iSpeak Blog

Women in Pharma®: Confidence

Leigh Schiffmacher, MS/BS
Women in Pharma®: Confidence

There are two different sides of confidence which I would like to discuss here: the idea of confidence in the workplace and confidence in oneself. 

Confidence is something I have struggled with my entire life. For me, confidence is rooted in knowledge or preparedness. When I feel most confident is when I am most prepared. Confidence in myself comes from knowing who I am and being comfortable owning that. But on the other hand, in a workplace situation, if I am leading a meeting and have all the material I need, I feel confident that I will be able to lead that meeting effectively. This is easier said than done. Confidence in the workplace is not something that happened overnight. I have been with my current employer for three years and still struggle with confidence.

I work for a commissioning and qualification firm but when I first got this job my only professional experience was in a wet lab running various assays day in and day out. This had not at all prepared me for my current position. I found myself cowering in corners of meetings, not speaking up when I had questions, and just generally drowning. My confidence was at an all-time low. It wasn’t until I started really making an effort to learn this new industry and the company operations that I really started to break through those barriers and excel. And three years later, I have had a number of promotions and been given more responsibilities. However, that doesn’t mean I feel 100% confident all the time. But this lack of confidence drives me to learn and grow.

I, like many women, also suffer from low self-confidence. Whether you blame it on the media or anything else, for me, my self-confidence is rooted in the way I feel about myself. I envy those women that radiate confidence and seem so sure of themselves. However, it seems that the older I get the more comfortable I get with who I am.

As a young woman, you are constantly reinventing yourself which, in my experience, leads to a never-ending cycle of constantly trying to find or know yourself. This lack of identity directly correlates to lower self-confidence because there is a lack of knowledge of who you are. But these cycles are important in developing your true self - someone you are proud of; someone you are confident and comfortable being.

Bringing both sides of confidence together, it is no wonder that there are women everywhere excelling in their professional lives as well as their personal lives. These are the women that are confident in their knowledge of their industry AND confident in the people they have become. I fully believe that when there is cohesion between the two, there is no star too high to grasp.

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