Building an executive DNA for tech M&A

Building an executive DNA for tech M&A

Manuela Simões NOS _aquisition 2020 NEW.jpg

A woman’s perspective on staying the course for success.


At the start of my career, I had every intention of becoming an air force pilot. I was born in Mozambique and studied engineering at one of the oldest universities in Europe. I applied to work with Marconi, where I was hired for the Submarine Cables Project team because I was a woman, and they needed to diversify their all-male team.

This was a very exciting time in my life, travelling the world, navigating some of the most complex physical submarine cable buildouts, spending months at sea. Ultimately, I made a big shift to the commercial side in the international voice business, learning to adapt and thrive through the market liberalization, mergers, acquisitions, and volatile pace of change that has become the norm in this industry.

In the mid-2000s, things started to change.  More Women were joining the technology side. Prior to this, most in the industry were men. But women started to take on these roles and eventually moved into the switching centers and maintenance areas.

By 2007, for example, the wholesale division I worked in employed more women than men. And if you were to come to the Lisbon office today, this is still the case. To be honest, it happened naturally, as people were recruited based on their competencies above all.


Find Your Compass

Invest your professional life where you will find personal fulfillment but mostly enjoy what you do. Ignore stereotypes, cliches, and comments. Always be guided by your personal GPS. 

Bank on Real World Knowledge

Stretch your exposure to new situations and accumulate experiences to be current and relevant in any scenario.

Be Curious. Ask Questions.

Many are afraid to ask questions. The stigma of asking a “stupid” question seems stronger for women. Never be afraid to take risks. Ask questions in front of others, especially when joining a new organization, starting a new role, or launching new projects.

Own it. Recognize it

We each need to own our roles as women in technology organizations. It is critical to shift group mentality and ask women to proudly recognize that their skills are equal to their male counterparts.

Don’t Underestimate Support

When I first came to this international business, basically there were just men. There was one woman with incredible negotiation experience. I learned from her because I asked to learn. Support can also be personal. Your family and loved ones are fuel for your success.

Embrace the Technical. Make it Translate

Technical skill is and continues to be very relevant. It's a differentiator that enabled me to tackle all my roles in a systematic way with different sets of knowledge. Technical translates in business on every level. 

Stay Versatile

Have the ability to mirror any new situation and adapt quickly. Reinvent as often as you need to take on new responsibilities. Project Leadership and M&As force you to adapt and give you an opportunity to reinvent.


For younger generations, we still need to reach 50-50 gender parity everywhere and at every level. There needs to be more women in decision-making positions, more on management teams, more in the technical field, and more leading. 

Salary parity is the next step, the next journey, and for us all the final frontier, to pave our way to success and equality.

The skills, adaptability, and drive required to lead successful M&A’s and integration and change management are gender free, and the consideration of rewards for it should be as well.

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