Cisco Vietnam promotes diversity and inclusion in tech field

March 15, 2023 | 10:49
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On the occasion of International Women’s Day, managing director of Cisco Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia Luong Thi Le Thuy shared her thoughts with VIR's Thanh Van about the role of women in the tech industry.

According to data from the Ministry of Planning and Investment in Vietnam, about 29.8 per cent of all businesses in the nation are currently run by women, with this number being even lower among tech companies. Have you ever felt alone with so few women holding leadership positions in the industry?

Cisco Vietnam promotes diversity and inclusion in tech field
Luong Thi Le Thuy, managing director of Cisco Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia

There has been steady progress in diversity in the technology industry, especially as leaders see the business imperatives that come with diversity and inclusion. At Cisco, we see diversity as a full spectrum that is inclusive of gender, ethnicity, race, orientation, age, ability, culture, experience, and more.

As it stands with gender diversity, we are proud of the efforts we’ve made to represent women at the top. 42 per cent of our Executive Leadership Team are females. Among my peers, four out of six Country Leaders across ASEAN are females, and we are guided by the leadership of the President of ASEAN who is also a female.

I don’t feel alone – on the contrary, I feel empowered to be working at a company that walks the walk on diversity and inclusion and has made working with people from different cultures, backgrounds, genders, and abilities its priority. I am inspired to do the same for other women at Cisco and in the technology industry by mentoring them and participating in industry efforts that show they aren’t alone.

This year’s International Women’s Day 2023 is themed Innovation and technology for gender equality. How do you see the event helping encourage more women to pursue careers in technology?

Bridging the gender divide in IT has always been top-of-mind for me, and at Cisco, I am glad to see this represented in this year’s International Women’s Day theme. This year’s theme is a great opportunity to bring visibility to the industry and the potential it has for transforming industries and making a positive impact on people, revolutionising new cloud, edge, and IoT innovations with 5G and Wi-Fi 6 technologies to support Vietnam’s sustainability journey with green data centres and green technologies.

I hope that International Women’s Day will push the industry to recruit more women, retain them, and uplift them into leadership positions so we can collectively do good for the world and power an inclusive future for all.

You said once that there are no limits for women, even in the field of technology. So, in your opinion, what do we need to do to support women to succeed in tech?

The opportunities for women to contribute to the field of technology are truly limitless. Empowering them to enter and stay in the industry starts with awareness. Women and girls first need to be able to see themselves in the industry and be interested in technology. This is where great mentors who can spark curiosity in young girls and provide them with advice, support, and feedback on how they can enter the industry are crucial.

Then comes education and equipping them with the right tools and skill sets. Cisco Networking Academy, our skills-to-job programme, aims to provide female students with the opportunity to learn valuable skills like programming and cybersecurity at their own pace from anywhere.

Finally, it is about businesses offering women equal opportunities in the workforce. This includes adopting a skills-based approach to hiring and career progression, expanding the diversity within interview panels, and putting in frameworks for leaders to hire and promote people into senior roles based on their abilities.

The power of mentorship, sponsorship, and advocacy cannot be overstated. At Cisco, we provide mentorship and networking opportunities through programmes such as The Multiplier Effect, where leaders sponsor at least one diverse person in their organisation and challenge their peers to do the same, and the Proximity Initiative to support female leadership and talent development.

As a company, Cisco has various initiatives to champion women in STEM. Since 2014, our Women Rock IT initiative in Asia-Pacific has motivated youths to consider STEM subjects through inspiring live online broadcasts and blogs from women IT professionals.

Under the same scheme, we have an upcoming International Girls in ICT event in April, where we will invite different speakers to expose young girls and women to the different opportunities in STEM, providing them with advice on their career attainment, pathways, and advancement. Our Women of Cisco employee resource organisation and network of more than 5,000 Cisco employees, including those in Vietnam, participate in mentoring, networking events, and community give-backs across the globe.

Cisco Vietnam has also established the Cisco Networking Academy with the above purpose. Could you shed some light on this initiative?

That's right. Cisco Networking Academy is our skills-to-job programme that partners with learning institutions around the world to empower all people with digital and cybersecurity skills. It’s a key educational opportunity for females who can obtain valuable tech skills at their own pace. We celebrated our Cisco Networking Academy’s 25th global anniversary last year. In Vietnam, we trained over 70,000 students, including females, through partnerships with institutes of higher learning.

Looking ahead, we have pledged to train 6.7 million people in Asia-Pacific by 2032. It’s not just about equipping females with the right skills, but also empowering them with career possibilities. Alongside Cisco Networking Academy, our Talent Bridge programme helps to match qualified candidates to partner employers. This supports businesses’ employee lifecycles and prepares talent to join the workforce.

In honour of International Women's Day, do you have any advice for women who are or will be working in the field of technology?

The technology industry is so exciting because it touches on everyone and every sector. In particular, tech enterprises power the digital infrastructure, networks, and collaboration platforms of the world that have become an integral part of the way we work, live, and learn.

Women have an immense opportunity to pursue their ambitions and make a difference in this field. I hope that all women will not limit themselves. They should have confidence in their abilities, pursue their ambitions, and prove that they can accomplish anything they put themselves to.

A veteran at Cisco, Luong Thi Le Thuy has almost a decade of experience serving as the managing director of Cisco Vietnam. Her wealth of knowledge and deep expertise in the industry has enabled her to drive a proven track record in designing and leading a broad range of projects that have helped accelerate the digitalisation journeys of Vietnamese businesses and power an inclusive future for all in the country. She is also a champion of women in technology.​​
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By Thanh Van

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