclays Capital and IBM Consulting. Cecilia is the founder and chair of, Tech Women Today, the global platform to showcase women in technology, and a resource for women who want to be leaders and increase their influence in the workplace.