Nicky Tozer As Oracle NetSuite’s EMEA Vice President, I’m responsible for driving sales strategy, operations, and building and leading a world class organisation across Europe, the Middle East and Africa, taking our strong footprint in the region to another level.

Prior to this role, I led Oracle NetSuite in Northern Europe, and established NetSuite’s presence across Benelux and the Nordics.

Before NetSuite, I spent 5 years working within the Oracle Applications business across the Manufacturing, Retail and Distribution industry sectors. I now have over 20 years of experience in the IT industry and have worked across a number of disciplines in the field of ERP, CRM, EPM and Business Intelligence. I’ve also got two degrees in the fields of Management Science and Psychology.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

Well, I was originally looking for a career that would fit with my degree. I went to Keele University and took a Management Science degree with French and German, which set me up well to start out in my career – learning the ins and outs of business and with the ability to apply those skills on a more international level. The role that got me to where I am today was working as a receptionist at a software company. I worked hard, and was asked to join the telemarketing team, which is where I got my first job in sales and started on the path I’m still on today.

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

For me, staying focused on what needs achieving – in spite of barriers and hurdles – has made me the professional that I am today. There is a perception that technology is a traditionally male-dominated field, but I never considered my career trajectory in terms of being a woman in a predominantly male environment. It may sound a little blasé, but I always got on with doing my job to the best of my abilities and I’m proud of my achievements. That isn’t to underplay the fact that, across all industries and professions, there is much to do to ensure men and women are consistently on an equal footing.

I try to see both sides of a potential barrier. The predominantly male tech environment never represented a major problem. There were times when I would walk in as the only female sales rep with my team, and, often, everyone would direct the questions at the guys. But I found that when there was an opportunity to say something credible, they would say, ‘she knows what she’s talking about’ and opinions quickly changed. Also, being female meant they remembered me.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

I’m very proud to have been entrusted to lead NetSuite across the EMEA region. Seeing the success that we’ve had as an organisation feels very meaningful. I also have a lot of pride in how our employees have adapted to the experiences that 2020 has thrown at us. It’s also been great to have been recognised by peers too, being named in CRN’s 2020 Women of the Channel, and having been shortlisted for Business Leader of the Year at the Women in IT Awards earlier this year.

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

I’ve benefitted greatly from seeking support from other like-minded professionals. One-on-one mentoring allows women to focus on their career paths and their own strengths and aspirations. Throughout my career, I have got to know many ambitious women – one of my closest friends is the CFO of a bank and her insights have given me a lot of direction and motivation over the years. It’s these natural relationships that I encourage women to nurture and draw inspiration from.

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

The strongest bit of advice I can give to any woman wanting to get to the top of their profession is this: you – and only you – will be the person responsible for your success. Consider your strengths and weaknesses, what you want to achieve and acknowledge where the challenges are; but don’t make them the thing that defines you. Understand that these challenges may be barriers and work out how to navigate them. Talk to people, whether it’s a mentor or a confident person in your peer group who can help you highlight what you have to offer. If you are skilled at what you do, and can provide supporting evidence for your proposals, people have to listen.

It’s true there are some industries that are harder to crack for women, and I don’t want to shy away from that. But in my mind, it is always better to focus on what you want to achieve than what might hold you back. When you focus on what might inhibit you, you risk expending energy on the wrong things.

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

I actually reflected on this very topic in a piece I wrote on International Women’s Day earlier this year. My summation was this – gender balance is improving, but we can still do better. While clearly there’s still a long way to go – take for example the female astronauts denied the opportunity to take part in the first all-female spacewalk because spacesuits were not designed with them in mind – we are seeing a wider pattern of continued change that is equipping future generations of women.

Historical imbalances can’t be changed, but incremental, consistent progress will ensure that equality is achieved. It’s my responsibility to hire a diverse group. Then we coach them to be the best, most confident individuals they can be, by providing an environment that allows that talent to come forward.

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

Once women (or men) do get into the technology industry, they may find it daunting. This is where mentorship is critical. Within Oracle, for over 14 years now groups like the Oracle Women’s Leadership Group (OWL) and Oracle Pride Employee Network (Open) have been on a mission to develop, engage and empower current and future generations of leaders within the business, allowing employees to develop their skills through workshops, webinars and support networks. These programmes deliver a tangible way for women – and men – to support one another.

There is currently only 17% 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 wrote last year about the need to harness girls’ interests in STEM subjects. Instilling this confidence and belief in ‘traditional’ male fields has to start at an early age.

If I look at my career, I was the only woman in every room for a lot of it. We can also help the ones that are there to improve faster. Developing confidence and belief in women has to start at school.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech?

Sifted does a great job of covering issues around diversity and inclusion in the startup sector. The Women in Technology Online Festival recently brought together a great range of speakers and will do so again next year. It’s also great to hear from women at the top of their fields as well. I’ve read books by Sheryl Sandberg and Michelle Obama to name a few. The amount of content out there is amazing, and continually growing. The only challenging bit is finding the time!

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