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Spotlight Series: Davina Glading, VP Global Projects, Systal Technology Solutions

Davina Glading, VP Global Projects, Systal Technology Solutions

ARTICLE SUMMARY

Meet Davina Glading, VP Global Projects at Systal Technology Solutions. We chat with Davina about her journey into technology, her role models, imposter syndrome and her advice for other women in tech.

Davina Glading joined Systal in 2020 and is VP of Global Projects at Systal Technology Solutions.

Systal Technology Solutions is a global managed network, cloud and security service and transformation specialist.

How did you land your current role? Was it planned? 

No, not part of any plans at all. In 2020 I left a 25-year career in IBM and was going to retire gracefully to bake cakes and walk dogs. Then the CEO of Systal Technology Solutions called me, the rest – as they say – is history. It is strange though as they say, “you can only join the dots looking backward”. Everything that happens to you leads you to a place – you can’t necessarily see it as you look forward, but it makes sense when you turn back. So, trust the process, and take chances, just because no one has done something before doesn’t mean you can’t be the first to do it. Be brave when offered roles. 

Davina Glading

Did you (or do you) have a role model in tech or business in general?

Wow, what a question! I do, someone from history, someone who just led such an astonishing life and broke so many barriers, Katherine Graham. She smashed glass ceilings, became President of The Washington Post, and dined with the good and the great – as well as some not so great. If you have not read “A Personal History” get it on your to-read list! I listened to it on audiobook when walking and the miles just disappear, it’s riveting how she lived. 

What are you most proud of in your career, so far? 

What makes me most proud is the people who have flown. The people that I have had the privilege to lead or mentor have grown to fly on their own – sometimes with their own careers overtaking mine. That is the ultimate goal that all leaders should aim for. To leave a legacy for future leaders.

What does an average workday look like for you? 

Over my first morning coffee, I check emails, absolutely though I try my best not to send any emails out to others outside of working hours. I have found in the past that when you get emails out of hours the temptation is to reply there and then, and it is a spiral to not setting boundaries between work and home life. So, I lead by example by trying my best to never send emails early mornings/evenings/weekends. Of course, there are exceptions, however, for my team, I do my best to adhere to this.

I have a Manager Standup at 8.45 to set the day, any news, issues, concerns, priorities – generally to ground everyone and make sure we are on the same page as we start the day. It is so important for the Management team to share the same message with staff to avoid any confusion.

The day then varies, I prioritise Customer meetings, this is the lifeblood of the business. To take time and attention to listen, hear, and chat with Customers is such an important skill. Not just to speak at them, but to actually listen to what they say, sometimes between the lines you get to know their challenges that you can then help with. 

Then speaking with team members, and colleagues, having calls rather than emails as much as possible. Of course, then there is the usual admin time and I try to block ‘focus’ in my calendar for an hour a day to have a chance to clear this down. The month also ebbs and flows with reporting cycles, I am fortunate to have a superb team who pull the data into usable fashion, so analysis and identifying areas of improvement are made so much easier.

Are there any specific skills or traits that you notice companies look for when you’re searching for roles in your field? 

Skills and traits, now that is a subjective one. Speaking for myself, by the time CVs come to me they have been screened for the skills to do the job. What I look for are the softer areas; hobbies and interests. This can tell you a huge amount about a person through what they do in their spare time, and what makes them tick. If they volunteer, if they are a team player, what lights a fire with them. A team is made up of a diverse group of people, so to find whether someone will ‘fit’ the team – or indeed whether they would suit a role where they are flying solo. This area is sometimes overlooked in CVs but in my opinion, is so important.

Has anyone ever tried to stop you from learning and developing in your professional life, or have you found the tech sector supportive? 

I’ve never been held back from learning. Maybe in the past budgets have been an issue in previous roles, however, where there’s a will there’s a way and there are fantastic resources online for self-paced education and learning. With support – absolutely, when you can demonstrate the return on investment of external, and costly courses, then businesses are more open to finance. Another point I have found in the sector is the willingness to share, the majority of people are only too open to help when you ask, so never be afraid to ask.

Have you ever faced insecurities and anxieties during your career, and how did you overcome them?

Very much so, I think it is a rare woman not to suffer the dreaded ‘Imposter Syndrome’. One fantastic tip that my Exec Coach – Debbie Anderson – once taught me was “The Crow”. Every woman has a little voice who continuously tells her “You can’t…”, “You shouldn’t…”, “Is that a good idea…?”; this is your crow. It sits on your shoulder and squarks to your subconscious. A fantastic tip for me was to get a visual Crow (in my case a ridiculous-looking knitted one about 6 inches tall) and have it in line of sight as I work. By seeing it and acknowledging it, it takes its voice away as you recognise it.

Entering the world of work can be daunting. Do you have any words of advice for anyone feeling overwhelmed? 

Sounds twee, there’s only one of you, be authentic. Don’t be a caricature or try too hard. Just be genuine. I also believe in the saying “This too shall pass”; so, no matter how overwhelmed you are or whatever situation you are in, it won’t last forever. This does go for great times though … so ride the storm of the overwhelmed, but also appreciate every minute of when it’s good. Life is cyclic, so everything passes.

What advice would you give other women wanting to reach their career goals in technology? 

Find 2 important people, a coach and a mentor. A coach will challenge your beliefs and make you question your thoughts to get the best from you. A mentor will guide and open doors; both are hugely important as you progress. Then, remember that you really don’t need to know everything, you can create a network with the absolute experts in their field. Treat them with the respect and trust they deserve, and they will always support you.  Remember that the IT world is actually a small one and people always remember you and how you made them feel.

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