Kamales LardiMy name is Kamales Lardi and I am the entrepreneur behind Lardi & Partner Consulting GmbH.

I have been described as a bold and strategic thinker in digital and business transformation – since establishing Lardi & Partner Consulting GmbH in 2012, I have advised many multinational companies across various industries in Europe, Asia and Mauritius, providing them with smart digital transformation strategies. Recently my company was awarded the Business Worldwide Magazine 2020 Global Corporate Excellence Award for ‘Digital Business Transformation Firm of the Year’.

I aspire to make an impact with my work not just within industry but in society as well. Lardi & Partner Consulting is not my first start-up venture, I’m also the founder of  BloomBloc, providing strategic advisory support for blockchain implementation. This has allowed me to use digital tech solutions to help tackle some of the world’s most pressing problems. During my days with BloomBloc, I worked with the Malaysian government, implementing a blockchain-based solution to enable the traceability of palm oil through the supply chain.

Outside of consulting, I am a Teaching Fellow and Chairperson of the MBA Advisory Board at Durham University Business School, where I also gained my MBA in 2004. I’m also a lecturer for Blockchain Application in Supply Chain Management at HWZ Zurich University of Business Administration.

I am a strong advocate for diversity in the tech sector. I believe that diversity of knowledge, culture, gender, sexual orientation and experience plays a critical role in developing technology solutions that have a transformative impact in business and society.

It helps to have established a platform from which to further this cause; I was recently recognised as Top 10 Global Thought Leaders and Influencers in Digital Transformation (Thinkers360), made a member of the Forbes Business Council, and Chair of the Forbes Women Executives group.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

I have always had a clear vision of where I wanted to go and what I wanted to achieve in my career, however, the actual journey has been very different! I had always planned to have an extended corporate career, and had successfully pursued this path within top management consulting firms – rising through the ranks to become Head of Deloitte Digital Switzerland. However, once I became a parent it seemed I was expected to take a step back in my career. I said “absolutely not”. If I wasn’t going to be offered progression within a large firm, I’d secure it for myself. I decided to take control of my time and career path by starting my own firm instead. Maybe brave, maybe crazy! Fortunately, it worked.

I like to believe that the obstacles and changes in our lives are all detours in the right direction. Although my initial plans did change, I have stayed true to my vision and core values and could never have imagined the range of experiences and successes that I have achieved over the past 21 years.

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

Definitely, and I believe that challenges and failures are an important part of the journey. There is a learning in every experience, and I would encourage women to focus on failing fast, learning fast, and moving forward. Admittedly, this was much harder for me to do earlier in my career, however, as a business owner I found I could not afford to dwell too long on failures, if I wanted to ultimately succeed. I needed to keep myself motivated, learn from missteps and focused on the end goal.

Some of the challenges I have faced relate to the learning curve after moving from a corporate job to being a business owner. For example, as a business owner, I had to cover a broader scope of work (marketing/PR, business development, brand building, client management, team management, engagement management & delivery etc), compared to a corporate role. To overcome them, I had to build new skills as well as learn to manage my time and prioritize effectively. Other challenges relating to bias in tech and women in leadership were a little harder to manage. I had to learn not to take unconscious bias too personally, but address it boldly rather than diminish myself in the face of it. Another constant lesson was to treat every experience, good and bad,  as a learning opportunity, for myself as well as for others.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

There have been many significant milestones that I have been proud of, including establishing an award-winning consultancy firm, building my profile as a recognized global thought leader and influencer, as well as delivering transformative initiatives in important areas – such as the blockchain-based traceability solution for the palm oil supply chain. However, I would say the one achievement that stands out for me is to be recognized as an authentic and passionate leader and advisor by clients and teams that I work with. The is the highest recognition for me, as it shows that the vision and values I live by have left a lasting impact and inspired other people.

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

I believe that the major factors for my success have been staying true to my core values – authenticity, passion, and a focus on delivering high-quality value. Also, as technology is developing at an accelerated pace, I have embraced continuous learning by making sure to stay up to date with key trends and developments in the market, as well as upskill myself in the latest technology developments. As an entrepreneur, I’ve also found that it’s important to learn when to ask for help. I’ve had business coaches and business mentors over the years who’ve helped me to build my profile and to grow. Knowing the value of that mentor support drove my decision to become an MBA mentor at Durham University Business School. Mentors and mentees have a lot to offer each other – so it’s been mutually beneficial.

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

One tip that I would offer based on my own experience is not only to build deep expertise in technology, but to also build a deep and thorough understanding for application of technology across industries and business areas. The ability to combine deep expertise with pragmatic application is a sought-after skill, and can help one stand out in the highly competitive technology space.

Another tip would be to connect and network with the top global thought leaders in this space to stay informed on latest developments and learn from their experiences. Thought leaders and global experts are active and easily accessible on social platform such as Twitter and LinkedIn.

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

I do believe there is still as certain level of bias, conscious or unconscious, in the field of tech, and related issues that come with that bias. This could relate to a range of challenges such as women getting less opportunities in the field, not receiving the credibility or recognition that they deserve for their work, or even manifest in the technology solutions being developed because of the lack of diversity in the development teams. This challenge should be addressed at various levels in order to be effective, including education, support and deliberate actions and policies to enhance diversity – not just across gender but in every area.

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

I believe the first step for companies would be to create awareness and acknowledge that the issue exists, as well as identify where the specific challenges lay in relation to their business environment. Companies could also represent the topic of diversity at the strategic level, recognizing its positive impact in commercial business value. In addition, prioritizing diversity as part of the corporate culture by instilling key behaviours in the company, measuring, and incentivizing positive outcomes. This process, like any transformation, will take time, effort and commitment, however it is critical for companies to drive this change.

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?

I believe there are many initiatives that have been already put in place, as well as champions for change who are working hard to drive change in the technology landscape. If I had a magic wand, the one thing I would change would be mindsets and unconscious bias. There are still some deep-rooted beliefs and misconceptions about the abilities of women in the tech industry, which can be a barrier to progress for businesses as well as technology development. I believe that in order to leverage emerging technologies to build sustainable, transformative solutions that can benefit the world, we need diverse teams of people involved.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech?

WeAreTechWomen has a back catalogue of thousands of Inspirational Woman interviews, including Professor Sue Black OBE, Debbie Forster MBE, Jacqueline de Rojas CBE, Dr Anne-Marie Imafidon MBE and many more. You can read about all our amazing women here