Pri Bamford

Priyanka is Head of Business Sales at LilaConnect, (the gigabit full fibre expert, bringing the best in digital connectivity to homes, businesses and entire communities across the UK).

Priyanka is extremely well-versed in business development, with a rich level of experience within the tech sector, as a whole. She also has a vast variety of experience in strategic planning, business development and client relations.

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

I was born in India, where education is a huge part of our culture. As a result, continuous learning has always been important to me. I first began studying History in India, and later moved to the US to study finance. These experiences certainly reflect in my background, as well as where I find myself now.

My first role in the UK was in 2016 as a Customer Relationship Manager at a pension company. It was shortly after that I found my way into fibre sales, working for an ISP provider out of Cambridge.

Since then, I’ve been working at digital infrastructure company VX Fiber. During this time, I’ve been part of the Prime Fibre project – working closely with the Grosvenor Estate to transform Mayfair and Belgravia’s digital infrastructure  – to setting up the company’s consumer division, which is now still running incredibly successfully under very capable hands. I’m now Head of Business Sales at VX Fiber’s subsidiary, LilaConnect. This is an incredible opportunity to set up a whole new channel within the company, and the start of the next phase of my journey with this brilliant team.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

As you can probably imagine from my background, I really didn’t have a plan. After I had my kids, I decided I wanted to study a little bit more. I then went back to get my masters in International Relations.

From my first job in fibre, I knew I’d found my niche and the area I wanted to build my future in. Today, it’s the sector that everyone wants to be in and it’s an incredibly exciting time for this industry, and actually particularly for women.

The industry has been incredibly male-dominated in the past, but the drive by those within the sector to be more inclusive and diverse is slowly starting to bear fruit. We’re seeing a more innovative and forward-thinking future develop that will hopefully leverage a variety of different voices to enable it to grow and flourish.

That’s why it’s important to me that I show young girls what opportunities are available in this sector. There are such incredible pathways and fruitful careers to be found here. But as with my experience, it takes an open-mind, a thirst for knowledge and a passion to help drive transformation.

Have you faced any challenges along the way? 

Being a woman in a male-dominated industry inevitably comes with its challenges. As women, we have always had to try extra hard to be seen and heard by our male counterparts.

Tides are turning, and the work of the Women in Fibre Committee of the FTTH council for example, is helping to challenge preconceived stereotypes and encourage a shift in mindset about women in fibre.  However, of course, progress is a slower journey than what we’d like. We’ve got a long way to go – and it won’t be straightforward, but if we all play our part then we can make the much needed transformation happen.

At LilaConnect we have more and more women on our management team and the difference that makes to attract and retain women in business is monumental. Especially considering, it’s seeing women in these senior positions that shows others that it is possible in the first place.

What has been your biggest achievement to date?

I don’t want to list one, because I’m proud of my overall journey. It was incredibly rewarding to start at VX Fiber and progress to where I am now, leading this new division within LilaConnect.

Particularly because I came back to work in 2016 from a sabbatical. We moved around because of my husband’s role, and I made the decision to focus on my children and be a mum. I made a lot of sacrifices in that era career-wise, but it only makes me more proud of what my boys will have seen of my progression. They’ve seen me settle my family, then get back in the game and achieve what I have.

I’d love full-time mum’s to know that it’s one of the most important and rewarding jobs in the world. And going back to a senior role after having time off is very much of an option, if that’s what you want. We need to make sure that we push for the recognition we deserve and be proud of the choices we make that are right for us at that time. We need to support each other in our decisions – we rise by lifting others.

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

It goes back to the fundamentals, I was given that opportunity by my parents to be given the education and life-experiences. Ultimately, to broaden my horizons. Had I not had such a rich CV, especially after my sabbatical, I wonder if I’d have been given the chance to show what I was capable of. I owe everything I have to education.

How do you feel about mentoring? Have you mentored anyone, or are you someone’s mentee?

I think mentorship is something that holds such great value, in personal and professional circumstances. Young people are the future, and I would love to promote professional learning from a younger age, especially for women, who could change the face of fibre in the future.

If you could change one thing to accelerate the pace of change for Gender? 

Mindset. In the past, I’ve been subject to sexual jokes at my expense (of course this is not in reference to this current organisation). As I’m sure is the case with many women in business, in most cases, you have to simply brush this off. However, there is a deeper step change that needs to happen – it should be clear that comments such as this are not funny nor acceptable to say in the workplace.

I’m fortunate to work in a company where that does not happen. I’m in an incredibly supportive team. However, I know it does happen to women all over the world and unless women and men work together to stamp this behaviour out, change will not progress as quickly as we would like.

If you could give one piece of advice for your younger self, what would it be?

I have lived a life that my younger self would be proud of because she knew I had to explore every horizon, just as I have done. I have travelled. I have achieved my personal goals. I have achieved professional goals, and I am continuing to do so. I have remained true to what I set out to achieve.

If I could give her one piece of advice, it would be to be more assertive and to truly know that power. I am a powerful woman, and I didn’t realise this when I was younger. I wish I’d grown a thicker skin sooner but I’ve still managed to get here. I’m proud of that. And I wouldn’t change any of it, because it’s made me who I am.

What is your next challenge and what are you hoping to achieve in the future?

My next challenge is to keep going and keep achieving in this fantastic opportunity I’ve been given. For me and the company. Seeing organisation growth in terms of revenue for the business, and to keep developing this B2B channel. And then, of course, global domination – why not, anything is possible with a bit of drive, determination and a supportive team and family!