Women in Tech Festival: Keynote speaker, Rupal Patel, on … – CRN UK

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For Rupal Patel, an entrepreneur and former intelligence analyst, flexibility and curiosity are some of the most important skills for a modern professional – be that in business or otherwise.
“I was brought into the intelligence community through a combination of reasons. One, just that sense of participating and contributing to something bigger, that sense of mission that I could contribute to through my foreign policy experience, etc,” Patel told CRN ahead of the Women in Tech Festival, where she will lead a session on visibility for women in the workplace.
Her own career journey, Patel says, has been one of learning resilience and the ability to pivot.
“There was also this high-performance aspect to my personality which made the CIA the perfect place for me. I was hired as an analyst and I was lucky in that I had a lot of leeway in getting to shape that career in the field and not behind a desk.
“So it was incredibly formative. It just gives you that sense of resilience, of anything being possible. Some of that was just the culture of the organisation.
“But also there was skill-building there, around being comfortable with uncertainty and leaning into change. As an intelligence organisation, yes, we traded in information and in having the best possible picture.
“But, ironically, what came with that was a really keen awareness that there’s a limit to how much information you can have before making a decision.”
Patel believes that the twin skills of resilience and the ability to identify an opportunity would benefit many women who may still face structural difficulties at the early stages of their careers.
“The hardest part I’ve found, is letting go of when. Especially as high performers, there’s this idea that we can make things happen. But obviously, we often have limited control over the outcome of our efforts.”
Following six years at the CIA, between 2005 and 2011, Patel moved on to the speaking circuit and founded a property development business based in Berkshire, UK. She has since served as a business advisor at VC incubators TechStars and Virgin StartUp and continues to guest lecture at several universities across the UK. 
A constant throughout this career trajectory has been providing corporate coaching and mentorship for rising stars in the tech space. 
Patel has been vocal about the need for businesses to offer visibility to their employees from less than traditional backgrounds, while also encouraging women to advocate for themselves. 
“We rarely hear those celebratory stories of companies that are getting it right, where the pay gaps are reduced or nonexistent, where women are represented at all levels of leadership and where there’s been real progress. That’s part of the problem, because those places exist.”
“But addressing the visibility gap is going to require structural and HR changes. Some of it will be leaders being proactive about highlighting and pushing their female talent into the spotlight, to be in more visible roles, to go out and speak at a conference, or contribute an article to a trade magazine.
We need to short-circuit the idea that these things, by default, go to men, because the confidence comes from doing.”
Rupal Patel will speak at the Women in Tech Festival, hosted by CRN and sister brand, Computing, on 31 October at 133 Houndsditch in London. Click here to attend. 
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