Marina RuggieriI am a full professor of telecommunications engineering at the University of Roma “Tor Vergata” and chief strategic innovation officer of CTIF, an interdisciplinary research center on information and communications technology and its verticals.

In addition to this, I am principal investigator of the 40/50 GHz TPD#5 communications experiment on board the satellite Alphasat, an IEEE technical expert and fellow for contributions to millimeter-wave satellite communications.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

I have taken some key-decisions in crucial moments and then followed the logical and practical path forward. For example, I decided to run for an academic position of research and teaching assistant after winning a competition. I intrinsically strived forward for the position of professor, but only when I have felt fully ready for it.

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

Sure, as I believe everyone has. In the presence of big challenges, I try to concentrate and focus on the goal and understand the nature for any obstacles along the way. I have also tried to remain humble, because this approach is a strong ally in identifying your own mistakes and weak points, and thus improving.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

The context to become a full professor. I started my academic career when I was pretty young and, consequently, both the context for the position of associate professor and full professor happened when I was still young both in age and in comparison to most of my colleagues in the same role. It has been a big challenge but also an immense joy.

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

Enthusiasm and determination – this is an important blend for most activities. Obviously, to be determined is a promising asset, but determination mixed with passion, enthusiasm and inspiration is another matter!

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

Technology is a neutral ally and an enabler of promising potentials for humanity. We have the opportunity to shape technology for either the most benefit or the most damage. The pandemic has taught us a huge lesson to us all. Those are the starting thoughts to shape a career in technology being both useful and sensitive to the urgent needs of humanity and the planet.

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

I am not aware of the specific barriers in the tech environment. What I have sometimes experienced in my professional activity has been to be the first woman to cover specific roles.

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

Allies of effectiveness and harmony in a working environment can support any career progress. To this respect, meritocracy is always the best approach. Furthermore, as mentioned, technology is neutral and this characteristic is an advantage in terms of diversity and inclusiveness. Finally, the pandemic has shown that smart working can be a valuable asset and might become a systemic support to parents.

There is 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?

I would organise events focused on the neutrality of technology and the consequent responsibility and beauty of becoming an experts who can shape technology for the benefit of the world. This argument should be irresistible to anyone!

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech?

The main resource I would recommend is curiosity, which allows individuals to identify the topics, events and reading materials of interest. Sustainability and the urgency to implement it properly should be the driving force to focus on the right topics and contribute to the right tracks. I would say taking the time to read technical books is essential as they are a source of ideas which increase awareness around what needs to be done to meet the ambitious goals of saving our future.

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