Women leading and disrupting from the Cloud
Bringing more than 12 years of channel management and marketing expertise with multinational heavyweights including Saatchi & Saatchi and Vodafone as well as directorship of iconic New Zealand retail brand, Texas Radio & The Big Beat, Aldred is no stranger to disruption.
Shavvah Aldred, Marketing Manager at Umbrellar, has led Umbrellar’s marketing for two years, overseeing the development of its cloud partnership network as Microsoft’s leading Cloud Service Provider for New Zealand.
Her success has been recognised with numerous awards, including Reseller News Rising Star award and Reseller’s Entrepreneurship Innovation Marketing Excellence award. As part of Umbrellar’s celebration of the annual International Day of Women and Girls in Science, Aldred answered a few questions on her experience in the tech industry – and why changing the narrative may be key.
Have you faced any challenges in the technology industry because you’re a woman? Can you share your experiences?
I haven’t necessarily faced challenges specific to the technology industry as such. I also don’t think it’s necessarily right to say it’s because I’m a woman. There is a stigma that women typically face challenges across all industries with equality and diversity, but I believe this is a good one to challenge – I don’t think we should ever allow our gender to change or impact the workplace experience.
Do you think tech can play a role in empowering women? Are there any tech innovations you can think of that highlight this?
Again, I don’t really think technology discriminates. Technology should not hold a bias and though in some circumstances technology is an extension of ourselves which does hold a bias, it is also important to realise that any technology should empower as a collective versus being related to what gender you were born.
You’ve made some major achievements in a short space of time in technology and ICT industries. Can you share any secrets behind your success?
It’s purely down to hard work, drive and determination. That’s been my mentality through life, also wanting to be the best for my children and to make myself and my family proud of what I’m doing. It helps to have really good people around you that inspire you. That’s what I believe we have in the team at Umbrellar too – I know I wouldn’t be where I am without the great people I work with.
What does the future of women in STEM industries look like?
As technology becomes more and more commoditised, we are seeing the real value of people’s creativity, empathy, experience and knowledge come to the forefront – not necessarily of designing technology but also utilising it to have meaningful impact across society. Personally, I believe that woman inherently hold great levels of empathy and creativity which, due to this technology commoditisation, can add dramatic value to STEM. Women offer a different set of skills that were missing from a male dominated environment.
What is the inspiration behind your success in the tech industry?
I love working in the tech industry. You are on the cutting edge of innovation and it feels like we are collectively making a material difference to NZers. Of course, we can’t change NZ all on our own and working with the best partners in the industry and seeing the brilliant work that they do is a constant source of inspiration as to what is possible.
What do you think are the main drivers behind success for women in the STEM industries? Are there any support people or networks who have helped you along the way?
I have had mentors and women who are seniors in various industries who have helped me. I think it is key that there are more people like that. I have also been fortunate to know some great women leaders who have inspired me – but it doesn’t have to be women as such. I think there’s an accountability on anyone in top jobs who are leading businesses and making change to actively help the youth of today that are coming through.
What advice would you give women looking to succeed in the technology industry?
The same advice that I give to anyone – that’s to never give up, ask questions and give everything a go. It comes down to your behaviours and attitudes and if you’re an ambitious person
I think it also often comes down to how we talk about women, how they’re disadvantaged in industries and in the workspace, but that this might actually be making it more of a problem. By doing this, we’re singling ourselves out. I fully believe everyone should be graded on their merits and efforts and behaviours – rather than going ‘you’re a woman’, which makes it really hard for women to succeed in any workforce. This kind of stigma limits our progress and rather than closing a void, may see us creating one.
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