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ERGs At Guidewire: Flourishing With GROW

At Guidewire, we have a great mix of Employee Resource Groups (ERGs), employee-led groups made up of volunteer individuals who have common interests, experiences, backgrounds, or demographics (e.g., race/ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, military status, religion, abilities, age, etc.). In this blog, Galina Ivanov shares her journey within Guidewire’s Recognition of Women (GROW) group and the value she’s found from this ERG. 

GROW‘s Mission 

GROW, as the name implies, is a group for women from all walks of life, colors, careers, and beliefs to explore career opportunities, mentor or be mentored, lift one another up, and get support. We share obstacles and personal challenges as well as celebrate each other’s successes and joys. 

Our mission is to: 

  • be an advocate for women at Guidewire.

  • surface and identify challenges women face in our company. 

  • organize and support activities and forums that benefit women and increase gender diversity at Guidewire.

  • engage with and support our external community of women and girls who are interested in technology and might want to build a career in it. 

Stepping Up To Lead GROW 

When GROW founder and leader, Sandia Ren, left Guidewire last year, I had the opportunity to step up and lead the group, to be a servant leader to a great team of women. I know I’m filling some big shoes- Sandia’s humble charisma and solid emotional intelligence are hard to match. But I’ve always had a passion for women in leadership and women in technology, and I have much experience leading groups and initiatives at previous companies. 

I’m glad I stepped up to the challenge. The last few months of being the Head of GROW has brought me immense joy, satisfaction, and pride working alongside our GROW Steering Committee, comprised of women from all geographic regions. These women leaders have put in a lot of volunteer time planning and organizing events, conducting mentorship sessions, and reaching out to women at Guidewire around the globe, ensuring every voice is heard. The experience has enhanced my appreciation of Guidewire’s commitment to being a diverse, inclusive, and equitable company. 

Long-lasting, Supportive Relationships 

For women in any workplace, having ERGs like GROW can lead to connections that instill more confidence in them. Women benefit when other more experienced colleagues in their organizations help guide and mentor them. GROW also provides a safe space for women facing similar challenges to help and support one another. These experiences create networks that women can draw on throughout their career. 

GROW in 2021 

The past year was a busy and exciting one. With all the challenges of the Covid pandemic and remote work, we managed to get Guidewire women and allies on virtual calls and events that lightened up the skies for all. 

Our GROW leaders strongly believe in and embrace the power of diversity, equity, and inclusion, so we like promoting and participating events and initiatives in partnership with other Guidewire ERGs. For example, we hosted a collaborative event with ONYX, a presentation by Carol Stewart focused on coaching highly achieving introverted women.  

For International Women’s Day last March, we hosted panels in AMER and EMEA. In June, a few of us participated in a panel on “Strategies for Influencing Our Organizations,” at the Guidewire-sponsored Women in Tech conference. Carolee Dagenais facilitated our discussion on our experiences in influencing teams and organizations. And in August, our amazing GROW leader in Poland, Ewelina Genowefa Prockow, hosted a “Speak with Confidence” workshop in Krakow. 

GROW 2021 Events

Our big event of the year was our GROW Summit in October. Our guest speaker, Sharon Jones, enlightened us all on the value of Emotional Intelligence in the workplace and in our personal lives and how to enhance this crucial life skill. We also had multiple breakout sessions per region, and the conversations were energizing and very relevant to the times we live in: how to manage stress, develop a personal brand, and many more topics relevant to our unprecedented times.  

In one particularly popular GROW Summit presentation, Guidewire’s Head of DE&I, Brandi Riggins, shared her personal journey in overcoming imposter syndrome. Brandi got us all interested in reading and learning from a book she recommended by Jen Sincero. This led to the start of GROW’s book club! We enjoyed our deep conversations about “You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life.” 

GROW in 2022 

We started 2022 off strong with a session on “Servant Leadership: Putting People First,” which we conducted as part of Black History Month in February, with participation and support from all Guidewire ERGs. We commemorated the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and facilitator Theresa Hummel-Krallinger, CEO of High Five Performance, led us through a discussion on what it means to be a servant leader to others. 

Panel Discussion- Break The Bias, IWD 2022

In March 2022 we celebrated International Women’s Day with events, publications, and activities throughout the month: 

  • March 8th  Panel Discussion, “Break the Bias,” facilitated by AMER GROW Lead, Nicole Bruns  .

  • Partnership with Guidewire Gives Back to support the Nomi Network, an organization focused on ending human trafficking, and Womankind Worldwide, focused on ending violence against women and girls.  

  • EMEA presentation by guest speaker, Amber O’Brien, founder of Headworks, to promote female mental health in the workplace, facilitated by EMEA GROW Lead Sorcha McNamee. 

  • GROW Women’s Career Workshop in Krakow, Poland: resume updates, mock interviews, career guidance, and more!  

And, of course, we’re looking forward to our annual GROW Summit in September. Guidewire’s Delivery Services group is planning to host a luncheon- yes, an in-person event! We’re looking forward to getting our members together to connect face-to-face on both a professional and personal level. Stay tuned for more details on our upcoming GROW Summit, coming soon! 

Regional Grow Leads

AMER (left to right): Liza Grueso, May Howard, Carolee Dagenais, Anuradha Burji, Catrina Meyers, Nicole Bruns, Carm Cyril, Galina Ivanov 

Regional GROW Leads - AMER

EMEA (left to right): Roz Sermons, Lisa McDonald, Sorcha McNamee, Ewelina Genowefa Prockow 

Regional GROW Lead - EMEA

APAC (left to right): Vijay Ganesan Thangaraj, Kimberly Ngu, Nursyazwani Shahabudin 

Regional GROW Leads - APAC

Interested in learning more about Guidewire's employee resource groups? Head over to our culture page for more.

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