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Mentor Monday: Nokia's Jane Rygaard

Sarah Thomas

Future 5G networks will enable all kinds of new apps and services, and they may also be what gets more young women interested in the communications industry.

That's because past network evolutions -- 2G, 3G and 4G -- all started as technology discussions of spectrum, bandwidth and macrocells. 5G's starting point is use cases -- what new industries it can connect, what Internet of Things (IoT) devices it will power and how can it change lives. The possibilities for 5G are seemingly endless and definitely exciting. (See Nokia Advances MEC for 5G, IoT.)

Jane Rygaard of Nokia Networks suggests that the telecom industry can encourage more young girls to pursue careers in STEM by talking about how the technology can be used, much as is being done with 5G. Enhancing the human possibilities of technology can make it a lot more attractive to young kids, and to girls, specifically. That's crucial for improving the tech pipeline. (See A Vast Valley: Tech's Inexcusable Gender Gap.)

Rygard heads up the global portfolio marketing team for the analytics, cloud, security and partner portfolio division of Nokia, a position she took on in July of this year. Prior to that she was the head of customer experience management, core and OSS marketing. So, to say that Rygaard knows her technology would be an understatement. But she also knows what it can enable and how it can make a career in telecom so exciting. (See CEM's New Hard Rules & Soft Skills.)

She shared her thoughts on this and more with Light Reading as the focus of this week's Mentor Monday.

Nokia's Leading Women
(From left) Merete Hillmann, Head of Services Marketing at Nokia Networks; Jane Rygaard, Nokia's Head of ACS and Partner marketing; Louise Suhr, Head of Customer Team TT Network at Nokia; and Lise Karstensen, country head of Denmark for Networks at Nokia pose for a pic at the vendor's local 5G event, where, Rygaard says, the women actually outnumbered the men.
(From left) Merete Hillmann, Head of Services Marketing at Nokia Networks; Jane Rygaard, Nokia's Head of ACS and Partner marketing; Louise Suhr, Head of Customer Team TT Network at Nokia; and Lise Karstensen, country head of Denmark for Networks at Nokia pose for a pic at the vendor's local 5G event, where, Rygaard says, the women actually outnumbered the men.

Mentor Monday is a regular feature on Light Reading's Women in Comms site, highlighting top professionals from across the industry. If you are a female leader in the comms industry who would like to share your perspective, please get in touch!

Light Reading: What is the number one challenge for women in comms that is different from the challenges faced by men? What was your biggest hurdle?

Jane Rygaard: I think the number one hurdle for me has been my own expectations, to work and work-life balance, which you can say might not be different for women and men, but in my experience the work-life balance can consume more mental energy for women.

LR: What is the biggest advantage to being a woman in the comms industry?

JR: I think the biggest advantage of diversity, in general, whether gender, nationality or others, is the different viewpoints presented makes it possible to make the end-to-end picture. For me, personally, it is also about adding a use-case view to the technology discussion. For example, it is not enough to talk about cloud technology and NFV, but also to stress why it makes a difference for what kind of services we enable.

LR: How can we, as an industry, encourage more young girls to enter – and stay in – the comms or STEM space?

JR: I think we can start with showing what technology can be used for, and how we enhance the human possibilities of technology. I really like that the starting point of 5G is around the services and use cases of the future, like IoT, and how we can address them within the industry. We are able to show the benefits of IoT for public and home safety, energy savings, healthcare -- I could continue with use cases all enabled by 5G. Previously network changes like 2G, 3G and 4G have been driven by technology discussions. I believe we need to show this early enough to attract girls and women into STEM education. I have earlier commented on initiatives around women in STEM here.

LR: Are there any programs your or your organization is involved with that you'd like to highlight?

JR: In Nokia we are organizing local #GirlsinICT days to showcase what the communications industry is enabling, and how we can use technology to enrich the society we live in. The events are normally full of energy, and the discussions also add valuable input for those of us who have been in the industry for a long time. The feedback has been very positive around the participants being interested in staying/entering the ICT industry.

Internally in Nokia we do have several networks to encourage women to pursue a leadership career in the telecom industry. The networks are organized locally, to create a strong foundation for experience exchanges and foster development, as well as global initiatives for gender diversity in general across the company.

LR: As a leader, what is the number one piece of personal advice you would give to help women achieve their goals in a male dominated field?

JR: Basically I would not say it any different to women or men: Be passionate about what you are doing, believe in your abilities and take the chance when it appears.

— Sarah Thomas, Circle me on Google+ Follow me on TwitterVisit my LinkedIn profile, Editorial Operations Director, Light Reading

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9/28/2015 | 6:03:35 PM
Re: 5G!
5G is the closest technology has came to consumers enabling a myriad of potential business and consumer applications users can relate to and opening up the gates for the IoT era with its implications in diverse industries. 
Sarah Thomas
Sarah Thomas
9/28/2015 | 1:23:39 PM
Great insights from Jane! She was one of our speakers at the London breakfast last year as well.

I think talking about 5G for what it can enable is so important for many reasons, including making sure the business drivers are there for operators, but also in attracting talent and interest in telecom. Reframing the work we do has come up a lot as a way to get more young kids, and girls in particular, interested in the industry. Of course, we want to avoid hype, but there are a lot of real reasons to be interested in 5G too!
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