A few weeks ago we had the great pleasure of opening a new We Shape Tech chapter in Geneva that is going to be co-lead by Laetitia Bochud and Fabiana Mariano Green. Beside driving the movement of greater diversity forward, Laetitia is responsible for the Network Development at VirtualSwitzerland and Fabiana is the co-founder of LeadinLife. We have catched up with them to know what diversity in the tech and innovation space means for them.
What was/were the trigger/s that made you want to create a Leman chapter of We Shape Tech?
Laetitia: My first ever We Shape Tech event I went to; I was impressed by the mixed crowd and the very open-minded professional, collaborative atmosphere. A We Shape Tech representative mentioned the existing Swiss chapters and I thought – we should have one in the Romandie too!
Fabiana: When I attended my first we shape tech event, I really connected with the idea that talent, not gender, should be the focus of diversity. I came back home and thought there is an opportunity in Romandie for us to contribute to our local community by hosting similar events over here! However, I wasn’t willing to do it alone. When I met Laeticia, I was inspired by her passion and expertise and I felt super motivated to co-Lead this new Chapter with her. So we went for it, together!
What does diversity mean for you? And why is it important for you especially when it comes to tech and innovation?
Laetitia: In my early 20’s, I was an immigrant in the USA; I experienced first-hand what diversity is, especially when living in a very dense and cosmopolitan area like New York City. Also, I represented 1% of Swiss students on my campus. Later on, as a young professional, I was very aware of the glass ceiling and the lack of many female role models / mentors. Today in my current role, I often am one of the few women in a room when attending conferences. Be it in the media, watchmaking, or innovation sectors, gender bias still widely predominate. When speaking of the revolution 4.0, what does it mean if women do not help shape tomorrow’s world? STEM careers still attract many more men than women. Technology will then be designed mainly for men, with men in mind, and the stereotypes will survive if we don’t foster change. Hence my involvement with We Shape Tech.
Fabiana: With a career of over 20 years working in technology and leadership development, I have had the opportunity to work and lead many teams in many different countries. I always thought: “If you hire only those people you understand, the company will never get people better than you are!”. Without diversity life would be very boring, and also much less challenging.
I have often been the only woman in the room. Sometimes it felt strange, and sometimes it didn’t. But regardless, I had to be very intentional about my own personal growth to learn to navigate the complexities of male dominated work-environments. This experience steered a passion within me to help and support other women to realize their own leadership potential. How do we thrive in a period of profound digital transformation? There is no better time than this to empower women to come to the table and explore how people and businesses will work, interact, and prosper in an era of profound digital transformation. Inclusion is the key to growth.
What is your background, current job/task you’re passionate about?
Laetitia: My job is actually to promote research-based innovation. Learning new developments in XR, meeting rich minds, liaising people, this is wonderful. My role is about giving presence, being in the here and now with innovation, tech, R&D professionals. In these settings, I also often raise the question of women at the table.
Fabiana: I am from Brazil, and I have spend about 10 years of my career working in technology in the private sector, and about 10 years working at the United Nations. Then, I became an entrepreneur and today I lead my own business, a learning and development company based in Geneva. I am the proud mum of 4 amazing children ages 10, 9, 7 and 5 – 3 boys and 1 girl! So we practice diversity & inclusion at home first! I am passionate about family, faith, leadership and technology.
Why do you think it is exciting to be a woman in tech today?
Laetitia: We have more freedom and power than ever and I feel the #metoo movement has helped us gain assertion; the baby boomers’ generation is slowly reaching retirement and this means probably, with the temporary help of quotas, more women on top! More role models to look up to for my toddler girl.
Fabiana: I believe most organizations today are committed to creating a diverse and inclusive workforce – it wasn’t like this when I started my career about 20 years ago. I don’t think there has been a time in the history of humankind that has seen more efforts to help us to connect, empower and inspire women at all levels of their careers. Yes, there is still a lot of work ahead of us, but the opportunities to grow and to make a difference are endless! I believe it’s largely up to us to make it happen.
Thank you both – we are all so excited to have you join the We Shape Tech community and spread our vision also in the French-speaking part of Switzerland!