As we continue to celebrate International Women’s Day for the month of March, we welcome our next guest Connie Lu, Smokeball’s Lead Software Tester. Connie believes courage plays a significant role in career progress. That means taking the plunge, learning from your experience, and letting your senior leaders know you are ambitious and ready to advance.
“When you build self-confidence, you start to back yourself. You start to believe that you’re capable, believing in your worth, and become less dependent on what others think.”
In this interview, we learn how Connie has paved her own leadership pathway through developing self-confidence and having open conversations with her senior leaders. Connie also shares how this has helped her to make better decisions, build trust within her team, and provide opportunities for others to speak up.
Tell us about your leadership journey?
I started my journey as a legal secretary working in a law firm. I heard that Smokeball was looking for people with legal experience and interested in the legal tech space to join their growing team. It was an amazing opportunity to jump on the digital transformation train and be part of a team that helps and enhances small law firms.
Just over five years working with Smokeball, I became the Lead Software Tester within the QA Team. I am responsible for testing all aspects of the Smokeball native app, Communicate, plus integrations with InfoTrack and FamilyProperty. This includes function, system, performance, and both manual & automated methods.
At Smokeball, they offer leadership and management training programs for team leaders, managers, and supervisors. The program is designed to help develop the essential skills required of a leader and how to approach management responsibility. The training experience was great as we learned how to manage a team, problem-solve, and listen effectively, as well as reading ‘The Five Dysfunctions of a Team’. The book was a great read as it outlines a powerful model and actionable steps that can be used to overcome these common hurdles and build a cohesive, thriving team.
Who were your champions for development?
Pivoting into my current leadership role, I had a lot of support from other senior leaders within the company. Having a career succession plan helps only when you voice out where you want to go.
In my case, this was having regular one-on-one meetings with my manager and explaining where I wanted to work exactly. Which was back-end troubleshooting and a problem-solving role, as I was drawn to finding the best resolution to a client’s problem and understanding more about how the software worked.
What barriers have you faced and overcome?
My team is unique as they are based overseas. The challenge we initially face is communication, time zone, and cultural differences, and it is how do we overcome and manage teams’ expectations successfully. It was essential for us to build the foundation of trust and open communication first. This took a little time to achieve, and we now have created a Smokeball culture virtually as if there were in the office here with me.
Personal barriers I had to overcome were regarding getting education in an alternative field, and seeking verification from my inner circle of friends and family. I learned to trust myself to make decisions instead of always seeking advice and courage to make the change. As no one knows the real you but you, you have to trust your gut instinct.
What does International Women’s Day mean to you?
International Women’s Day is about recognising and celebrating how far we have come. I believe it is important to share and voice out any challenges you may have and have the courage to make the change for your self-development.
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