Emma Ou doesn’t consider herself a “techie”, and initially, she never thought a career in technology would be something she’d pursue.
Ou, who is now the digital transformation lead and the ANZ Country Manager of tech multinational ASUS, told Women’s Agenda that all it took was for her to get a taste of the industry to discover its possibilities.
“I didn’t intend initially to have a career within technology – as I’m not a typical ‘techie’ in any regard – but once I got a taste of the industry, I knew that it was one I would enjoy and thrive within,” Ou said.
After graduating from university, Ou interned at Oracle to gain some experience in the workforce. After her days at Oracle, she went on to focus on marketing, and worked with some big tech brands like AMD, Nvidia and Sony. It was these experiences, working with tech companies in a marketing capacity, that helped her discover that tech was an area she’d like to work in, despite previously never having thought it was for her.
Now with an established career at ASUS, it’s the strategy, continual innovation and fast pace, as well as the connection with people, that keeps her engaged day-to-day.
“Being the digital transformation lead for the global business along with my role as the Country Manager for ASUS, ANZ, I am often in a number of strategy meetings throughout any given day and working across multiple time zones,” she said.
“The fast-paced and innovative nature of the sector has always really appealed to me, and the impact that technology can have on individual lives is still something that fascinates me every day.”
Ou believes it’s really important that women aren’t put off from pursuing a career in technology just because they can’t see themselves in it. She also says experience from different sectors can be a valuable asset in technology, because it brings perspectives that otherwise would not be there.
“It is critical that women aren’t put off from applying and entering the technology workforce because they don’t consider themselves a ‘tech buff’,” Ou says. “It leads back to the importance of creating role models showing that it’s not an impossible path to take.”
“I would honestly say that experience from other sectors can be extremely beneficial to bring into the technology arena – a different perspective from someone who isn’t entrenched within the technology industry can be very refreshing.”
Ou cites mentorship programs, programs within schools and universities, and internships at major tech companies as good pathways for women thinking about a career in tech. It’s all about getting that first step in the door.
“I never thought that by interning at Oracle, it would ignite my initial passion for the industry, so you have to provide every possible opportunity to women, particularly those just starting their careers,” she said. “It may be at 20 that women enter the industry or years later, either way providing that first step is key.”
And of course, having more women in leadership and visible role models can go a long way to encouraging girls and women to think about tech as a possibility.
“It’s extremely valuable – mainly to inspire the next generation and show them what is possible for ambitious and talented women within the tech industry – that gender is no barrier,” Ou says.
“A diverse leadership team is vital – for difference in thought and creativity, more evenly reflecting customer bases and even improving company reputation are just some of the reasons why technology companies really should be taking action.
“I think we have certainly made strides in this area but it’s clear that more can be done. I have been pleased to see a number of females hired in significant technology roles over the last year or so.”
As a leader in the sector herself, Ou says she thinks it’s important for leaders to have a calm persona and know their values.
“Once you are in a leadership position, there are times you need to make tough decisions; having strong values helps you to overcome tough times,” she said.
“I am someone who likes to lead by example – I am prepared to make the tough decisions and lead from the front.”