Photo By / Christina @ on Unsplash

Michelle Del Rosario is a Principal Software Engineer at Zynga and has served as Chairwoman of STEM Outreach for the Women at Zynga Board of Directors since 2017. At the 2020 WomenTech Global Conference, Michelle presented on the importance of taking ownership of your work.

Here’s how you can apply her principles for success.


While it is important to give credit to your team and anyone who helped you, be sure to take credit for yourself and the hard work you poured into a project. Try to use “I” statements as opposed to “We.” Michelle said to practice getting into a mindset of “I’m not bragging, I am sharing facts.” You did the work that went into the project; it is not arrogant to state what you did.

“I’m not bragging, I’m sharing facts.”

She told us that when you are asked a question during a meeting, you should answer with focus. Michelle explained that responding quickly and being self-assured in your delivery can help you to exude confidence.

Further, she said that it is okay to take a moment to think about your response, but be careful not to fill it with hedge words, such as “um.” Instead, parroting the question back to them can allow you the time to collect your thoughts and give an effective response.

Own the “I don’t know.”

Michelle told us that confidence is about having others trust you. It is not about knowing everything, but instead, it is trusting yourself enough to be able to go out and find the answer.

Gaining Support

Additionally, Michelle mentioned that if there is a topic you want to bring up during a meeting, a great way to help ensure success is to gain support from one or two others before the start of the meeting. This way, when presenting it during the meeting, you have key individuals to help reinforce your words. Having others who already believe in your idea can help ensure that you are heard in a larger meeting.

Michelle went further to say, that if you want to share your idea to an executive, identify someone who would be willing to hear you out. Set up a brief 10-minute appointment and articulate your intentions up front. This not only shows that you are mindful of their time, but that you have a clear purpose for meeting with them specifically.


Michelle told us that with competence, you are speaking for your work. To be competent, it means that others are aware of your value. She offered two tips for speaking with competence:

1. Share your value concisely.

It surprised me how simple Michelle made it seem. Instead of adding unnecessary explanations, you can shorten your response to, “I worked on this thing and this is how it impacted X.” Explain what you did and what resulted from it. It is that easy.

2. Quantify the impact.

Communication is so important when quantifying your work. Michelle stated that understanding your audience and paying attention to what they care about (ie: product, processes, users, etc.) can make all the difference when giving a presentation. When you are quantifying something, make sure the statistic adds value and is something management is genuinely interested in knowing.

Essentially, by following this approach, you are telling management that you care about their interests and the bottom line.


To be a great leader, it’s not enough to be confident and competent, you also need to have charisma. It is the glue that ties everything together and draws people to you.

According to Michelle, showing warmth through your body language can convey to your audience that you are human. You want to show your audience that you care about them. Demonstrate that you’re listening, you understand their KPIs, and then explain how you can help them with their problem. It’s all about connecting with people by being someone friendly and approachable.

Going Further

While attending the WomenTech Global Conference, I asked Michelle how you can stand out by going beyond the job description expectations of completing and sharing a project with management.

First and foremost, she told me that having a conversation with your boss about your goals is critical. If you wait until the end of the year to set up that meeting, it is already too late. Start the discussion early, and don’t let it be a one-time event. Continuing the discussion is important, so let your manager know how you are progressing.

She explained the importance of sharing intentions with your boss by offering up personal suggestions of ways to go beyond job requirements. Michelle said that a great way to start this conversation is by informing your manager about the work and activities you are already doing.

Michelle reminded us that your boss may not know about your efforts unless you tell them. Make sure your hard work does not go to waste. Let your boss know that you are doing more and show them the road map for where you want to go in your career. Your manager can become your biggest advocate, but only if they know your goals.

Finally, once your manager knows your goals, let them know what they can do to help get you there. Help them help you. Michelle told us that it’s okay to tell your boss, “I want to become X by this time.”

The Takeaways:

  1. Start saying “I” instead of “We” when talking about your work and its impact on a project.

  2. Speak to your work. Articulate its value concisely and quantify results.

  3. Be a person who engages with others with focus and intention.

This article was originally published on LinkedIn and is available on Medium.