This year I'd like to write about someone I only met this year - but who has already made a difference to me and to my professional life: Estelle Weyl. I met Estelle at DPC in June, in Amsterdam, and when you do meet her she makes an impression from the very beginning with her energy and curiosity. Hearing her experiences as a speaker (her attitude and experience is totally different to my own) really made me re-examine my own speaking practices and approach - but she showed me some new things in a totally non-judgemental way which I really appreciated.
Estelle has taken time out to help me personally, giving advice on negotiating a new conference (OSCON! I was so starstruck!) and also dragging me into getting involved with a Confident Coding event this coming weekend in San Francisco. These are things I wouldn't have stepped up to do myself but they are absolutely excellent things to be doing and I am so glad to have had that "push" to get me to step up. Confident Coding in itself is a project that is a fabulous approach for women in this industry (the event is open to everyone, but if you don't identify as female you must bring someone with you who does) and I can't express how glad I am that there is a person with the belief and the energy to make something like this happen. Events are never easy and are always time consuming ... and usually thankless! As a published author and well-respected industry professional and speaker, she's a great role model for all of us.
It might seem strange to you that I picked a role model so close to me rather than someone I can admire from a distance - but in fact, I think this is the key to the support network that I have found between the women I've met in this and allied industries. By helping one another, either directly or by leading by example, to take positive steps towards good things and taking control of our own destinies - we play to our strength as a group and together we make ourselves better as individuals.