This International Women’s Day 2021, TECHx brings you important messages from Women Leaders in Technology across the Middle East. Here Claire Carter – Marketing Director, Lenovo Middle East, Turkey and Africa, and Women in Lenovo Leadership Ambassador shares her viewpoint on STEM, insights about her experience in the tech industry, the importance of work-life balance and tips for aspiring women looking to join the industry.
TECHx: There’s been a lot of talk about diversity and inclusion in STEM for quite some time now, please share some of your viewpoints in terms of importance and how it can even benefit businesses?
Claire: We must pause for a moment to think about what diversity and inclusion actually mean. Above all, it is about not only fairness, but also creating opportunities. I have long advocated the importance of diversity in the workplace, not only to ensure equality (which is of course, incredibly important), but also to help our teams think from new perspectives.
If we are working on a gaming campaign, for example, we need to think broader than just the stereotypical teenage gamer – we should also think about older people who game, as well women who game. There is absolutely no reason why we should just be marketing our products to a single demographic – there is no place for this type of mindset today.
In order to get the best performance from any team, we must have diversity of thought and of course, only comes from having a diverse team! Ultimately, this leads to better brainstorming and development of campaigns, which creates more impactful experiences for our audiences. In terms of big picture thinking, all of this contributes towards delivering greater ROI for the brand and profit for our shareholders.
TECHx: Tell us about how you manage your work-life balance, as a mother and then as the Marketing Director of a reputed global brand? How much of a role can an organization play here in helping their employees achieve a reasonable if not perfect work-life balance?
Claire: As any working parent will tell you, it is always the case of having to maneuver a balancing act – especially during this critical time where everything is blurred together and the whole family is working and learning from home.
Fortunately, at Lenovo, we have an agile working policy, which had actually been put in place long before the pandemic. This policy allows me to navigate my day in a way that best suits my position of responsibility both at home and in the workplace. I have to be incredibly organized to ensure that I handle priorities in a timely manner, especially when working with different deadlines across multiple markets. With flexible working, this means that I can focus on the necessary action points at the right moment, while also carving out time to be a mom, and for example fetch my daughter from a class.
This allows me to do my two favourite jobs – be a Marketing Director and being a mom. This is something I feel very strongly about and actively encourage among my team – work-life balance. As leaders, we want people to come to work each day, feeling balanced and motivated. Leading by example helps build and create this culture.
TECHx: There are so many aspiring women in tech who would want to take cues from you. Please share your experience of being in the tech industry and what has worked for you?
Claire: I am very much inspired by the work and mindset of Facebook’s COO, Sheryl Sandberg – I would love to go to lunch with her! She has one of the biggest jobs in the world and still has to balance the working mom juggle like the rest of us, and she seems to have it perfected.
Having said that, it has been a mixture of men and women who have inspired me over the years and helped me to succeed. What we need to see around us are strong role models and allies – it shouldn’t matter whether they are male or female.
Regarding my experience in the tech industry, I also try and be true to myself – operating with a sense of realism. I always think from the end-user perspective and try and talk less about tech specs but rather about how technology can make our lives easier and smarter. Even tech can be communicated in a simple way, with more of human touch.
There is no doubt that technology has vast potential to change lives. Whether we consider electronic ink screens, 5G-enabled devices or foldable technology, the PC and smart devices sector continues to innovate at rapid pace, introducing new form factors and features. Technology is an incredible exciting sector to be in.
TECHx: Let’s talk about Lenovo’s focus in the region and the road ahead for 2021?
Claire: The past year has been tough on everybody. Overnight, households went from perhaps having one shared device, to requiring multiple screens for remote working and e-learning. At Lenovo, we have done everything in our power to make these devices accessible and affordable to everyone to help everyone navigate this ‘new normal’.
We are also, of course, focusing on key segments like gaming, tablets and commercial solutions to enhance work, learning and play. In addition to our product focus, we are also enhancing the services we have to offer, which can make people’s lives easier when they need tech support. This means thinking beyond the point of sale and actually considering what our customers require from us in the long-term. Such requirements range from after-sales support to troubleshoot issues and optimize device usage, to integrating our hardware, software and services to work harmoniously and deliver a truly seamless experience for the end-user.
TECHx: Business continuity has been the most talked about in 2020 and it still is, how has Lenovo enabled SMBs in their business continuity journey?
Claire: Small and medium businesses have always been a key focus for Lenovo in the Middle East, where they are truly forming the backbone of the economy. Within each of our business groups, we have a diverse portfolio of products geared towards enhancing mobility, speed and precision.
On the PC front, at the end of 2019, we launched our ThinkBook sub-brand in the region, designed specifically to cater to the needs of SMBs. We conducted extensive research and found that smaller companies were typically purchasing consumer-grade laptops, for perceived design and price advantages – but this was coming at a cost regarding security and performance. Our ThinkBook PCs fuse a sleek and lightweight design with affordability, durability and support services to better empower entrepreneurs. ThinkBook devices incorporate features such as single-step authentication, power-on with touch fingerprint reader and more to deliver on this promise. Of course, we also have our well-established ThinkPad portfolio, which including PCs, mobile monitors, portable desktops and more – equally suitable for small businesses to thrive.
In terms of services available to enterprise customers, we have Premier Support – an optional add-on that grants access to dedicated 24-hour support, a single point of contact for troubleshooting and rapid case management. For any individual starting out their business with a single device and the average consumer, we also offer our Premium Care service. With this option, our customers can gain access to assistance on hardware, software and peripherals to get the most out of their investments. We also provide an annual PC health check to keep devices in optimal condition.