12 Apr 2022

My journey as a woman in tech: a look at the career path of 4 women from BSO

Every year, tech companies highlight the presence of women within their companies. Especially on Women's Rights Day. The initiative and the reminder are important, however, the subject is far from being taken into account by all.

Even if the situation evolves positively, there are still too few women in the scientific/technology fields and sectors. As early as high school, the majority of men are in the scientific fields and this continues in higher education, especially in engineering schools, which still have a majority of men.

But the effort pays off. For several years now, many initiatives have been launched and many companies, schools, and associations have been promoting scientific careers or the orientation toward technology for women. And it works! 

At BSO, we strongly support those initiatives. Since 2004, BSO has been able to build a unique model in favour of respect for everyone and to manage its human resources/CSR based on these two principles: inclusiveness and diversity. With a flexible and multicultural management model, BSO is one of those companies that quickly understood that diversity was a real strength: recruitment without borders, internationalised management, recruitment of women in key positions ("leadership team"), support of social actions for inclusiveness etc. At a time when borders are less and less palpable and labels are becoming blurred (origins, gender, culture, belonging...), the model of corporate culture cultivated by BSO for years is more relevant than ever. 

To get started and dare to enter the tech sector by overcoming limiting beliefs and clichés, 4 women from BSO agreed to share their experiences and their tips. Read on to discover them!  



Specialising in tech? There is no such thing as a typical career path

More and more organisations, companies, and associations are trying to highlight the career paths of inspiring women. Indeed, in tech companies, if you think of an inspiring or successful figure, most people will likely think of a man (in many cases a western and caucasian man). It is essential to continue to highlight the careers of women in IT, whether they are CEOs or have an operational role, whether they have a scientific or cross-functional profile. An inspiring profile is not necessarily that of a multi-millionaire business leader, it is someone who is able to relate to others and put themselves forward to help new generations find their way and develop their talents. 

This diversity is reflected in all our services. Let’s discover the career paths of Laurence, Caroline, Virginia, and Nadia at BSO.

The director of our finance/HR department is Laurence Saunier. With a strong background in the fintech and tech sector, Laurence joined BSO a few months ago and is now leading a global team with members from all around the world.

“I did my studies at ESSEC Business School, then I joined an audit firm where I was able to rise through the ranks to become CFO I then moved to other companies to broaden my skill set and was CFO for GL Trade in the area of software trading and market data and more recently, Quant House. I’m specialised in finance and I have always worked in the IT and network sector, these two subjects (finance and IT), are very close to BSO’s area of expertise.”

 

“I have always been interested in the IT sector, which is why I have built my career in this sector, but I also quickly noticed that there were few women in the teams. In the departments I have managed, where the gender split is more balanced(less male-dominated), I always encouraged the recruitment of women. As it was easier to get gender diversity in these departments, as there were more profiles in the market, we made more efforts to recruit women. What I appreciate in the IT industry is that it’s also a very rewarding sector because you work with high-calibre profiles. I need intellectual stimulation and close links with other operational departments.”

As CFO, Laurence has also seen the subject of equal pay up close. Within the tech sector, the vision seems to be more evolved than in other sectors.

As far as equal pay is concerned, I have always been lucky because I worked for innovative and modern companies where equal pay was a priority.

On the operations side, Caroline Mortel joined BSO just under 5 years ago and is the ERP Data Manager, within her role she works with an international team. Starting from a scientific background, Caroline has been able to evaluate her options and progress by creating relevant bridges in her career.

I come from a scientific profile. I studied maths, physics and computing applied to science. But after my scientific studies, I decided to learn about business and enterprise, as I knew nothing about it and I think it is important to explore outside of your own environment. I studied enterprise marketing-communication and had experience as a salesperson. Following this, I quickly understood what I really enjoyed: combining the rigour of science and the human side of business. Data represents society and business from a mathematical point of view. At that time, I had the opportunity to be introduced to data management and to develop my skills in the field, within the medical industry. However, back then, France was still lagging behind in this area so I decided to move to the UK where there was already an awareness. Today all types of industries are aware of the importance of data but it took time. I discovered the Tech industry in London, and loved it straight away. I found a great combination between processes rigour and human values. I am now back in France, working for a very international tech company, BSO. At BSO I feel lucky to work with very smart people, who excel in technical knowledge while creating a culture based on highly respectful human values, both for customers and for employees”.

In marketing teams, diversity is often greater than in operational teams. However, the career paths are as varied as they are interesting. Virginia and Nadia had quite different backgrounds but now they are in the same team.

Virginia Petrou, Global Marketing Director for BSO

“The IT sector came to me as an opportunity. As I speak several languages, Fast-growing tech companies that needed to expand their business were looking for profiles like mine. In parallel, tech has always interested me, I am a bit geeky and I like the core spirit of tech: tech helps people to simplify things and achieve more through efficiencies. Prior to being at BSO, I was in a core banking software company where I went from a graduate scheme in sales to the role of head of marketing operations, running a global team and a large part of marketing operations."

Nadia Soulé,  Marketing Manager Continental Europe 

“I have always worked in IT, before BSO I was a project manager for B2B software clients in an agency and then I was hired as a Marketing Manager for a cybersecurity company. My stepfather was a sound and image engineer so we had a lot of computers, recording studios, tech machines, etc, at home and he wanted us to know how to use computers and exposed us to tech really early with video games, etc. I also love to play video games, to learn things and I find that the internet is a great gateway to learning. I did my studies in computer science but I also like marketing from a writing and content perspective. Because of my passion for social sciences and literature, I didn’t follow the college path for scientific studies so was not able to follow an engineering degree so I chose the best of both worlds."

 

More women in the sector? Going beyond stereotypes

In September 2021, Opinea and Livestorm conducted a survey on 1,031 French working people between 25 and 55 years old. This survey wanted to find out the feelings and opinions of the French on the IT sector and its inclusiveness. The results may seem surprising but they show a reality that needs to be highlighted. Here are some of the results of the survey: 

  • For 84% of respondents, a professional in the IT and new technologies sector is necessarily a man.

  • 24% of the women surveyed believe that the sector is mainly accessible to men.

Unfortunately, this cliché persists and Caroline paid the price a few years ago: 

"Some men still find it difficult to understand that women can fit into a male-dominated environment and not follow the women's clichés and stereotypes. Some put us all in the same basket, some can also be “pleasantly surprised”. I was once told in an interview that the only problem was that I was a woman because I was going to lead a men's team, he was afraid that a woman wouldn't make it. The clichés are still there. There may also be a generational gap." Caroline Mortel

This is also reflected in the family environment: 

  • 38% of the parents questioned said they would like to see their son go into the IT and new technologies sector.

  • As opposed to only 21% for their daughter, for whom they prefer professions traditionally considered more “feminine”.

“The IT sector is still a male-dominated world, having started at a graduate level I have been able to see first hand the difficulties women face as they go up the ranks in the tech industry and realised many women felt intimidated and t didn’t want to face the struggles and hurdles to get their place at the table. I believe we need to worry less about gender, background and to some extent studies and focus more on individuals and training young people regardless of their background to be part of the tech industry. It should be based on abilities, not the hand you’ve been dealt. I’m hopeful that the new generation will be more open to leaving biases behind..” Virginia Petrou

Reorientation can be a good solution to increase the mix and diversity within these companies. However, the survey again shows the gap between men and women. When asked, "Which sector would you choose if you had to change jobs?", 32% of men said they would choose the tech sector compared to only 13% of women. 

“The fact that schools are promoting technology education for women is a great step in the right direction. Having more job profiles and types being developed, could enable us to take a targeted approach towards training women/re-training into these roles. The new generation may not want to stick to a particular career path so this could also be a good opportunity. We need more women and different profiles in this sector so I believe re-training is a good option.” Nadia Soulé

Finally, The subject of working remotely is also a central issue in thinking about its future. This is especially true in the IT sector, which is offering more jobs with a hybrid working model. Almost all respondents (91%), and especially women (93%), see working from home as a major criterion. This flexibility is a real motivation for the French. Indeed, three out of five respondents think that working from home is the most important asset of this sector, an advantage more favoured by women (70%).

Remote working is a real progression because it allows us to overcome certain operational constraints linked to the IT professions which can be prohibitive for both men and women. BSO has been working on this for a number of years and is solving the problem with techniques such as "follow the sun” shift work." Laurence Saunier

 

Let’s support each other

Fortunately, the more diversity there is in tech companies, the more the stereotypes will be combated. All the women and minority profiles in these sectors are showing us the way… The people interviewed for this article would like to share with you some advice on how to successfully orient yourself and, why not, enter the IT profession.

Don’t limit yourself! 

“Don’t limit yourself. Anything is possible and everything is based on you as a human being.  Make your own luck. Don’t take things too personally, if someone says you can’t do something take it as a challenge to prove that you can. It’s not women vs men, we can all work together and women need to support each other better as well.” Virginia Petrou

Follow your own values!

“The signs do not deceive. If you want to be in an environment that is in line with your values, don't compromise. Choose companies that are more likely to help you progress and support your career, regardless of your gender, culture, or even your age. I am a senior profile and during my recruitment process at BSO I was never asked this question and it was never an issue - BSO is very open about this type of question.” Laurence Saunier

Dare to do it! 

“Dare to go above and beyond, have more confidence in yourself, and be less afraid to impose yourself, while always remaining humble.
Being a woman should never be an argument to not go for it.
In the IT industry, find a company where everyone is respected for who they are, and what they bring to the company. I found it at BSO.
It would be stupid and unproductive to not acknowledge the fact that there are some differences anthropologically speaking between genders, but none of those differences should stop women to get the career they want in the Tech industry.
There are gender stereotypes that are negative and should be banned, and there are anthropological gender characteristics that are positive and can be very productive, thanks to parity in teams where everyone can bring something. Productive companies are companies who understand that” Caroline Mortel 

You deserve it! 

“If you don’t get given a seat at the table, don’t think that you are not within your rights to take it. If you have been hired based on your skill set you have every right to be valued and for your opinion to be considered.” Nadia Soulé

 

Sources

 

ABOUT BSO

The company was founded in 2004 and serves the world’s largest financial institutions. BSO is a global pioneering infrastructure and connectivity provider, helping over 600 data-intensive businesses across diverse markets, including financial services, technology, energy, e-commerce, media and others. BSO owns and provides mission-critical infrastructure, including network connectivity, cloud solutions, managed services and hosting, that are specific and dedicated to each customer served.

The company’s network comprises 240+ PoPs across 33 markets, 40+ cloud on-ramps, is integrated with all major public cloud providers and connects to 75+ on-net internet exchanges and 30+ stock exchanges. The team of experts works closely with customers in order to create solutions that meet the detailed and specific needs of their business, providing the latency, resilience and security they need regardless of location.

BSO is headquartered in Ireland, and has 11 offices across the globe, including London, New York, Paris, Dubai, Hong Kong and Singapore. Access our website and find out more information: www.bso.co