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Women in STEM: A Discussion with COO, Joanne Soave

Women in STEM

At WaveDirect, our team is filled with talented, diverse, and interesting people. With a variety of experiences, backgrounds, and specialties, there’s a lot to learn from everyone. Our COO, Joanne Soave, is one of those people.

We recently sat down with her to discuss her experiences and thoughts on working in STEM, and the future of diversity and growth within it.

Tell us about you and your experience working in STEM, specifically the tech. sector, and how it has changed over the years:

My experience in STEM has been incredibly fulfilling, to say the least – it has allowed me the opportunity to grow professionally on so many levels and explore areas within the technology field that I never would have had access to, had I not stumbled into the world by way of my career with the independent TELUS dealer channel many years ago. When one door closed, the most unexpected window of all opened – the window to the wonderful world of wireless technology!

I know I might be one of few, but I love change.

I am not one to get complacent in any aspect of my life. I am always asking questions, I want to know what makes people tick. I love to explore new ideas, strategies, perspectives – places, people, things! I am determined to learn something new whenever I can, and in the world of technology, every single day provides a new and exciting opportunity to learn something, develop a new skill set, or polish an existing one. We work at a rapid speed and need to be 10 steps ahead in every way. We are forced to step outside of our comfort zones to explore different ways in which to provide the ultimate client experience to our community. 

Navigating through the tech sector over the years, I’ve often found myself sitting across from many different decision-makers all primarily being men. I was forced to learn new technology and research a lot on my own as new tech solutions were introduced, knowing how, what, when, where and who as it relates to introducing them to business clients at various levels within the industry and how to make my voice be heard and respected.  A lot of studying, reading, and question-asking to understand what impact digital transformation could have on clients I had worked with for years - I had to evolve alongside them. We were never client-vendor relations. We were always a team, and that took a lot of hard work and building trust to see projects successfully executed in the field.

What are your hopes are for the future?

I would like organizations to find ways to redefine the norms that society has created over the years. Let’s remove stereotypes that lead to additional stressors for women. Let’s stop looking at women as a ‘token hire” to represent “women” within an organization, and just hire the right individuals for the roles – equal opportunity is a solid starting point.

I’d like to see the efforts to attract women into the STEM fields continue to grow. I see this happening more than ever now, as many organizations focus on empowering, educating, and encouraging women to pursue their dreams and stay the course. To have more women, as an example applying for positions in specific fields, means first, they have to stay the course in terms of their education, complete the programs, and gain real-world experience in any way they can. The rapid success of the Women of Windsor Mentorship Collaborative, which WaveDirect is a key sponsor of, is a fantastic example that showcases the need for a hands-on approach to one-on-one mentorship. In turn, helping women at all phases of their professional lives reach their goals. Women helping women rise.

I would also like to see more opportunities become available for our youth. Opportunities to get their hands on tools and solutions so they can explore and experiment and get comfortable with what is available to them in areas of study and future employment. Something that I would wish to see our educational institutions placing a heavier focus on moving forward.

Diversity within ANY organization or team – including gender diversity - showcases improved creativity, productivity, sales, and profits. Bringing in different perspectives, approaches, and methodologies to increase the potential for greater success for any organization, cannot possibly have a downside!  It all comes down to finding a groove within the corporate culture and figuring out how to incorporate all the differences of thought, perspectives, methods brought to the table, to create a healthy working environment and culture overall.

Today, at WaveDirect, I am representing the core of where technology and innovation stems - connectivity. Understanding the digital divide, is real, in terms of connectivity, and access to tools and resources to keep people connected and thriving in the digital age- and knowing there is still so much work to be done, fuels me. One step at a time, as a team we are doing our part to bridge the divide by working on new and innovative means by which to connect not only our urban communities- but our rural communities which serve as home to thriving and rapidly growing industries such as agriculture in our region. There is so much work to be done to advance our region and connect our communities both business and personal – to be a part of that, from the ground up, it does not get any better than that, in my humble opinion!

Joanne imaage

What would you want to say to young people aspiring to work in STEM?

My advice to young people aspiring to become a part of the STEM field would be to see it through - do not give up. Understand that your education is a critical piece to future career opportunities, but please overestimate the value of developing your soft skills and experience through various means. Volunteer your time, outside of your comfort zone. Embrace mentorship from those who have been there before, and aspire to mentor in the future, sharing the wealth of knowledge you will possess throughout the course of your lifetime.

Focus on strengthening your emotional intelligence muscles.  Learn the importance of listening as a critical part of communications in all things. Practice patience – progress not perfection. Learn to adapt to change, so change your daily routines, often. Multi-tasking and project management skills make you an absolute asset to any employer. Be curious, ask questions. Never stop asking WHY….

Lastly and most importantly- say thank you for every single door that closes on you. Say thank you for failed attempts at anything you set out to be successful at. Say thank you for every no you receive. And understand- those opportunities were not meant for you.  What is meant for you will find you – keep focusing on how to become the best version of yourself, and step outside of your comfort zone every chance you get – and what is meant for you- will come. Resilience and grit, dust yourself off and try again, even when some days seem too heavy to bear. Know that it is ok to sit with it and make one small step toward positive change every single time until you are a better, stronger version of yourself. And with each time you dust yourself off, you will be one step closer to the best version of you, you can be.

Editors note: A big thank you to Joanne for taking the time to share her experiences and thoughts, and to the people working in STEM to make it a more diverse, growing space! Your work is appreciated, and we can’t wait to see what the field will look like in the coming years.

Women in STEM

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