What is some good advice for the next generation of women leaders in tech? originally appeared on Quora: the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.

Answer by Cathy Polinsky, CTO at Stitch Fix, on Quora:

Ask for what you want. I returned to Yahoo! right after my maternity leave and I thought that I was ready to jump back into work full-throttle. I took a new role on a big project, but a few months later my daughter was having a hard time eating and my childcare situation wasn't working. I was traveling a lot, had a long commute and I needed to leave by 5pm to pick-up my daughter from childcare, even though my engineers were staying late. I felt like I wasn't doing well as a mother, or as an engineering leader, and so I put in my notice and quit.

Several leaders in my management chain came to talk with me and one VP in particular, Sandeep Khanna, really struck a chord with me. He said, "Cathy, you're not asking for what you want or need. I don't know if we can accommodate you, but you're not even letting us try." It was a huge moment for me, as I was putting so much pressure on myself and I realized that I didn't have to do it all on my own. I asked to reduce my work travel, and instead took more video calls from home, and focused on looking for new childcare. My mom flew out to help with my daughter and ease the transition. Six months later when I was better adjusted, I was back in the saddle taking on more work and responsibilities, and my daughter was thriving.

The same is true for your own professional development. When you have new career interests or aspirations, you should tell people! By being clear about your interests, people see you in a different light and they will think of you when new opportunities arise. Asking for the role you want and a clear path on how to get there, complete with mentorship is essential for rewarding careers.

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Published on: Jun 19, 2018