Stella, since it is International Women’s Week, I am going to take a little different approach to our Get To Know section. I want to talk about the place of women in the tech world. You are the Regional Business Director for Adludio. Adludio designs and delivers creative concepts that drive authentic brand engagements for mobile audiences.
Let’s take it from the top, tell us about Stella Berry, the lady.
I am from a French island called Corsica. I left my beautiful island to pursue my Bachelor’s in mainland France and then moved straight to London where I was supposed to stay for one year to learn English – ended up staying there for 11 years! Totally fell in love with London. I have since then lived in Australia and more recently Singapore. Before joining Adludio, I knew very little about adtech as I worked in publishing where I worked on and managed probably every single title in women’s fashion: Elle, Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Cosmopolitan, Marie Claire, Grazia. So happy I have made the leap though – best decision of my career!
Managing luxury brands and then moving on to tech is pretty much a big leap; I mean they are totally very different. What is the reason behind that, Stella?
Well, they are different in some ways and similar in many others. Having worked with luxury brands for most of my career, I have witnessed the evolution of their main challenge which is to attract new consumers and maintain desire.
At the beginning of my career, I had to position digital as an added value for luxury brands in their traditional media strategy. Fast forward ten years, and I was in Sydney having to position print as added value for digitally-led briefs – you still needed luxury brands to fill out those magazine pages.
For me, the move to adtech was a no-brainer; I had to follow the natural evolution of where the audience and the consumers are, and right now they are on mobile. With my background in traditional media, I am finding it much easier to advise our partners in the luxury industry on the value of mobile, because I can relate to their challenges of keeping up with technology. I have been living through it with them.
I came across some interesting findings. One of them is, 43% women tech professionals think their companies do not invest enough in building women’s careers. What do you think of this?
The percentage is definitely higher than I expected it to be. Having worked in a number of companies throughout my career, I’ve noticed that this is an issue not only in tech, but across the board, and I empathise with these women who do not feel they have enough support from their companies.
The reality is, many companies do not prioritise investing in mentorship initiatives or training programs anymore. If the industry is not doing anything about it, women who hold senior leadership positions have to step up and make a profound impact in supporting other women in their team, mainly because we have been in their shoes before.
I myself am an advocate for mentorship programs. Not only are we passing down our knowledge and skills, but mentoring provides professional socialization and personal support in their career journey, and that’s how we can reduce this startling percentage.
The current situation is that women are outnumbered; 3 to 1 in the tech world. How can a woman then pave her own way in this particular industry, Stella and in the course of that, make a change to the current statistics?
This industry can come across as daunting. Before making the leap, I did feel afraid that I could not do it, that I would not get it and that I would not succeed. However, the complexity of this industry is just a myth that probably stemmed from the difficulty of understanding and mastering the lingo.
I have seen people in this industry make it sound complicated in order to impress poor marketers that were just overwhelmed by the intricacy of it all. Ten years ago, the job of a media planner cannot be compared to what it is right now. So many different vendors selling different products, and it can all get a bit confusing.
Four years ago, supermodel Karlie Kloss took an intensive coding course at New York Flatiron School. She then started a free coding camp (Kode with Klossy) with opportunities and learning experiences for young women, to increase their confidence and inspire them to pursue their passions in a technology-driven world. I mean, if it is good enough for Karlie then…
Though we’re not all supermodels, we each have the power to make a positive impact. The gender imbalance in the tech industry comes from a much deeper problem linked with education. We cannot change the past but we can help with the future. The statistics will change in the next few years, I am convinced by it.
Let’s talk about embracing new challenges. Women are generally known to be resilient; give us any changes, we embrace it, work on it – no doubt. Does it still stand true when it comes to getting female talents into tech?
Exactly as you say, I think resilience is key, especially once you get out of your comfort zone. To be challenged, you need to be prepared that sometimes you may not always know the answer and that’s ok. It always takes a few months to adapt to a new role, so moving into tech feels the same as moving to a new role in an industry you are already comfortable in. Tech is an industry that is always evolving. You are constantly learning new things which is incredible and we should not be frightened by constant change.
I think you are the perfect person to ask this question. Some women think it is daunting to be in an industry where it is mostly run by men. How can one be authentically herself yet bring in confidence in this industry?
The biggest advice I would give any woman wanting to break in the industry is: just take a deep breath, you can do this! In fact, you can do anything, just believe in yourself. The reward you get is unprecedented. Oh and also, it is not as complicated as you might think it is, or as they imply it is! Ha!