Inspirational Woman: Diana Florescu | Board Member & Director, Wolves Summit

Diana FlorescuDiana Florescu is a leading light in the investment and start-up world in Europe.

She is a non-executive director sitting on the board of directors and advisors at Wolves Summit, bringing five years of experience in leading corporate-startup engagement programs as well as one of the largest early-stage investor company.

Her objective is to make Wolves Summit the region’s leading innovation and startup event acting as a soft-landing pad for international founders and investors that want to do business in this market and equally, as a gateway for ambitious founders looking to scale in the UK and beyond.

Founded in 2015 in Warsaw, Poland, the conference grew to become the largest tech event in Central and Eastern Europe. Wolves Summit dedicates itself to fostering deep and productive collaboration between regional and international angel investors, VC funds, corporations, and the most promising startups in CEE.

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

I started my career in startups. In the last seven years, I’ve held various marketing and sales roles working at all levels up to CxO.

I’m a board member and director at Wolves Summit, one of the largest tech conferences in Europe. I’m a founding member at Grai Ventures, a venture building studio headquartered in Romania. Formerly I led global marketing at two of the world’s largest networks of accelerators and corporate innovation companies.

Over the years I’ve specialised in building and delivering B2B marketing and strategy programmes for some of the world’s largest accelerators, tech conferences and innovation consultancies. My projects span multiple sectors including technology, gaming, media and entertainment, retail, among others. I’ve honed my global perspectives by working and living in five countries including the UK, USA, Qatar, Germany, and Romania.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career? 

I did plan the basic path by which I sought to become qualified and stay effective in my career as a marketer. However, careers do not progress in linear or predictable ways. As an entrepreneur, my career is so much more than a job: it’s a big part of my life. I launched and failed my first business when I was 19. I learned a ton from it, and then I spent a few years honing my skills as part of larger organisations knowing that it’s only a matter of time until I would start a new venture.

In the early days of my career, it was less about comparing jobs but rather taking a holistic approach to how my career fits in with my broader life ambitions. Some of the greatest changes and opportunities resulted from these practices: regularly seeking change and self-improvement, willingness to take calculated risks, empowering others, and surrounding myself with mentors and experts seeking constant feedback.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

My greatest accomplishment is sitting where I am right now. I believe that life is a constant work-in-progress and that all moments, the great huge ones and the small quiet ones, all make-up who I am.

There’re a few good ones I always look back on and smile at: winning the Lloyd’s Banking People’s Choice Award with my first company, Local Spoon, having worked and lived in five different countries, Grai Ventures ranking no 1 in Google Search for “media for equity” and having our publications recognised internationally.

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

Balancing self-confidence with humility.

I left Bucharest, my home town, when I was 18 years old. I remember juggling two part-time jobs and university. I also decided early-on to join the world of startups. I’ve always valued autonomy at work and making a meaningful impact, however, the startup life could be filled with a lot of risk and uncertainty.

These early experiences and career choices taught me how to become my own best advocate; how to develop a sense of who I am, what I can do, where I’m going coupled with the ability to influence my communication, emotions and behavior on the way to getting there.

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

If you have the time (and resources) to pursue a bachelor’s or Master degree, this is a great way to begin or advance your career in tech.

As someone who has a Masters degree in Technology Entrepreneurship, I will say that my education gave me the foundations for an entrepreneurship career. I’m not a software engineer but I can work closely with a development team and “speak their language”.

It’s true that most of the learning and applicable know-how I’ve gained has been “on the job” or self-taught. Shortly after graduation I joined Startupbootcamp, one of the world’s largest networks of accelerators. I was exposed to hundreds of startups and technologies every year.

I’ve also built a support network over time and surrounded myself with people that I can trust and I can ask for help when I need it. There are many non-profit organisations and communities designed to support ambitious people to advance in their tech career such as Women Who Code, ProductTank (product owners and managers), Dribble (for designers), GrowthHackers (for growth marketers).

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

Every technology company talks about its dedication to diversity and inclusion, however, the numbers show only slight progress in this area.

The overall tech and venture capital industry needs to become more inclusive. Starting in this industry has always been biased towards those with demographic privilege. There are hundreds of overlooked candidates that could provide unparalleled value to the industry if they are supported in getting experience at leading funds or technology companies in Europe. While the pool of talented Black professionals or women in tech is wide and deep, this group lacks visibility and opportunity.

It’s encouraging to see more initiatives and funds popping up on the market to support diverse and/or underrepresented founders entering the tech market and progress through their careers. At Wolves Summit we are proud to name some of them our partners including The Female Factor, Women in Tech, Perspektywy, Women in Law.

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

Having worked at all levels up to CxO and across multiple organisations, I’ve seen how a gender-diverse board could make a huge difference to the company’s overall performance. At Wolves Summit, 60% of our employees including senior management are women. Without having a diverse representation of culture and backgrounds, organisations often will not understand the many barriers that women face.

Also, businesses pursuing gender diversity should champion successful women, and highlight female role models – setting an example for other female employees across the organisation and proving that it’s possible to get ahead.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech? 

I’m a big fan of podcasts. I often listen to Women at Work – a podcast from Harvard Business Review that looks at the struggles and successes of women in the workplace. When I want to learn from some of the most successful CMOs and how they got to where they are today, I tune in to CMO Moves – a podcast hosted by Nadine Dietz, former Adweek Chief Community Officer.

I’m also part of a few communities that value diversity and inclusion in tech such as Diversity VC, a non-profit partnership, made up of interested individuals working in venture capital, who seek to increase diversity of thought in the venture industry.

Would you like to share any exciting updates or news?

I’m excited about the upcoming edition of Wolves Summit on October 19th-21st which will run both online and in-person. We’re expecting over 400 people on-site and thousands online, it will be by far our largest edition since the start of the pandemic. This year’s event includes over 15 topics including: IPO & Private Equity, Corporate Venturing, AI for Earth, Circular Economy, Technology Transfer, Embedded Finance, Manufacturing, 5G & IoT, Emerging industries, Healthcare & Sexual Wellness.

I’m particularly excited about joining ITV, Brand Capital and startup founders on a panel discussion about media for equity. The full event programme and line-up of speakers are now available on the website at https://www.wolvessummit.com/agenda-2021


Inspirational Woman: Joanne Thurlow | Global Head of IT, Siemens Energy Industrial Application Solutions & Board Member, Digital Isle of Man

Joanne ThurlowCanadian born, Joanne has spent 15+ years living in multiple European countries, making Isle of Man home since early 2021.

As Head of IT for Siemens Energy, Industrial Application Solutions (SE IA), she partners with business providing strategic, innovative, cost sensitive and engineering-centric, global IT environments. As leading Energy transformation towards sustainability, SE IA engineers innovative electric, automation, and digital products, solutions and services for multiple markets including Oil & Gas, Marine, and more.

Joanne further commits her time to providing leadership, inspiration, motivation, strategic consulting, and market insights through various avenues: As a Digital IOM Executive board member; committee member of LOVE TECH (IOM), volunteers committed to promoting STEM careers for girls & young women; or as a global speaker at various conferences.

With 30+ years in Tech, Joanne has an extensive knowledge of IT. Today’s focus is on innovation, solutions, digital business transformation, IoT, tech-enabled sustainability, agile working and new organizational models.

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

Canadian born, I have spent 15+ years living in multiple European countries, making Isle of Man home since early 2021. With 30+ years in Tech, I have an extensive knowledge of IT. Today’s focus is on digital business transformation, IoT, tech-enabled sustainability, agile working, and new organizational models.

As Head of IT for Siemens Energy, Industrial Application Solutions (SE IA), I partner with business providing strategic, innovative, cost sensitive and engineering-centric IT environments in over 40+ countries. As a leading organization in energy transformation, SE IA engineers innovative electric, automation, and digital products, solutions and services for multiple markets including Oil & Gas, Marine, and more.

I further commit my time providing leadership, inspiration, motivation, strategic consulting, and market insights through various avenues: As a Digital IOM Executive board member; committee member of LOVE TECH (IOM) promoting STEM careers for girls & young women; or as a global speaker at various conferences. I am now working on my first business book ‘Team Management – as learned from the back of a Dog Sled’  to be published early 2022.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

Yes, at key intervals as milestones were reached and circumstances changed.  My academic choices provided equal skills in science and business. I set position and earning targets by certain ages. At one point, not being sure what was next for me, I invested in a career consultation process where I deep dived into all aspects of personality, vocational interests and more – the best investment I made in myself. I did not plan to be at the level I am today. That has been part of the evolution of my career.

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

Careers, as life, are full of challenges. My biggest challenge came in moving to UK. A complete restart - no job, no working visa, no business network and only one contact.  I researched the job environment, working culture and volunteer opportunities, went to local business events, etc. I approached industry leaders for advice (not jobs), was clear on what I had to offer, and what I did not.  A few years with  Siemens, a promotion to Global IT coordinator based me in Norway. A few months after that, organization changes led to my current role and to Germany. Many openly questioned my ability or my right to be in this role; cultural expectations stated promotions were the ‘entitlement’ of years of service. I was ‘unknown and unproven’, new to Siemens. The biggest challenge was Imposter Syndrome - accepting I could do this role, that it was ok not to know everything, that I would develop the knowledge and skills – and most importantly – the confidence to do it.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

Where I am today – Completely restart my career in another country and continent; secure a C level management position with global responsibility for one of the world’s most respected companies. Be appointed to the Digital IOM Executive Board who, in partnership with the DIOM Agency, will set direction for the digital industry of country. It is such an honour to be a part of that! That’s a big thing to say! To help inspire young girl & women in tech careers through LOVE TECH (IOM), public speaking, and writing – I have the privilege of providing leadership, inspiration, motivation to the inspiring young women in tech today.

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

Being willing to get out of my comfort zone, take calculate risks and accept/deal with the consequences thereof.  That includes anticipating, planning, mitigating those risks and working through the inevitable setbacks.

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

First, understand YOU – your personality, vocational interests, and overall aptitudes. Knowing what you are good at, interested in - or not - contribute greatly to setting direction.

Next – understand your DIRECTION/GOALS – Where do you want to go in your career? What is the ideal role you imagine for yourself? What does your perfect ‘day at the office’ look like to you? Use this as a start point, work backwards to understand what will get you there.

Thirdly, understand how OTHERS SEE YOU. We are usually unaware of how others see us and what value we bring. Make use of tools such as 360degree interviews to begin to understand this.

Last, get clear on what your strengths, weaknesses, gaps are, your goals and revisit these often. Review frequently – are you on track or not? Realign, revisit, learn from your failures as much as your successes.  Never stop learning!

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

Yes, there are still barriers for women in tech, as with other minorities. Creating lasting change will need action at many levels – individual, society, corporate culture and through government policy.

We actively need to attract girls/women to the Tech industry by raising awareness of the many interesting opportunities that exists. Diversity and inclusion targets and programs within corporations’ help keep them there. Too often, women leave through insensitive policies and cultures, which make it difficult to manage their family, work, harassment, biases etc.

By creating environments that allow women to ‘strive and thrive’, more women will be in place to help achieve the quota targets set out by governmental policies. At this level, promoting women into C level roles and onto Director Boards, where they can more readily influence the strategic outcomes of an organization.

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

There is no one action that can be recommended. Organizations – and industries – will be at various degrees of progression is creating a supportive and enabling environment. We need to create environments that allow women to ‘strive and thrive’

Awareness programs educating all management and employees on unconscious bias is a great place to start. ‘Getting to know you’ programs to ‘spotlight’ individuals within an organization is another inclusive way to raise awareness. Championing programs go beyond mentoring by actively raising the awareness of talent – this opens many ‘doors to the old boys club’.

However, it is not the sole remit of an organization. Women themselves, inadvertently become the barrier by hesitating to apply for higher roles if they do not feel they most of the requested skills; fear it could take away from family responsibilities’ resulting in guilt: Imposter syndrome steps in and many step back.  Women need to be encouraged to self-promote and take more risks.

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?

Give women the personal soft skills to self-promote, be confident and take risks. If personally empowered, they will excel, be excited, prove the ‘nay-sayers’ wrong. This will go a long way to keeping the women currently in tech in the game, have them go further, and subsequently encourage other women to step into the industry.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech?

There are many resources available in multiple formats. It is important to find ones that resonate with where you are today. That said, I do have a few ‘go to’ favourites which include:

Conferences:  in person/virtual/networking

https://www.women-in-technology.com/   and https://www.europeanwomenintech.com/

These events are top drawer. The quality of speakers, relevancy of topics, and the sheer opportunity to meet so many other like-minded women is brilliant!  I find the audience here is varied in age and role and attracts more senior level women.

Online platform in concert with Women in Tech events - https://ascend.women-in-technology.com/

Online virtual event - https://www.womentech.net/  This event rocks! A completely online event, it is attended globally by over 100,000 attendees.  Attended by a wide variety of women, it does seem to resonate more with the younger women.

Some reading material I often recommend:

  • The Secret Thoughts of Successful Women: Why Capable People Suffer from the Impostor Syndrome and How to Thrive in Spite of It by Valeria Young
  • How the World sees you by Sally Hogshead – great tool for understand how others see you and creating your own value statements
  • Business Model YOU, written by Tim Clark (part of Stratgyzer series of books)

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


Inspirational Woman: Shellye Archambeau | CEO, Silicon Valley leader, Author & Board member for Verizon, Nordstrom, Roper Technologies and Okta Inc.

Shellye Archambeau

Shellye Archambeau is an experienced CEO and Board Director with a track record of accomplishments building brands, high performance teams, and organizations.

Ms. Archambeau currently serves on the boards of Verizon, Nordstrom, Roper Technologies, and Okta. She is also a strategic advisor to Forbes Ignite and the President of Arizona State University, and serves on the board of two national nonprofits, Catalyst and Braven.

Ms. Archambeau has over 30 years of experience in technology. She is the former CEO of MetricStream, a Silicon Valley-based, governance, risk, and compliance software company. During her tenure MetricStream grew from a fledgling startup into a global market leader.

She is the author of ​Unapologetically Ambitious: Take Risks, Break Barriers and Create Success on Your Own Terms​. A book that will inspire you and provide the tools to enable you to fight the battles, make the tradeoffs and create the life you want. She is also a Forbes contributor and the protagonist of the Harvard Business School Case Study: Becoming a CEO.

Ms. Archambeau enjoys the performing arts, traveling, cooking and writing a blog that provides career advice, insights and other musings.

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

I was one of four growing up—my parents had four kids in less than five years—we were close, but competitive.  And I tell you that because competing with my siblings and parents playing games is what drove my competitive nature.

We moved from a Philadelphia suburb that was well integrated, to a Los Angeles suburb shortly after the Watts riots in the 60s.  I was the only black girl in my class, if not the school, and the world let me know how much they didn’t want me there.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

One of the things I learned early on is the importance of setting a goal and focusing on it.  I set a goal, do the homework to figure out what it takes to achieve the goal, and then build and execute a plan to get there. In high school, I started leading clubs. As a leader I felt more in-control and protected from the racism around me. Based on my skills, a guidance counselor pointed me toward business.  Even though I didn’t know what it was, I decided then that my goal was to someday beome a CEO.

In 1984, I joined IBM, with my sights set on becoming CEO. I spent 14 years there and became the youngest African-American executive.  But it wasn’t clear if I could become CEO of IBM, so instead of changing the goal, I changed the plan.

I had to be very deliberate about my next step because I’d seen many people leave a big company and then stumble in their careers, and as a woman of color the sad fact is, I wasn’t going to get as many strikes at bat as others. So, I went to a smaller company, where I took a problem child and fixed it, turned it into a global leader after several near-death experiences.

What has been your biggest achievement to date?

I have been profiled in a Harvard Business School case study for my rise to CEO.  When I was hired as CEO of Zaplet, the dot-com bubble had just burst. The company that was only quarters away from bankruptcy. I completely reshaped the company, merged it with another to create the new MetricStream, which is now a leading governance, risk, and compliance company that is valued in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

That led to invitations to serve on the boards of Verizon, Nordstrom, Roper Technologies, and Okta.  After achieving what I set out to do, I decided that I wanted to share my strategy and the lessons learned with others who have big career aspirations, which is why I’ve written Unapologetically Ambitious.

What are some lessons learned along the way to the CEO role and diverse board roles? 

The first lesson is this: be intentional about everything you do, especially when it comes to your career. You own your career, not your company, your boss or your mentors… but you!.  Make sure people know what you want and what you’re striving for.  If the universe doesn’t know what you want, the universe can’t help you.

Second lesson: it is important to take risks.  I found that as I moved up the ranks, what leadership expected from me changed, starting out it was about doing the work, and effectively teaming with others. When I moved to middle management, it was about how I led the team and got work done through others, when I moved to senior management it was about working with other organizations.  As an executive, it is all of that plus demonstrating a true understanding of the corporate strategy and delivering on it daily.  Senior executives impact strategy and bring not just a perspective of the company, but of a broader external world—and they take risks.  Risk and reward are two sides of the same coin.

The third is the importance of mentors— I’ve had some great ones.  Early on in my career at IBM, they established a formal mentor program and told us to pick our mentors.  I picked an executive leader, who was a couple of levels above me and had helped me already.  He called me and said, “Shellye, you’ve got me already, pick someone else!”  I realized two things in that brief exchange: first, I had mentors that I didn’t even know I had and second, I could have as many as I wanted.

After that I adopted mentors everywhere. One key I learned was that people are happy to help you if you let them know the impact they’re having on you. So, tell them!

Another thing about mentors, they don’t all have to be older than you and they don’t have to be at your company.  I learned that one a little later in life.  When I was with IBM, all of my mentors were IBMers.  Someone asked me who I bounced ideas off of, and I realized I didn’t have anyone who could give me objective opinions from outside the company!  I rectified that quickly, and it changed how I operated.

Your book which pictures your life and career in details is called Unapologetically Ambitious. Why that title?

I’ve been ambitious for a long time.  Yet during my career when people called me ambitious, it wasn’t always meant as a complement.  That’s ridiculous.  Everyone and I mean everyone deserves to be ambitious and we shouldn’t have to apologize for it.  This is a message I want everyone to hear.

You spent 15 years running a company in the tech industry, which has very few CEOs who are women, especially women of color. What's your view of the tech industry these days and do you see it making needed changes?

Things have improved since I first became CEO.  Forbes recently reported that women make up 40% of new entrepreneurs.  There are more women of color building businesses than any other racial group according to American Express.  So there are more businesses.  We need to ensure that this translates into the tech world.  I definitely see companies, investors and Universities focusing on supporting women and people of color. This is one of those areas where it's hard to say that anyone's doing enough until you actually start to see the results. And I think it's important to realize that we also need to be encouraging people. One of the things that frustrated me is that several years back, a number of companies in tech started publishing their diversity numbers, which I thought was a good step: “Hold us accountable, here are our numbers. This is our baseline.” And then they got totally beat up for their numbers.

Now, they didn't publish the numbers saying, “We've been working for 10 years on this, here's our results.” What they said is, “This is now important. We're going to start working on this.” So if we keep beating people up for actually being vulnerable, and working to get better, we're encouraging people not to be transparent. We should definitely hold them accountable for progress now they've done it. But give them time. We also want to make sure that we are supporting the work that needs to be done to get to the outcomes.


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