The tech industry has a lingering image of being insufficiently diverse, but that may be changing with the times. In a conversation with People Matters, April Tayson, Director of Southeast Asia at mobile analytics firm Adjust, shared a few thoughts on the industry landscape and the hiring and advancement scene for women in tech.
How has COVID-19 changed things for your industry?
Today, mobile’s vast reach has opened access to opportunities for those who were left behind. Mobile-first economies in emerging markets are uplifting populations across the globe.
The post-COVID ‘new normal’ has intensified the rush to bring services on mobile—whether it is essential government services, critical healthcare, educational support, or for that matter, e-commerce and remote working capabilities—to provide ease of access and use. I believe this shift is here to stay—even after things, optimistically, get back to normal. More people are going to use mobile to consume diverse services and only choose traditional ways for essential services. Entertainment, music, news, gaming, and health and fitness, to name a few, are all going to continue on mobile. Additionally, virtual delivery of services in edtech, healthtech, e-commerce, for example, will continue to flourish.
What is your view on the hiring landscape for women in tech?
A host of studies have proven the benefits of diverse workplaces, showing that not only are diverse companies more successful, but they also offer employees broader skill sets, experiences and points of view. While diversity in the industry is improving, it still needs to address its own shortcomings. Ultimately, it will only ever be as good as the talent it attracts.
Lately, I’ve had the opportunity to interview a lot of motivated women candidates, which has been really inspiring. I also speak to so many at industry conferences and networking events.
For International Women’s Day this year, we highlighted a few fantastic female mobile marketing leaders, and their motivations and successes. We spoke to Vu Kim Oanh, Founder and CEO of one of Vietnam’s biggest performance agency and network, Omega Media Worldwide; Ekaterina Petrakova, Marketing Lead at renowned incubator and venture builder Rocket Internet; and Gessica Bicego from popular book-insights subscription service Blinkist. These leaders can be role models for women who want to make it in the industry.
Could you share a little about how you are encouraging inclusion and diversity in your own company?
At Adjust we have more than 550 employees from 45 different nationalities across the globe, and we've built a unique culture based on trust and open-mindedness. Our women-to-men ratio is nearly evenly split, and we’re always striving to further redress the gender balance across all our departments and locations.
We have many women who are advancing quickly on our team. I’ve always admired our VP Product, Katie Hutcherson Madding. She’s been a rising star in the company, quickly moving up the ranks in our leadership team. She now plays a pivotal role in the competitive products that Adjust has in markets around the world.
And we are lucky to have an industry veteran from Neilson, Lynda Clarizio. She was named one of 2017’s “50 Most Powerful Women in New York” by Crain’s, and brings almost 20 years of executive experience to Adjust’s board. Importantly, she has done a lot as a leader and member of multiple boards to advance equality and representation of women in the industry—for example, speaking at the 2019 IAB Women Visionaries about women getting seats on boards.
What are the upcoming jobs and roles that would create a better and more equal playing field for women?
It’s no secret that big tech companies are typically male-dominated. Now is the time for women to make their mark through innovative leadership, and for the tech industry and workplace to play a pioneering role in leveling the playing field.
Opportunities in adtech and IT fields, which rely heavily on skills that require bridging gaps through cohesive leadership, remain great avenues for women to shine—thanks to inherent entrepreneurship to overcome biases we might see in other traditional fields.
We ourselves are expanding in SEA, and we're looking for people who have the hunger to excel.
Do you think the changes resulting from COVID-19 have provided more opportunities for women to rise in the ranks?
COVID-19 has not provided any distinct advantages or disadvantages specific to women, but many tech companies have realized flexible work-from-home policies lead to productive outcomes and happy employees. I think this trend will continue, and provide the required flexibility for women who manage both family and work.
Could you share some tips for women who want to join the technology industry?
The growth we see in the digital marketing and mobile advertising sector is huge. With everything moving to mobile, there is no better time to be part of this field. My simple advice would be to learn more about the technology and its future.
Looking forward, what obstacles to women's careers in tech do you think will vanish or be reduced in the next few years? Which ones might remain, and what can we do about those?
In the digital advertising industry, you will notice many women managing key positions; however, when it comes to adtech solution sales you will find less women. I may not be able to pinpoint the exact reason, but the most common obstacle for women in the tech industry is not being taken seriously, especially when there are fewer females in solution sales. I don’t see it vanishing any time soon, but consistent revenue numbers on the chart and being more assertive in getting across your point of view work quite well in such scenarios.
Other obstacles could be the nature of work or the fact that many companies do not provide the required flexibility. Sometimes it’s not always about lack of opportunities for women but lack of awareness or reluctance to go out of comfort zones. It’s a mixed bag, actually.
Until you try, you cannot break the glass ceiling.