SAN JOSE -- Women in Telecom -- When it comes to the New IP, adjectives like flexible, scalable, automated, service-driven, software-defined and agile are critical on the technology front, but collaboration is also critical from a company culture point of view, and it's a job that women are well suited to tackle.
At Light Reading's third Women in Telecom breakfast in San Jose, Calif., on Thursday, executives from Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC), CommScope Inc. , SAP AG (NYSE/Frankfurt: SAP) and Square Inc. shared their thoughts on the New IP -- intelligent, state-of-the art, software-defined, virtualized IP networks built to provide dynamic, automated services and capabilities that can handle the data and applications of today and tomorrow -- which, incidentally, provides new opportunities for women in the industry. (See Pics: Women in Telecom Take London, Pics: LR's Women in Telecom Breakfast, Light Reading's Women in Telecom Recap and New Skills Needed as Telecom, IT Collide.)
The New IP is certainly a technology change, one that Judy Little, vice president of strategic alliance management of Ericsson, described as enabling a network society, connected cars, Internet of Things and 5G -- it's a transformation, she said, but one that's "a little bigger and far reaching" than past network overhauls. (See Ericsson Testing 5G Use Cases, CFO Says.)
"The innovations happening in technology and telco converging is right at the heart of [cloud, mobile, big data, IoT and the Internet economy]," added Julie Stoughton, SAP's senior director of industry marketing. "It's impacting SAP -- how we go to market, how we run internally, and impacting the customers I deal with on a daily basis."
It is also impacting distributed antenna systems (DAS) provider CommScope in that its customer base is encompassing new verticals, and they are increasingly interested in a software-based platform, not new hardware, said Pinder Chauhan, CommScope's head of global technical support. "It forces us to simplify things," she said. (See CommScope Agrees $3B Takeover of TE Network Assets.)
So what does that mean for women in the industry, specifically? The panelists agreed there is an opportunity for women to be more actively and strategically engaged in what's becoming more of a collaborative, open process. Vanessa Slavich, head of diversity programs at Square, pointed out that women are more likely to mentor, as she does through the mobile payment company's Code Camp, and they have strong intuition and an ability to see the big picture.
Chauhon said that her group at CommScope used to have very rigid solutions that called for a certain skill set, but that the move to more flexible and intelligent networks is requiring them to think outside the box and hone new skills, including the ability to collaborate with divisions that might not have traditionally worked together.
She also stressed the need for women to take charge of their own careers and seek out mentors and new opportunities. Slavich also commented on the need for women to be more aggressive in asking for what they want -- even if it's more money -- and being willing to negotiate in the male-dominated industry even as they work to change the structure to be more diverse.
"The industry can only benefit from having more women involved because of our skills in collaboration, a willingness to ask questions -- there's a lot of skills we can bring to the table," Stoughton said. "We are only going to get there when we create awareness and education with some of the younger kids."
"It's about innovation and diversity," Little said, adding that Ericsson CEO Hans Vestberg has realized this and is actively working to get more women in the workforce at the giant vendor. "Once you start to get women throughout the organization in different positions, you have a much freer environment for coding or whatever. Once you set goals, it can become a much more balanced workforce."
— Sarah Thomas, , Editorial Operations Director, Light Reading