This month Rochelle Vincent, Director of International Marketing with Blackboard reflects on how technology is helping to push the boundaries of marketing within business and opening opportunities for women wanting to pursue a creative-focused career in the STEM field.
Q: Was marketing for a technology company always part of your career plan?
Growing up travel was always in my plans; I was an exchange student during high school and studied two languages. At the same time, I had an affinity towards technology and economics which prompted a careers advisor to suggest I study international business at university. Having always had a left brain, right brain balance, I’ve enjoyed opportunities that allowed analytical thought along with creativity. This has probably set me up in the marketing roles I’ve had during my career and the reason I was initially drawn to the technology sector. Having said that, I guess you could say fate has also steered me towards companies or roles involving education. Working in this sector I feel you are giving something back to the community and this resonates with me greatly.
Q: How do you define success and what motivates you as a person?
The very definition of success has a different meaning to us all but anyone who knows me will attest to the fact I’m a people person and to this end managing individuals, guiding their growth within a team and witnessing their successes gives me great satisfaction. I often find it’s the little strategies that have the biggest impact. Just recently a colleague I worked with many years ago reached out and said he’s still using a writing technique I coached him on.
Q: Has the rise of digital technologies including social media changed how we market companies and products? And do you believe this has impacted women considering a career in STEM?
In the past five years we’ve seen marketing rapidly evolve as a direct result of technology. When we think of STEM our minds generally revert to coding which in itself is not always enticing to those women with a creative bent. Yet if we look at STEM through a different lens and the applications it delivers through digital marketing, we are seeing more women diving into the space. Social media and SEO strategies have an impact on our day-to-day work lives and women now have a platform in which to showcase their creative skills in a tech environment.
Q: Do schools and organisations have a role in encouraging girls to consider STEM as a career choice?
As a parent of two girls I’m passionate about STEM being part of the everyday curriculum and it needs to start at a young age. When my daughter was in primary school, she was part of a robotics club that competed against other schools within the state and then nationally. Whilst coding of the robots was a significant component of the competition, they also had to demonstrate their creativity through developing a dance routine and costumes for the robots which as you can imagine they loved. I do question why something like this needs to be a ‘club’ when it should be a core subject. I truly believe once you can show that STEM of any kind is enticing and not just about ‘coding’ then we will see more girls look to careers in technology.
Q: What’s the best piece of professional advice you’ve received?
Stay true to yourself. Most of us go through periods in our lives where we are self-conscious about what we say or do. I’m quite a happy person who enjoys a good laugh and years ago I did wonder if people thought I was serious about my career. I took a step back and decided to change my approach. The only problem was this wasn’t me and it wasn’t until someone said you have to embrace the person you are that I realised there was no need to change who I was to try to be something I wasn’t. This mind shift was a game changer, it removed the layer of concern about how to approach each meeting and I could just focus on the job.
Q: What do you consider to be the future of EdTech
As a society we have always valued the importance of EdTech but Covid-19 has highlighted more than ever the reliance we now have on digital learning solutions. We will likely see universities push their digital journey along faster than we might have seen previously. We’re already seeing the importance of data and how that data can inform decisions being made about curriculum and the support students require, these are just a couple of areas institutions can gain insight from. I think the value that will be placed on the data that we can use is going to make that next step within EdTech even more advanced, we are headed towards a data driven life.
Q: Is there a book or podcast that you find inspiring and would like to share with other women?
I quite enjoy the Mamamia podcasts, in particular ‘Out Loud’ which tells the stories of famous and not so famous people, their struggles and successes. You have a far greater appreciation for your own life listening to their tales and understanding the resilience of human nature is quite inspiring. In contrast, I’m also an avid Harvard Business Review reader and as my marketing career has progressed, I now find value in the articles that address challenges outside the marketing sphere. I’ll often read an article, for example one on workplace culture, this might peak an idea that I can then reflect on before perhaps implementing the concept within my team or adopting it personally.