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New IP

Women in Telecom: Collaboration Critical to New IP

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.)

Women in Telecom
Speakers at Women in Telecom gear up for the panel. From left: Liz Coyne, The New IP editor; Sarah Thomas, Light Reading's editorial operations director; Vanessa Slavich, head of talent and diversity programs for Square; Judy Little, VP of strategic alliance management for Ericsson; Pinder Chauhan, head of global technical support for CommScope; and Julie Stoughton, senior director of industry marketing for SAP. Not pictured: Carol Wilson, Light Reading editor-at-large.
Speakers at Women in Telecom gear up for the panel. From left: Liz Coyne, The New IP editor; Sarah Thomas, Light Reading's editorial operations director; Vanessa Slavich, head of talent and diversity programs for Square; Judy Little, VP of strategic alliance management for Ericsson; Pinder Chauhan, head of global technical support for CommScope; and Julie Stoughton, senior director of industry marketing for SAP. Not pictured: Carol Wilson, Light Reading editor-at-large.


Read more about the New IP on the dedicated New IP channel here on Light Reading.

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

DHagar 2/23/2015 | 1:33:39 PM
Re: Women in Telecom kq4ym, great points.  You are absolutely correct.  Collaboration is key and the door opener to real change.  The failure to move forward with change will keep people trapped in the old ways.
kq4ym 2/21/2015 | 10:08:23 PM
Re: Women in Telecom Collaboration seems to be a great selling point. And fits to a T how the New IP should ultimately function. Now, moving forward steadily will be the task at hand to cut the old ties of the past ways of thinking.
Common Agenda 2/20/2015 | 3:43:44 PM
Thanks Great article, Sarah! Sounds like the breakfast was a success. Interesting points on opportunities for women as the need for greater collaboration increases. 
DHagar 2/20/2015 | 12:03:15 PM
Re: Women in Telecom Ariella, yes, it is more practical, the only theoretical application are the basic theories on culture and diversity. 

I have them examine their perceptions of diverse groups (including other gender), observe and interview others to gain their perspective and then develop their leadership skills in drawing from the expanded diversity in building effective organizations, etc.   So with telecom, it helps them broaden their thinking to include thinking of women as "skilled talent" and a valuable resource that can become a competitive advantage.  It helps them examine the "glass ceiling" and invites them to remove the barriers in the workplace.

It causes them to think!
Ariella 2/20/2015 | 10:26:53 AM
Re: Women in Telecom @Dhagar sounds like a very interesting class. Is it practically oriented, as per the advice you give, or more theoretical?
DHagar 2/19/2015 | 8:59:30 PM
Re: Women in Telecom Sarah, you bet - Pioneers!
sarahthomas1011 2/19/2015 | 8:54:17 PM
Re: Women in Telecom Thank you, DHagar! That's great to hear that you're teaching such a class as well, so you can definitely relate to all that we're talking about!
DHagar 2/19/2015 | 8:10:58 PM
Re: Women in Telecom Sarah, great thoughts and congratulations on being a speaker!

I full agree that women are better at building collaboration and big picture capabilities; less likely to try to "dominate".  But having said that, I also fully agree that it is up to women to "initiate" requests for great responsibility, project opportunities, pay raises, etc.  Women have to have confidence in their own value and then "sell" others on what they can do.  When they do, they change the dynamics and are seen as contributors that cannot be ignored.

I like your recommendations for mentoring, networking, and advancing women throughout the organization.  I am currently teaching a University class on Cultural and Gender Diversity to 27 college students.  Your recommendations are the key steps to opening up the doors and opportunities for women; they won't be "invited", they need to pursue their professional career interests.

Sounds like telecom opportunities are the place to be!
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