"Always have a vision and plan of where you want to get to in your career."
Priska Kianza, Director, Regional Sales at Ciena based in London, United Kingdom is the new Global Women's Council leader. W@C interviewed her to find out more about her and her ambitions for the next stage of the W@C movement.
W@C: What attracted you to want to lead the W@C activities?
PK: Personal experience has lead me to want to continually challenge myself. As a student, and despite being top of the class, a biased teacher once limited my career options when I had the ambition to be a doctor or a lawyer. His opinion spurred me on to ultimately achieve my Masters in International Business and Trade!
I want to make sure that I can influence other young women’s ambition and to make sure that they have role models that support them to go further than they may believe they can. W@C is a perfect platform to do this.
I also believe that this role will offer me personal development – stretching myself to be more confident in public speaking and forcing me to constantly challenge and push myself too!
W@C: What do you see as the top priorities for the next phase of W@C?
PK: Building on our existing VSEM (Vision, Strategy, Execution, Metrics) I see four main priorities. Firstly, ''Bringing the outside in''. I want to increase our collaboration with partners/customers and community. It makes god business sense and creates awareness and attraction internally and externally. Some people pay more attention to the need of gender diversity because they have heard it from their customers.
Secondly, I want to replicate our successes until our activities become naturally part of our DNA. Just like ‘Vectors’ is Ciena DNA. We have been successful with the EngGirl day in Canada/ Connect in EMEA and professional webinar/classroom series in NA. I want to develop these in every region and increase the attendance.
Thirdly, get more men involved! I would like to ask our male colleagues to lead some of these projects to illustrate our inclusive nature and get a male colleague to become the face of W@C internally and externally to break down bias and evangelize why gender diversity is important to everyone.
W@C: Best advice received on your path to success?
PK: Always have a vision and plan of where you want to get to in your career. I’ve had a good idea of where I want to be since university and understood what I need to do to get there. Of course, the path may change and I have needed to course correct when faced with obstacles but I knew the destination I was aiming for. I’m also a big fan of Amy Cuddy’s “Fake it until you make it” mantra!
W@C: As a mum of four, and now W@C lead, how do you balance your busy life?
PK: I’m very fortunate to have great support. Professionally, I have a great coach and at home, a supportive partner who shares the demands of a busy family. I also encourage my children to be independent and to look after me! For example, I rarely cook on the weekend as my children have it all covered! Organizing my home life allows me to have
time for the pleasant things in life.
W@C: What advice do you have for other women pursuing career aspirations?
PK: Back to my story about my teacher – be confident in your own path and ambition. Don’t limit your thinking or listen to negative feedback. In my experience, people are generous with their time so seek help if you need it. There’s nothing stopping you and no such word as ‘can’t’!