Celebrating International Women's Day: Personal Stories #2

Building trust lets people learn from each other

Florence Mottay, Chief Information Security Officer Europe at Ahold Delhaize, is a woman working in an industry that is still male dominated: IT Security. In her current role, she runs a global team of 30 people. What is it like for her to be in this role? What are her challenges, and how does she create a balanced team?

“I guess I’ve been lucky,” Florence says. “In my entire career, dealing mostly with men, I have been able to blend in easily; it was never a show stopper for me.” She said she didn’t see this as unusual until friends working in similar environments asked her about it. “They were surprised about the fact that I didn’t see any extra challenges. But I simply saw myself working toward a common goal with smart people. Gender was never something I considered.”

Florence said she only has two women in her team. “For me a balanced team is so much more than gender diversity. It’s also about, in addition to the obvious, age, background etc., personality types such as introverts and extraverts. This is key, especially in the IT Security field: you need to have colleagues who can manage the technical part but who are also able to manage stakeholders.”

“I consider all these aspects when recruiting new people. And most importantly, I look at someone’s motivation, willingness to learn, and how that person fits within the team.”

Florence has learned a lot since she started leading teams 20 years ago. She now understands how to manage a team with technical skills and what it takes to build a balanced team. “I want to know what gets them up in the morning. I want my team members to be happy and productive, and build trusting relationships with each other. It allows them to learn from each other and explore the boundaries of their role in a safe and caring environment. Successful teams are diverse teams!”

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