& cplSiteName &

Nokia's Motley: Confidence Paves Career Paths

Sarah Thomas
5/2/2016
50%
50%

Nokia's Sandy Motley's more than 30-year career in the communications industry has seen her make a number of shifts from technology roles to business to sales, but one thing has tended to remain the same -- the general lack of women working with her.

It's something she's gotten used to, and while it hasn't adversely affected her career, it's something she feels we can -- and should -- rectify. Motley, who joined Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK) by way of Alcatel-Lucent and is now the head of its Market Sales Solutions, NAM, division, believes leveling the playing field will take a combination of sparking interest in the industry at a young age to get more new women into the field, as well as helping those women who are in it to bolster their confidence and keep advancing.

In her personal career, it took a while for her to make her first jump, but once she did, she kept moving around to new areas that excited her and expanded her skill set. This is her advice to other women: Go for that next job even if you don't have every skill required for it. Be honest about what skills you do have and which you can learn -- and then go learn them.

Motley, who is also a member of Women in Comms Board of Advisors and will be speaking at our upcoming conference in Austin, caught up with WiC ahead of time to share more insights and advice for fellow women making their way in the comms industry today.

Sandy Motley, Market Sales Solutions, NAM, Nokia
Sandy Motley, Market Sales Solutions, NAM, Nokia


Motley will be a speaker at Women in Comm's upcoming a luncheon in Austin, Texas, on May 23. Register here to join!


Women in Comms: Tell us about your background and how you got to where you are today.

Sandy Motley: My background has a been a convoluted path. I started out in Bell Labs many years ago with AT&T doing design work and did that for federal systems for the government. We provided hardware designs and installed them for the government. I had very much a technical background for many years and then moved over to wireless 20 years ago and have been in wireless ever since, though I've done a lot of different jobs. I started in design and was excited about being in a commercial area as opposed to government. Then, I jumped around a bit in business -- did some pre-sales, proposal work, product management work, ran a business for a time and was in sales for a time, then was the COO for wireless, and more recently, I have a new job that I've been doing for a couple of months. Prior to this one, I was supporting the sales region of North America for pre and post-sales deployment. Once I started moving around a little bit, I got excited about trying new things and learning new areas. It was really exciting. It took me a little while to make the first jump, but once I did I moved around a little bit.

I've mostly focused on wireless, but in my earlier career with government, it was also telecom -- always in the comms industry. Before I started working, I had a Master's in mechanical engineering, and I had started a PhD in Columbia, but got promoted into management and came to a fork on whether I wanted to pursue a technical career or business. I got a technical MBA at Smith College and then got a full MBA beyond that. School followed my career a bit -- started technical then went into business.

WiC: Given your long and varied experience in our industry, would you say the environment has gotten better for women or remained stagnant?

SM: When I started out, there were so few women, particularly in the work I was doing in supporting the Navy. There were so many meetings where I was the only woman with 200 men. That's what I always remember. It was never an issue for me, so to speak, except for it would've been nice to have more women. I always had to be very comfortable around men. It's still the same 30 years later. The situation is still if I look around the industry, the percent of women is still very small as compared to men. A big part of it is because a woman in science and math isn't always popular. It starts out from very little girls who don't always pursue those kinds of careers. There are always a few but the more young girls that start out looking at science and math focused on engineering, the more we'll see in the ranks. That's one of the challenges we face as a country and across the world -- getting them to start out focused on math and sciences in junior high, high school and through college.

WiC: Overall, is it a good time to be a woman in comms?

SM: I certainly think it's a good time. It's a better time because I think there are fewer surprises for women being there. The whole culture in the business -- in any business -- has changed to where women are treated differently than when I first started where there were still people asking me to get a coffee. It's a better time for women to be in business, in general, whether comms or some of these other technical areas. Obviously comms has a deep root in technology. A lot of that started in Bells Labs years ago. Technology is open to women much more than it's been in the past. There have been some positive changes, but we certainly don't see as many women in the field. It's in part because they haven't chosen the right set of skills or knowledge to acquire.

I also think -- it's a generalization, but -- women aren't necessarily as aggressive or confident in themselves as their counterparts. It's a challenge for us as a group because women tend to be less confident and less willing to be aggressive about what they know and don't know. Even if they have the education, because maybe they aren't as confident or aggressive in the industry, that holds them back from scaling positions, higher positions, as quickly as counterparts that are more aggressive.

Confidence doesn't have to come across as arrogant. A lot of women are sensitive to not be arrogant, but you can certainly be confident and be a bit aggressive without the dimension of arrogance. That's a message for them to be more confident in what they have and know. You can state the facts in a more positive way than our culture teaches us to do.

WiC: How does this lack of confidence sometimes manifest itself in the workplace?

SM: If there's a set of requirements someone who is more aggressive may say, "I have five traits and the other five I can learn," whereas women tend to be less confident in general and would say, "I only know five so I can't pursue this role." There's a difference between aggressiveness and being honest about what you know and don't know, but speak with confidence about your ability to learn in the other five areas. It's just as important as having those skills. State how you can learn those skills and that you have a desire to do it. The lack of confidence because it's five out of ten often comes through more strongly on someone less aggressive. You could state with honesty about what you've done and not, but it doesn't mean you shouldn't be aggressive if you haven't met every single skill. If you have the capacity and ability do all those things, it's important to go for those jobs even if you don't have the experience.

WiC: How important is having other female role models in the industry for women to gain confidence and keep moving forward?

SM: Having role models is important. Of course there is the chicken and egg concept with all this, but having some role models is very helpful in order to break through on some of these levels. We definitely need pioneers to take chances -- not for someone who is unqualified, but with folks who are not as confident and have a different personalities and approaches but that can succeed just as much as others. It's also about not only looking at skills and approach and how someone sells themselves, but understanding what's underneath that and helping to push our peers and helping women come along. It's important for us to be mentors and reach out and help other women get on board.

WiC: Do you mentor other women now as a leader in the industry?

SM: I do both -- I have several mentees at a time, two or three. I haven't gone and sought them out. They have come to me asking for support. I help them solve their problems or talk about the right next step. It's an opportunity to have someone bounce off the right next step as part of the mentoring. We do career discussions and discussions around next steps and where I could help to direct them or help them open a path to some end points. I do definitely mentor. Then sometimes it's very important to have a network. I try to as much as possible -- it's easier to stay and work at your desk and get all your action items done, but it's also important to network and go out in the building throughout the company to talk to people and keep your network active. It's also important to support women in this field.

— Sarah Thomas, Circle me on Google+ Follow me on TwitterVisit my LinkedIn profile, Director, Women in Comms

(5)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
mrobuck
50%
50%
mrobuck,
User Rank: Moderator
5/3/2016 | 5:01:02 PM
Re: Join Sandy in Austin!
She has had quite the career, and she still makes time to be a mentor. Looking forward to Austin. 
thebulk
50%
50%
thebulk,
User Rank: Light Sabre
5/2/2016 | 10:41:05 PM
Re: A need for woman
It's will take some time to start seeing woman leaders well represented at the top levels, but I realy think the industry will be better for it. 
Sarah Thomas
50%
50%
Sarah Thomas,
User Rank: Blogger
5/2/2016 | 2:30:49 PM
Join Sandy in Austin!
WiC is thrilled to have Sandy joining us for our event in Austin on May 23. You should join us too! You can register for FREE, right here: https://www.bigcommunicationsevent.com/events/big-communications-event/registration-24782ac3c3fe481896c5a3b999cbc007.aspx

And, plan to stay for the job fair too -- it's free as well! 
Sarah Thomas
50%
50%
Sarah Thomas,
User Rank: Blogger
5/2/2016 | 2:29:36 PM
Re: A need for woman
Hopefully a new generation of Millennial women in the workforce will rise the ranks to the top, but it'll just take a whole career to see that happen. In the meantime, I've been so imporessed with the quality -- and even quantity too -- of female leaders I've met in this industry, whom we've profiled for Mentor Mondays in the past year.
thebulk
50%
50%
thebulk,
User Rank: Light Sabre
5/2/2016 | 1:04:06 PM
A need for woman
Having spend a decade in the industry I can definatly say there is a need for more woman leaders. There has been a lot of work, but I think there is still a long way to go, and it's something the industry will bennifit from greatly. 
Women in Comms Audio
Archived Audio
Twitter Feed
Women's Watercooler
Discussion Boards
October 24, 2017 7:10:11 AM
Better Online Communication Makes Organization Sense
shirawinget
May 9, 2017 11:13:04 AM
UN Women HeForShe
spc_Dunphy
April 27, 2017 1:54:38 PM
Do you know women in tech?
Sarah Thomas
March 5, 2017 12:08:01 PM
Swedish Mansplaining
ErynLeavens
March 3, 2017 3:24:50 PM
Women's History Month
Sarah Thomas
February 24, 2017 12:15:59 PM
The career-break penalty
Sarah Thomas
February 17, 2017 10:25:33 AM
Risk taking differences
Sarah Thomas
February 17, 2017 9:51:21 AM
Upcoming WiC Events!
Sarah Thomas
Contribute Here
Women in Comms Poll
WOMEN IN COMMS: SHARE YOUR STORY WITH US
WiC wants to hear your stories, experiences and impressions of the comms industry.

Take our short survey here!
Infographics
AppDynamics highlights the tech segments where women are the most prevalent and showcases a few making a big difference in their field.
Women in Comms Video
LRTV Interviews
Sprint's McClendon – Building for the Future, Learning From the Past

11|16|17   |   3:35   |   (0) comments


NEW YORK -- Sprint's Director of Technology Innovation & Architecture - Strategy, Planning and Development, Ginger McClendon, talks about how the future of network design will evolve with the advent of 5G and distributed architectures, while explaining the importance of learning from cellular surprises of the past.
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
Sprint's McClendon – Trust Your Inner Voice

11|14|17   |   04:57   |   (1) comment


NEW YORK -- Sprint's Director of Technology Innovation & Architecture - Strategy, Planning and Development, Ginger McClendon, explains that while she's noticed more women at tech conferences, the telecom industry can still be a difficult place for women to break into and continues to have a culture of being cutthroat. McClendon discusses why listening to her inner ...
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
Pace of Change Is the Biggest Challenge – Sigma CTO Michel

11|2|17   |   07:29   |   (0) comments


LONDON -- Sigma Systems works to help CSPs become digital service providers, and that means tracking not just technology but many other trends and expectations, says CTO Catherine Michel. The biggest challenge today is doing all of that at a much faster pace than ever before.
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
Sprint's Stark on Stepping Out of the Comfort Zone

10|5|17   |   4:42   |   (1) comment


DENVER, 10/5/2017 – Jill Stark, region president of enterprise sales for Sprint, shares her approach to leading a diverse team. In addition, Stark addresses the importance of seeking out mentors, and encourages women in the communications industry to take risks and step out of their comfort zone in order to meet their career goals.
LRTV Interviews
Ovum's Rehak on IoT Business Cases

9|26|17   |   04:14   |   (0) comments


LONDON, 9/26/2017 – At the recent Digital Futures event in London, Alexandra Rehak, IoT practice head at research house Ovum, talks about the ways in which network operators could generate new revenues from IoT.
LRTV Interviews
How Cisco Works With UK Startups

9|21|17   |   03:25   |   (0) comments


LONDON, 9/21/2017 – At Ovum's Digital Futures conference, Scot Gardner, CEO of Cisco UK & Ireland, explains how the networking giant is working with UK scale-ups.
LRTV Documentaries
Can a Government Fund the Next Silicon Valley?

9|12|17   |     |   (0) comments


New York is Silicon Alley. Israel? Silicon Wadi. And in Santiago, it's Chilecon Valley. Thirty years after the end of Pinochet's dictatorship, Chile has become one of South America's most vibrant economies. For the past six years, the government has given interest-free loans of up to $40,000 to entice startups to move to Santiago. Light Reading traveled to Chile ...
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
VMware VP Brings Women Up With Her

8|16|17   |   6:49   |   (1) comment


It's an art and a science to make mentorship, inclusive leadership, diversity and promotion of high-potential women work, says Honore' LaBourdette, vice president of Global Market Development at VMware.
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
Fujitsu's Women Band Together to Help Girls Do STEM

8|2|17   |   9:35   |   (1) comment


Supporting women both inside and outside of Fujitsu is a top priority of the telecom vendor. Yanbing Li, Fujitsu Network Communication's director of System Software Development & Delivery, shares why it's important, but why there's still a long road ahead.
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
AT&T's Tech President Preps Workforce for the Future

7|26|17   |   5:47   |   (10) comments


AT&T is focused on the software-defined network of the future and is reskilling its workforce to get ready too, according to AT&T's President of Technology Development Melissa Arnoldi.
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
Cisco: Mentoring Critical to Attract & Retain Women

7|19|17   |   6:40   |   (1) comment


Liz Centoni, senior vice president and general manager of Cisco's Computing System Product Group, shares why mentoring in all its forms is important for women and what Cisco is doing that's made a difference for women in tech.
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
Verizon VP Talks Network, Career Planning

7|12|17   |   4:49   |   (0) comments


Heidi Hemmer, vice president of Technology, Strategy & Planning at Verizon, shares how bold bets and the future of tech define her career.