They don't see constraints - anything is possible!
Inzenka is proud to announce the Trailblazers Network celebrating Women Leading Innovation. Over the next few months, we will be speaking to our members, amazing women who are trailblazing their way through the corporate, political and academic sectors changing the innovation landscape in the UK and beyond. Through our spotlight interviews we will learn about their journey, their ambitions and their view of what it’s like to be a female leader.
First in our series is Béatrice Butsana-Sita, who trailblazed her way through the male-dominated business world becoming MD of Capita Managed Networking Solutions. Béatrice had an amazing career from running her own business to representing BT at the World Economic Forum in Davos and being named a woman to watch in 2015 by Cranfield University.
Spotlight on Béatrice
As an MD of Capita Managed Networking Solutions what are the main challenges that you are facing with regards to growth & innovation?
I lead a company that provides everything from infrastructure cabling to fully managed networks. The question that I ask myself is what can I add as a service to my customers to stay relevant and, at the same time, build a profitable business. This is definitely a challenge in my sector but also for every company. As a leader, you have to know what’s going on around you and be prepared for change. Over the last 10 years the pace of change, fuelled by technological advancements, has accelerated exponentially. For example, companies have been wiped out by the emergence of VOIP, and the ones that survived stay on the pulse and constantly reinvent themselves.
What has been your biggest learning in the space?
You have to enjoy the moment when you have success. It goes quite quickly. I begin to worry when the waters are too calm, which means that something is going to happen. You cannot stay too comfortable as success breeds competition. You have to have to be open and aware – you have to have an edge.
What is your edge?
Commercial Edge: What gives us an edge at Capita is that the team is very diverse: culturally and in their experience and knowledge. This means that we are happy to look at issues from different points of view giving us commercial agility where bigger companies stay rigid in their processes.
Personal Edge: Humanity. At the end of the day, people buy people. Throughout my career, I have been building relationships with colleagues, suppliers, customers, but it must have been only 2 years ago when the impact of these efforts became apparent to me. Over the years these relationships grew and flourished becoming partnerships, where we have been helping each other along our journey.
Female Edge: Attending many corporate events I have noticed that 99% of these are male-oriented, particularly in my industry, which might make you feel singled out. However, I always try just to be myself. I know that I am here for a reason. You need to be confident in who you are and what you do. Everyone is unique and has their own unique toolbox of knowledge, skills and experience.
Where would you like to be in 3 years?
I want to do more of what I am doing. There are many things that are not quite right in the corporate world. I would like to create an environment that is challenging but nurturing at the same time, that helps you grow: an enterprise with a more socially and culturally responsible agenda, solving big issues.
What women in the innovation space do you consider role models?
Serena Williams. I admire her drive. She never gives up, even at her best, never going to a match arrogant. I try to do the same. When I wake up in the morning I like to think that I am starting back from zero, no matter how many wins I’ve had. I always look forward.
Coincidentally, my daughter is writing a school paper on inspirational women. Last night she was telling me about Sojourner Truth, a 19th century slave woman, who campaigned for women’s rights regardless of her position in the society and was the first black woman to win a court case against a white man. That tells me that the limits of what is possible are only inside our heads.
On that note, I know they are not women, but I also find Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk incredibly inspirational. They have unbelievable ambition and what gives them that unique vision is the way they see the world – they don’t see constraints. Anything is possible.
Do you have a mentor?
Yes, I have had many mentors, notably Lord Melvyn Davis, a former banker and UK government Minister. I also mentor many mixed-race women in technology myself, both inside and outside of the organisation. I like to remain in touch with issues they are experiencing.
What do you consider to be important characteristics of good leadership? How do you lead?
As a leader, you have to be open, curious and humble. Moreover, being a leader means being able to rally the troops, the people behind “the good” that needs to be achieved. At the same time, you have to constantly coach and support them to achieve that goal. It is never easy. But being able to articulate what the picture will look like when we get there is very important.
Today, which large companies do you consider the most innovative?
Amazon. This company yields unbelievable innovation spanning industries. I also think that Microsoft, Google and Facebook are undertaking some ground-breaking initiatives.
Looking at the innovation landscape in the UK what do you think the biggest road-block is?
The UK is becoming more insular. I don’t understand how the UK ended up with Brexit; great politicians worked so hard in the 70s and 80s to create the European family, now we are trying to destroy it. When you have big tech changes impacting the labour market, new skills brought via immigration show positive impact on the economy and the innovation landscape. It is disappointing to see that we seem to be going back to the drawing board and we don’t look enough at the bigger picture.
Do you think there are enough women in the Growth & Innovation space and what can we do to strengthen their position?
There are so many women innovating but the fact that I can’t come up with names is frustrating. It is a sign that women are not vocal enough. Women, in general, are much more humble. They don’t take the credit for what they do being happy as a part of the team. They are disruptive thinkers, but are they listened to? We need to be more vocal. What I would do is to give a voice to the quiet ones. To be a leader is to accept and exploit the potential around you, diversity of thinking, to be open, and not recruit people like you, but people who are not like you, and women are like that, so ultimately they are going to win.