We know the tech industry has a gender imbalance, so what is it like being a woman at the top of industry, and how can the industry change to make it easier for women to join and thrive in technology ?
We talk to Tanuja Randery
, a leader in the industry, now an Operating Executive with Apax Partners, a global Private Equity fund and former President of Schneider Electric UK & IR, CMO of BT Global Services and Managing Director of Colt Technology Services
about her experiences. Thinking about a career in the tech sector? Get ready to feel inspired.
Tell us about your position within the industry.
I have spent the 1st
half of my career in Strategy & Transformation roles starting with McKinsey in the USA where I was a leader in the TMT practice and the Sales & Marketing practice. Later I led Strategic Initiatives for EMC in Boston and led the transition of EMC from a hardware to a Software company through its acquisitions of VM Ware and Legato. I moved to London in 2004 and joined Colt Group, a leader in Western Europe telecom services as President of Strategy and helped Colt establish a shared services platform in India, consolidate the customer services teams into a multi-lingual facility in Barcelona and expand its Data Centre business.
10 years later at BT Global Services, I served as President, Strategy, CMO & Head of Global Business responsible for the growth strategy and restructure of the organisation to deliver this agenda. The 2nd
half of my career has been in Operations, leading businesses/divisions/regions back to growth through executing a customer centric strategy. At Colt Group, I led the UK/IE Enterprise Business, as well as the Benelux business and established Colt’s Global Business unit serving financial services, healthcare, and professional services firms.
While leading the Global business, I identified an opportunity for Colt to move up the value chain in FinTech and led the acquisition of MarketPrizm from Nomura Group – a low latency market data and trading infrastructure company and was CEO of this startup for 3 years leading the expansion into Asia and cross asset classes. This is the core of Colt’s Capital Markets Group. I decided to move industries in 2015 when I joined Schneider Electric as CEO of UK & IR business. This gave me the opportunity to learn a whole new industry at the forefront of digital/ioT and instrumental in our ability to achieve climate change goals.
I believe it’s very important for women to hold P&L roles and not only shared services functions. Indeed, the combination of Staff and Line roles is the ideal combination as it provides a very expansive view of how a business functions and more importantly you really learn how to navigate complex organisations given macro factors and also on the ground capability.
How do you feel the industry should be progressing?
A major factor for the industry is to ensure women have equal opportunities in the workplace before they even step through the door. Recruitment companies have a vital role here – they should have more responsibility for putting suitable women forward for tech roles. It’s too easy to stick to how it’s always been – men at the top – this should change at the recruitment stage to make ripples further up the chain.
As a business leader, it’s crucial for me to know that at least half of CVs I see are from suitable women. Otherwise I simply refuse to look at any CVs until there’s that equal split. I think business leaders need to hold more accountability and display this attitude too. I ensured all my management team committed to the PLUS 1 initiative – adding one woman to each of their teams. If we’re all doing it, a massive change will occur across the industry; it will transform the playing field for women everywhere.
The other area is to ensure we encourage women to stay in work and return to work. The organisation, especially the managers need to walk the talk and ensure they are promoting the women in their team and giving them opportunities to thrive. At Schneider we used to host 2 days twice a year with the top team to review all our high potential talent and this helped bring the right level of visibility. Diversity is not an HR function, it’s a business responsibility.
A friend of mine alerted me to a new series of HBR podcasts called Women at Work
. The second episode (Couples that Work), describes four distinct phases of female careers. The 20s are where women increasingly double down on their careers and postpone having families to their early 30s. Companies focus on developing their most promising talent when employees hit their 30s. Women may miss some of the early opportunities, but are back in their 40s and become frustrated if opportunities are not available. For many, the 50s become the era for a second wind in their careers, and women again can have a large impact. Companies must stay with women through the tough transitions and this will encourage women in the workplace.
Join the women in tech initiative here