Every day is Girls’ Day

Every day is Girls’ Day

Women in tech: Sanne Nolet

We all know the term ‘Woman in tech’. But before a woman can get cracking in tech, her love for a technical profession needs to be sparked. And that spark needs to be produced first. Which is why Sanne Nolet, senior manager customer operations, shares her story today in order to inspire young girls.

It is not entirely coincidental that Sanne is sharing her story. After all, on Thursday 2 April 2020, it was Girls’ Day. A day that would normally be entirely characterized by a splendid future for young girls. At VodafoneZiggo, hundreds of girls would be visiting to get to know the telecom company. Unfortunately, due to the corona outbreak all this had to be cancelled. “But that doesn’t mean we are not celebrating Girls’ Day. Because, even though these bizarre times caused by the corona virus will not be over soon, I do want to take an optimistic view of the future. Which means I would like to enthuse the girls of today about a future in tech.”

Suddenly, I spoke ‘IT’
Sanne herself, was not technically inclined at all initially. “I chose the profile Nature and Health in secondary school, but opted much more for social sciences afterwards,” she explains. After a considerable detour, however, she did end up in the technical world though. “I started work at VodafoneZiggo. First in the corporate strategy department, but two years ago I switched to customer operations. That role has much more in common with technology. So, there are several ways to get there. We do have a lot of employees with different backgrounds. IT is much more diverse than you might think.”

That technology can be somewhat intimidating to some kids, Sanne understands more than anybody else. “I thought it was a bit intimidating too, at first. I really had to get used to the jargon of IT departments. But after I while, I caught myself in the act – not only did I understand it, I used it myself. As soon as you get it ánd speak it, it’s a lot less complicated than you might think in advance.”

According to Nolet, a catch-up effort is therefore needed to adjust the image young girls nurture about IT. “Girls tend to think this wouldn’t suit them. But that, of course, is not true at all. It’s fantastic, for boys and girls alike, to work in IT. The range of possibilities is endless.”

A host of opportunities
That there are many options to choose from, is demonstrated by the job Sanne does herself. “Working in IT doesn’t have to mean that you are programming all day long or need to be an engineer. In my role as manager, for example, I’m responsible for a programme focussing on digitizing customer contacts. We have a team that builds a chatbot for instance. It’s a kind of robot able to chat, a digital ‘person’ speaking to our customers. In order to build it, you really need technical minds, but also people that understand what such a chatbot should be able to do. Otherwise, you end up with a great app, but no one who needs it.”

But the most important thing according to Sanne is that everyone in IT is involved, not just the extremely technical ones or boys only. “If we cannot attract women, half of the talent pool is not involved. Diversity is extremely important, because through diversity the really good and different ideas arise and the discussions. Otherwise it will be a boring uniformity.”

Every day Girls’ Day
Girls’ Day 2020 should have taken place on 2 April, for example at VodafoneZiggo. Unfortunately, due to the measures taken to stop the spread of the new coronavirus Covid-19, this had to be cancelled. Companies and schools are advised by VHTO to think about a new date. “We will definitely make up for this day! And in the meantime, as far as we are concerned, let’s make every day a Girls’ Day!”