Mar 7, 2021 in Women in Identity by DIACC

DIACC Women in Identity: Sarah Kirk-Douglas

DIACC is hosting a series of spotlights showcasing our amazing female DIACC members in the digital identity space, noting the importance of diversity. These spotlights will be regularly socialized through DIACC’s LinkedIn and Twitter channels as well as our monthly member newsletters.

If you’re a DIACC member and would like us to feature your spotlight, contact us today to learn more!

What has your career journey looked like?

I’m a very full scope kind of person. I’m personally never satisfied or feel fulfilled by half measures, so everything that I do – no matter how big or small – gets my full, absolute attention. This thread runs through my entire career journey; I’ve done every job from being a marketing coordinator and graphic designer, to a visual stylist and an event planner all around the globe to where I am now. Regardless of the position, I’ve always been determined to pour my most creative and committed self into it. Flexibility and the willingness to appreciate the nuances of every position help you best understand the whole, while also giving you the perspective to appreciate and take advantage of the opportunities available to you (and the ones you need to fight for).

When you were 20 years old, what was your dream job and why?

I interned at FLARE Magazine and was determined to work in a creative position. I loved that internship because it allowed me start my career in a hugely creative space where I learned to bring passion to everything that I did. I was fortunate to start in an industry that required me to take a close and exacting look at everything that crossed my desk because the final product would be so visible to a huge audience. I continue to pour as much passion into my job as I did on day one and understanding how great things come to fruition from behind-the-scenes has defined my career.

As a female leader, what has been the most significant barrier in your career?

I am fortunate to have extremely supportive and nurturing parents who instilled that girls can do anything each and every single day of my life – even now. I would say the biggest challenge in my career, as any working mother will tell you, is how to balance work and life responsibilities. Being able to work and show my two boys that women are leaders is an immense privilege, but it is one that takes dedication, planning, and sacrifice.

How do you balance work and life responsibilities?

Being a working mother is a challenge and privilege at the same time. The pandemic has similarly been two-sided: if you’re in a position where you can work remotely from home, you’re able to spend more time with family and children. However, because technology and the demands of work is always right at your fingertips, it’s easy for priorities to be more actively occupied by work. I’ve made a conscious effort to put down the tech and enjoying moments to their fullest. The laundry and work emails can wait until later – they say you only have 18 holiday seasons with your children, and ensuring I’m present during all 18 is my number one priority. Rachel Macy Stafford, who wrote a great book called Hands Free Mama, said, “Being responsible for someone’s childhood is a big deal. We not only create our own memories, but we create our child’s memories.”. This has been a guiding principle as I balance work and life.

How can more women be encouraged to pursue careers in the digital ID/tech space?

Get involved! There are so many wonderful associations, networking, and advocacy groups that provide fantastic opportunities for women to build meaningful communities in digital ID and tech that will serve them for their entire careers. Participating in these kinds of communities, such as DIACC, Women in ID, and Hyperledger, really reveals how many opportunities there are beyond what we traditionally think. Digital ID and tech permeate every sector and actively engaging in these kinds of opportunities can help open doors you never knew existed.

What are some strategies you have learned to help women achieve a more prominent role in their organizations?

Networking and seeking mentors are crucial and have been invaluable strategies for me throughout my career. The more you network, the more meaningful relationships you build, and the better you can learn to advocate through and become a mentor from whom others can benefit. I also strongly recommend finding a career coach to nurture a learner mindset and provide you with resources to further your goals with the added benefit of a third-party perspective.

Key throughout all of these strategies is taking the time to listen instead of merely speaking. I’ve been extremely fortunate to work with a group of women at SecureKey who actively listen, consistently learn from and advocate for each other. By building communities of strong females, we can all help to advance the role of women across every organization.

What will be the biggest challenge for the generation of women behind you?

I have been blessed to have followed a generation of trailblazing career women and am privileged to follow them and continue their work. I think a big challenge for women in the generation behind me will be to look inward versus outward. The entire world is at your fingertips and every opportunity is yours to take. What the challenge can be in a world of plenty is how to narrow your field of vision to suit your needs. Identify what it is you want to do and push yourself to the next level to get there.

What advice would you give to young women entering the field?

Whenever I’m asked this question, I always give four pieces of advice:

  1. Always be kind to those around you. People will remember your kindness, your willingness to help, and your ability to go the extra mile every day.
  2. Find networks that support and advocate for you. If you can’t find one, then make one yourself!
  3. Always ensure you practice self-awareness – understand what drives you every day and how that you help others.
  4. Finally, always say “yes” to any opportunity that comes your way. The more you answer “yes”, the more you can learn.

Sarah Kirk-Douglas is the Vice-President of Global Marketing & Communications at SecureKey Technologies Inc.