Interviewed by Aurélie Doré
Meet our Talent, Mariana Kopecká, EMEA Supply Assurance Manager at Lenovo. In this interview, she talks about what makes her so passionate about her job, why education should be at the core of all gender equality policy, and her desire to strengthen a networking tradition among women. She also shares her tips on how to maintain a healthy work-life balance.
Can you describe your current role as EMEA Supply Assurance Manager at Lenovo? Why you are so passionate about it, and could you share with us one of the major projects you have supervised?
I am leading a team of specialists in the technical field, which supports the global supply chain of Lenovo in EMEA. I have been working for Lenovo for more than ten years: I have held various positions, but this one has given me so many opportunities not only on a professional but also on a personal one.
During the past two years, the IT sector and electronics industry more generally went through a huge revolution. The COVID-19 pandemic created a huge spurt in demand, our daily work changed completely, and we are now living in a new era. From a technical perspective, every single day is a new challenge, particularly as the electronics industry is facing shortages, such as of chips.
We also had to adapt to working from home and my leadership skills needed to change as well. I like meeting people, connecting with them and adapting my management style accordingly. Working in a virtual world deprived me of many of the tools I deploy when I meet people in person, hence, I had to find alternative ways to stay connected to my team.
Adjusting to the COVID-19 crisis has definitively been a milestone in my career. It has helped me not only to move forward in my professional life and shape my leadership skills, but also had a big impact on my personal life since I am the mother of a two-year-old little girl.
I am passionate about my job because I see the progress and real value I can bring, not only to my company but also to the world. As Lenovo is one of the biggest IT leaders, we have a direct role in supporting education, research and healthcare professionals, who are fighting on the frontline of the COVID-19 pandemic. I am proud to be having an impact on our fast-changing world.
I am passionate about my job
because I see the progress and
the real value I can bring,
not only to my company
but also to the world.
Lenovo has recently reinforced its commitment to responsible and gender-equitable artificial intelligence by joining Cercle InterElles, a French-based meta-network of 16 companies across scientific and technological industries. How does this commitment to diversity and inclusion impact your daily work?
I am lucky to work for a company that understands the importance of diversity. Although Lenovo joined Cercle InterElles recently, its commitment is not new: diversity and inclusion are part of our DNA. As a woman, I never felt I had to work harder or fight more to get to where I am now. I always felt like a valid partner in the discussion, and I am proud to work for a company that understands its impact and uses it properly. I appreciate Lenovo’s effort to put D&I at the heart of our corporate values , particularly as I understand that it is not the norm everywhere. We need to keep making our voices heard.
Women are still underrepresented in executive business roles, especially within the IT sector. Was it difficult for you to establish yourself in the tech industry? What in your view can be done to close the gender gap in tech?
I am very proud to work for a company that understands how important it is to recruit people not only for their technical abilities but also for their talent and potential. If I am being honest, establishing myself as a leader was more difficult than establishing myself in the IT sector as a woman. However, I do recognise there is a gender gap in the technology sector, and it must be addressed. Gender discrimination starts in childhood, so we need to first understand our own biases and how we raise our children in order not to reinforce stereotypes. For example, we can encourage them to play with a diverse range of toys regardless of what gender they are “intended for”. Moreover, we need to provide as many opportunities as possible for children to have diverse experiences.
Education plays a big role as well. I have a friend in Austria where it seems these questions are taken heavily into consideration. His daughter who is in sixth grade had a discovery course on robot programming. She loved it, even though she was the only girl in the class. I think this example shows the importance of adapting to our children’s interests, talents and potential, regardless of their gender. Education is the pathway towards gender equality.
Education is the pathway towards gender equality.
You joined WIL Europe as a Talent a few months ago. Why is it important for you to be involved in a network dedicated to female leaders? What have you done or are doing to develop your network?
We as women still have a long way to go to change our behaviour and way of seeing things, especially when it comes to networking. Men still have more experience using networks for career advancement, because they have been doing it for years. Women lack these spaces and there is room for improvement in sharing information, supporting each other, and getting rid of the competition that still lies within us.
Being part of WIL Europe is important to me because I want to invest my time in creating a networking tradition among women which will lead to a more equal system. Women can bring a different energy to the discussion and, in this way, we can all learn and grow together.
As a person with a busy schedule, what do you do to unwind and relax after a workday? Do you play any sports? And if so, to what extent is sport is an integral part of your life?
I am a huge advocate and enthusiast when it comes to work-life balance. What keeps me sane is gardening, CrossFit and Olympic weightlifting. I believe that various activities can improve the quality of life, you just need to find the one that brings you joy.
For me, sport is not about forgetting my daily tasks but mainly about keeping myself in shape and taking care of my body. These activities act like a catalyser that allow me to reduce tension and better handle pressure, so I take them very seriously.
There is a common misconception about working hard: long hours do not necessarily lead to greater productiveness or better results; it is just an illusion. Surviving is not the same as creating, and since passion is feeding our energy, we must identify and nurture it to stay efficient. Working towards those goals with my team is what I care about most. Giving them the opportunity to invest in themselves acts as a real driving force for me. I see the world as a living ecosystem where we all are interdependent and so by helping people around me develop their passion, I contribute to keeping the ecosystem active.
Surviving is not the same as creating,
and since passion is feeding our energy,
we must identify and nature it to stay efficient.
We like to close our interviews with a question from the Proust questionnaire. The one we have chosen for you is: who are your heroes in real life?
I admire all the people around me who are brave enough to step out of their comfort zone, overcome fear, start something new and go after their dreams. Aside from my parents and friends, I was very moved by the story of a woman who used to be very well established in the finance sector and decided to leave the comfort zone to start a new clothing brand.
I am also inspired by public figures like Jacinda Ardern and Sanna Marin. They manage to juggle busy personal and professional lives and this is uplifting to see. Perhaps the most inspiring is their ability to keep their humanity and politeness, even in the most difficult of times.
Video edited by Dovilė Bogušytė