DiversityMicro Focus CMO Genefa Murphy has experienced many twists and turns on her journey to become chief marketing officer to one of the world’s top 10 enterprise software companies.

Here she talks about the state of play for diversity in the technology sector, the role digital transformation can play in creating a working environment where inclusion, diversity and belonging can thrive and the experiences that have shaped her own career path.

The technology industry, the pioneers, the inventors, the early adopters. In many ways the technology industry is ahead of the game – forging forward faster than many other sectors in terms of developing new solutions, new approaches and new talent. It is undeniable that inclusion and diversity, including the role of women in leadership, is finally having its moment in the tech spotlight, with the CEO of Oracle, executive chairman of IBM and the CEOs of YouTube, PagerDuty, TaskRabbit plus many more tech giants all being female. However, despite this progress, there is still more work to do. While it’s great to see more companies being transparent and embracing the broader inclusion and diversity agenda as well as being open and honest about what they are doing to support the cause, the fact remains that in many cases a person’s gender, race or sexual orientation is the descriptor that defines them – not their skills or capabilities. This is particularly acute amongst the underrepresented minorities who still have to fight harder and longer to attain equality.

The tech industry and tech employers have a huge opportunity to be beacons of best practice when it comes to inclusion and diversity. So much of our lives centre on the digital age that tech employers can “lend their privilege” – to borrow a phrase from fellow tech leader Anjuan Simmons – to the wider community and the broader markets to help further the agenda.

In that context, digital transformation also presents another major opportunity. Digital transformation by its very nature opens borders, diversifies candidate pools and helps bring a broader variety of talent to the table, because jobs are no longer dependent on location but on access. Social prejudices often prevalent in face to face encounters are replaced with digital “anonymous” exchanges, and artificial intelligence done right can help organisations remove biases from tasks such as candidate screening. By embracing this and making diversity and inclusion – or broader social responsibility – a core part of who a company is, employers have the opportunity to create a more empathetic, transparent workforce and a working environment where inclusion, diversity and belonging can thrive. This in turn can become the starting point for a highly successful overall strategy. After all, as research will tell us, the organisations that can create brand intimacy which is built on relationships of reciprocity can expect their customers to be more loyal and they can develop more price resiliency.

My own career path to the C-Suite has taken many twists, turns and stops along the way. Yet with each opportunity I have been able to learn a new skill, see opportunities through a different lens and gain additional perspectives. That variety of role at different levels and the importance of taking next steps which were lateral as well as more senior have been my guiding principles when looking for my next role or opportunity. My goal was never to make it to the C-suite. It was to be the best at my job and develop a rounded backlog of experiences, perspectives and relationships that I could call upon to complete the tasks at hand, whether they were small or large. I wanted to be able to earn the seat at the table and know that I earned it through hard work and determination, and then use that knowledge to add value so that even when others may have doubted me, I could believe in myself. That’s why I purposefully picked roles which were adjacent to one other: from a researcher completing my PhD to a consultant so that I could shift from learning about technology to implementing it; from a consultant to product manager so that I could turn theory into reality and create instead of implement; from a product manager to a marketer so that I could learn how to connect with customers through words and creative story-telling instead of the technology alone.

One common theme throughout all the roles I have taken to get to the C-suite is the importance of relationships and building a network. It is that network, and making every twist and turn – whether good or bad – into an opportunity to learn, be better, adapt and create my own personal approach that has made me who I am and gotten me to where I am today. Yet there is still more to go, more to learn and many more winding roads to travel.

About the author

Genefa MurphyGenefa Murphy is the chief marketing officer for Micro Focus, one of the world’s top 10 enterprise software companies. The role provides a unique position to work across Micro Focus’ 40,000 global customers and partners who face the challenge of being able to run and transform their business.

In her role, Genefa and team define the narrative for Micro Focus in the market, and represent the voice of the customer back into the organisation; influencing product direction, Go-To-Market (GTM) models, and ensuring Micro Focus provides its customers with a unique and prescriptive point of view on how to address the challenges of today’s hyper competitive market. As CMO, Genefa is also responsible for ensuring the success of Micro Focus’s own Digital Transformation – helping the company to make the technology selections that will enable Micro Focus to advance its own engagement with customers.

Genefa has more than 12 years’ experience across various disciplines in the field of technology from consulting, to product management and strategy. Previously, Genefa was the global vice president of corporate marketing and enablement. Genefa holds a BSc in Business IT and a PhD in New Technology Adoption.

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