Marie Pettersson has always stood out in the crowd as a female technology advocate. Having an extensive interest in math, physics and technology, she has been conscious of staying true to herself, gravitating towards the technology side of business throughout her career. Marie is originally Swedish, but has been working outside of Sweden for 15 years. Today she is deployed in Singapore as the General Manager of Asia Pacific at Kezzler.
Marie has always worked in sales and marketing roles. Coming from a business educational background, and fueling her career with a mix of technology and business, she has a unique combination.
-I had my interest in technology, so I should have become an engineer rather than getting a degree in business, she laughs, I chose business because it has a broad scope.
Starting with telecommunications, she moved on to IT and security software, working for the American company Symantec, where she got the opportunity to work in product marketing and -management. Up until now she has worked with Enterprise customers applying technology to solve real-world problems for customers. As an example, at Kezzler, connecting products and traceability, giving brands the opportunity to provide a higher level of customer experiences using innovative technology.
-I can’t see myself working with anything unrelated to technology. For me, technology is an integral part of life.
What is the most memorable moment in your career?
After finishing her Masters of Science in Business Administration in 2002, she got accepted into the Telia Management trainee program.
-This was an amazing program, where I learned everything about technology, starting with the details of network infrastructure and everything related to telecommunications.
The program lasted for two years, and she stayed at Telia for almost five. While attending the program, she was given the opportunity to work for a mobile operator in Nicaragua.
-It was my first experience establishing a mobile operator on the ground. I knew no one, and did not know the language very well. Having the guts to say “I wanna go there”, and really going for it, was a big accomplishment for me. (…) This was a moment in my career when I realized that if I really wanted something, I could get it. I just needed to know what I was aiming towards, and actively work for it.
-I believe that marketing is evolving into a more technology oriented function
Coming on board at Kezzler, Marie’s role was purely sales as the General Manager and Sales Director for Asia Pacific. Last year, she took on an additional role, as the Chief Marketing Officer and a part of the management team.
-I was hesitating a little, thinking that running the marketing in addition to being in charge of sales, might create a misperception of my dedication to the latter. In the end, this has turned into an advantage where I can influence strategy and direction, at the same time as I am out on the field working with customers and partners.
She points out the IT industry as still being male dominated, while she states that the marketing space remains dominated by women. Furthermore, she believes that there is an existing stereotype for people working in marketing.
-I believe that it’s wrong to say that marketing is more for those who are creative and interested in aesthetics. I really want to change this way of thinking! Marketing is all about generating business, and being able to demonstrate the value generated.
In Marie’s experience, many marketers are not very interested in technology.
-They are often not comfortable with working in a spreadsheet or doing calculations and business cases. At Symantec, the regional VP of Marketing recognised the shortage of these skills in the team, and invested in extensive training of the whole EMEA team with over 100 employees. This is what workplaces need to do. Rather than affirming “this is how women are”, we need to train and encourage people to learn new skills outside of their comfort zone. (…) I believe that marketing is evolving into a more technology oriented function.
What is your advice to women entering the IT and technology industry?
-Don’t limit yourself to thinking that you only can be in a certain role. If you set your mind to it, you can be anything you want. If you lean towards people similar to yourself, you are making a safe choice. I believe that you should invest in trying to find a network with more diversity. Do it deliberately! Maybe you need to drink some more beer with the guys, but it’s worth it. They might become some of your strongest supporters.