Carmen EneAs CEO of 3stepIT and BNP Paribas 3 Step IT, Carmen is focused on one single objective: to take care of the world’s technology by helping businesses to manage IT more sustainably. 

Since 2015, Carmen has made it her mission to work with businesses across Europe to tackle the issue of corporate e-waste, with the two companies preventing more than half a million IT devices from being dumped or destroyed every year.

In 2019, she led 3stepIT’s joint venture with BNP Paribas Leasing Solutions, the strategic alliance which now provides sustainable technology lifecycle management services in France, UK, Italy, Belgium, Netherlands and Germany, with further market openings planned over the next 12 months.

Carmen also has more than 20-years’ worth of experience working in international IT and Finance, having held several positions at IBM including Vice President of Global Financing in Northeast Europe and Vice President of Enterprise in the Global Business Services.

Tell us a bit about yourself, background and your current role

I have over 20 years of experience working in international IT and finance. This includes holding senior executive positions at IBM including the role of General Manager of Global Financing in Italy, Vice President of Enterprise in the Global Business Services division, and Vice President of Global Financing in Northeast Europe.

After working at IBM for many years, in 2015 I was given the opportunity to join 3StepIT. I could see that 3Step was a company that had real ambitions to transform the way that their customers optimise the returns from their IT spending and maximise the lifecycle of IT equipment. Since then I’ve led the company’s growth across Europe, as we set about helping businesses to manage IT more efficiently and sustainably in a more cost-effective way. Each year we save thousands of  IT devices from being dumped or destroyed, while boosting business performance through our technology lifecycle management (TLM) solution.

Businesses across Europe use our service model to access, manage and refresh their IT devices, through our simple, secure and sustainable solution. This lowers the total cost of ownership of IT devices for organisations and ensures that when devices come to the end of their performance cycle, they have a sustainable way of replacing their old IT with newer models.

Over the past few years, we’ve experienced huge growth and demand for our services, and in 2019 we signed an ambitious partnership with BNP Paribas to take our TLM solution into new markets across Europe such as Germany, Belgium, Netherlands and France.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?   

Did I have ambition, yes, did I plan every step, no. You have to understand my background. I started my career as Romania was coming out of being trapped physically and economically in communism. After the company I had helped to create was bought by IBM my first objective was to discover the outside world and see where I’d be able to have impact. I moved with IBM to Vienna and after that I had the simple ambition to prove myself by doing the best I could in every job. There was no chess board, but I think I always managed to make the right moves!

Have you faced any career challenges along the way and how did you overcome these?

The most difficult moment was when I left Romania to take on a job in IT in Austria, where I had to deal with multiple layers of prejudice: firstly, I was a woman in a male dominated industry, and secondly I was coming from Eastern Europe into a Western European world, and people judged me for that. This was the case in London too, where being a woman was less of a barrier, but being an Eastern European working in Finance and IT meant I was still considered by some as an outsider.

Operating in such an environment is difficult, but I’ve always trusted in myself and my abilities. And this confidence has meant I’ve been able to prove initial doubters wrong. Humour has also been my biggest friend along the way. When somebody laughs with you, half the battle is won. This is something I have taken with me throughout my career.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

Striking the strategic alliance with BNP Paribas, a banking giant, was a great achievement for 3StepIT.  It has given us the opportunity to develop our capabilities and presence across Europe, positioning the company and its TLM solution as the go-to option for businesses to reduce e-waste while maintaining an organisation’s performance and productivity.

What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success? 

Resilience and determination. My father always showed me how important it is to be able to bounce back when you’re down. After a bad day at school he used to tell me: “Carmen, one kick in your back, two steps forward”. He would also always remind me to keep working hard, saying “Don’t give up, persevere and you will become so good that they cannot ignore you”.

What top tips would you give to an individual who is trying to excel in their career in technology?

Always think that something wonderful is about to happen. Dreaming and having the discipline to act on it helped me become what I am.

You also need to ensure you surround yourself with good people. I have had at least two inspirational managers that believed in me, encouraged me, gave me the right visibility and experiences that shaped me to who I am today. I still speak to both of them and seek advice from them from time to time.

Do you believe there are still barriers for success for women working in tech, if so, how can these barriers be overcome?

We need more women in senior roles. All of my bosses have been men – which speaks volumes about how many women there are in senior positions in Finance and IT. If we have greater visibility of women in senior roles, more women will be encouraged to choose these industries as their careers.

What do you think companies can do to support the progress and the careers of women working in technology?

For a long time, I did not agree with quotas and targets being the solution to helping women progress. I wanted to be seen as a person who can contribute, not as someone who counts towards a quota. Now I am changing my perspective. Overall quotas may not work, but I think companies should be looking at the position of women at a more granular level. Setting themselves a target for how many women they have working in IT will both support the progress of women and improve the returns they receive from IT investments.

There is currently only 17 percent of women working in tech, if you could wave a magic wand, what is the one thing you would do to accelerate the pace of change for women in the industry?

I would wave my wand and women would not be frightened of entering this industry and instead understand how much they have to contribute by bringing different skills, perspectives and energies. When women believe that men will believe it too and this will also filter down into education and career advice.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech?

I would recommend the same approach to anybody working in tech. Stay as close as possible to all sources of ideas that will drive your imagination and talk to as many people as possible who are faced with your own challenges.

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