All things digital marketing, social media, chat online, SEO, SEM and mobile related experiences. I have been working in digital since 1997. Occasionally I'll write about girlie things - chocolate, cupcakes, fashion, travel and yoga. Passionate about animal welfare and trying to live an organic lifestyle.
The postings on this site are my own and do not represent Juniper Networks’ positions, strategies or opinions. Note that the views and opinions expressed are mine alone and do not represent the official views of Juniper Networks.
Copyright 2012 Zoe Sands
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I recently had the pleasure of meeting Fiona Squire, Services Director at Imtech ICT UK Limited at the Juniper Networks New Directions Women’s Forum in Laguna Beach, California a couple of weeks ago. Having chatted with Fiona during the week in the US I felt she had an interesting story to share about how she got into tech and how she has developed a successful IT business and career. Here’s my interview with Fiona;
Zoe: How did you get into tech?
Fiona: Whilst I was growing up I had always wanted to be a nurse. So, when I left school I started a pre-nursing course at college. One year in I went to the job centre to look for part time work and noticed an ad for a trainee software engineer at Apricot Computers. I thought it looked interesting, so went for the interview, and got the job, I then ditched the nursing course and I haven’t looked back! That’s how I got into tech.
Zoe: Would you say you are an entrepreneur?
Fiona: It would depend on your definition of an entrepreneur; I would say I have some entrepreneurial tendencies, starting up Imtech ICT UK in 2002 alongside James Morgan (Managing Director) and Steve Gore (Finance Director) was pretty high risk for me, but the three of us complimented each other perfectly. I do certainly take the initiative and won’t settle for the status quo.
Zoe: What motivated you to setup Imtech ICT UK Limited?
Fiona: We (James and I) had built up another telecoms systems integration business for another organisation previously; Landis Public Networks, which was successful, but the parent company unfortunately was not and the business went into receivership. This is where our relationship started with Juniper Networks. So, it seemed natural at the time to pick up the team and start again, this time with a more stable financial investment from the Imtech Group. Our first office was my kitchen until the Parish Council complained too much about the cars! Then we moved into offices in Basingstoke.
Zoe: What is your greatest work achievement?
Fiona: Starting up Imtech Telecom alongside James and Steve has been very rewarding, and I don’t mean financially. I’ve been through a massive learning curve in business areas I hadn’t been involved in before and having the responsible for peoples lively hoods puts a whole new perspective on ensuring your business is successful. Four years ago we merged with another Imtech ICT company, changed the name of the business from Imtech Telecom to Imtech ICT UK Limited taking the business to another level. This continues to be something I’m most proud of in my career.
Zoe: How has your management style developed over the years?
Fiona: I would say it has changed considerably; experience has given me a lot more confidence in management and leadership. I have a much more pragmatic approach than when I was younger, which was then mainly emotional and I took everything far too personally.
Fiona: I’ve attended various management training courses over the years. Plus Imtech has its own leadership training programme, which Imtech senior managers attend and this has helped me considerably to improve and develop.
Zoe: What would you suggest makes a good leader?
Fiona: I think a good leader is someone who is motivational, respected and gets involved. There is nothing worse than hands off management. I think that the key skills needed are; having open and honest communication, being a good listener and must be calm and patient under pressure. Being able to think “out of the box” and planning for the future business in years rather than weeks sets a good leader apart from others. Finally, and this is a personal mantra of mine “treat people as you would like to be treated” and always admit to making a mistake!
Zoe: Who are your role models and influencers?
Fiona: Probably my biggest influence has been Geoff Squire; he introduced the Oracle database to the UK in 1981, as the exclusive distributor. He subsequently joined Oracle Corporation, when he ultimately became the Chief Executive Officer of worldwide operations. He was widely credited with Oracle’s history making financial turnaround in 1990 and is one of the few individuals in the world to have built a $1 billion international business from scratch. Over the years I have spent a lot of time with Geoff and have been fortunate to get his advice on a number of my career decisions.
Zoe: What advice would you give to women wanting to get into tech?
Fiona: I am a great believer in “being in the right place at the right time” so you have to make sure you are ready for it when it happens. Do as much training and development that is offered to you and try to find a senior mentor that is respected within an organisation once you’re onboard.
Fiona: Making the decision to choose tech is an unusual choice and is ripe with opportunities, so try it!
Zoe: What do you think the next years hold for women in IT?
Fiona: I think we will all see a lot more woman moving into IT. The modern man has wised up to the benefits of women in the workplace and knows that having a diverse workplace adds a different perspective and more opportunities for businesses to utilise.
Zoe: What percentage of women work at Imtech ICT UK Limited?
Fiona: In total 26% of our workforce is woman, which is way too low, but in my services organisation my direct management team there is a 50/50 split of men: women.
Zoe: How do you balance your work life and personal life?
Fiona: Technology of course, the mobile world we now live in makes it much easier to keep me organised on the move. My role is 24x7x365, but it no longer matters where I am. I tend not to totally switch off from work, but I do spend quality time with my family and friends and also like keeping fit and walking my dogs.
Zoe: How do you stay ahead and keep up with the latest technology trends
Fiona: I attend a lot of vendor strategy briefings, visiting customers and most recently getting into social media, by reading more blogs and searching Twitter, which I can do on the move from my smartphone.
Zoe: Are you into social media? How are you using this communication tool with your role?
Fiona: Mmm, I’ve just started and I am into it now, but a little late getting to grips with it. My strategy for social media within my services organisation is evolving at the moment, so do watch this space! You can find me on Twitter.
It has been an absolute pleasure interviewing Fiona, so thanks very much for sharing your interesting story and tips. If this story has inspired you, then please share your comments below. Alternatively if you want to share how you got into tech, then get in touch with me I’d really love to hear from you.
Before embarking on a social media journey within your organisation you need to create a social media policy as guidance for your employees, partners, resellers and customers on how you operate within the social channels. Your organisation’s social media policy should not merely be a list of do’s and don’ts, but rather guidance on social conduct and netiquette. The best social media policies are kept short and sweet and are not open to interpretation or misinterpretation. Remember mobilising your employees, partners, resellers, clients and customers socially helps open up new communication channels and networks that were previously untapped for your organisation. So, be brave and utilise social media and blogging for your organisation. The following bullet points are worth considering when writing a social media policy for your organisation:
1. Engagement. You can’t have a meaningful conversation when you’re an “observer”, so take action and join in with the social conversation. If you’re new to social media, then start by posting a comment on your organisation’s discussion board, forums or blog. Next, start commenting on third party blogs, Facebook pages, news articles, responding to tweets and then if you’re feeling brave start your own blog. You never know you might just enjoy it creating content.
2. Identify yourself. When you post on third party blogs and forums make sure you provide your full name, your role and organisation name. If you’re posting on an external site and the topic involves your work, make it clear who you are representing; yourself, your organisation, a client or a combination. Never hide behind an online avatar or profile name. Be open and honest.
3. Respect the rules and get legal savvy.Individuals are personally legally responsible for any content published, this includes; tweets, blog posts and comments. So, pay close attention to user guidelines, terms of service, terms and conditions, copyright, fair use, financial disclosure and local laws, plus your organisation’s internal communication policies and contract of employment. When quoting someone, use quotation marks and attribute the quote to the content owner.
4. Don’t reveal sensitive or confidential information. Take the time to learn what information needs to remain private within your organisation. Don’t share sensitive information or provide any financial, confidential or proprietary information about your organisation or its clients, customers, partners, suppliers or vendors. When in doubt always seek advice.
5. Be transparent. This does not mean share everything, see point 4. However, transparency means admitting your biases, being the first to correct your own mistakes and never altering previous posts without indicating your revision. This invites honest and open conversations. Remember timelines, status updates, comments and posts can still be found within the cache of a search engine. So, deleting will not remove the content permanently. Be careful and think before posting or commenting. Ask yourself will this post or comment benefit your personal brand and the community. If not, then don’t post it.
6. Practice proper netiquette. Don’t pick fights in order to spark a conversation. Be constructive, respectful and provide recommendations. Show proper consideration for privacy and avoid inflammatory topics and language. Don’t post any material or content that is obscene, defamatory, profane, libellous, threatening, harassing, abusive, hateful or embarrassing to any other person or entity. Think Karma - it will come back to haunt you. So, be a good online social citizen.
7. Link often and connect. Find out who else is blogging and tweeting on your chosen topic and mention them. They may even return the favour and connect with you. Social media is about making connections, so share the love.
8. Add value. Provide worthwhile information and commentary. Don’t merely summarise without offering any insight into the subject you are addressing. Readers prize clarity and conciseness. Respect their time and intelligence. Become a subject matter expert and share your knowledge and expertise with the community, you will soon create a respected follower base.
9. Be yourself, but only better. Blogs, discussion boards, forums, social networks and wikis are places where people interact on a one-to-one or one-to-many basis. So, help humanise the brand and let your real voice be heard. You can and will make some great business connections via social media. So, what are you waiting for? Be personal, start creating content and connect with your peers.
10. Don’t embarrass yourself. Be mindful to extend this care toyour organisation, clients, customers, partners, suppliers and vendors. Be mindful that what you write will be public for a very long time. Think about the social journey as an investment in your career and develop a personal brand that matches your career aspiration. Think before publishing your content and you’ll never have any fears of something embarrassing popping up in the future. Remember what stays online, stays online for a very long time.
Finally, remember keep your social media policy simple so that people can easily digestive the guidance and act within your organisation’s outlined policy. Make sure all your current employees are aware of your new policy and all new hires have the social media policy in their joining instructions. You want to help cultivate a social enterprise and reap the rewards of humanising your organisation’s brand. Good luck with your social media and blogging journey!
We’ve heard all the buzz about Twitter purchasing Vine, the six second video social networking platform, which is fast becoming Twitter’s raising star. So, you’re probably thinking what all the fuss about Vine is. Well, that’s exactly what people thought back in 2006 when Twitter emerged on the social landscape. In fact in this ever fast changing world content has to be delivered quickly and succinctly, and this is where the Vine App, a six second social video sharing app plays to this need perfectly. Here are few ideas on how you can utilise Vine:
There are so many other opportunities for creating short videos. You are only limited by your own imagination, so what are you waiting for?! Please share your ideas in the comments box; I’d love to see these.
You can find my Vine videos by searching for me “Zoe Sands” or via my Twitter account @Zoe9.
In this ever fast changing world content has to be delivered quickly and succinctly, the Vine App, a six second social video sharing app plays to this need perfectly. You don’t need to be the next Spielberg or Tarantino to create your short video clip on a continuous loop. All you need to do is point, shoot and upload, it couldn’t be easier. To help you get started the following explains how to use the Vine App, plus I have included a few tips:
Vine App Tips
You can find my Vine videos by searching for me “Zoe Sands” or via my Twitter account @Zoe9.
Vine is simply, so what’s stopping you from getting started?!