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SheCanCode Spotlight Series: Keren Pakes, Chief Brand & Communication Officer, Bright Data & Founder, Bright Initiative

Keren Pakes, Chief Brand & Communication Officer, Bright Data & Founder, Bright Initiative

ARTICLE SUMMARY

Keren Pakes is the chief brand & communications officer at Bright Data and founder of the Bright Initiative – a global program providing NGOs, NPOs, academic institutions, and public bodies with pro-bono access to data, technology and expertise.

As a former award-winning foreign affairs journalist for BBC News and Current Affairs in the Middle East, Americas and other regions, it should be no surprise that Keren is a firm believer in the power of words. After all, she spent 14 years swinging her political conflict pen, slicing out stories for renowned institutions such as Italy’s main TV channel and the BBC Middle East office, among others – the latter being one of the most challenging locations for female journalists worldwide. 

In 2011, Keren wanted a new challenge and decided to enter the B2B/B2C tech industry. Since then, she has enjoyed several senior leadership roles in marketing, branding, and communications. Today, she is the Chief Brand & Communications Officer at Bright Data and the founder of the Bright Initiative. We caught up with Keren and, as we like to do, asked her a few questions.

SO, KEREN! WHAT IS THE SECRET TO YOUR SUCCESS?

Persistence.

100%. If you think in the short term, you will probably achieve results. But from my experience, if you set bigger goals for yourself – ones that take courage and persistence – the gain is much greater. And the results make it worth all the effort. Most goals are achievable; they just take the right approach and a lot of persistence.

DOES THAT MEAN YOU PLAN YOUR FUTURE QUITE THOROUGHLY?

I might not plan years ahead, but I do plan my next step thoroughly. I think it’s crucial. It gives me the focus to ensure that I truly accomplish what I set out to do. For me, it has always been about making an impact and, obviously, a positive one. That impact, in turn, develops my career.

HAVE YOU FACED ANY SERIOUS CAREER CHALLENGES? IF SO, HOW DID YOU OVERCOME THEM?

Too many to count. But sticking to my personal and professional values has always helped me resolve conflicts and challenges. The more I stick to reaching the right professional results, the easier that challenge gets. And it’s crucial to be confident in your goals; most times, there is no real need to go into full ‘conflict-facing’ mode. Once you stick to your goals, everything else will fall into place on its own, eventually.

WHAT IS YOUR BIGGEST CAREER ACHIEVEMENT?

Probably knowing who I am, especially as a people manager. That’s up there on my list of achievements. I believe in managing with care and compassion rather than simply ordering people around. I think it makes for a better leader and makes it easier for others to follow your lead.

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO SOMEONE WHO WANTS A CAREER IN TECH?

Based on my experience, working in start-ups allows you to take on many more roles and learn much more than working in established, corporate-like companies. It contributed immensely to my personal and professional growth. You’ll be at the heart of the tech instead of sitting on the sidelines.

ARE THERE STILL BARRIERS FOR WOMEN IN TECH? IF SO, HOW CAN WE OVERCOME THESE?

Unfortunately, yes. It might be because this industry is dominated by men, making it a bit daunting. At the same time, women sometimes don’t feel they have an equal say either. It can get to the point where they’re left behind. It’s a challenge – but one we can successfully overcome.

The key is confidence. If you want to pursue a career in tech, first make sure you love tech and the speed at which it develops, and then make it happen for yourself.  My advice to women entering the tech domain is to focus on making a fast, noticeable impact. Don’t shy away from a challenge. Say ‘bring it on’.

WHAT CAN COMPANIES DO TO SUPPORT DIVERSITY IN TECH?

It should be the right person for the job regardless of who that person is. Companies should practice an open-minded approach throughout the entire cycle, from recruitment to management, and to look actively for candidates who are a aren’t as brave. Also, companies should keep in mind that men and women often communicate differently, which is not a bad thing. Just different.

CURRENTLY, ONLY 15% OF THE WORKFORCE IN TECH ARE WOMEN. IF YOU HAD A MAGIC WAND, HOW WOULD YOU IMPROVE THOSE NUMBERS?

Remove the fear factor for women.

WHAT RESOURCES DO YOU RECOMMEND FOR WOMEN IN TECH?

Networking. I love people, and I’m a great believer in meeting face to face. If possible, I always try to reach out and meet new people, learn new things, and expand my network. That’s always worked for me personally. You never know, a shining new career opportunity in tech might be just one meeting away.

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