How women can rise to the top and land senior roles

March 24, 2023
women in leadership

“The more senior I became, the more I saw the ominous glass ceiling.” 

Danielle Harmer – a General Manager at Domain Group – tells us this sobering fact about her early career.

It sounds discouraging, but it’s the reality that most women in the workplace have been facing for decades.

“I think women can progress very quickly through the junior ranks (especially in technology). However, it gets much harder to crack the C-suite positions. I think we need to prove ourselves more, and it can be harder for people to take risks with us.”

danielle domain

But difficult doesn’t mean impossible. And the challenges women face today don’t need to be there tomorrow.

As Danielle has proven, when you have the proper mindset, work ethic, and the right company pushing for your success, rising to the top is not only possible but also likely.

Here’s what you can learn from Danielle as you advance in your career.

1. Don’t pigeonhole yourself.

If you thought the only way to a senior leadership role was to stick it out with one company or industry for years, you’ll be relieved to know it’s not. 

Just one look at Danielle’s career, and you’ll see that the path to the top is more flexible than you may have thought. Not only has she worked across different industries, but she’s done so in different states and countries.

“I never would have picked this career path. But one thing I know well and have always stuck with is working with coders/developers and building and launching great technology solutions.”

Danielle started her career as a technology graduate at IBM, building her technology experience in Canberra and later in Sydney. After several years honing her skills and notching successful projects under her belt, she eventually landed a role in the New York Times and moved to New York. It was here she learned the craft of Product Management, and she became integral in launching its Digital Subscriptions service as well its popular NYTimes Crosswords. 

Years later, Danielle moved back to Australia, taking a variety of product director roles for media conglomerate Fairfax Media. She then had a brief stint as a director for a consultant group’s IT advisory team before starting her journey in Domain Group

After entering as a Product Director for the company’s Allhomes product (the leading property site in Canberra), she worked her way up to her current role as General Manager of Allhomes and now Domain Group‘s Agent Experience product suite.

As you can see from Danielle’s career path, rising to senior leadership can take you across different industries and multiple companies and places. The key, Danielle points out, is knowing what you’re good at and being open to opportunities where you can apply your skills.

2. Be yourself (and break the mold if you have to).

When we asked Danielle what she is most proud of, she didn’t hesitate with her answer.

danielle domain

“I am so proud of sticking to being me.”

She explains:

“One of the hardest times in my career was taking a senior job with a large consultancy firm that didn’t suit my experience or background. I knew it was the wrong choice. But as a loyal person, I kept going only to realize that the longer I waited, the more it became upsetting for my family and I. I learned what I loved, and I will stick with that moving forward.”

Many times, you might find that to stay true to yourself, you’ll need to break the mold and create new opportunities for yourself – just like Danielle has done throughout her career.

“One thing I stand for is breaking the mold. If we don’t do it, who will?”

Danielle adds:

“I don’t do things the traditional way. I like to break the mold and show to others we don’t have to follow tradition. I don’t think I have ever replaced an existing position (maybe once). I have always ended up in newly created roles built for me and my skills. I think that’s powerful.”

3. Work with a company that truly has your back.

Many of the challenges women face in the workplace are systemic, so working with an organization committed to building a more diverse, inclusive, and equitable workplace is invaluable. 

Danielle found such a company at Domain Group, where she has received the support she needs to be at her best – at home and in the office.

Domain Group is flexible, which is great. I have my negotiables and my non-negotiables. I’ve learned I can’t do everything, so I pick the things that are most important.”

But the biggest draw for Danielle coming in was the company’s highly inclusive and equitable culture.

“The culture at Domain Group is fun, caring, and inclusive. They gave me the job while I was pregnant – this was HUGE. For a company to take me on, knowing I would be heading on parental leave soon after meant the world. I have stayed here for over six years now.”

Discover the flexible work arrangements and career development programs that makes Domain Group a standout for women in search of solid career growth.

Learn more 

4. Keep learning and growing.

No matter how far you progress in your career, Danielle reminds us to always keep learning and gaining new skills and experience.

women in leadership

“I don’t want to be complacent. I hope that wherever I am in ten years, I am still challenging myself, still learning, and still allowing others around me to thrive.”

She tells everyone to be patient and put in the work because rising to senior leadership takes time and effort. But the more skills, expertise, and experience you gain in your field – no matter how senior you are – the more valuable you will be. 

“I often remind my younger staff to not be in such a hurry. Take the time to learn and do the hard yards. Being high up may get some pay perks, but it also brings a lot of pressure.”

Staying true to her own advice, Danielle tells us that she still has much to learn and improve.

When we asked her how she balances her career with her personal and family life, she admits she’s still working on it.

“I don’t think I am the best example. I have three young kids, and I have a lot of support from my husband and family. I do experience FOMO [fear of missing out], but I’m learning to let that go.”

So, if you’re ever feeling discouraged at being a work-in-progress, don’t be. 

If someone like Danielle can still learn and grow at her level, then you can, too. 

Want to learn more about the benefits of a career at Domain Group?

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About the Author

Jacynta Clayton’s career started in recruitment advertising and employer branding, working with global clients to create and deploy strategic and creative content. Now she combines her industry experience with the knowledge from her psychology and professional writing degrees to write unique and resounding stories. As a WORK180 storyteller she relishes the opportunity to elevate the voices and experiences of so many amazing people, while also empowering and educating audiences on how to choose a workplace where they can thrive.

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