As Director of Professional Services at Hootsuite, Dipti Dey has joined a company which empowers women to fulfil their potential.

As a leader and firm believer in mentorships, Dipti believes Hootsuite is making great strides to improves its diversity and inclusivity in the workplace. It hasn’t always been like this for Dipti in the technology industry though. Whilst Dipti has been fortunate during her time at Cision, the technology industry as a whole can be debilitating for women’s confidence. Over the years, Dipti has seen many women, including herself, fail to recognise their worth and not step up for positions they are more than qualified to do. Dipti believes that women are too focused on ticking all the boxes before they progress, but this isn’t what’s important nor is it what men do when they are in similar scenarios. Showing confidence, taking risks and learning as you go is an important way for women to progress in the technology industry especially as businesses become more conscious than ever to diversify their leadership teams.

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

I have always considered myself a changemaker, and that’s the reason I joined the tech industry, as change is always guaranteed.

I have been at Hootsuite for nearly four years now, and I have worked my way from Professional Services Manager for Customer Success to Director of Professional Services across EMEA. As this was a new role in the organisation, it really gave me the opportunity to make the job my own and carve out a place for myself as a female leader within the company. Over the past four years, I have had the privilege of seeing the company evolve into a more female-led organisation that champions diversity and encourages women to be ambitious.

Before Hootsuite, I worked at Cision for nearly fifteen years. I started out as a contributor and left heading up the customer success division, and I think that was a real career-defining moment for me.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

When I first started my career, I didn’t really have a clear career plan. It’s only when I landed my first management role that it changed. I had the responsibility of making my team successful and to do so meant getting plans in place!

When I had my son, I created a 5 year career plan which I wanted to achieve in 2 years. I wanted to work for a company that was considered a game changer in its field and held strong values that I could relate to. That’s why I joined Hootsuite in 2015. Making my son proud was a big part of my career plan too. Whilst the role I took at Hootsuite was a step down in seniority, I knew I would love working at the company and embrace the challenges I would face. I had the ambition that within two years I would work my way up to Director level – and here we are!

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

I have been very lucky in the sense I have worked with some hugely supportive male leaders throughout my career, who championed female leadership and encouraged movement up the career ladder. But that’s not saying I had an easy ride, like most women in the industry I had to fight to be noticed and that was a challenge. Early in my career I definitely also struggled with having the confidence to step up and put myself out there, but as I learnt to believe in myself, understood what I could bring to the table that was different from everyone else, and began to see which direction I could take the business, I started to be judged on my credibility and not my gender or race, and that’s got me to where I am today.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

It’s definitely hiring and promoting all the talented individuals I work beside. Many of those that I have mentored over my 15 + years of experience in tech have developed and become highly successful people leaders in global organisations, which makes me very proud!

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

That’s easy, it’s down to two words: Hard work! There are no shortcuts to success and that’s a fact. It’s something I tell all of the individuals I mentor – you have to put in the hours, show commitment and be determined to get the best results. You can’t be afraid of failure, and above all, as a female leader, self-believe is absolutely key.

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

The number one tip I can offer to someone in the tech industry is to be confident in yourself and what you can offer, because there will be times when you’re the only person that does. If you are resilient, hardworking and determined to excel, there really is no reason why you can’t. The industry is heading in the right direction when it comes to diversity, and I personally cannot wait to see where it will be in 20 years from now.

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

Yes, I do believe there are definitely barriers to success for women working in tech, and while the industry has developed, it still has a long way to go. Having said that, I do think something can be said for hard work, doing your research and showing resilience. It is so important for women entering the industry to know their worth, and not being afraid to step up. I often see young, capable women who won’t put their hand up because they don’t think they’re fit for the role, and it’s a real shame. You don’t get anywhere in life without taking a few risks.

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

There are plenty of things companies can now do to ensure they are supporting women working hard in the technology industry. It needs to come from leadership, having someone in charge of inclusion and diversity, who has the first-hand experience of the issues in the industry, and is passionate about making a change. Hootsuite has definitely stepped up its game in recent years, and we now have Heidi Rolston who looks after inclusion and diversity, across the business.

Something we do regularly at Hootsuite is to bring together all female leadership, across every different department, to brainstorm what is working well at the company, lessons to be learnt and how we can improve in the future. These sessions are led by our Chief Marketing Officer, Penny Wilson who is hugely inspirational to me and a great role model for everyone within the industry.

The brainstorm sessions ensure we get multiple different viewpoints on how we can support women, instead of it coming straight from the top down. These brainstorms resulted in the company creating a female mentorship program which is soon to trial launch in Vancouver, as a way for junior women in the industry to learn skills from women at the heart of it.

There is currently only 15% 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?

The first thing I would do is change the recruitment process to be more inclusive. At Hootsuite, we strive to make the recruitment process as inclusive as possible. We don’t just consider gender, but other intersections like race and sexuality etc. It’s important that the industry as a whole does the same. Making the recruitment process inclusive for all, and setting up the company that it’s a welcoming environment. Having said that, it’s great to see more high profile roles in tech go to female leaders, such as Susan Wojcicki, CEO at YouTube, Ginni Rommetty, CEO at IBM and Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, does make me more hopeful that things are slowly changing.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech?

In terms of podcasts, I love to listen to ‘Witty: Women in Tech Talk to Yaz”. It’s a bi-monthly podcast about women disrupting the technology industry, including the challenges women face in the industry and their first exposure to tech. The conversations are genuine and the humour is smart, it’s a refreshing take on addressing the issues within the industry head-on.

When it comes to books, one of my favourites is Indra Nooyi’s biography. She has been a huge inspiration for me throughout my career, and her book is no exception. Other authors include Steve Jobs, he’s extremely insightful and his books are highly informative. I’m also a  huge fan of Start with Why by Simon Sinek and The Wolfpack by Abby Wambach.