Victoria Marshall-Rice is Expereo’s Chief HR Officer and Executive Board Member. Victoria joined the company from Vodafone Business, where she was the Head of Human Resources and worked closely with the CEO and senior management team to lead the development and execution of a business and culture transformation strategy for Enterprise Sales.

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

I’m the Chief Human Resources Officer at Expereo, the Global Managed Services provider that specialises in internet connectivity worldwide. My background to date is in International HR, recognised for developing leadership excellence, building high performing teams, and creating the HR foundations for a winning culture.

At Expereo I’m focused on moving the organisation forward by building a world class HR function, creating consistent processes across the business, and ensuring that providing an exceptional customer experience is at the heart of everything that we do.

A key priority for me this year is to ensure that whilst we meet our business objectives, we also continue building on our internal culture, recognising talent, rewarding achievement, celebrating and sharing success across our extensive global foot print, inclusive of our many cultures and nationalities.

 Did you ever sit down and plan your career? 

 I never planned my career per se, but I have always enjoyed understanding the psychology of people, wanting to know how different functions operate, and what drives the commercial viability of the organisation, so I think HR was a natural fit for me.

I started my career in HR at British Airways, where my role was in high volume resourcing, from there I moved to a more generalist role at PerkinElmer that covered a wider range of HR activities.  Wanting to get closer to the business strategy, I moved to Honeywell as the Regional HR Manager and from there expanded my global knowledge working for Vodafone Global Enterprise as regional and then the Global HR Director. I have always been specifically interested in Leadership Excellence, Talent Development, Organisation Effectiveness & Culture.

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

I think one of the biggest challenges – or perhaps oversights – one can make in their career, is not understanding the power of networking, and assuming that you are alone on your career journey.  As business people, and left to our own devices, we often track a career through technical skills.  We do not recognise the impact of self-awareness, mentoring, and coaching, and how it is equally as important to embrace the social and political side of things, like building a solid network.

For me, understanding ones strengths and really leaning into roles that allow you to demonstrate your abilities, whilst also identifying a champion or mentor is vital to career progression, and doing so early on in your career can bring many benefits.  I’m very grateful for the mentors, that have now become valued friends over my career and continue to use many of them as a sounding board and supportive network.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

As the CHRO of Expereo, I am able to articulate and execute upon the vision I have to create the best place to work.  It is only by drawing upon my experiences throughout my career that I can bring together an inspiring team to really have an impact on the employees within the business and ultimately the success of Expereo.  Seeing my ideas come to live and effect change across the organisation offers me a great deal of satisfaction.

On a lighter note, being recognised as a ‘culture warrior’ was not a bad accolade and is certainly something I will continue to drive forward at Expereo.

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

I believe emotional intelligence, along with a heightened sense of empathy has been key to my success.  I genuinely care about people, I want everyone that works with me to feel empowered to be the very best they can be, and any organisation that I am accountable for to create the career opportunities for individuals to achieve their very best.

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

My first tip would be to find a mentor within your own organisation to support you in your development, and to assist you in getting to know your stakeholders.  Secondly, I’d suggest thinking about your external network.  What events are you attending and who are you connecting with? It is so important to build a presence and brand for yourself as a key contributor both internally and externally. The technology industry is not always the most comfortable place for women, so finding a mentor, getting yourself out there and creating a strong personal brand can help build confidence.

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

For me one of the biggest barriers facing women working in tech is confidence.  Many women have multiple roles in society, and need the support to appreciate that they can be successful across these roles at the same time. I would love to see confidence levels amongst women in tech climb to meet that of our male counterparts! Businesses need to support women to feel assured that the organisation they work for has thought about the careers of women, whether that be in leadership roles or a focus on how to bring back working mothers. I think since the pandemic we have made great steps forward in offering hybrid working practises to meet the often conflicting demands of women in tech. Ensuring that this remains a focus will enhance equality in the workplace.

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

At Expereo we are clear in our vision for diversity and inclusivity with approximately 40% women in our workforce.

More generally companies need to consider diversity across the employee life cycle, from attracting new talent in the market, through to promoting a diverse board of directors, business need to think at every stage of the cycle are we attracting diverse talent:  for instance are our role profiles attractive to women, is our web site inclusive, are we involved at the grass roots in STEM.  With these kinds of initiatives, you need everyone to buy in, to foster a sense of belonging across the company. Conversations should start not with who you are, but what you can deliver – and there should be a continuous learning approach across the organisation. On top of this, mentor programmes should be encouraged and working mothers should feel supported to return to work by their organisation.

In an ideal world, how would you improve the pace of gender diversity?

The first thing I would do is immediately change the numbers of female leaders in technology. Next, I’d focus on enabling women to accelerate their opportunities for progression within their fields, whether this is networking, mentoring or learning.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech?

Personally, I believe mentors are an under-utilised resource for women working in tech, as I previously mentioned. Finding a mentor who can help and guide your career is so important and that comes through your network, which means being well-read and attending conferences. But don’t just attend – make the most of them and be in the content!

I went along to a sales enablement conference recently and I ended up taking away some insights I had never considered and I met some great people from different roles and companies.

I’d also really recommend reading ‘Drop the Ball: Achieving More by Doing Less’ by Tiffany Dufu. It’s a really inspiring read from a renowned female leader and it highlights how we as women need to drop the unrealistic expectations we set on ourselves to “do it all” and focus on achieving what matters, whilst also seeking support where we need it. I think it plays in nicely to my own beliefs about the value of mentors, support structures and of the network.