For more than a hundred years, people worldwide have celebrated International Women’s Day on March 8th. We’ve asked three of our female leaders to share their experiences in the ICT industry and some encouraging words for girls and women trying to make it in this competitive world.
The ICT sector has traditionally been male-dominated with women making up only about 17%1 of the tech workforce worldwide. Though the sector has been growing continuously, experiencing significant skill shortages, the gender gap has been closing very slowly.
Nina Hudnik (Flint SI), Natalia Markelova (Flint Russia and Kazakhstan) and Justyna Szymczak (Flint Poland) are regional leaders within our team. With years of experience in the ICT industry, they all want to encourage women and girls alike to choose careers in the industry, setting aside gender-stereotypes and following their true interests.
Nina Hudnik is the Managing Director of Flint SI, Flint’s entity in Slovenia. She leads a team of more than 50 technical professionals and specialises in Learning Services.
“My journey in the ICT industry started almost 15 years ago, and I have been fascinated by how much progress technology makes each year, not only in the ICT world but also in medicine, aerospace, etc.
However, the common denominator has always been people – engineers and other professionals – and their skills, knowledge, and capabilities; however, even more so how these individuals can use their skills and how they can grow and expand their knowledge. I have always felt fortunate to be surrounded by such amazing people and have learned a great deal over the years from my colleagues, who were mostly – men.
However, in the past several years, I have noticed that many women are deciding to build a career in the ICT industry, including striving for management positions.
For quite some time, the ICT industry has been perceived as a male-dominated industry. Nevertheless, more and more female leaders, not only in the ICT world but also in politics and other sectors, show girls and young women that they can aspire to become whatever they want to be and work in many different industries that have traditionally been considered male-oriented. How to cope with expectations and the climate in this industry is something that many women are still struggling with, sometimes even more so when holding management positions.
The important lesson I’ve learned as a leader is that women do not have to compare themselves to men and change their leadership style to fit perceived notions of what leaders look like. What is important is the competency and willingness to adapt, learn and grow. I’ve always been a firm believer in leading by example, emphasising the importance of mutual trust, respect, reliability, accountability, quality and execution. But leadership is also about compassion, help, listening to people (employees and clients) and support. This also symbolises the work environment at Flint.
Flint is encouraging teamwork and hiring individuals who are best suited for a job. When I joined Flint, I was delighted to see they were promoting gender equality and were no strangers to female leaders. Together with my colleagues, we are creating a culture where individuals are given equal opportunities, we are encouraging and supporting each other, and we represent one team where we all have our roles to play.
I would encourage women to brush stereotypes aside and follow their hearts (and minds). Invest your time to learn and explore. Listen to constructive criticism because there is always room for improvement. Define your values and believe in yourself. “
Natalia Markelova is the co-founder and Managing Director of Flint Russia and Flint Kazakhstan with more than eight years of experience in the ICT industry, managing large teams delivering IT solutions to Customers.
“I’ve been working for and on behalf of vendors, mobile operators and banks for more than a decade. In 2015 I co-founded Flint Russia, and I’ve been successfully managing Flint’s entity for six years now reaching a total number of 56 contractors. As our customer demands grew, we decided to expand our business, and, in 2019, Flint Kazakhstan was established to support the geographical growth of our key customers in the region whilst also ensuring local compliance.
By leading by example, I believe, successful women lift other women up and help them succeed. The ICT industry was traditionally not associated with female professionals; however, this is now changing as more and more women are interested in becoming part of our industry.
I believe that women are an important part of the industry. Not just because I am a woman in a leadership position but because men and women are often different in their nature. Everyone, no matter their gender, brings different opinions, skills and experiences to the table. It is not possible to succeed and sustainably grow without having diversity in the industry. This diversity of thought and including the involvement of men and women can elevate companies to a completely new level.
The work environment for women in Russia is well established, and I would say pretty good compared to many other countries. For instance, by law, maternity leave lasts anywhere from 8 months to 3 years and mothers receive financial compensation throughout. Flint sticks to the same policy without any exceptions.
I would encourage every girl and woman, wanting to pursue a career in the ICT industry, to not be scared. Even though the percentage of women in the industry is low right now, the requirements are the same for both men and women. Keep learning every day and don’t be afraid of growing slowly, only be afraid of standing still.”
Justyna Szymczak is the Managing Director of Flint Poland. She has more than 15 years of experience in the staffing, recruitment, and outsourcing industry. She has worked for several leading international corporations and boutique Executive Search companies before joining Flint.
“I have a major in Enterprise Management and English Philology at the Poznań University of Economics. After graduating, I honed my management skills during my MBA studies under the Poznań-Atlanta program (a joint diploma of the University of Poznan and Georgia State University).
Before my current role, I worked as a Manager, leading recruitment teams, outsourcing, and Direct & Executive Search projects for various clients with significant international exposure. In 2018, I have joined the Flint Group and assumed my current position as Managing Director of Flint Poland. I am responsible for growing the business—sales and operational management with full P&L responsibility.
I have had an interesting journey working in the ICT recruitment business, and I’ve been asked quite frequently how I feel as a woman in this men-driven business. Even without elaborate studies, it is easy to see that the role of women in tech is still not equal to that of men—yet!
Still, I think the industry is on the right track, changing slowly but surely. It has been a refreshing journey observing these changes worldwide, as well as in Poland, especially in the IT industry. A growing mutual reinforcement, of men and women working together, sharing ideas, knowledge, and perceptions.
Working with our clients on a daily basis, we experience evolutionary interest in diversity as a critical point to build effective teams in our sector. Change is happening gradually but constantly—at the eight largest tech companies in the world, female tech positions are growing 238% faster than male positions. Tech has always been a predominantly male industry, but thanks to conscious leadership, companies today continue to challenge gender stereotypes and encourage change and diversity.
I am pleased to work in the ICT industry and provide services to international tech companies and see the needle moving towards a significant increase in the presence of women in this technology field.
At Flint, we prove that the power of women and men working together enables us to deliver excellent services to our clients and allows us to uplift and inspire our employees.”
1 Honeypot. 2018. 2018 Women in Tech Index. https://www.honeypot.io/women-in-tech-2018/