Tuesday, October 30, 2018
Even today, many women have a negative perception of careers in digital technology. Very few choose a career in this field from the start. Geke Rosier, the founder of RightBrains, wants to change this. By sharing inspiring stories of role models who work in digital technology, she wants to contribute to a better and broader perspective of this field and the career opportunities within it.
This is her story.
Like most women I know, I started my career in digital technology by coincidence. I studied business administration at Nyenrode and earned my master’s degree in international management. My true passion is strategic marketing. My first job was in product development at a large cosmetics firm in Germany and the UK. When I moved back to the Netherlands, my university friend referred me for a job at Microsoft. For the first time, Microsoft was bringing software products like games, joysticks, encyclopaedia, route planners and educational software to the consumer market. Since I had experience in consumer marketing, I was hired to undertake this challenge. This was my first job with a technology company. Mind you, it was 1995, when software products were sold in big boxes at retail stores. In 1998, I had my first child who was born at seven months. I received a visit from my new boss, who kindly requested that I look for a new job that was better suited to a mother with a young child. That was my first career hiccup, if one can call it that. Out of the blue, I had to start thinking about my next career step.
To be honest, I had no clue where to begin. I started networking with many different people. Speaking with them gave me new insight into the different jobs available. Because I love marketing, I was considering working as a marketing recruiter. Then I met an experienced recruiter who suggested that I become a marketing consultant for IT organisations. This was the best advice I could have received and an important tipping point in my career. For the next four years, I helped technology start-ups tackle their marketing strategy and positioning challenges.
A strong network, an open mind and courage are important career competences
In spring 2000, the dot-com bubble burst. I began working with large financial organisations who wished to align their IT operations with their business goals. I found myself with a unique opportunity to start my own consulting company. Was it always my dream or plan to become an entrepreneur? No. I had never thought of it until the moment of opportunity presented itself. However, I was excited about the prospect and I took it. Over the course of a decade, I worked with many women, but I observed that very few attended industry events. I began doing research and was surprised to learn about the lack of diversity in STEM fields. After ten years of consulting in the area of business and IT alignment, I decided it was time for a new journey. In 2014, I founded RightBrains with an important economic mission: to expand the pool of digital talent by attracting more women to the field.
As I look back at my career and where it has brought me today, I want to share some important messages with a younger generation of readers. First of all, networking is critical as you navigate your career. Second, if an interesting opportunity comes by, go for it. And, last but not least, don’t be afraid to work in digital technology. This last piece of advice is something that the role models in this guide repeatedly say. In Chapter One, you can read the stories of women who, like me, decided to change their career paths and became entrepreneurs.
RightBrains inspires, educates and connects women who are passionate about digital technology
When I started RightBrains, my dream was to create an environment where women at different stages in their careers could become connected, inspired and educated. There’s simply not enough digital talent to fill today’s digital jobs. The number of women who choose a career in digital technology is still very low. In the Netherlands, women comprise only twelve percent of the digital workforce and hold only six percent of management roles in this field. The reasons for this are complex. Especially in the Netherlands, there is an unconscious bias that women are not strong in STEM (science, technology, engineering, maths). Few women choose to pursue these studies. The result is a seemingly male-dominated industry. At RightBrains, one of our primary goals is to change these perceptions by letting women role models tell inspiring stories on our platform. We also invite experts to write articles informing our readers of the latest technology trends and how they will affect people, management and jobs. With this information, we hope to encourage a much broader view of digital career opportunities. This is also why RightBrains is launching this career guide. In Chapter Two, you can read the inspiring stories of women who are working at the edge of business and information technology. In their work, they use technology to enable innovation and create new products and services.
The speed of technological innovation requires continuous learning
You may have heard the term continuous learning. It’s not a new concept, but one that organisations have largely neglected over the past decade. This is why new technology players have been able to disrupt entire industries, including music, travel and retail. This is also why there is currently a war for digital talent. This is where you, the reader, come in. As a digital native, you can combine right-brain competencies like creativity, intuition, agility and open-mindedness with your fluency in the digital world to add value in organisations. In
2015, we launched the RightBrains Digital Leadership Programme as the first component of our CIAO Academy. This year-long programme is designed to educate managers about the latest technologies and their impact on strategy, business models, marketing, organisations and leadership. The modules are taught by prominent Nyenrode Business University lecturers and experts in the field of digital technology and leadership. They discuss digital transformation, its impact on culture and the need for you to become part of a new generation of digital talent.
More women in digital technology will eventually lead to greater team diversity
We all know that diversity leads to more innovation and greater success for organisations. Many studies have confirmed this result. Unfortunately, when we look at the field of digital technology, there is very little diversity, not only with respect to gender diversity but also to diversity in perspective and experience. Much of this is caused by unconscious bias and a masculine culture where women feel they don’t belong. The women in Chapter Four share their experiences and how they work within their own organisations to encourage diversity, open up the playing field and change perceptions about careers in digital technology.