– Meet Elaine Fenech
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your career path?
After leaving University, my intentions were to work in Marketing and PR, which I did for many years. I moved into product development and brand building in the telecoms industry where Marketing had just started being given its due importance. We were launching one brand after another, translating technology into concepts that the general public understood. At the start of my career, I would sit in a room full of engineers talking in a high tech language that I barely understood, trying to take notes to draft a press release or a brochure. Following, my stint in marketing, I was ready to move into the business world and to I head the corporate arm of the communications company, providing solutions for many business customers in Malta. I am also a certified etiquette consultant and trainer accredited by a school of etiquette based in London, and I am specialised in business etiquette and protocol. I bridge my two work-related passions very well since my experience in technology and business helps me to give insight to trainees about how to be professional in a world full of gadgets and applications that sometimes make our world too informal and impersonal.
Did you always know that working in technology was what you wanted to do?
Most of my working life was in technology though I actually never intended it so. My intention was to get some work experience and then seek new pastures. Once I started understanding my role in this big technology bubble, it got extremely interesting and exciting. Our economy and our country cannot move forward without a resilient, technology infrastructure and the continuous investment in systems that connect us to the rest of the world; we are after all an island state physically detached from mainland Europe.
What do you think are the biggest misconceptions about working in the Tech sector as a woman today?
The technology sector has traditionally been a man’s world but with more females joining engineering and IT courses at the tertiary level, it is changing.
I work for a company where gender was never an issue, where capabilities and passion for one’s job are emphasized. Today when you walk into IT departments, you see a great mix of genders.
I think that women need to see themselves more as major players in the tech sector and we are becoming more accustomed to seeing female technical executives. Teaching institutions and parents also have a big role to play in pushing girls towards the tech sector in their career path.
Do you think it is getting easier for women to get into Tech?
Yes, it is. Until Covid-19 struck, Malta had full employment. Recruiting the best talent was not easy so one could barely pick and choose according to their traditional gender preference; apart from the fact that gender discrimination is unacceptable and illegal.
What are your thoughts on the next transformation in the tech industry?
On the contrary, it is the tech industry that is transforming all other industries. Until a few months ago, video conferences were infrequent and most likely happened in an elegant boardroom setting using expensive video conference equipment, set up for that purpose. We now sit in front of our computer screens attending virtual meetings all the time. Whichever industry you operate in, you have to put technology and investment in technology at the forefront of your business. In Malta, many companies have to become more digitally ready since consumer buying patterns are changing when it comes to the location of purchase. Consumers increasingly enjoy sitting comfortably on their sofas as opposed to visiting a shop. The upcoming generations order everything on-line, from clothes to soft furnishings; their idea of Christmas shopping is sitting at one’s computer. And it is not just the younger generations who are shifting buying preferences, circumstances have pushed us towards becoming more digitally educated. Payment methods have changed. Some years ago we were talking about e-purse as a brilliant idea for the distant future. Today, we shop for our groceries and we just tap our mobile phone on an EPOS machine to pay. Technology is a wonderful thing, you just have to embrace it if you want to be successful.
What advice would you give to a woman considering a career in the tech industry? What do you wish you had known?
Go for it as the ever-changing world that we are living in means that you can look forward to an interesting career where every day you can experience true satisfaction. According to the European Commission’s Digital Economy and Society Index 2020, Malta ranked among the top 5 of 28 member EU Member States in terms of digital readiness. Malta performs well across all indices, which include broadband connectivity and human capital. There is also evidence of increased involvement of women in the digital sector. I wish I had more technology exposure when I was still studying, as I would have probably taken my studies further in this sphere. I guess it is never too late as long as I continue wanting to adopt and adapt and take on what technology gives me.