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Happy International Women's Day!

We want to take this opportunity to highlight some of the amazing female colleagues at Vertiv, who are eager to share their experiences and advice to support other women.

The United Nations (UN) estimates that by 2050, 75% of all jobs will be related to STEM areas, but as of now, only 35% of the graduates in STEM fields globally are women.

It is also known that women contribute differential value to ventures, the most prominent factor being creativity and innovation (67.6%). However, according to UNESCO, women represent about 27% of data and analytics professionals, and only 12.4% of senior management positions in STEM. 

While progress has been made, there is still much work ahead to achieve gender equality, especially for women in STEM. Join us as we delve deeper into some of the stories behind these numbers.

The Stories Behind the Numbers: Women in STEM

Sofiat Ojurongbe's Story

Responsible for driving sales toward selected IT resellers in Central Africa, Sofiat promotes the Vertiv brand throughout the IT channel market, co-ordinating activities with distributors, as well as managing the resellers within the region. She is a seasoned professional with a wealth of experience in sales, business development, and channel marketing.

For Sofiat, a career in sales is a family pursuit. What initially sparked and then nourished her interest in sales was her mother:   

‘I grew up learning about the basics of sales from my mother. Alongside her friends in neighboring stores, they practiced an interesting twist to bartering where if they did not have an item a customer wanted, they would take it from each other to sell at a profit. The genuine passion for dynamic trades and the contagious energy in that environment made helping customers the highlight of my week since I was limited to brief visits.  I knew I had to do more of that.’    

She approaches the sales process by prioritizing consistency, reliability, and responsiveness.

Her strategy to building long lasting relationships with clients and to exceed her sales targets is to adopt a customer-centric approach by demonstrating authenticity and a genuine interest in their success, then tailoring a solution particular to their needs, and providing continuous support. 

She recounts a particular success story when this mindset came in handy:

Sofiat Ojurongbe
Reseller Manager , Nigeria
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One of the accounts I managed was situated in a remote location. Issues arose mainly around delivery time and resource support. By convening stakeholders and internal department heads for a collaborative solution, including remote troubleshooting and local contractor training as first-aid, trust was rebuilt. The customer was very impressed with the investment made in retaining their accounts and the successful alignment of business growth which translated into their renewing and extending their contract. By training local engineers, I was able to groom local resellers, expanding footprint in the region.

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Always displaying a positive mindset in her day-to-day life, she also gave us wise advice about addressing challenges and staying motivated through them: 

‘In addressing objections, I prioritize preparation. Before meetings, I anticipate potential objections from a customer-centric perspective. During interactions, I actively listen, seeking clarification when necessary. Utilizing open-ended questions, I delve deeper to understand objections, float ideas and solutions, continuously checking for feedback to gauge satisfaction. 

If it's tough for me, it's tougher for the customer. When stumped, I shift my perspective to view challenges as opportunities to acquire new skills or knowledge. I maintain gratitude, thankful for being able to take initiative, explore ideas with talented people while staying at the forefront of a changing industry with Vertiv.  

Throughout her career, she has gathered plenty of advice, and she wanted to share some of it with other women: 

‘Honestly, it can be a struggle. I am grateful to have been blessed with great colleagues who are very open-minded and always there to lend a hand. My advice would be to focus on shared goals, not the differences. Challenge the status quo and make space for yourself and your dreams. Continuous learning is key because experience may be the best teacher, but it's much better to learn from others' experience than your own.  

I hope more women in Central Africa take up science, technology, engineering, and mathematics courses then follow this up by working in the STEM space. This field is both fascinating and rewarding. Remember also to pay it forward, volunteer, push for change, and talk about your experiences with other women. An African proverb says #If you want to go fast, go alone, if you want to go far, travel together.’ 

Hayley Horwood's Story

Hayley recently joined Vertiv as a service sales executive for Generator Switchgear Services and Thermal Management. Prior to this, Hayley was a Special Education Needs Teacher for 8 years, focusing on developing her skills in building relationships, forward planning, working flexibly, and responding calmly to urgent and unexpected situations. Before achieving her teaching degree, Hayley attended Buckinghamshire New University and achieved a 1st Class Honours Degree in Performing Arts – something she has had a passion for since a young age. Hayley grew up with juvenile arthritis and became incredibly resilient and determined to overcome the challenges she faced in life – always finding creative ways to break down barriers. 

New to the data center industry, Hayley was initially attracted to sales because she wanted a career that would allow her to see the tangible results of her hard work, provide constant challenges, but also the opportunity to reap the rewards. So far, her packed daily routine seems to be the perfect fit for her:

Hayley Horwood
Service Sales Executive, United Kingdom
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A day in the life of a Sales Executive is full of surprises and rarely the same as the previous day! There are the key tasks you always perform – creating new opportunities based on engineer reports or customer requests, creating, and sending quotes, and liaising with customers. But those are just the tip of the iceberg – so much work goes into making those things happen: analyzing customer needs, building relationships with engineers and suppliers, managing pipelines, forecasting financial targets etc. You really do never run out of things to do - which, as an adult with ADHD, is perfect for me!

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Drawing from her past experiences, she has also applied learnings from her previous job as a teacher: 

‘When building relationships, whether that’s with clients, colleagues, or suppliers, it is vital to establish a sense of trust and safety; the more confident they feel in your ability to listen and understand their needs, the better relationship you’ll be able to build. As they say: people buy from people – so if a customer doesn’t trust you, they won’t buy from you. In my previous career as a teacher, building relationships and finding mutual understandings and goals was vital to doing well with a class, so this is something I’ve always considered a strength of mine. I think managing customers will always be one of my favorite parts of the job! 

Hayley’s advice for women looking to join the industry is to take the leap sooner rather than later:

‘To anyone looking to join the sales career, I would totally encourage you to research the different areas of sales (e.g., service sales, account management, field sales etc.) and to chat to people within these areas, but ultimately, I think you have to just jump in and go for it! I considered my career change for a long time and wish I’d made the jump sooner – I love the experiences I’ve had in the past, but I wouldn’t look back now; sales is a whirlwind of excitement and challenges and is incredibly fulfilling. And to any women who are concerned it is more of a man’s world…  I’d say; don’t worry ladies, we’re working on that and there is plenty of room for you too!

Silvia Sinigardi's Story

Silvia leads the Vertiv mechanical R&D team for large AC power solutions in Bologna, Italy. Together, they design UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supplies) systems and are constantly focused on innovation and pioneering solutions. She joined the company back in 2011 and her career started with prototype designs. She even moved to China for a couple of years to support the regionalization of product lines. 

Silvia’s main responsibilities are ensuring the effectiveness of the mechanical design of UPS systems, looking for the best compromise possible between costs, feasibility, serviceability, and easiness of assembly.   

A typical day in her role usually looks something like this:

Silvia Sinigardi
Mechanical Engineering Manager, Italy
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As a mechanical design and technical department engineer leader, I have many activities requesting my action or support. We have constant internal updates and coordination activities to ensure that new designs are effectively implemented. But at the same time, since we’re releasing bills of materials for all the production plants, strong cooperation with manufacturing, procurement, quality, service, assembly, and many other departments is constant and important. I work and cooperate with people all around the world (like US, Mexico, China, India, Slovakia, and obviously, Italy) and every day I face new challenges and learn something new.

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Silvia stresses the importance of teamwork to reach challenging goals‘We’re incredibly supportive and always trying to help each other. As a mechanical design team, working on the release of electronic equipment, we cannot avoid cooperation. Collaboration is a mantra, and constant formal and informal meetings are done at every time of the day. Sometimes a coffee break or a walk to the canteen together with colleagues is more effective than a formal meeting! 

While she believes that having an open mind, being willing to learn and challenging yourself are essential for success in engineering, her parting advice for women considering a career in engineering is: Don't be shy. If it catches your attention, it's likely meant for you.

Irem Artikaslan's Story

Irem is an enthusiastic business analyst who harmonizes her engineering background with her social skills in order to be the bridge between technical and business teams. She focuses on digital content management technologies used mainly by marketing and sales teams. Born and raised in Ankara, Turkey, she later moved to Padova, Italy to pursue a master's degree. Upon completing her studies her path crossed with Vertiv and began working in the IT department based in Italy.

Always eager to push her boundaries, experience new things and explore new horizons, Irem enjoys collaborating with colleagues from all around the world as she focuses on digital content management and enhancing them together through business input and cutting-edge technologies. 

Irem Artikaslan
Junior Digital Content Management Analyst, Italy
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‘The root of every revolution is the human factor; when you have an “everything is possible” mindset, revolutions are inevitable. For sure, the most important tool that humanity has today is data, which drives the need for data centers. Engineers are the key to scaling up data centers.’ When asked about advice she would give to young women who are interested in pursuing a career in STEM, her response was the following: ‘Believe in yourself and seek out paths that could be the best fit for you by getting advice from the people with experience in the field, do your own research and put them all into your decision process. Adopt an analytical mindset but in the end listen to your heart.’

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Irem shared with us her hopes for the future and how we can continue to encourage more women to pursue careers in STEM. 

‘I hope to see more women in leadership roles in technical areas as I believe women are good in communication, collaboration, and empathy, which are valuable skills in this field. They can foster environments where team members feel heard, valued, and motivated to contribute their best ideas.  

Education system and family background play an important role in encouraging women to orient to STEM fields but as individuals already working in STEM areas, we can provide volunteer mentorship to fresh minds and support the visibility of successful women in the field in different channels so they can be role model for the next generations to pursue a career in STEM.

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