Women in Tech: Career tips from female leaders
Three senior women in tech at Vodafone share their tips for a successful career in the sector.
Technology communications companies like Vodafone are critical to keeping the world connected.
We depend on diverse, talented teams to keep our company at the forefront of digital change. Vodafone is recognised by The Times as a Top 50 Employer for Women, and we have women leaders in tech across our business.
As we continue our journey towards becoming a tech comms leader, now is a great time to start your career with Vodafone.
Starting out: careers in technology
Tanja Richter is Director of Consumer Products and Services in technology at Vodafone. Tanja and her team are responsible for designing, building and running consumer products worldwide. This includes Vodafone TV, consumer internet of things (IoT), and digital channels such as the My Vodafone app and our artificial intelligence powered chatbot, TOBi.
When researching and applying for new roles in tech, Tanja suggests: “Understand what the ingredients of a position are that excite you, and also which elements you don’t like.
“You will never feel completely ready for a new role, but that is OK. Do not pretend to know what you don’t. Do not pretend to be someone you are not. Check your track record of acquiring new skills and knowledge in other circumstances, and gain confidence from that. Your team will help bring you up to speed.”
Madalina Suceveanu, Technology Director for Vodafone EU Cluster, adds: “Be brave, trust your instinct. I have jumped for job opportunities before without knowing everything about it, or if haven’t felt 100% ready for it. The opportunity to learn and grow when presented with a challenge like this is exciting, motivating and valuable enough.”
Madalina oversees technology strategy execution in seven Vodafone markets in Europe as well as Turkey. She is also responsible for the technology integration of the recently acquired Liberty Global operations.
She continues: “It’s essential that the company you choose to build your career in has a culture you love and a clear purpose you can find meaning in. This connects your work not only with your intellect but also with your heart.”
Nadia Benabdallah is Vodafone Group Network Director, based in Italy and part of our Senior Leadership Team. During her career, she was among the start-ups in Omnitel Pronto Italia. She contributed to building Vodafone networks from 3G onwards. Since 2012, she consolidated all the engineering departments into one global team of 2,000+ people serving Vodafone’s global footprint.
Nadia says: “In the field of technology, gender equality can sometimes be seen as a difficult endeavor. However, I don’t want to consider it as a problem: to me being a woman has never been an obstacle, but rather a source of motivation.”
Career progression and development
Whether you’re at the start of your career in tech or a seasoned specialist, grasping opportunities to learn and adapt can be crucial to your progression.
“Take on big challenges, even if you don’t feel fully ready,” Madalina says.
“It is in that stretch that we have moments of peak learning. Never be afraid to change. Innovate, transform. Move fast, experiment and test new things.
“Use every opportunity to learn from your successes, your mistakes and from those around you. Be proud but humble – do not by shy about acknowledging your achievements and the achievements of those around you but reflect and learn from what didn’t work so well.”
Tanja adds: “Build on your strengths as they make you special and help you stand out. Don’t be shy to be different – we’re all different in one way or the other.”
Nadia continues: “I think that everybody can build up his or her path according to what they really want to do with their lives. I always say to my female colleagues that there is nothing that a man can do that a woman can’t.
“And do not be worried about having a family and a great career at the same time. I’m a living example of that: I’m proudly married and a mother of two sons.”
Leading from the front
Vodafone has a long-term ambition to become the world’s best employer for women by 2025. As part of this, we have set a target for women to hold 40% of our management and leadership roles by 2030. As of 31 March 2020, women held 31% of our management and leadership roles and we’re making significant strides towards our overarching goal.
But what makes a good leader?
Tanja says: “A good leader has a growth mindset. They are open to learning and adapting. They give direction but encourage autonomy. They challenge their teams, help them grow. They are consistent and predictable – this might sound boring, but it’s important to building trust and confidence with team members. And they always explain the ‘why’, the purpose of what we’re doing.
“Good leaders are never afraid of diversity – rather, they embrace it from the beginning as they know it can only make teams stronger.”
Madalina says: “It’s about building a team with people who have the capability and ambition to do better than the leader. A good leader will always listen, empower, trust and will ‘walk the talk’ – they will be the role-model.
“Don’t aspire to a specific job title – connect with what really matters to you and use this to guide you. Success is born from loving what you do.”
Nadia concludes: “Being a leader doesn’t mean you have to give up other important choices. Try to always raise the bar, be organised, focus on what matters and go for it.”
Explore career opportunities at Vodafone here.