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Recognising International Women's Day 2022 - Vanessa's Story

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Vanessa Armstrong - Head of Marketing at Hughes Europe

What motivated you to join Hughes Europe?

I’d been out of the Tech industry for a couple of years to gain experience in the B2C space. When the opportunity to get back into business-to-business technology with Hughes came along, I was really excited. Hughes is a global technology company with such a rich history in innovation, and, as leaders in the field of Satellite technology, I knew that I would be joining a really credible organisation. Added to that, Hughes is very proactive in supporting social programs across the globe and providing practical help when it’s needed, for example, in times of natural disasters. That meant there was a true cultural fit for me too.

What does your role involve?

I’m responsible for marketing the Hughes European division. It’s a really diverse role covering all aspects of marketing, from strategic planning to rolling my sleeves up and setting up stands at events. I enjoy the variety that it gives. When you are developing plans, having been right at the sharp edge for delivery, from writing content for campaigns to working directly with the sales team to create impactful sales enablement tools, you have real insight into how to make your marketing efforts more effective. And that, in turn, leads to a real feeling of adding value through the work that you do.

What types of challenges do you face in your role?

I’m not technical, and the rate of change in the technology space is immense. So, one of the biggest challenges is making sure I fully understand the technology we specialise in and then translating that understanding into propositions to articulate where we can add value for customers.

I think things are changing, but there are still fewer women in this industry than men. Sometimes that can make it challenging for your voice to be heard. At Hughes, though, it is a very inclusive culture which means you don’t feel you don’t have the right to be at the table, as can be the case in other similar organisations.

What benefits would you highlight to new female talent to encourage them to work in the tech industry?

The tech industry is fast-paced, making it a very interesting place to be. It means there is constant change, which creates opportunities to learn and develop every day. Whether you have in-depth practical technical knowledge or, like me, you simply have a real interest in technology, and how it helps the world move forward, there are real opportunities for women in this space that offer both great career and personal development.

What advice would you give to young females wanting to work in this space?

When I was 22 and fresh out of university with a degree in French and politics, it would never have entered my head that I would develop a long-term career in the tech industry. I actually started on a temporary contract with Mercury Communications, as I was convinced that my career would be in teaching, and I wanted to get some experience outside of the academic world to help the young people I would be working with more effectively. It turned out that the tech industry was perfect for me after all. So, my advice is, if you are a young woman and you want to work in this field, don’t let any preconceptions of this being ‘a man’s world’ stop you from doing what you want to do. I have found that with a good work ethic, a willingness to rise to professional challenges and a determination to succeed, you can achieve your goals. A healthy dose of resilience and an ability to deal with lots of spinning plates will help too!

What do you enjoy doing outside of work?

As a single mum with a full-time career, for many years outside of work centred around spending time with my son. We explored the world together, looking for crabs on the untouched beaches of the Isle of Harris or taking in the views from the top of The Empire State building. Travelling and experiencing different cultures is very important to me.

I love to cook, and you will often find me entertaining friends and family with (hopefully) great food and (even more hopefully) great conversation. I’m a big film fan and love anything that intelligently tackles social history. The Color Purple and Hidden Figures are prime examples! When I get my dancing shoes out, I like to go to live gigs. I think you get a great atmosphere with live music that is just not the same in clubs.