Maria Moraes RobinsonMaria Moraes Robinson is CEO (Brazil) of Holonomics and coauthor of Deep Tech and the Amplified Organisation: How to elevate, scale and amplify your business through the New 4Ps of platforms, purpose, people and planet.

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

I am the CEO (Brazil) of business consultancy Holonomics and I advise CEOs and top teams on how to elevate their enterprises. We scale our knowledge globally through Holonomics Publishing, and we amplify impact through our Deep Tech Network, which is our centre of excellence for research and thought leadership in the conception, design and implementation of deep technologies. I am also the co-author of three books, Deep Tech and the Amplified Organisation, Customer Experiences with Soul and Holonomics: Business Where People and Planet Matter.

I truly believe in the power and central role of education. One of our largest and most important projects is developing a deep tech educational platform designed to empower people and their communities by giving them access to high quality content and information in a way that allows them to develop personally as well as professionally.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

From an early age I always knew that my mission was to help people do their best and help society to improve and become more purposeful. I studied economics to help me achieve this. I’ve always studied intensely to ensure I’m up to date and able to understand technological and human systems.  I’ve always evaluated my progress consciously so I can tell when the best time to move in a new direction is. I’ve been lucky in that at every stage of my career I’ve been able to find opportunities that have been fully consistent with my values and allowed me to put into practice all that I believe in.

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

Those moments when I felt I had to change direction were certainly the most challenging, especially when faced with pressure from those who I was working with to accept a promotion and stay where I was. To overcome these challenges, I always prepared myself before making any major change.

The way I have done this has been to always really understand the characteristics of the intended change without judgement, by removing any potential bias before comparing it with alternative options, and also trying to understand what I will need to develop in order to  act within the new context.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

I think my biggest success is having been able to find a way to put into practice all the experience and professional knowledge that I have gained within a consultancy context. This has come through having studied so widely, allowing me to understand how people and organisations are really able to change in challenging moments, and also having the maturity to help both young and experienced leaders by really listening to them, understanding them and have more meaningful dialogues with them.

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

I think the single biggest factor has been the investment I’ve made in self-knowledge. This discipline has allowed me to better understand who I am and how to best cope in times of change. I feel that this personal understanding of change has really equipped me to achieve success in helping people and organisations lead through change and deal with periods of transformation.

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

The most important thing to learn is to never think of technology without understanding the context in which it will be utilised and deployed. This will allow you to discover its underlying purpose, inspire you and help you to understand how to develop it.

Don’t think about technology as something higher than humanity. Never lose the human perspective. Technology should be in service to humanity, rather than the other way around.

And finally, check your ego and always be open to new ways of thinking. This will help you to hear a more diverse range of voices and to think about technology in a far broader and more open manner.

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

The challenges facing women in tech are the same challenges facing women in many other areas. In tech and innovation contexts, women’s voices are often not heard, especially when they are in the minority. Organisations lose a huge amount of value by not respecting the talents, knowledge and ideas of women.

Women therefore need to develop their leadership skills, as this will help them to articulate their convictions and ensure they are respected.

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

Organisations need to promote innovation cultures which genuinely value the ideas of people, independently of their gender. Secondly, they need to invest in authentic dialogues and conversations to allow people to express their beliefs and ideas in spaces where they will truly be heard. And finally, companies need to be open to promoting women into positions of leadership and support them in these roles.

There are currently only 17 per cent 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 one thing I’d love to be able to do is to erase the myth that women do not have a natural vocation for science and technology. This came about due to the fact that historically these opportunities were not open to women, not because women aren’t naturally suited to a career in STEM and deep tech.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech?

A book I always recommend to women is Your Lion Inside: Discover the Power Within and Live Your Fullest Life by Kimberly Faith. This provides an amazing resource for women, helping them to change the way they think about themselves, to become stronger and achieve their full potential. Kimberly also runs an excellent podcast, The Sisterhood Report, which provides new perspectives on female empowerment.

It is also important for women to join female-led technology communities of practice to help them develop their tech skills and knowledge within an environment that supports them and allows them to share their challenges. One example of this type of tech community for women is which provides support while also innovating in the area of UX design.