On March 8 every year, International Women’s Day is celebrated all around the world to recognize the contributions and achievements of women across various communities, while calling for greater equality. This year, the theme #MakeItHappen aims to encourage effective action for advancing and recognizing women.
In conjunction with this occasion, Microsoft Asia Pacific is featuring female leaders from around the region, sharing their inspirations as well as words of advice for women hoping to #MakeItHappen in the technology industry and beyond.
To read more about these women and others who are juggling professional responsibilities, family time and personal pursuits, go to the APAC News Center or just click on their names below.
With more than 25 years of sales and marketing experience, including five years with Hewlett Packard, Jan Ferguson has been the Director of Customer & Partner Experience in Microsoft New Zealand since 2008. How does Jan #MakeItHappen both at work and at home? “Microsoft’s technology, along with our philosophy of ‘work is what you do, not where you are’, enables me to deliver results.”
Her advice to inspire interest in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fields among girls and young women is sound. “This has to happen at a very young age and should be part of our curriculum from age five. Coding should be taught just like English and maths. Students also need to be shown the creative side of technology, like web design and movie making, so that we excite a wider audience.”
Managing Director of Microsoft Australia, Pip Marlow began her 18-year career with the company in 1995. To #MakeItHappen at work and home Pip is a role model to her daughters and says, “I am invigorated by the opportunity to effect change in both my community and organization, through strong leadership and encouraging diversity not just as a choice, but as a business goal.”
Pip encourages girls and women to not count themselves out before they begin and to recognize that without women in key positions in government and business, “we will never close the gender equality gap. Simply put, we must truly strive to be the change we want to see.”
Why involve more women in the tech industry? “We need to mirror the market we serve. The technology sector by its very nature is progressive and innovative so it’s incredibly important to have a diverse cross section of women across our industry who can play a pivotal role in its future.”
Sunny J. Park
Since 2010, Sunny J. Park has headed up the Legal & Corporate Affairs division at Microsoft Korea, dealing with a wide variety of cutting-edge issues such as cybersecurity, privacy and digital copyright protection. When asked how to #MakeItHappen, Sunny said, “I constantly look for things to improve in my environment. If you have an ‘owner’ mindset, you look at things very differently, you’re motivated to contribute and you want to continuously improve things.”
Sunny’s advice to young women who want to go into the tech industry is, “Go for it! People have a misunderstanding or misperception that in order to be in the technology field you need to be good at math or be tech savvy. However, that is not the case, unless you want to be a developer… there are many different jobs related to technology – law, sales, marketing, PR, etc.” Equally important is to “be a problem solver and embrace technology to help you to be more productive and efficient.”
Mira Fitria Soetjipto
Mira Fitria Soetjipto, Human Resource Director for Microsoft Indonesia, joined the company in 2013, after working at Citi for 12 years. Mira’s advice about what empowers her to #MakeItHappen is to “dream big, whether it’s at the workplace or in my personal life. As women in our society, we play so many roles in our daily life. In between all the multi-tasking and taking care of others, we need to ensure we take good care of ourselves and be happy.”
When asked about her advice for young women who want to work in the tech field? “Never be intimidated, never hesitate to ask questions, and never be out of touch – this is a rapidly evolving industry and to keep up with it all, we need to be able to constantly cope with the ever changing trends, dynamics and pressures.”
Chief Marketing & Operations Officer for Microsoft Malaysia, Rukmani Subramanian has 15 years of experience in the IT industry, with the last 10 helming various roles at Microsoft’s Redmond corporate headquarters and the Asia Pacific headquarters in Singapore. What empowers her to #MakeItHappen at work? “I don’t second guess myself and I don’t add gender as a factor into my everyday work or leadership style. I just make it happen based on my personality, strengths, style and given circumstances.”
On the role of mentoring, Rukmani’s conviction is unequivocal, “I am committed to mentoring aspiring female talent in the tech industry – telling my stories, passing on the learning and helping them get ahead. I have leaned on some great mentors to come this far and bet on them to move ahead. I strive to pay it forward and make a difference for some future women leaders in the technology industry.”