Hello, my name is Doreen Pernel. In this podcast, I tell you about my career path and my passion for the tech world. I've always wanted to understand how this industry works. I've worked at Facebook and I have to admit that it's a real war machine. I also talk about the place of women in tech.
An academic career at EM Normandie
To be bilingual in English, I had to go abroad. This is how I envisaged my future international career. That's why I went to Oxford to learn English just before joining EM Normandie. Once I was on the course, I did other international trips.
I first went to Southampton in England, which was not too far for a first expatriation. Then I went to Eastern Finland for 5 months. I experienced a change of culture. In addition, there was a greater distance to travel, time difference and also a different climate. I left with little confidence in my level of English and in my ability to go alone to another country. Thanks to this expatriation, I gained confidence and progressed well.
I went to Sydney for a year to do a Master's degree. I liked life in Australia so much that I stayed another year to work there.
Getting started in Tech
After graduating, I was very interested in the technology field. Before I moved to London, I researched companies based in Dublin, London and in Switzerland. There was already a huge cluster of tech companies in Dublin at the time.
Out of all the interviews I had, the best opportunity I found was in London, at Bloomberg, one of the biggest tech companies in the world. There was a specialisation in Fintech on their product "the Bloomberg terminal". It was very interesting to develop my sales skills in the Tech field.
I stayed in London for a year and an opportunity opened up in New York at Bloomberg. They were looking for a manager to manage the US, Canadian and Brazilian teams. It was a dream for me to move to New York. I took the opportunity and went there for a year.
Getting poached by Facebook
I came back to London after that one-year contract at Bloomberg. I found that their technology hadn't changed much since 1981. They still used the same terminal and their monopoly was growing.
I wanted to move more towards SaaS technologies in the cloud. I got closer to a company called Box, where I worked for a year. It is a competitor of Dropbox but specialised in BtoB. I liked discovering the cloud part of the technology.
I was then approached on LinkedIn by one of the heads of Facebook in London. At first, I wondered whether this was a real profile! I accepted the first phone call without really believing it. Then, when I went to the interview at Facebook, it became real. When I got the job, I was really happy! My tasks were to manage the teams in Europe, South America and Asia.
What they liked about me was that I had lived in different countries, that I could understand the employees and the customers. It was really a goal for me to position myself in one of the biggest tech companies to understand how these 'big machines' work. It's really impressive!
Facebook is a big war machine, from the point of view of human resources, processes, investments... There is also a strong proximity between the teams. Some days, we had a live chat with Mark Zuckerberg. This is normal when you work at Facebook.
The place of women in Tech
In the Tech sector and particularly in Sales, there is a very skewed male/female ratio. This is changing and I'm very happy about it, but women are still a minority in this sector.
I push for this diversity in job interviews. I'm communicating that these kinds of roles are attainable for women and that it's not just Sheryl Sandberg who can work in the executive suite at Facebook. I think it's very important to talk about this, that the job as a woman is not always easy but it's worth it.
I was also approached by Facebook because I had a network that was helping me and we had connections in common. Being able to speak out was something that was important to me in my career, especially when I moved from Bloomberg to Box.
Being able to put your skills forward and promote yourself is important. To do this, I have relied heavily on books, especially How Women Rise. It gives advice to women who want to progress in their careers, including how to make small changes that make a difference.
Women will always suffer from prejudice, as will many people who are in the minority. But it seems to me that today the taboo has been lifted.
Fighting the clichés
Working in tech is scary because people think it's geeky and that you need technical knowledge. First of all, you should know that companies train you. Above all, you have to want to learn and keep your objectives in mind, and set them regularly to keep a rhythm.
Tech is an environment that is increasingly accessible to everyone. We see this growth in France with the "French Tech". I think it's becoming easier and easier to enter this field.
Living up to your ambitions
I work at Data Iku. It's a company that makes data available on a simplified platform - cleaning, organisation and visualisation - for all the teams in a company, the Data Scientists, who will manage a data flow, the Sales Managers, the Marketers, etc. The aim is to create flows to automate the processes as much as possible. This is where Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning come in.
We're going to work on use cases for all types of industries (financial, public, etc.) in order to help our clients master Big Data. I'm in a sales role, my job is called "Vice President Sales". I manage sales and prospecting teams. This includes subjects that we study at EM Normandie, such as entrepreneurship and human resources management. As a sales person, you also have to be able to learn by yourself and learn about the products you sell.
More and more courses are being set up around the themes of innovation, data science... like at EM Normandie. To really develop your knowledge, you really have to be curious and find out for yourself to be able to pitch your product. In the interview, you have to show how you have understood the product and how you would sell it to a client.
Take your time
In your career, you should not put too much pressure on the job title and the salary you want to achieve in the immediate future. I hear more and more people say that they are not yet a manager and that they should already be earning such and such a salary at their age. And I tell them that there is nothing written down and that they should relax because there is no specific age for professional development.