Women at the heart of the digital transformation

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WOMEN At the heart of the digital transformation

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THE RISE OF THE CHIEF DIGITAL OFFICER The digitalization of all facets of our society and day to day lives is driving what is on everyone’s mind at the moment in our industry: the digital transformation of enterprises and telecom operators which will support it. To be successful, this transformation entails a 360º evolution of our corporations as we know them. We must evolve the technology, systems and processes we use, the services and solutions we offer and how we interact with customers. But more importantly, at the end of the day, this is also about the people, the skills and culture that will empower a realtime, self-serve, fully flexible and fluid digital customer experience. For this new world to take place, it must be initiated, inspired and led from the top. This is where the Chief Digital Officers enters centre stage. In the last 5 years, we have seen the rise of Chief Digital Officers across all verticals, with the role now present in over 50% of the Fortune 500 companies. These are executives which spend every minute of every day thinking, eating and breathing digital and finding ways to instigate the digital culture at all level of the organization – not a small feat. A role that did not exist 10 years ago is now at the core of most of our enterprises’ future success. But what does a Chief Digital Officer (CDO) really do you may ask? By nature, it is a multidimensional role which brings together a number of business functions: technology, marketing, strategy, IT and customer services/ engagement.



It endeavours to leverage businesses’ digital capabilities and assets and instils technology in all areas of businesses to drive the transformation that will trigger efficiency, growth, innovation and enhanced customer engagement. These are special executives indeed who are able to bring people, technology and strategic innovation together to reinvent our organizations. To be successful, CDOs must therefore be multi-facetted individuals who are defined by the following traits: • Visionary and progressive thinkers who lead the organization’s transformation using innovation and new technologies at all level • Creative and brave disruptors who have the guts to take on the role of change agent and re-invent all areas of the business • Technology hungry evangelists who identify and promote ingenious technologies, within the organization and with customers, helping address their needs with the right digital solution • Charismatic people managers who will lead, inspire and unite all levels of the organizations towards a common goal and foster the cultural changes required • Customer passionates who are obsessed by customer satisfaction, as at the end of the day nothing will exist without a happy digital customer Interestingly, a significant portion of these new

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CxO positions are being taken up by women across all verticals, and telecom is not an exception. Global companies with women in CDO roles include L’Oréal, The Gardian, J.P. Morgan Chase, Ralph Lauren, Subway, Finnair, Ogilvy, Accor Hotels, Banco Santander, United Airlines and the list goes on. Additionally, nine of the top fifty most influential CDOs nominated by the CDO club in 2017 were women. You may say it is not much, but 18% is well ahead of statistics that estimate that only 4% of CEOs, 7% of CIOs and 11% of CFOs around the world are women. THE RISE OF WOMEN IN TECHNOLOGY If we look at telecoms in particular, we find a similar situation, as only 11 of the top 100 most powerful people in the telecom industry, nominated in the Global Telecom Business’ 2017 Power100 list, were women. It is true to say that the situation is improving, but we are a very long way from parity. Could the proliferation of CDOs, be the longawaited trigger which will put a growing number of women not only in C-Suite roles, but also in technology-orientated functions?

It could therefore act as one of the multiple catalysts to help promote and inspire women to play an active part in the creation of technology, innovation and our future digital world. We live in an increasingly diversified society a nd it is my opinion that it is crucial for the people building it to reflect that, may it be in terms of age, culture or gender. Women in CDO roles could contribute towards achieving this. Promisingly, in the last two years, several women executives have been nominated in CDO positions within TMT companies: Durdana Achakzai at Telenor, Jacqueline Teo at HGC Global Communications and Mika Yamamoto at SAP, to name only a few. They are now busy leading the transforming of these organizations so that they can in turn lead the digital way. To confirm this, as explained by Jacqueline Teo, Chief Digital Officer at HGC Global Communications, the CDO’s role is anchored at the heart of HGC’s future success.

‘In October 2017, HGC was at a pivotal point. It had just been sold to a private equity company and was hungry to expand.

I believe so. I think one of the reasons why more women are taking up these responsibilities is because many of the skills required to fulfil them, on top of being technology-savvy, encompass a mixture of strategy, marketing, people management and customer engagement.

Its new CEO, Andrew Kwok created the Chief Digital Officer role and a Digital Office, aligned with his vision to transform the company. Andrew absolutely views culture and people as key and felt strongly that a digital transformation had to be led top down.

Often these jobs are the ones where women are more prevalent, so the move to becoming a Chief Digital Officer is a more natural one, then one to become a Chief Information Officer of Chief Technology Officer for example.

I joined HGC in February 2018, and quickly defined what digital means for the company. It is about putting our customer at the heart of what we do, which challenges how we act and think



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about our own practices. HGC’s digital office is a key part for our evolution, as it brings together enhanced customer experiences, open platforms and services, organization wide transformation, and a data driven culture.’ Be they men or women, the Chief Digital Officers of today will disrupt, shape and transform the business world as we know it to create our digital future.

But if this Women Chief Digital Officer trend continues, in my view it will be an unmissable opportunity for women to embrace technology leadership roles to drive business change and, maybe more importantly, inspire the younger generation and women at all stages of their careers to take on the technology challenge .

No pressure ladies!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR Isabelle Paradis President and Founder HOT TELECOM Isabelle is President and Founder of HOT TELECOM, one of the most innovative and creative telecom research and consulting companies in the industry focussing on international and wholesale. More recently, she has been working with many of the world’s CSPs to help them define their digital transformation strategy. She is also passionate about encouraging the involvement of women in technology. To that effect, she is an active member of the Youth and Women Entrepreneurship ESBN taskforce, created by the UN to address sustainability and social inclusiveness in business.



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ABOUT PACIFIC TELECOMMUNICATIONS COUNCIL Recognized as PTC, the Pacific Telecommunications Council is the global non-profit membership organization promoting the advancement of information and communication technologies (ICT) in the Pacific Rim, the most dynamic geography of the world, spanning over 40 nations. Visit PTC.ORG to learn more about becoming a member of our community. To learn more, please visit http://www.ptc.org