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Women In Comms

Mentor Monday: TM Forum's Annie Turner

"Funny beats furious anytime" are words that Annie Turner, senior director of content for the TM Forum, lives by.

Anyone who knows her knows that she has a raucous sense of humor, is not one to hold back her opinion -- on anything -- and really knows her stuff when it comes to technology and the communications industry.

After all, Turner has been researching and writing about the communications industry since the 1980s, editing magazines dedicated to the subject, including titles published by Thomson International and The Economist Group. She has contributed articles to many publications, including national and international newspapers such as the Financial Times and International Herald Tribune, and a multitude of business-to-business titles.

Turner joined TM Forum in 2010 and today is responsible for overseeing the content of the Research and Publications portfolio.

Last year, Turner spoke at Light Reading's Women in Comms breakfast panel in London ahead of the OSS in the Era of SDN & NFV event and offered up her perspective on how women in the communications industry are making an impact in customer experience management (CEM). (See Pics: Women in Telecom Take London.)

Here, on Mentor Monday, she offers more poignant insight and advice for women in the comms industry.

Annie Turner, TM Forum
Turner (left) chats with Nokia's Head of CEM, core and OSS Marketing Jane Rygaard and Heavy Reading Analyst Caroline Chappell at Light Reading's Women in Comms breakfast in London last year. Join us on Nov. 5 for another great networking event across the pond!
Turner (left) chats with Nokia's Head of CEM, core and OSS Marketing Jane Rygaard and Heavy Reading Analyst Caroline Chappell at Light Reading's Women in Comms breakfast in London last year. Join us on Nov. 5 for another great networking event across the pond!


Light Reading will be returning to London for a Women in Comms networking breakfast on November 5 ahead of the OSS in the Era of SDN and NFV show. Join us by registering here!


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?

Annie Turner: My biggest hurdle, particularly when younger, was being taken seriously. Some people have a big problem believing a woman can grasp technological and associated issues.

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

AT: The upside of not being taken seriously is that people are often more open with you as they don't perceive you as a "threat."

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

AT: This is really difficult and complex issue, which stretches way beyond our industry. Role models are really important -- look at the sensation Sheryl Sandberg's Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead created. We need more high-profile, successful women' early exposure to the fabulous opportunities in the education system and more female-friendly work environments -- a huge subject! Having more women speakers at flagship events is also important.

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

AT: TM Forum is a not-for-profit trade association in its 27th year. Our founder, Keith Willetts, was way ahead of the game in realizing that women with children were a huge, untapped resource, hence many of our staff work part-time and/or from home to accommodate family commitments.

Our Chair, Michael Lawrey, has publicly stated that we want greater diversity on our board and that women often bring a different and valuable perspective. Alpna Doshi, CIO of Reliance Communications, is a long-standing board member and vice chair. She was named Cybermedia's CIO of the Year 2014. Cynthia Gordon, group chief commercial officer at Ooredoo Groups, and Radhika Venkatraman, SVP and CIO of Network and Technology at Verizon Wireline, have joined more recently. Others will follow.

TM Forum also has its own program, Women of the Digital World. The session we held most recently at TM Forum Live! in Nice in June was massively over-subscribed. (Read more about it in this blog by Barbara Lancaster, our VP, Lighthouse Engagement, which includes a video interview with Rikke Helms, MD, WW Telecoms of Microsoft Enterprise Partner Group at Microsoft, on attracting more women into the workplace. You can join us here.)

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?

AT: Never give up and keep your sense of humor -- funny beats furious every time.

— Elizabeth Miller Coyne, Editor, The New IP

kq4ym 9/7/2015 | 9:50:52 AM
Re: underestimate, over-deliver With the understanding "people are often more open with you as they don't perceive you as a "threat," one might wonder if that advantage will overcome the disadvantages that women find in the industry. It may still take some years to balance the scales as more women find their way into what was a mainly men's domain.
cnwedit 8/25/2015 | 12:36:04 PM
Re: underestimate, over-deliver i agree with Annie, but I also look forward to the day when women, particularly younger women, aren't assumed to be less capable of understanding technology and don't have to spend years proving themselves. 

 
Sarah Thomas 8/25/2015 | 10:29:14 AM
Re: underestimate, over-deliver Agreed. You'll go crazy if you can't laugh things off. That said, if anger sparks action, I think it's okay to get a little fired up sometimes too!
TeleWRTRLiz 8/25/2015 | 10:26:57 AM
Re: underestimate, over-deliver So true! I also think keeping a sense of humor is important -- to everything. Not just in your job. 
Sarah Thomas 8/25/2015 | 10:21:15 AM
underestimate, over-deliver Annie's right -- it's not always a bad thing to be underestimated...especially as a reporter when people speak more freely in front of you because they think it's over your head. :) 
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