How my experiences and challenges helped me conquer space in this sector


What woman has never heard one of the following statements during their business day? “Here comes (woman’s name) to embellish our meeting”, “Are you having one of those days?”, “Is everything okay at home?”, “She’s very masculine”, “Your pregnancy will hinder your growth”, “She must be dating the boss.”  I’ll stop here, but the number of phrases and expressions is as huge as is machismo in our society.  However, I’ll focus on the professional market, especially the technology one, where I’ve been working for over 30 years, and how to succeed in this area.

In IT, many women still hear: “It’s so cool that you work in this area, even though you’re a woman.” Unfortunately, us women are still few in this market.  More precisely, the most recent PNAD (National Household Sample Survey) carried out by the IBGE (Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics) shows that only 20% of the professionals working in this sector are women. And although I experience this every day, I also wonder why this is still happening.

Certainly, there are many possible explanations – from prejudice, machismo, historical and social contexts, to the real, emotional and physical difficulties only women can understand.  This entails gigantic consequences, and one of the main ones is that I missed out on having female professional benchmarks in the IT area.  During my trajectory, I’ve had a few or none at all.  In 1993, at the beginning of my career, the number of women that had already trailed this path before me and who I could look up to was almost null.  My performance references where all men and as a result I ended up adopting a more masculine manner of dealing with business. I even changed my tone of voice to speak louder and stronger.

Without benchmark and information, since not much was said about gender equality, I believed that that was the norm and that I should adapt myself to it.  Fortunately, 30 years later, we’ve come a long way in regard to obtaining more inclusive corporate environments.  Now, we have more female examples of success, and this inspires new generations to believe that growth is possible in any type of sector.

How to overcome challenges?

On that note, here’s some sound advice. If you wish to work in IT, don’t give up. Study a lot and never give up. Look for positive standards and reprogram your mind. Even if you’re afraid, continue moving on. Be inspired by women who made it, don’t be afraid of new challenges, be flexible, and carry on, one day at a time, knowing that one day, you too will be an example and inspiration for other girls and women.

And to leverage this inspirational and motivational mood, many people ask me how I’ve faced and face challenges in my career. Nowadays, I see these obstacles as barriers that can be overcome. I create strategies and methods and do my best to solve them. I know this sounds easy and like self-help rhetoric.  I understand, but I started to face things this way after I became a mother to an autistic child, who is my reason for living.

Especially after I became a mother, I started understanding that any challenge can be overcome, and I learned how to deal with all aspects of my life with greater humanity and awareness. One of my methods is to establish and believe in an exterior motive – even in my worst days, I was going to work not only for myself.  I went to work every day for my son, for my family.

Personally, I also believe – because I’ve learned it through practice – that all experiences serve a purpose. Amid good and bad situations that make you uncomfortable or uneasy, like mistakes and betrayal, are things I’m sure will make me stronger. I know they will make sense within my story and that they happened exactly as they should in order for me to evolve. I believe that this type of mentality helps us to go through these situations in such a way that we can overcome them.

My reality today

Currently, I lead more than 1,000 employees and partners in 20 countries who control more than 90.5 thousand kilometers of terrestrial and submarine fiber, more than 12,400 connected buildings, across 2,000 network nodes.  In addition to the operational portion, my daily work is closely related to the development of these teams and of each employee under my supervision.  I believe in the importance of humanized leadership through actionable methodologies, and for that reason, I travel across Latin America to meet and interact with each one of these individuals.  This dedication increases not only our individual results, but also the company’s results as a whole.

And of course, I fight for greater inclusion in our workplace and, especially, in the technology industry. This article is also another important initiative to drive reflection and give visibility to this extremely serious, urgent, and important matter.

Last but not least, when you hear one of the phrases mentioned above or even the ones only mentioned behind your back – about the violence and disrespect you’ve experienced – I leave you with a reflection I like a lot: don’t take personally that which belongs to the other.  And move on!

Tatiana Fonseca
EVP Operations
Cirion Technologies 

Tatiana currently holds the position of Executive Vice President of Operations for Cirion Technologies.  She has more than 23 years of experience as a technology executive and consultant for large telecom companies, always obtaining significant results in environments with major investments and challenging timelines. She has led digital transformation projects, organizational restructuring during merger processes, development and implementation of new business models, systems, and critical processes for Operations, Engineering, IT, Customer Relations, Marketing, and Sales.

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