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Kate Mollett is the regional manager for Veeam in Africa – a company that specialises in cloud data management. So, what exactly does Kate do? She’s responsible for the day-to-day operational management of the business, developing and executing against a strategy to accelerate growth, increase market share and ensure the team is engaged with the business and that, overall, team spirit is high.

She tells GH writer Ondela Mlandu how women are entering and reshaping the tech industry…

But first, a day in the life of Kate Mollett

“My day usually starts with a high-level review of the Africa forecast, understanding at what stage of the sales process the key Veeam opportunities are, and ensuring that we have actions/activities in place to support the momentum required to close deals. Our common goal is to meet our targets and maintain a successful business,” says Kate.

“The balance of the day is usually a mix of internal meetings with the team, which are usually one- on-one meetings, where we talk about the business at hand as well as some of the softer issues related to performance: health, family and understanding where a person may need some support or feedback,” she says.

Kate tries to end the day with some exercise to disconnect from work for a few hours in the evening and spend quality time with family and friends.

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A career in the tech space

The best way to describe how Kate’s career developed in the early years of her work life? She says it was organic and natural. “I was always one to make the best of any opportunities I managed to come across,” she says.

Kate started in recruitment, then account management and sales in the technology industry equipped her to understand the people in the industry, the customers, their needs and more. “Today I lead a multinational IT company on the African continent. It’s both an achievement and a responsibility of which I am proud, and one that I believe is the result of hard work and building resilience and confidence,” she adds.

There are a growing number of women in tech

There are far more women involved in the IT industry in a variety of roles today than there were in the past. “There are very gifted and talented young women coming up through the ranks. That being said, it is not unusual, even today, to be the only woman in a boardroom,” says Kate.

When she started out, the industry was intimidating and she felt like a fish out of water. “Today, I notice the ratio of women to men more as an observation in terms of diversity and representation in the industry versus a reason to feel outnumbered or uncomfortable,” she adds.

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Building resilience is the first step to a successful career

Kate calls her early career, especially in a meeting, where she was the only female present and insecurity would raise its head. “I would worry about how to meaningfully contribute to the meeting, what was the expectation, [that] maybe it would be best if I just poured the tea or took the minutes. I didn’t,” she says.

Over the years, she realised that helping women build resilience and confidence is one of the first steps to a successful career. “The world isn’t equal yet. It has come a long way, but women are not yet on an equal footing, so it’s important that there are mentorship programmes for women – where they are surrounded by other confident women and are able to be empowered not only with core skills, but what some people would consider softer skills,” she says.

The “Women in Green” upliftment programme

“I am co-leading a women empowerment and upliftment programme at Veeam called Women in Green. I take this very seriously because I believe it’s paramount that women are supported by other women in order to best achieve their potential,” says Kate.

Best thing about being a woman in tech?

“It’s aspirational to pursue success, and growing and leading, despite the odds. There is a great sense of achievement when you are in a leadership position that is the result of your own hard work, resilience, confidence and competence,” says Kate.

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There’s a growing representation of women in IT and tech…

And this number will increase. “A young woman starting out not too long ago would perhaps have been unlikely to pursue a career in spaces where she saw a predominantly male workforce as it would have been difficult to confidently connect with the culture,” she says.

But this picture is changing and that’s why it’s important that women who have the platform contribute by creating an enabling environment to activate the potential of women in all industries.

And how is it looking for women in tech in the next decade?

While preparing for a Women in Green event at Veeam, Kate bought the books Becoming by Michelle Obama and She Speaks: The Power of Women’s Voices by Yvette Cooper – a collection of some of the most important speeches given by women over millennia.

“I was looking for things I could connect with, that spoke about embracing risk, and how you become confident over the years. I think that for someone perhaps starting out, being the only woman in a room or space could be very intimidating, which is why it’s important that mentorship programmes are designed to make a real impact in women’s lives, from learning your strengths and triggers to finding constructive ways to deal with challenges,” she says.

Kate’s parting words of wisdom

“Women have taken massive risks and today women like me can work, drive, vote, marry by choice, stay single by choice and lead multinationals. We are capable of achieving very big things, so if we are able to help other women, it is an honour,” she says.

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