I am honoured to be given the opportunity to share my input on the topic of women empowerment.
This is my first time contributing an article on this theme and I am glad to share my experience and provide advice on how women can make a mark in the tech industry.
Richard Branson, business magnate, philanthropist and author, once said, “if somebody offers you an amazing opportunity but you are not sure you can do it, say Yes - then learn how to do it later!”
This mentality has inspired many aspects of the decision-making process throughout my professional career, and served as a mantra that has guided me whenever I faced difficult challenges.
I see these challenges as a way for me to push myself and find out what I am capable of.
I grew up in an era where gender discrimination was not overt and apparent, but real amongst businesses. Women had limited resources to reach their maximum potential and had fewer opportunities to be successful.
Technology and engineering were sectors in which women were clearly underrepresented in leadership roles.
I was fortunate to be raised in a family that believed in the value and power of education, and who infused in us a positive attitude of never giving up, regardless of our gender, position or circumstance.
I attended college overseas and graduated with a Computer Science degree from the University of Swinburne in Australia. I decided to join the ICT industry and started as a sales engineer with an IT engineering company in Singapore, architecting and proposing IT solutions to customers.
Early in my career, I learnt the value of building strong client relationships, exceeding expectations and becoming a trusted partner of the customer.
I also realised the need to develop good interpersonal and communication skills. I believe success is not just about meeting benchmarks and goals, it is about people too. The ability to work well with people is often a prerequisite for successful stakeholder management.
The lessons I’ve learnt in my early years of work have stood me in good stead. In my 23-year career, I have progressively moved up the ladder to take on more responsibilities, being promoted first to sales manager, then sales director, appointed vice president of sales for Telecommunication and Commercial segment before my current role as country managing director of Logicalis Singapore.
Holding these senior positions has guided how I lead. I believe the art of management is balancing what is best in the short-term versus long-term, figuring out which conflicting pieces of feedback to act upon, and deciding on the best path to take in rapidly changing scenarios.
During this transformation journey, I have also witnessed the evolution of women in tech; seen how women are breaking down barriers and ignoring limits, and empowering one another to make strategic life choices where that opportunity had been previously denied to them.
Over the past few years, the topic of women in the tech industry has gained significant amount of attention in the media and created much awareness in the workplace. Female executives in the tech industry have gradually increased in numbers and percentage of the workforce.
In Singapore, we have made a lot of progress. A recent survey showed that half of companies today are hiring more women in ICT roles than ever before in the last five years, and the country is now third in the world for hiring women in the ICT sector.
Networking groups such as Women in ICT Asia (WIICTA) and Lean in Singapore play a part in driving awareness about how women can play a significant and influential role in society and businesses.
These groups provide inspiration and positive influences, encouraging women to grow and strive forward with confidence and conviction.
With gender inclusions being aggressively supported through corporate responsibility initiatives and equal employment opportunities, women are now in a better situation than ever before to become successful.
Ultimately, we need to have faith in ourselves and do what resonates with us. With the increasing focus many companies are placing on diversity, I hope women can achieve their career aspirations without fear or restrictions.
I will end with a quote for women aspiring to be leaders: “I always did something I was a little not ready to do. I think that’s how you grow" - Marissa Mayer, former president and CEO of Yahoo!
Dewi Sanly Widjaya is country managing director of Logicalis Singapore