By Tara Biglari

Persian Women in Tech (PWIT) held their second London panel last week at the Ernst & Young offices. Set against the backdrop of London Bridge with a dramatic sunset in the distance, the event drew in a sizable crowd.

PWIT is a non-profit organization that seeks to celebrate and support Iranian women in tech industries around the globe. Their events regularly attract engineers, founders, intra and entrepreneurs that hail from diverse educational and professional backgrounds. PWIT’s underpinning philosophy is that when women support one another, new ground can be broken.

With nibbles and drinks provided beforehand, excited attendees and panel speakers mingled in the large and modern ground-floor room. The panel, titled “Embracing Career Change and Growth in Technology,” kicked off at 7:40pm.

The underlying theme of the hour-long discussion was that of women’s empowerment in the workplace. Farah Brown, Hybrid Cloud Specialist at Microsoft and founder of global women’s platform Femnesty, kicked off the session by touching on career development in a mostly male-dominated environment.

“You need to play your cards right,” she said. “Be confident in action, knowledge and skills.”

Farah went on to explain that as a mother of two, she experienced criticism in a previous role for prioritizing her family over her career. “Talking about demand and stress is a touchy subject,” she said, adding that finding a balance that “works for you” was the key to a happy life.

Maryam Zarrinjouei, an Associate Product Marketing Manager at Google, offered her views on the subject. “Knowing what you want in life is the most important thing,” she said. “You have to set priorities and stick by them.”

Moderator Mahtab Ghamsari, an audio-tech maker at Mogees Ltd., interjected with a humorous story about her experience quitting a previous job. When her ex-boss tried to convince her to stay and she asked what advice he would give his daughter, he told her to “get out of here as quickly as possible!” This, she says, reaffirmed her opinion that confidence is the key to workplace success, and that she wouldn’t have received an honest answer otherwise.

With the audience chuckling and the ambience relaxed, Mahtab directed the panelists to discuss mentorship in the technology arena. “Mentorship is a crucial part of career development,” said Ali Eslami, Senior Research Scientist at Google DeepMind.

When building a relationship with a mentor, Ali urged the audience to “talk about things they know about, things you want to learn.” This shouldn’t be limited to technical aspects of a role, but “the social parts too” as getting valuable insight can really boost career development.

The engaging discussion led to an audience Q&A, where an attendee asked how to best assert themselves within the workplace. Farah maintained her position that simply “putting your head down and working” wasn’t enough – the key to showing one’s value was in networking. “You must make yourself valuable. The more people you know, the more value you have.”

Ending on a high note with loud applause, the talk broke up into group discussions, with young audience members taking Farah’s advice on networking. The event seemed to be a success for those hoping to attain career advice.

For more information about PWIT, visit their website from here