Sarah Polhill, Chief Information Officer at Royal Australian Mint in Canberra, had some choice words for women in IT in the lead-up to International Women’s Day.

“Take a risk. Have the courage to try something new, and the self-confidence to push beyond your own limits to achieve the greater good, whether it’s for a family member, a team or an organisation.”

At the ACS Canberra Diversity breakfast, Polhill encouraged women to give it their all, saying that success comes from having courage.

“It takes courage to seize opportunities. Say yes when an opportunity is presented, and take that risk in not knowing what it’s going to mean. The second part of that is the twenty seconds of madness when you look at an email, or you look at a decision or a life choice and you say, ‘I’m not sure what that’s going to do’— and just do it.”

And it’s not only about seizing opportunities, said Polhill, but creating them, too.

“Create the opportunities, network, go outside your comfort zone,” she said.

Instead of being discouraged by failures, Polhill said to dust yourself off and get back up again.

“What happens when you step out and you have courage and you think, ‘Yes, I’ve done it! I’ve done something that made me uncomfortable’ and then something goes slightly wrong?

“When you have courage and you recover from mistakes, you can bounce back.”

Polhill said continuous learning was critical to developing confidence, saying she stayed abreast of industry trends, listened to podcasts and ensured regular reading.

The other side of confidence, Polhill said, was building confidence in others.

She added she was inspired by a group of high school girls at the event, and how “we’re building them up for the next generation of women in IT.”

“You can always tell who the strong people are,” Polhill said.

“They are the ones who see building others up, taking chances themselves, and helping other people to succeed to ensure that we are all doing our bit, to ensure that no man or woman is ever left behind.”