Interviewed by Hajar El Baraka
Meet our Member, Myriam El Ouni, Managing Sales Director for Financial and Insurance Industries at Pegasystems. In this interview, Myriam talks about what she gained from working for leaders in the Tech industry, learning from the sanitary crisis and why she is contributing to the Women Talent Pool Leadership Programme.
You are currently the Managing Sales Director for Financial and Insurance Industries at Pegasystems. What does your job entail and what energises you about your work?
I have the great pleasure to manage the Sales team for the insurance and banking industry at Pegasystems. What energises me the most is, first, seeing my team grow daily and, second, seeing the impact my team has on our customers. It’s really enthralling to see how we help banks and insurance companies grow in their digital transformation. This is a high motivation for me each day!
You have gained extensive leadership experience working at Microsoft, Salesforce, LinkedIn and Pegasystems. What have you learned from being part of such successful technology and digital companies?
I have learned many things. First and foremost, I have learned that everything is possible. When you work for leaders in Tech, especially American ones, you are taught every day that you can achieve more, that you can become a better person than you were yesterday, that you can contribute to all the digitalisation of our customers’ companies and have a real impact on their success. Long story short, I think that what I gained most from these companies is that they empowered me to achieve more.
You oversee diverse international teams as part of your work, and you proudly state on your LinkedIn profile that you make sure to provide an inclusive environment. How are the technology and digital sectors doing in terms of gender equity and diversity in your view?
I feel very lucky to be part of this industry! Out of all the industries, I believe the digital and tech sectors are the most advanced in terms of gender equality. They are also focusing on investing in more diversity within the workplace more broadly, not only in terms of gender. Because we use the technology we sell, it helps us be more inclusive and diverse. For instance, female inclusion in these types of companies has always been facilitated by the ability to work from home, which was possible long before the COVID-19 situation made it mandatory for everyone. When you are a woman and you also have a family, working from home is such a good way to manage your work-life balance.
A research article published in the European Journal of Social Psychology concluded that it takes on average 66 days to form a habit. If that is true, then it is good news for businesses which experienced and capitalised on digital transformation during the COVID-19 pandemic. In your opinion, how can business leaders keep this momentum going? Which lessons can they learn and make sure it’s woven into everything they do moving forward?
I am a deep believer that what we have learned during this sanitary crisis, and the behaviour changes this has brought, should not just be temporary. People feel more empowered now that they can choose from where they work and how they engage with customers and manage teams. I believe as a manager and a leader that when you trust your team and your people, everything goes well. Not being in the same office or location but having a team located all over the country, for instance, is something that works very well if you trust them and empower them to deliver their best work.
I believe as a manager and a leader that when you trust
your team and your people, everything goes well.
Digital transformation often reshapes workgroups, job titles and held business processes. People may be unsure about their value and perhaps fear losing their jobs. As a leader, how do you build trust to nourish an organisation that is supportive and fully onboard with the transformation efforts?
I remember when I worked at Microsoft back in 2006, I had a customer who thought that if they digitalised their messaging system, they would no longer need teams to maintain it and their co-workers were afraid they would lose their jobs. This is relevant in every type of industry. My conviction is that technologies will help people focus on higher-value tasks. We don’t need human intelligence to deliver tasks that robots can do, but we do need this intelligence to deliver high-value tasks. When you digitalise your messaging systems, or you automatise your business processes and no longer need a team to maintain all this within your organisation, then you have the unique opportunity to leverage these teams. I believe not only in artificial intelligence, but in augmented intelligence. I believe in a world where technology will only replace people where we do not need that level of intelligence and bring people in where they will add real value.
I do not only believe in artificial intelligence,
I believe in augmented intelligence. I believe in a world
where technology will only replace people
where we do not need that level of intelligence
and bring people in where they will add real value.
In 2018, you have founded a start-up that empowers organisations to succeed in their own digital transformation. Can you tell us more about this and about how your prior experience helped you as an entrepreneur?
After more than 15 years working for big digital companies, I decided to gather all the skills and knowledge I gained to create a start-up and to provide my own services to benefit customer digital transformation. I learned a lot during this entrepreneurial experience. I learned that being an entrepreneur is very different from working for a company. You can be very successful within a company because you are leveraging its name and ecosystem and you are part of a team. When you create a start-up, you suddenly realise that being alone is less easy than you thought and everything you learned during your collective experience probably cannot be applied. Nevertheless, I also learned that working for big companies makes you more structured and customer-centric, and much more agile in providing solutions, which has helped me create this start-up. The start-up was subsequently sold and continues to be successful without me.
You participated in our Women Talent Pool Programme in 2012. How did participating in this programme help you in your career and what spurred you to become a WIL Member afterwards?
I loved being part of the Women Talent Pool programme as much as I love being a Member of the WIL network. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to meet many inspiring women. The leadership programme lasted 18months during which we had the opportunity to network and be exposed to senior female leaders who were always happy to provide feedback, guidance and share their experiences. Back at that time, I wanted to follow the path of these women. They made me realise that you can both strive for a career and have a rich personal life and make it work. I grew confident in my capability to be both a professional and a mother.
The reason why I wanted to become a WIL Member is to give back. I received so much from this programme that I thought when the time came and I had enough to share, I wanted to contribute to the future editions of Women Talent Pool programme. I hope to inspire future Talents to be successful and succeed in their professional and personal lives.
I wanted to follow the path of these women.
They made me realise that you can both
strive for a career and have a rich a personal life
and make it work. I grew confident in my capability
to be both a professional and a mother.
Video edited by Dovilė Bogušytė