B2B Tech Talk with Ingram Micro
B2B Tech Talk with Ingram Micro

Episode · 3 weeks ago

Why Women Should Consider a Tech Career


A diverse organization is more innovative and attracts and retains better talent. 

The tech field used to be distinctly male-dominated, but there’s been a purposeful shift in elevating women in the industry. 

Join host Harpreet Narang and Estelle Johannes, senior director of Member Communities at CompTIA, for Coffee with Women in Tech where they dive into: 

  • What companies can do to create a more inclusive culture
  • How diversity enhances the bottom line
  • Finding commonalities and aligning core values
  • The importance of continuous learning and transferable skills  

Our guest will also offer invaluable insight on how women can take their tech career to the next level.  

To join the discussion, follow us on Twitter @IngramTechSol #B2BTechTalk 

Listen to this episode and more like it by subscribing to B2B Tech Talk on Spotify,Apple Podcasts or Stitcher. Or tune in on our website.

Hello, and welcome to this special series of Ingram Micro's B two B tech talk podcast, Coffee with Women in Tech with your host Heart preat This is a show where incredible women in technology share their stories and successes. Why should a woman consider a career in tech? Well, that's exactly what we're going to talk about in this series where you'll learn why tech is just the place to be for women. So hello everyone, and welcome to a brand new episode of Coffee with Women in Tech podcast. Today I have with me as Tel Johannes's senior director at com To Hello, Astell. How are you today? Oh I'm very well and thank you so much for having me. Really appreciated. Thank you so much. It's great to have you here. So we're still First of all, congratulations on featuring in CRN and HB Diversity a list huge. How did that feel? Oh? Thank you? Yes, it was really great and it was it was fantastic for to to read everyone else's amazing journeys as well. Um, so, first of all, it was a great honor, and secondly, it's nice to see that we get a platform to talk about very important topics and to show that everyone has a journey. Everyone is also trying to do the right thing UM and make sure that we UM have our voices heard UM and and and to have it a shade out in in a just a public forum, a very well known publication. UM. So yeah, it was a great opportunity. That's fantastic. So talking of journey, tell us a bit about your career, Janney. How did you get into this industry? So, I think a lot of people have the same sort of it was. It happened accidentally, right, it was in my intention. I studied marketing in Cape Town, South Africa. We'm originally from UM and came over to the UK with a dream uh and you know, just a twinkle in my eye. UM and UM. I had a few not so nice jobs, right, so doing a bit of sales talent well you know tally sales that didn't made me grow as a person. But then I got the opportunity to work for an I T consultancy UM and then UM did things from even planning to contracting, actually did some sales as well. UM and then UM grew into the community role UM. And the one thing I can say about UM just being in the tech industry UM and being involved with with with just different different people, different walks of life, and it really is it's a very open As much as it looks like a male dominated industry, I have found in my experience that it has been a very open industry where UM. I was given plenty of opportunities, plenty of uh you know, chances to try something new because my boss at the time was like, hey, if you can try some things and tinker with a couple of things and see if it works and you don't break anything, go ahead and do that. So it was really given given that autonomy as well to be able to try new things and explore different revenues to make the business grow UM and anyone out there who worked for a smaller company UM understands the advantages of that because you have to wear so many hats from office manager to the you are actually the tech support person switching things on and offense, fixing the printer and make think sure that all of those things work as...

...well. So so it just gave me a really great sort of foundation for UM just yes, supposed being very flexible in in the jobs that I do, and also to be very UM autonomous UM and and and get stuff done so, so yeah, that was me accidentally falling into UM the tech industry, but UM, so grateful for the opportunity because UM, it really is a fantastic place to work. I so agree with you, And this is what I've heard most of the times that women just land in this industry. UM, they don't make a conscious decision to be part of I T unless they land here by chance. Which would you like to share any reasons why they should consider a career in tech? Yes, So I think that in general, UM, when I started in my twenties, very long time ago, UM, the room felt different. Right, You're walking to a room it's very male dominated. And I think that there was a purposeful shift in UM elevating women in the industry, and you can see the results now. I see so many role models, so many women in leadership roles UM. And so I think that the the old way of how the tech industry was was was structured and who were sitting at the top table has has really changed, UM, not just women in tech. I think there's so much more UM focused on inclusion, on creating a better culture for for people to feel like they can be the authentic self. I just think that UM, there might be some other industries that are not as progressive as we are. I can see the change, I can feel the change. We have a long ways to go, but there certainly has been like just huge strides in moving for it with being a more inclusive industry. Absolutely, and I totally agree because I think progress has been made, especially in the last few years, when you know, we see so many female leaders, so many role models, and companies are starting to revaluate their policies, for example, just to have a more diversive and inclusive workplace. So in your opinion, what more than can be done by these companies, by tech companies to promote a diverse and inclusive culture. So that's a that's a great question. That's kind of a million dollar question, isn't it? What more can we do? UM? I think what being scared of putting a foot wrong or you know, so I feel like these this sort of UM analysis paralysis at this point that they say, well, we don't know enough for I don't want to offend anyone. I think if we are can finally curious and we are open to to share our experiences and ask questions and get to know people and listen to them, we can create a really great inclusive culture. What So it's listening UM, education UM and action. Like we talked about listening in education. It's great, we do it, but we do need action. And where I see the action coming in And this was one of the things that I mentioned in the article UM, was that companies need to start seeing having a more diverse workforce is affecting their bottom line because you need to UM open up where you are, like your your pool for recruitment, UM, so you need to look at a more diverse workforce. UM. So in that way, you are you should be bringing more people in creating a more inclusive culture. UM. You would retain more people in that way if you have a...

...good culture, because if you need to, if you have a high turnover, people leave. I think it's two point five times more too. I think it might be higher than that. Would it cost the company to actually hire a new person versus holding onto good talent. So you could lose people in that way. But also people look at the company culture when they are applying for a job, So you could even before starting lose great talent because they're not looking at your company because you don't align with the culture, beliefs, understanding and and and it's a work life balance. We I think one of the things that COVID has taught us is that you know, there is this there is a better way of working together, that you can be flexible, you can have a hybrid way of working. So so people are looking for more. So I think that is one of the things that you know, um, people can do is like you know, offer that flexibility. Um. Again going back to the culture. The other thing is, um, it affects your bottom line when you are looking at and and and and I'll put being sustainable in that as well, so that that attracts silent when you are a company that is an ethical company that is looking at sustainability, when you're looking at the circular economy. UM. So these are the things that people are looking at. But then also if you go to Tinder and you try and you you you want to get new business, there are more things that clients are looking for. Again with alignment, so it's looking at your employees experience and you're looking at your clients experience. If you don't align with that, that is definitely going to affect your bottom line. So it is something let people need to look at. It is going to be future proofing your business, and it's not just the right thing to do, absolutely true. Yeah, I mean I always fly the flag that it is the right thing to do. But I think you know, sometimes we do have these really honest conversations with our members and they say, well, you know, I really need to keep the lights on, I really need to grow my business. And so if you're thinking of Maslow's hierarchy of needs for a s marketeers out there, right, you want to look at how do you how do you suppose it's like, you know, feeding yourself, what is the essential things that you need? And a business owner they need to do that they need to keep their business going. And then it is that how can I look after my team if my business isn't successful. So if you break it down to saying that this is actually a part of your success strategy for your business, I think it's a different conversation and you change the narrative. Solutely agree with you. And like you said, a diverse organization can be more innovative, attract and retain talent, which ultimately benefits companies as well. Yes, so it's banging that ground and saying you know, this is not just you know, something that you show on paper or that you share on social media. It's it's not this sort of um image, right, it is actually something that you need to practice and believing. Belief is the thing that's going to get us through this. And I love what you said about, you know, having that genuine curiosity and learning and educating oneself. So I think coming from a place of that authenticity and genuine curiosity could actually be really helpful. Yes, I mean, it's so interesting to learn about different people, um, you know, what what is um what might work in one region might not work in another region. It's it's and you're growing as individuals, as groups as you know, just and and being more exciting...

...of all other cultures. I think that, yeah, that would be utopia for me, is that you know, we were all just curious and we want to learn more about each other, um, so that we can find commonalities and we can celebrate our differences, but feel that, you know, the more that brings us together than that divides us, because we all have good core values that they think drive us. As you know, people in the industry forward. One of the other things that I think is very admirable about our technology industry is that a lot of the people and the members I speak to that have their own business, they said it came from they wanted to help other people because ultimately that's their business, right, they are the service they we want to help you do business better. We want to take that pain away from you. So that is their mindset in where they come from, and that is why we have a great community where people volunteer their time because they ultimately want to make the industry thriving, successful, but also giving back, um to to help society. UM. So yeah, there's there's so many attractive advantages to being a part of the technology industry. Absolutely, and I think it is because of it's because of these initiatives and these companies that we have been or can be seen progressive up until this point. But like you said, which is need to keep walking on this road, don't wait. Yes, we absolutely do. And it's fun as well, right, It's great to learn new things. UM, great people everyone that I need. It's it's just a it's just a new adventure to to learn about other people, learning things and the fact that you knowlogy changes at such a fast space, right, like you're constantly learning. I think everybody in this industry has this continuous learning mindset, which is fantastic. UM. So again, UM, if somebody's sick and guessing wanting to go into the industry, I mean, there's just so many ways you can enter the industry. There's so many paths, is um and it's exciting. You can travel, right, you learn new things, you go to different places. It isn't the stigma or the um in coding or the yes, you can code. There's an option for you to do that, but that doesn't it doesn't define the industry. And I think that's the other thing. We need to kind of pull that veil up and say, there's so much more that people can do in the technology industry. You've got And I think the other thing is, well, it's called the technology industry, but ultimately it's the people that matter, exactly. And that's that's what I love so much about this industry. It's the people. It's how fast paid is paste it is, and you know, all those opportunities to learn, and you're absolutely right that kind of where leads to be taken off that it is not although it's called technology it does not equate with technical and you know, I mean we are in marketing and there's so much opportunity for other cross functional skills in this industry. So absolutely that's something we need to bang the drum about and keep doing that. Yeah, and and also trans you just made me think about the transferable skills, So I know that some industry leaders that I spoke to, they said, we look for, um, the grit and tenacity when we hire someone. And I was like, oh, that's really interesting. Do you how do you put grit in tenacity on a piece of paper on your CVO new reason A. How do you do that? And they said, we...

...actually ask people about the milk rab scenario. And I was like, okay, tell me more, and they said, well, we look for people that when they were younger, they had a part time job or they had a milk rab. It's like it's it. It shows that when you were younger, you had this will and drive to get up in the morning to do something that was out of scope, not just going to school and I was a bit of a sacrifice, right. And also you wanted to earn money. You had this entrepreneurial kind of spirit about you. UM, and that was what they would sort of tailored they questions around when it was in the interview, And I thought that was fascinating because those are the type of people that you can then and and talking about those barriers to the industry or perceived barriers. The technology can be taught, the skills can be taught. It's that attitude and bringing your thinking self with grit and tenacity to do things is what people are looking for now in the industry. So I think that's fascinating. UM. And then also those transferrable skills from other industries, because again with COVID, we had certain industries that just did not do as well as the technology industry. We were, i would say, the heroes of the moment, connecting people working from home, making sure that businesses were still running, and there were people that weren't so lucky. UM. But coming into this industry, if you, a lot of people were looking at the customer service side of things, So the hospitality industry, there were a lot of people that were coming over because they said, in the technology industry, we could do with people that have that customer server side of things that we could use and then skill them up in other areas. So so that's another thing to look at. Don't feel that because you might have been in a different industry that you are not able to make that transition over to the technology industry because your skills, most of the skills in other industries, um, can be useful in the technology industry. Exactly. And that's such an interesting example. It's almost like two ways. So from you know, for somebody outside of this industry, for them to have an open mind that those transferable skills are very much something they can they can look to adapt to the technology industry. But equally, the way we recruit and I love that example you gave. It's almost like um looking beyond just what that experiences and being open minded again to to tap into that pool of talent which is out there and and hence you know, in a way, getting more diversity in this industry. Absolutely, absolutely, that is for me, it's um And and again with the opportunity for people to work from home or have a hybrid working environment, that opens up the pool even more so. People might have been restricted because they weren't living in the city centers or they had mobility issues. UM. So again we we now see this opportunity where we can expand that pool even more for more diversity and more inclusion and you know, give people the opportunity, UM to to show that it's not just certain categories of people that qualify for this industry. UM. You know where we are very open and inclusive industry and we need to get the word out there. We also want to share that even if you're curious about the industry, we have ways to share information with you UM and again with our members. People that we talked...

...to want to share experiences and then want to you know, be a mentor or so. So there's again it's it really is a great industry to work. It's just making sure that also you put some skin in the games. You know, just what you put into it is what you get out of it. So UM, we actually have UM there is a training program that we have with with another company. UM. There's about seventy students that we're going to talk about them and talk about durable skills. So they are sixteen seventeen year old and they're going through some certification program UM. But we thought, you know, we have this these members that a business owned as the senior executives in the industry. What could they share with these teenagers that will give them that edge their advantage when they go looking for a job. Is it how to write a rsume or to put forward create a linked in profile? You know those are the things, but like what to put in there? It's a game going back to that milk crowd, Like they could put in that they're volunteered, that they've got a certification UM just to to build up their profile and and really start UM nurturing them to be ready for UM the workforce. And we're we're we're calling it from learning to earning? Is how is not trying to achieve what we are trying to just break down those those barriers and those walls for people to really see that that that the industry is UM. There are so many ways to get involved. That sounds fantastic. That sounds like a really interesting program. Yes, it really is. And also very brave of our members to try and hold the attention of sixteen and seventeen year olds for a full hour. I take my hat off to them. That as an achievement in itself, I agree, that's great. So that is Yeah, that's that sounds really interesting. You know, attracting more talent in this industry. And Estelle, you've had a fantastic career journey. How do you think women can progress their career in this industry? Any tips around that? Yes, So I would say, know who your allies are, um and and men and women like people that you're working with, people that you engage with so um and this goes back to building up a strong network. So build up a strong network, understand people that are the two to help you um and are you helping someone else can also grow your career, right, So don't just think about having a mentor maybe be a mental to others. And you don't have to be at the c suite to be a mentor. You could be the new person coming in and say, hey, I just have fresh eyes, I'd love to just share my perspective. Um. So the giving back in any way like that is really a way to create a little platform for yourself um and and again stand out in a good way. So we don't want to stand up in a bad way, send up in a good way to UM to progress UM I would say. Also we mentioned continuous learning UM, so there's things that you do in your day to day job but if there's an opportunity, if you see something that's happening, any goals within the company that you would like to learn more about, I would say, don't wait for someone to give you that direction. Do it as a side hobby, or listen to some podcasts or you know that, and and and for me, a podcast is great because you can still be doing the dishes or hanging out the washing, or you something that you're doing while you're doing a bit of a mundane task. Um,...

...just to expand your ries again, um and and so I would say, I know who your allies are, make sure you build your network out, go out and and you have so many opportunities face to face meetings and gatherings and learning. That is great. Um, But sometimes life gets you know, busy, um. So, so webinarso are a great way to do that as well. Of course, I'd say, you know, be positive on social media, share any learning. So if you are if you see any top tips, if you see any resources that you found interesting, nine times out often someone else might find that interesting as well. So it costs you nothing to just go hey, I found something great on you know, and share that out on your social media platform. Um, So those are the things. The other thing I would say is no, you're worth So if are doing something day to day and this is something that I need to get better at. Right. So, if you have a little notebook somewhere, you have your tablet or whatever, you capture your notes on, and as your day progresses and you do something that brings you joy that you think, you move the needle on, write it down, because at the end of the month, you're going to have a whole long list of things that you've done that has been positive and that's been um and this has made an impact in what you do. So when you come to the point where you have a conversation about career progression, you don't have to be going through the archives or go, oh, scratch your head, what are the things that I did? You would actually have a list of achievements and accomplishments and things that you've done outside of the scope of your normal job that you already have that you can say there, that's what we don't you know, and and and it's you know, obviously having a great conversation and with your with your manager and and sharing that with them on a continuous spasis so that when then this comes, they probably know that list already. But it's so powerful to have that in place when you have a review because memories are short. Um. You know, you don't know what's going on in someone else's life where they could have had a bad day or a bad week or a bad month. It's great to have those things documented. Um. And you feel good about it as well. So it's that's just a small tip as well, just like keep some things documented um. And and that helps you with career progression within yours, within the company you are, and also if you're looking for another company that you think is a bit of fit for you. Um, it builds up your rsume as well. That's such good advice. That's very practical tips um that you know absolutely we could start doing today, Yes, yes exactly. And it doesn't take um yeah, it doesn't take any massive effort. Is just about you know, conditioning yourself to get into that good Habits brilliant advice. Thanks a lot of style, um. One final question from me is if you were given a second chance in life, is there anything he would do differently in your career? Oh, learn more languages. That's a good one. I would learn languages. I think again, when you're talking about being inclusive, and I just you know, the world has become so small now, um, and I think it's just I've actually just downloaded babble um and brushing up on a m my my Dutch because I can understand a little bit. So but I think, um, I think for me, learning another language isn't just so that you can, you know,...

...um, converse, which is important, but it's a for me, it's also a sign of respect for someone else's culture to at least be able to read them and say hello and say, you know, askin how they are or what is your name? And you know, So those are the kind of things and that's what I'd like that I'd like to but I'd like to have a couple of more languages and them about And you're right, I mean, that's that's a really good way of connecting with someone as well, when you know, you make that effort and you show that kind of respect, um, that you're helping you know, kind of building that connection and relationship with them as well. Yes, yes, And I mean even if it's broken and absolutely rubbish, people appreciate you making the effort, right, it's a really yeah. And the other thing is humor as a great thing. So even if you get it wrong and it's in a respectful way, you laugh about it, and that you know that it brings the bond closer as well. Exactly, exactly. Well, thank you so much Style for joining me today. It was great talking to you, such good advice and tips, and big thank you to all our listeners. Bye for now, Thank you, thank you for listening to this special series Coffee with Women in Tech from B two B Tech Talk with Ingram Micro. This was hosted by harprettinga Ring. Tuning in again to listen to another great story. To not miss an episode, subscribe today in your favorite podcast platform.

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