The Global Women in Telco & Tech Awards and Summit: Hear from our Advocates - Johanne Mayer
04 June 2019 | Natalie Bannerman
Capacity speaks to Global Women in Telco and Tech Advocate, Johanne Mayer NaaS/NFV/ZOOM Consultant at MAYERCONSULT, about why women need to be assertive, confident and need to do that 'extra thing'.
What are some of the biggest challenges you faced as a women in the telco/tech industry but more importantly how did you overcome them?When I first started in my career I was concerned about people listening and appreciating my technical knowledge when speaking with customer executives rather than my looks. I would wear very conservative clothes but I also worked hard learning as much as I could so I knew most of the answers.
What did you learn from those experiences and how did it shape your career moving forward?
Being technically knowledgeable gave me more confidence to fit in a predominant man’s world. I also decided early on, to never “make up” answers to the questions you don’t know, just be honest and get back to the persons later.
As you are now in senior position yourself, how do you help the next cohort of young women as they progress in their careers?
I believe one of the most important things in a career is that you don’t wait for people to tell you step by step what to do; you’re given broad directions/assignments so think and act broadly. Over the years, I’ve had many managers and a large number of them were in different countries. I’ve also had lots of managers that were well intended but actually had “no time” for me. One even told me recently that he’s so busy dealing with his other employees to extinguish fires that since everything is fine with me and I do a good job on my own, he doesn’t feel the need to meet me that often! So my advice to the young women starting out is to be more assertive and look for what should be done such that your team and/or company benefit from what you do. Try to do that extra thing that will make you stand out, were people notice the good job you’ve done.
What do you think needs to happen in your industry to bridge the gender gap or do you think enough is already being done?
There are still some gaps. I remember being in a meeting once with the CTO of a standards group and after I gave a presentation, he was surprised that I was technical since I was in marketing (and a woman!). Maybe we need more women speaking at events so more people recognize that we can be technical.
But I am not in favour of selecting a woman just because the person is of the right gender. The person should be the best person for the position.
What single piece of advice would you give a young woman, who wants to do what you have done and reach the top of their career?
Be assertive and confident. If you know your stuff well, men and women will see it and respect you. Encourage your daughters, nieces, cousins, neighbours, friends not to be afraid of studying telecom/technology. Most younger generation know their way around technology and hence why not study it if it appeals to them.
What inspired you to become a Women in and Telco Tech advocate? What was it about this particular initiative that resonated with you?
Being able to share my experience with younger generations.
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