Julia FraserWith more than 20 years of experience in the technology industry, Julia leads a team of Sales, Customer Support and Sales Engineers at CenturyLink, a global technology company that operates one of the world’s largest and most interconnected networks.

Her team deliver secure and reliable hybrid networking, cloud connectivity, and security solutions to meet the growing digital demands of businesses, with a focus on delivering technology that enhances the customer experience.

Julia is a strong advocate for the power of technology to transform business and improve lives, customer-first service excellence, and diversity and inclusion.

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

My technology career started at Symbian, a smartphone software start-up during the late 1990s. It was an exciting experience that inspired me to continue my journey in this industry. We made the internet available on a phone years before an iPhone was even created.

Now at CenturyLink, I’m Vice President of Sales for the UK and Ireland, responsible for a team that delivers innovative digital business technology solutions and manages more than a thousand customer relationships.

A customer first approach is one of our company’s key differentiators. We are focused on delivering exceptional customer service, including advancing automation and customer self-service to continue to enhance the ease with which customers can access and utilise our network platform.

On top of my day to day role, I’m also extremely proud to support our company’s diversity and inclusion strategy. CenturyLink actively promotes inclusion as an integral part of our corporate culture – and as a key contributor to our success. ‘Champions diversity’ is one of our employee goals. We recognise that creating an environment where everyone feels empowered and respected, helps us to fulfil our potential and to deliver the best solutions for our customers.

A recent company-wide initiative has been to train staff in unconscious bias awareness. I also lead mentoring groups to develop and encourage female talent across our business. We want to attract and retain the best people and these types of programmes help us do that.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

My career hasn’t always been linear. I initially studied law at university. The potential for technology to transform the way we work and live, sparked my passion to change paths.

My legal knowledge has proved extremely useful in my technology career, but I’ve never looked back. Today, more than ever before, expanding digital demands mean that the technology industry is an area of growth and innovation. It never stands still, which is why it’s such an exciting industry to be part of.

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

It can be a challenge to maintain a healthy balance between your personal and professional life, particularly when you have young children and a demanding career. I learned early on that you need to effectively prioritize your work and leverage agile ways of working, in order to protect your personal time. If you can get that right, you are also a more productive and inspirational business leader.

I am a strong advocate of initiatives that allow employees to work smarter for a better work-life balance. In my experience, technology companies tend to be more progressive than many other sectors in offering flexible working time options and opportunities for mobile working. With technologies such as video conferencing, group chat, and collaboration software, employees do not need to be face-to-face to successfully communicate or meet their business goals.

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

Having the confidence to step up and make things happen.

I’ve always believed that regardless of your gender, achieving success is about working hard and taking on new and challenging projects to build your knowledge and skills. It’s about continuously learning and ensuring that you are visible by jumping at opportunities within your organisation and industry.

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

While there is still more to be done to erase gender inequality, the technology industry has made significant progress. Today, many tech companies are working hard to attract top female talent to accommodate the industry’s accelerating growth.

A key hurdle that I come across is cultural, and broader than a technology industry issue. In my experience, women often underestimate their abilities, which means they can miss out on opportunities. It’s well documented that women wait until they are certain that they meet 100% of skills required in a job description before they apply for positions. I encourage women to push themselves out of their comfort zones and consider roles where they don’t have all the criteria nailed. Take the chance, go for the job and learn as you grow.

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

Best-in-class employers understand that equality is not the responsibility of women, it’s an issue for everyone. Senior leaders have a vital role to play in steering diversity and inclusion policy and culture strategy. It’s also essential to engage employees at every level, to accelerate progress.

Initiatives such as employee resource Group’s (ERGs) can be incredibly successful in bringing like-minded people together across a company to learn, develop and enact change to help foster a diverse and inclusive workplace.

CenturyLink’s largest ERG, Women Empowered, has more than 2,700 members in seventeen countries. Membership continues to grow, the group increased by approximately 35 percent in the past year. It’s a vibrant group of employees who we increasingly draw on for input to key employee focused initiatives.

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