Women in Wireless London – Building your International Career

Women in Wireless London welcomed two internationally successful women in mobile to talk at their event last night, ‘Building your International Career’.

Both Cynthia Gordon, CCO at Qatar-based network Qtel, and Marianne Roling, MD of Mobile for Microsoft in Central and Eastern Europe have had impressive 20 year careers that have seen them living all over the world.

Cynthia’s roles have taken her from the -35 temperatures she experienced when working for MTS, the largest mobile operator in Russia, to the +50 heat she now works in at the Qatari firm that serves 90m subscribers and generates $10bn. “One tip – it’s all about clothing” she said.

“Europe and the US are quite similar, there are commonalities. Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Rajasthan are truly different – the culture, the environment. If I can excite you about anything – grasp those opportunities to experience something that is totally different.”

GSMA MWomen Programme

She said that an international career gives you a fantastic opportunity to learn but also fantastic opportunities to help other women in the customer base or company you work for – women are often hugely underrepresented in emerging market companies.

She highlighted the MWomen Programme of the GSMA. “In Iraq – women are killed for having a mobile phone. Men think they will have affairs or it will take them away from their families.” The GSMA created special TV ads to address the cultural barriers and have increased the female user-base from 20 to 30 per cent. “How many women have the opportunity to use mobile phones is a big issue in emerging markets.”

From the Berlin Wall to real-time global translation

After the fall of the Berlin Wall, Marianne had the opportunity to work on a Hungarian project funded by the World Bank to build telecoms infrastructure, where just 8 per cent of the homes had a telephone line.

She has seen the internet boom and bust, the development of the mobile industry and now the smartphone and tablet revolution. Micosoft recently performed a real-time translation between the US and China as if the American speaker was fluent in Chinese.”This is the most viibrant, amazing industry ever,” she said.

Work/life balance

She separated her success into having great networks and role models, identifying sponsors, mentors and coaches, as well as getting a work/life balance. She moved five times in five years while she was working for Lucent in South America, completely starting form ground zero every time.

“Now I don’t travel at the weekends and do lots of conference calls early in the morning. You have to create the rhythm with your family.” But Cynthia said she believes you can’t have it all. “My husband gave up his career even though when we met we were level.”

Her key advice to get that international mobile career you crave: “Numbers numbers numbers. Go into the detail – never skim over the topic, seek to understand it better than anybody else. Have confidence in what you can do and achieve, get on that plane, you can do it.”

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