Interview by Meike Schneiders
Meet WTP8 Talent Aroussia Maadi, Automation for Network department Director at Orange. In this interview, she talks about her passion for computer science, what it takes to be a good leader, and why she is committed to developing others.
You have been at Orange since 2008. Last year, you became the department director of the Automation for Network. What excites you most about this new position, which skills have you had to learn, and what has surprised you the most?
What excites me most at Orange are the challenges we are facing to have more connectivity, better quality of service, and network capabilities on demand. The Covid pandemic showed us just how important a good network is. It quickly became visible in many fields such as medical care, education, and in our everyday social interactions. I also enjoy being at Orange because is a very international company and working in such a diverse environment is incredibly stimulating and enriching. I learn new words every day from my Polish and Romanian colleagues!
Today I am managing a department of 70 people, including many experts on network and automation who have amazing profiles. Over the years I have learned how to speak to, motivate and understand them. I really enjoy my job as it involves translating their expertise when needed to our international partners, Orange’s other country offices, and management. My current position requires using negotiation skills and I also get to constantly learn about how artificial intelligence is going to enhance the quality of services and make our operational life at Orange easier.
You are passionate about computer science, a field you studied and to which you have stayed close ever since, and state in your WIL biography that "data is the 21st century's oil". Can you tell us more about what you mean by this and what you think the future of data could look like?
I am Tunisian and French and grew up in Tunisia. When I was a little girl, I loved playing with CD players and all types of machines we had at home because I wanted to understand them and how the technology behind them worked. That is why I chose to pursue a degree in engineering and to work as an engineer. To this day I am passionate about computer science and how machines can improve people’s life and companies’ business. At Orange we generate huge amounts of data every day. Once stored, this data is anonymised for clients’ privacy and to respect EU regulations and is analysed to improve connectivity, quality of service, and user experience. This is why I said that data can be assimilated to oil. It generates big value for our partners, our customers, and to all our lives.
To this day I am passionate about computer science and how machines can improve people’s life and companies’ business.
As a woman in a leadership position, what pressures do you feel the need to live up to and what tips would you give to other women on their way, or just starting out on their leadership journey?
To be honest, as a woman in a leadership position I do not feel specific pressure in my work environment from my colleagues. However, I can put a lot of pressure on myself and dream of being a superwoman who can tackle any problem! This is still something I want to improve on. Nevertheless, there are three small tips that I would give to women starting out in leadership positions. The first one is self-confidence, which is key to leading as a woman or a man. The second one is being authentic. It helps to establish connections with people and teams and tackle problems together. The third one is taking time to network and connect with people in the workplace. Help people grow and you will grow yourself.
Help people grow and you will grow yourself.
As a follow-up question, do you think that women bring certain qualities to leadership and, if so, which are the ones that you most admire?
I am not sure that we can say that women always bring certain qualities to leadership, but diversity in general is certainly beneficial for a company. Diversity brings new ways of seeing things. Its positive impact becomes visible when we see that companies with a higher percentage of women in leadership positions also have better financial results.
You have expressed your interest in feminism and women's empowerment not only at WIL but also through your involvement with ATUGE au Féminin. Can you tell us more about the initiative and your commitment to it?
As I mentioned, I do believe that diversity is key to the success of any organisation. That is why I am interested in advancing gender-balanced leadership and, since 2017, am engaged in an association called ATUGE au Féminin. This is an association bringing together Tunisian engineers in France, whose mission is to promote women's empowerment by organising mentoring sessions and networking events as well as to provide tools to help these women in their professional life. I am mainly engaged in the association's mentorship programme through which women are matched with experienced mentors to help them in their career development. This is a very exciting experience. I am committed to it because it makes a difference, and we have great feedback from the mentees every year on what being mentored has brought to them in their personal life and professional life. My role is to organise the mentorship sessions: analysing all the candidates and then trying to match the mentees and mentors, which is a very complicated but enriching task!
Video edited by Juliette Travaillé