As Cindy Hung knows, technology is primarily a male dominated industry. With 16 years of management experience, 9 of which have been in technology, she recently made a career move that changed her perception of how the industry functions. Cindy is now a Senior Project Manager at Solar Analytics, an international software startup at the forefront of the tech industry which also seeks to actively include women in its workforce. She describes this move as one of the best decisions of her career. In this two part series we chat to Cindy and Solar Analytics CEO, Stefan Jarnason about women in technology. You can find Stefan’s interview here.
What is your career background and what is it about working in technology that inspires you?
Professionally, I specialise in process, Agile Project Management and PMO. What particularly interests me about technology is the people in this space. They seem to have an infinite desire to improve their skills and knowledge base. Being surrounded by this overall mindset keeps me grounded and helps me to advance personally and professionally.
Personally, I can be rather frank in order to get things done. This industry enables me to be less filtered than others, in my view.
When you were job hunting, do you think that there were more male, than female applicants for roles that interested you, and do you think that this worked to your advantage?
There have always been more men in this particular space, as innately, men seem to be more technically minded.
It’s hard to be a woman in the tech industry, but this is not unusual, there are a lot of industries where the employment of women is mandatory in order to fulfill the 15-20% quota demanded by stakeholders. We have to work so much harder to prove ourselves. Once you reach a certain level, word of mouth and your reputation can help progress your career, but I have always felt that professionally I am four years behind my male counterparts. This is such an immeasurable thing but now I’m really happy where I am. Solar Analytics is fast and furious in a very enjoyable way, and as a start up is just so very different from others I’ve seen. It has an open armed technology team.
What were the influencing factors that made you accept a project manager position with Solar Analytics?
The work that Solar Analytics does really resonates with me. Initially, I knew little about the industry in a technical sense, but intrinsically I am a green person. Really, there were four things that affected my decision and lead to my acceptance of the role:
- Culture – This made me feel like I was part of something big right from the start.
- Attitude – There was an underlying sense of transparency, warmth and efficiency.
- The fast paced environment – I always find this challenging and exciting.
- The unknown – With startups such as Solar Analytics there are plenty of possibilities.
A recent study showed that a mere 14% of executive roles within the technology industry are occupied by women*. What changes do you think could be made to encourage more women to enter the Australian technology workforce, and then to progress their careers to occupy leaderships positions?
A fair proportion of the executive team at Solar Analytics is female which is very unusual. I haven’t seen this happen in a tech company to such a degree before. Throughout my career, as a woman in technology, I have learnt a few things which I hope help others entering the industry, or trying to advance their careers.
- Be confident without trying to be male. I’m not cut throat, I have painted nails and this works for me. Don’t try to be what you’re not.
- Be logical and assertive with your reasoning.
- Approach things with structure.
- Don’t make your justifications personal, instead talk about what you can contribute in a measurable sense.
- Dream big. Not just for yourself, but for the firm too.
* Davidson Technology diversity report on women in technology in Australia, 2016
For more information about Solar Analytics you can find their website here