Skye Wu working at her desk at Telstra
Advice | Telstra Careers |

My advice for female techies looking to grow their career

By Skye Wu June 8, 2020

In recent decades, women in the tech industry have made great strides in overcoming biases in the workplace and in hiring practices.

Like many industries today, the tech sector is providing more and more opportunities for women to build their own careers. My own journey at Telstra is a testament to that.

Overcoming personal and professional challenges 

My main personal challenge is one I was unfortunately born with: self-doubt, self-defeat and self-sabotage. This continued on through high school, university and long afterward where I would sometimes turn down opportunities and say no unless I was completely sure I could do a job. I would put myself down believing it was a sign of modesty.

But this internal dialogue was also mirrored in my surroundings. At university, I was discouraged from pursuing a career in tech specialising in digital forensics as it’s a very male-dominated industry.

To be taken seriously and accepted as an equal to my male counterparts in the same role has been a long, hard road. But the moments where I took a leap and dove into the unknown was where I experienced the most personal development and growth.

It really took a great leader to recognise my abilities. They were able to prod me in the right way, get me to move out of my comfort zone and believe in myself.

My advice for women in tech 

It’s really important to build yourself a solid support network, seek out industry events and join industry groups. There is the Australian Women in Security Network (AWSN) and the Australian Women in Security Network Cadets (AWSN Cadets). There are many experienced men and women who are supportive of new talent entering the industry. Networking will help you connect.

Be open to new opportunities, even if people, or your own inner voice, are telling you “no.” A very wise industry influencer once told me, “if you’re feeling challenged, it means you are growing!”

Know who you are and your values as an individual. Write them down on post-it notes and put them somewhere to view when you need to remember your strengths. Even though there is far more support for women working in and seeking out career opportunities in the tech industry, you still have to be your own best friend. 

A sign saying difficult roads lead to beautiful destinations

What Telstra is doing

My team at Telstra sits within the Threat Research and Intelligence group led by Chris Mohan. Chris is an industry-recognised champion of change and an active supporter of women in cyber security. He has actively encouraged me to become more visible in the industry and work with other organisations in cyber security, such as the Australian Women in Security Network.

He has pushed me and other female colleagues out of our comfort zones to speak publicly and is a supporter of diversity in thinking and skills, not just gender.

Telstra also supports its people with memberships so we can attend industry events with organisations such as the Australian Information Security Association and conferences such as CyberCon. Some Telstra teams also have industry partnerships with sponsorship that offers us opportunities to attend conferences and networking events aimed exclusively at women, such as FitT (Female in IT and Telecommunications). There is also the option of free training via LinkedIn Learning for all employees to access and improve their skills.

As the largest telecommunications and technology company in Australia, Telstra offers many different career opportunities for diverse skill sets. It encourages and supports flexible working, and there are internal support groups for women such as Brilliant Connected Women (BCW) — a group that supports and champions gender equality. This group is open to all Telstra people and creates opportunities within the organisation for women across the company.

If you want to learn about why Telstra is passionate about diversity and inclusion, you can find out here.

If you’re interested in bringing your skills to a company that champions diversity, take a look at our latest job opportunities.

Sakshi Banerjee shares her top leadership tips
Advice | Telstra Careers |

Four leadership tips I’d give my 20-year-old self

By Sakshi Banerjee March 12, 2020

In 2010, I was a bright-eyed intern with big dreams for the future. Now, a decade later, I’m the Group Performance Principal for the Global IoT Solutions product portfolio at Telstra.

It feels like my journey as a leader has barely begun – but I’ve already learned so much since I was that hopeful summer vacationer. If I could deliver those learnings to myself a decade ago, they might look something like this:

1. Becoming a leader starts with intent

It may sound obvious but to succeed at anything, you have to start by saying, “I’m going to do it.”

Something I’ve noted throughout my career journey is that some women tend to hesitate to take on new opportunities when we don’t quite meet 100 per cent of the criteria. The reality is most of us never will! It’s all about taking a chance anyway and just doing it (Nike has a point!).

You may underestimate your resourcefulness, instincts and experience, but you will figure it out. For those starting out, put your hand up for a project or initiative that falls outside of your comfort zone – it’s a great way to test yourself.

2. Lead by example

This is a piece of advice my most recent boss gave me – and it truly struck a chord. Think hard about the values, behaviors and style you want to represent, as they will be reflected in how your team behaves and interacts.

How you react to good news, bad news, wins and failures, how you celebrate shared achievements with your own team and even how you choose to address or not address gossip: it’s the sum of all these reactions that leaves an impression on your team members.

3. Be yourself

I used to believe that leadership was a cookie-cutter mold I needed to fit into. But over the years, I have seen lots of inspiring leaders own their uniqueness. It wasn’t conforming that made them great leaders – it was their quirks that made them authentic.

The suits, managerial buzzwords and demeanor I thought were so important as a graduate truly fell away once I continued with my career. After all, anyone can wear a blazer, but it takes something special to be a sincere, effective leader.

Sakshi says authenticity is important for all leaders

4. Never stop learning

I prefer not to spruik books or frameworks as I believe people need to formulate their own thinking, but I do recommend The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz. As a leader, you’ll need to have uncomfortable and difficult conversations. Ben’s book talks about how to tackle some of these hard conversations, and his writing style is very easy to read.

Reading and self-education in general are especially important for leaders. But don’t worry too much about following frameworks or only reading books that relate to your field. Rather, read about a variety of topics and you’ll find yourself expanding your general knowledge and critical thinking – which is invaluable for all aspects of life.

Want to learn about my role and hear about Telstra’s IoT journey? Watch the video below.

Ready to expand your professional horizons? Check out open roles at Telstra.

Bettina Marson is passionate about supporting women in technology roles.
Inspiration | Telstra Careers |

Inspiring the next generation of women in tech

By Bettina Marson March 5, 2020

All around the world, there are fewer women than men in technology fields. History has shown that a lack of diversity limits not only our own ways of thinking but how we work together as teams and how successful we are as companies.

In a world that is so diverse, it only makes sense that the tech industry would reflect this as well.

My path to becoming a UX/UI designer

Since I was little, I’ve been fascinated with technology and its power to enrich lives. As a child, technology seemed to grow up alongside me. Each year offered new innovations and opened my mind to a world of possibilities.

When it came to choosing my path at university, UX/UI design became a natural choice for me as I knew that technology could help make people’s dreams come true.

A day in my life as a UX/UI designer at Telstra

As a UX designer at Telstra, no two days are alike for me – just the way I like it.

UX/UI design is a combination of artistic creativity, human psychology and technology and every day gives me the opportunity to flex both my creative and analytical brain simultaneously.

Most of my time is spent on agile projects at different stages of production, so I can be doing anything from creating wireframes and finished UI, gathering insights from users, to writing research pieces and analyses.

The most exciting part of my role is seeing a product I’ve worked on make the journey from design, user testing, to implementation, and finally into the customer’s hands.

A recent project that’s given me great satisfaction is designing the UX/UI for one of our internal mobile applications. People can now see the availability of spaces on floors, book spaces and meeting rooms, and collaborate with colleagues. It’s made their lives easier and more productive – there is no greater reward than that.

Bettina Marson loves her technology role at Telstra

My advice for women looking to enter the tech field

A supportive team and great mentors go a long way in helping you break down the walls. No one person can succeed without the help and personal investment from others, so learning to cooperate and work together is key to successfully establishing a career and professional network.

Develop your skills to be brave, try new things, adapt and change rapidly. Be open-minded, try subjects and activities in STEM (science, technology, education and maths), and always look forward to failing fast, as failure is the only way we can learn to succeed.

How does Telstra champion women in tech?

There are many ways Telstra supports women in tech, both internally and in the wider community.

Within Telstra, we celebrate women in tech by raising awareness, providing women with opportunities to establish strong networks, and help them navigate their careers within the tech industry. Our Brilliant Connected Women network supports members and host events such as International Women’s Day. We regularly invite female tech leaders to share their stories and insights into achieving success in their chosen specialisations.

Telstra is part of the Male Champions of Change Founding Group, a gold sponsor for Chief Executive Women and a sponsor of Females in IT and Telecommunications.

Recognising the role that we have in changing the future, we’ve been involved with programs that reach school-age girls so that we can break down the systematic challenges women face in tech, highlighting STEM career paths and hosting groups such as code like a girl’.

Our goal for 2020

Several years ago, Telstra recognised a need for more female talent within the company. That is why it publicly committed to ensuring that recruitment and interview shortlists include at least 50 percent female representation or 25 per cent in some specified roles where there is a gender imbalance in the job market.

There are many initiatives that will help us get there:

  • Teams can collaborate online through tools like Microsoft Teams, Yammer and SharePoint. This inherently increases opportunities for many women who have families, who volunteer, and who have care-taking commitments that other employers may not accommodate.
  • We offer 16 weeks parental leave for both male and female employees.
  • The Telstra Graduate Program prides itself on attracting a diverse pool of top talent and actively encourages women to apply.

I am proud to be part of an organisation that has fully embraced diversity, celebrated change, and created a fairer, more open-minded and inclusive environment in which women can thrive.

For women looking to forge a path in technology, check out our jobs at Telstra.

Science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) skills are incredibly valuable in enabling us to solve complex problems.
Inspiration | Telstra Careers |

STEAM vs STEM: Redefining key skills for the future

By Kate Stewart January 14, 2020

At Telstra Vantage, I was thrilled to be part of a panel adjudicating high school students from regional and remote Australia pitching technology-based solutions for problems in their community.

What struck me was that, for most of these students, finding a meaningful solution to a real-world problem wasn’t rooted in in-depth technical knowledge, but rather a creative mindset and a drive to innovate.

It’s these human skills – creativity, innovation, problem-solving and the ability to grapple with diverse ideas – that are critical to the future of work both at Telstra and across industries.

At Telstra Vantage 2019, we invited high school students from regional Australia to take the stage and present their tech solutions to the real-world problems facing their communities.
At Telstra Vantage 2019, I was thrilled to be part of a panel adjudicating high school students from regional and remote Australia.

Putting the ‘A’ into STEM

Science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) skills are incredibly valuable in enabling us to solve complex problems. These skills form the basis of many of the tech roles Telstra has today.

However, in our increasingly tech-focused world we need to further consider what constitutes a well-rounded skillset. At Telstra, when we’re recruiting for a role in tech, what we look for isn’t just a technical degree or technical experience but also the right mindset. We want to delve into how a person understands customers, their approach to challenges, their resilience to failure and when things go wrong, and how they collaborate to solve complex problems. These holistic human skills can be defined as ‘Arts’ and STEM becomes STEAM.

We are living in a world with never before seen challenges and opportunities. The education sector from school to tertiary are recognising this and many are integrating and prioritising the ‘Arts’ alongside science, technology, engineering, and maths curriculums. STEAM skillsets and mindsets are increasingly critical in order to be an entrepreneur, leader, innovator or creator in the future of work and we want students to have all of these skills in order to thrive.

Championing learning, curiosity and exploration

When I reflect on my career, I realise that I’ve learnt so much by surrounding myself and observing people who are curious, creative and brave enough to question and to try something new. These people come from all walks of life with different backgrounds and career experiences. They often have a deep passion for their work and their life, are generous in sharing what they know and are open about what they’ve learnt along the way. I am grateful for their insights and impact on me.

At Telstra Vantage 2019 with our Head of the Telstra Foundation Jackie Coates
At Telstra Vantage 2019 with our Head of the Telstra Foundation Jackie Coates

At Telstra, we believe that everyone should have a voice and the ability to change things. Within my team, we all have different specialisations and backgrounds, and the way we work is by dissecting problems and iterating solutions together. Those key human skills like curiosity, creativity and collaboration are what allow us to tackle some of our most complex challenges.

As part of our accelerator and education programs in our Telstra Graduate Program, we work with students and graduates to provide holistic training, hands-on experience and mentoring that assists them to transition from campus and to thrive at work. With this approach, we hope to equip people with those critical skills and mindsets that they can carry with them throughout their careers.

I’m really proud of the work we’re doing around designing and developing the future workforce for Telstra, and delivering genuine value through education and learning for our employees.

Are you interested in or know someone who should apply for our Telstra Graduate Program? Applications open in March.

You can find out about our other Programs here.