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Spotlight Series: Rhonda Doyle, Senior Director, Field Services Operations UK&I, Schneider Electric

Rhonda Doyle, snr. Director field services operations UK&I at Schneider Electric

ARTICLE SUMMARY

Rhonda Doyle, snr. Director field services operations UK&I at Schneider Electric, is passionate about people, customers and services having spent over two decades in services, operations, transformational and leadership roles.

She wants to be part of the movement in reimagining and creating the future, helping to put the steps in place for others.  Reflecting on her own experience and talking with other women has highlighted to her the importance of personal resilience.  In an industry where less than 30% of women are represented and less again in leadership or key decision-making roles Rhonda is dedicated to creating a more inclusive and encouraging environment that will attract and retain diverse talent. 

She believes that women need to know that a support network is there and, when it is not, how to create one and find allies inside and outside the business.

WE SAT DOWN WITH RHONDA TO DISCUSS HER CAREER IN TECH AND HER CURRENT ROLE, WHAT SHE’S MOST PROUD OF IN HER CAREER, HER FEMALE TECH ROLE MODELS, AND HER ADVICE TO OTHER WOMEN IN TECH.

HOW DID YOU LAND YOUR CURRENT ROLE? WAS IT PLANNED? 

I joined Schneider Electric Ireland in Jan 2021, during Covid and after Schneider Electric Ireland reached out to me as they sought more diverse and female talent.  I had been working with a coach for some time and after 17 years at my prior company eBay I was ready for a change.  I was attracted to Schneider Electric by our overall Sustainability purpose, vision for the future and the opportunity to bring my transferable skills of services, operations, transformation, and leadership to a different setting and take on a new challenge.

WHAT ARE THE KEY ROLES IN YOUR FIELD OF WORK, AND WHY DID YOU CHOOSE YOUR CURRENT EXPERTISE? 

Services and Operations offers a wide variety of roles across various teams and functions.  What these teams have in common is that it is ultimately about ensuring best-in-class service to customers.  I started out and stayed in services because I enjoy customers and problem solving, especially getting to the root cause of an issue to prevent it from occurring again.  Services and operations roles are a great learning ground with lots of variety and opportunity to try new things as the business never stands still.  Services gives you the opportunity to get close to the customer which you can bring to any role e.g. Marketing.

DID YOU (OR DO YOU) HAVE A ROLE MODEL IN TECH OR BUSINESS IN GENERAL?

Our current UK & Ireland Zone President Kelly Becker was instrumental in my joining Schneider Electric.  I could see and share in her vision for where she wants to take the business and people with her.  She has a fantastic business mindset, is very strategic and future focused with a huge passion for driving the business and people within it forward.  She is a great champion of other women and this year set an initiative, a new Women’s Cohort of more than twenty female talents from across our business to bring them on a learning journey and help them succeed.

WHAT ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF IN YOUR CAREER, SO FAR? 

I am very proud that I have been part of a lot of transformations in my career and had the opportunity to work on many first of a kind changes for businesses.  I enjoy the sense of taking things forward, it’s nice to think that you leave things better than you found them.

More and more my personal satisfaction comes from helping others in their career and helping people see their own potential.

WHAT DOES AN AVERAGE WORK DAY LOOK LIKE FOR YOU? 

What I love about my role is the variety, that every day can be so different.  In my current role, I could be at the office, out on site with my team or with a customer or travelling to the UK.  Meetings play a big part in my day, but I enjoy the collaborative nature of what we are trying to achieve and again the variety of topics from meeting to meeting is so diverse.  One meeting could be focused on our high-level strategy, the next on talking about something very tactical we are trying to solve and then the next working on a people development program. Operations is very broad, so you’re trying to keep on top of the key moving parts and zooming into the things that need more attention or support.

ARE THERE ANY SPECIFIC SKILLS OR TRAITS THAT YOU NOTICE COMPANIES LOOK FOR WHEN YOU’RE SEARCHING FOR ROLES IN YOUR FIELD? 

More and more companies, especially Schneider Electric are hiring for culture and attitude.  Knowledge can be learnt and built upon. 

When you get the right culture and attitude you can almost teach anyone anything.

  There is also a greater willingness to look for transferable skills such as leadership, services, operations, project management and not an exact knowledge fit which can limit the talent pool very quickly.

HAS ANYONE EVER TRIED TO STOP YOU FROM LEARNING AND DEVELOPING IN YOUR PROFESSIONAL LIFE, OR HAVE YOU FOUND THE TECH SECTOR SUPPORTIVE? 

I am very grateful for the support in my career and have only ever found that there have always been sponsors and advocates for me, even when I did not necessarily recognise it at the time. I had a leader who even when I no longer directly reported to him would encourage me to take on new assignments to challenge and grow and get me ready for what was next.  The tech sector has become a much more supportive place inside and out.  Women are realising the importance of encouraging one another and being part of a network and there have always been great allies amongst our male colleagues.  It is now more well known that a diverse company is a successful one and there is a greater appetite to attract and retain diverse talent.

HAVE YOU EVER FACED INSECURITIES AND ANXIETIES DURING YOUR CAREER, AND HOW DID YOU OVERCOME THEM?

When you are new to any role, even when you progress and appear successful, you go through that uncomfortable period hoping it will work out.  Imposter syndrome can creep in and the fear that someone will find you out and that you’re not right for the role goes through your mind.  When things feel overwhelming, I focus on what is in front of me, I break things down into smaller steps towards where I am trying to get to and I learnt to ask for help, even if that means just running your ideas by others for input.  Later in my career when I learnt about coaching, I have enlisted the help of a coach for support or during key transitions during my career. 

Don’t go it alone!

ENTERING THE WORLD OF WORK CAN BE DAUNTING. DO YOU HAVE ANY WORDS OF ADVICE FOR ANYONE FEELING OVERWHELMED? 

Remember everyone started somewhere, everyone has a day 1 on their journey and everyone has setbacks.   It is about building from where you are and continuously learning.  Find what you are good at and keep building that muscle and refining your skills.  My college degree did not necessarily relate to my career today, but it did teach me critical thinking and how to synthesise information which I do daily in my job.  I started my formal career answering phones in a contact centre which gave me an excellent services foundation for where I am today. Every job teaches you something.  If you try something and it doesn’t work out, that’s ok, it likely was not the right fit, but you can learn from it and take that knowledge forward with you.  Setbacks are a part of life and can help prepare you for the path ahead.

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE OTHER WOMEN WANTING TO REACH THEIR CAREER GOALS IN TECHNOLOGY? 

Reimagine the future and be part of creating it, put the steps in place for others.  Reflecting on my own experience and talking with other women has highlighted the importance of personal resilience.  Women can sometimes feel alone in a highly male industry where <30% of women are represented and less again in leadership or key decision-making roles.  I focus on the vision and how to create a more inclusive and encouraging environment that will attract and retain diverse talent.  Women need to know that a support network is there and, when it is not, how to create one and find allies inside and outside the business.

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