As we celebrate women who are making it happen on International Women’s Day on 8 March, we are profiling some of Microsoft’s leading ladies. Corporate Social Investment Lead, Djam Bakhshandegi, shares her pride in seeing women leaders leaning in and supporting one another and encourages young women to pursue STEM subjects to realise their potential and lead change in the 21st century.
What attracted you to the ICT industry?
The ICT industry is an exciting, fast-paced and highly innovative sector to be in. It keeps me young, challenged and inspired by what we are creating and where we are going as human beings.
What do you love most about being a woman in the ICT industry?
I love the support, encouragement and connections with other women in the industry. I especially love seeing the cadre of women leaders we have rising in rank and leaning in, setting examples for others and supporting and mentoring them to be the best they can be.
What challenges have you experienced as a woman in the ICT industry?
Balancing the “hard” and “soft” has been the most challenging, and continues to be so. Being supportive, a team enabler and leading with a systems approach and emotional intelligence need to find their balance with driving results aggressively and being a winner.
Why is it important to encourage more women to pursue STEM subjects?
It is vital that more women pursue STEM subjects. We need women scientists, innovators, mathematicians and so much more. As technology and science open our horizons to possibilities, we need to be the first ones on the threshold of this change. We are, after all, the mothers of nations. Our potential is immense, our responsibilities undeniable.
How can a woman achieve a good work/life balance?
The beauty of working in the ICT industry is that we are often able to have flexible hours. Such an adaptable environment enables women as well as men to better achieve work/life balance. With our phones becoming work devices, everything is possible for both genders. I believe that when we reach a sharing of genders’ roles and responsibilities, we will all have a good work-life balance.
What advice do you have for women looking for a career in ICT?
This is the place to be in the 21st century. Prepare yourself, learn the language, lean in and be the best you can be. And don’t forget to support other women in the journey to self-realisation.