Connecting, inspiring and empowering women to lead the way

Claire O’Brien, Senior Project Manager, Lenovo

28 Feb 2019 11:43 | Anonymous

We had the pleasure of interviewing Claire O’ Brien, a current participant of our Women Talent Pool (WTP) and an experienced Tech insider, having worked for IBM and presently at Lenovo as Senior Project Manager. Not only did Claire provide a personal account about her time working within the Tech industry, she also offered an insight into the current changes that are occurring within the field, both in terms of the importance of Customer Experience and the progressive developments taken to incorporate further inclusion and equality at Lenovo. Alongside getting to know how the Women Talent Pool program (WTP) has been for her, Claire talked about a historical figure she admires. Read the interview below to find out more!

You hold a degree in Marketing and have extensive experiences in the tech sector. You joined IBM at the age of only 21 and then Lenovo a few years later. How did you end up in tech and what is your favorite part about working in this sector?

From a young age, I knew that I wanted to go into the tech sector. My father worked for IBM, which therefore meant that I was lucky enough to participate in many family open days. I loved being able to view the production lines and watch the manufacturing process of computers. I was very fortunate to start working in IBM as soon as I finished university.

The favorite part of working in Tech and working for Lenovo is that it is a fast-moving industry which touches practically everyone in the world! When I started in Lenovo, we sold laptop and desktop computers. Today, we are well established in the data center and mobile markets, having set our sights high on emerging technologies such as Artificial Intelligence.

Being part of a company where innovation is shaping our future for the better – is invigorating!

The favorite part of working in Tech and working for Lenovo is that it’s a fast-moving industry which touches practically everyone in the world!

You have experience in Customer Experience and fulfillment. What will the future of Customer Experience look like, according to you and what steps have Lenovo taken?

Customer Experience is going to transform in the future. Now more then ever, it is easier for customers to take their business elsewhere, switching brands to acquire the experience they want. Buying is no longer just about the product, it is about the overall experience and ease of doing business. Gartner has predicted that within the next two years, customer experience will outweigh price and product as the key brand differentiator.

Customer experience will therefore continue to mature from being just a buzzword to something that becomes ingrained in everyone across all lines of business. Companies will need to listen to the voice of the customer and empower all employees to make decisions that best serve their customers needs.

Lenovo is presently on this journey and has made big strides in the last year or so. We can clearly feel the cultural transformation taking place in our daily business. Customer experience is central to Lenovo’s business strategy and it is a core KPI in every employee’s business objectives. In the end, loyal customers grow your business!  

You are currently working as Senior Project Manager at Lenovo, our Women Talent Pool (WTP) Program sponsor. Lenovo has been named among Fortune Magazine’s World’s Most Admired Companies. What is it like to work for Lenovo? How is Lenovo promoting gender diversity and equality?

I love working for Lenovo. Its fast-paced, everyone is very empowered to drive changes and the leadership team listens, and acts on the views of the employees. We are encouraged to be innovative and identify new and better ways of doing things. What I like the most is the array of opportunities Lenovo has given me.  Working in transformation means we are responsible for the delivery of projects that support the Europe, Middle East and Africa business’ in bringing their strategic objectives. Many of these projects look at improving efficiency or customer experience across end to end processes, meaning that we are always working across multiple organisations and countries! On a daily basis, I am involved in a diverse range of projects, so it is always interesting, and I am always learning.

Lenovo is doing a lot to promote gender diversity and equality, for example, through a combination of global initiatives and collaboration with external organisation (such as WIL), they are working to strengthen the pipeline of female talent. Examples of diversity and equality include reviewing practices at every stage of the hiring process, from graduates to executives; strengthening and growing women in leadership programs; and expanding access to development and mentoring opportunities for female employees. On an ongoing basis, they are measuring our progress on gender equality to identify barriers and challenges, and act accordingly when potential hurdles are acknowledged, to ensure they are overcome.

Through a combination of global initiatives and collaboration with external organisations (such as WIL), Lenovo is working to strengthen the pipeline of female talent.

Have you ever faced negative/positive gender discrimination working for the tech sector?

Generally, I have never felt that I have faced any discrimination during my career. I have been given many opportunities over the last twenty years which in my view has been based on merit and capability. I have three children and have always been able to work part-time, allowing me to balance work and home life well. This has not impacted the roles or opportunities I have been given and hasn’t affected my career progression.

You are currently participating in the 4th Edition of our WTP Program. How would you describe your experience so far?

The experience has been great! I have always worked in the same industry so the greatest benefit for me has been the opportunity to network with women across a multitude of business types. Being able to share experiences, learn new ideas and take inspiration from female leaders is very worthwhile for me. As a working mum of three, it is crucial to get advice from other members on how they achieve the right balance between family life and achieving career ambition.

Overall, the program offers a good mix of online education webinars, inspirational speakers, panel debates and networking events all of which have been very valuable for my career and have also made me consider how best to motivate my 12-year-old daughter to grasp and make the most of opportunities.

The WTP programme offers a good mix of online education webinars, inspirational speakers, panel debates and networking events all of which have been very valuable for my career!

At WIL, we have the tradition of concluding the interview with a question from Proust’s questionnaire. With which historical figure do you most identify with?

I wouldn’t say I identify with as such but a historical figure I admire is Maya Angelou since studying her first book ‘Why does the Caged Bird Sing’ at school. She faced racial discrimination from a young age and yet was incredibly resilient. She devoted her life to be a tireless voice for women and black people. What stands out to me is that she taught people to never lose hope, to keep working hard and never give up on achieving our ambitions. 

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