Interviews

Bazaarvoice: 'Empowering female leadership'

  • BCS NI’s Women Transforming Digital Leadership programme is beginning next week, and is now fully sold out, with participants from Northern Ireland and other regions taking part virtually.

    Sync NI sat down with three female leaders from key sponsor, Bazaarvoice, to find out their opinions on leadership and their hopes for the programme’s participants.

    All three women have had extensive careers in the IT space and now work in managerial roles within Bazaarvoice’s Belfast office.

    Bronagh Gaillard is currently a senior manager in software engineering, having previously worked in Liberty IT and Nortel, from an engineer to a leadership role.

    Aisling McGibbon operated in blockchain and new ventures before joining Bazaarvoice as a senior manager of Product in August, and Laura McGirr came to the firm from a leadership position in Allstate, where she worked for three years prior.

    Laura engaged in leadership programmes in her previous job, which she says showed her how leaders should be sharing these skills with others.

    Bronagh said that within Bazaarvoice there is a “huge investment in leadership across the board” and stressed the importance to “lead from every seat”.


    Bronagh Gaillard

    She added: “We encourage people to try on a job a size too big and carve out leadership opportunities” as it’s important “to create a psychological safety for employees to take on a challenge, so that they’re set up for success”.

    Laura noted that the coaching aspect of the Digital Leadership programme is vital as getting feedback is key, and Bronagh agreed that it is hugely beneficial to get different perspectives from different organisations on the programme for shared inspiration.

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    Laura said that these “networking chances can create relationships you can build upon – a healthy mentorship can be formed, and you can learn from someone similar to you even if they’re in different sectors”.

    Aisling maintained that it is important to create a culture and environment that makes workers feel it is OK to try something new and make mistakes, and thus it’s equally important to show that those in senior roles can make mistakes too.

    Laura added to this by saying at Bazaarvoice, they “encourage vulnerability” and then “help give each other tips on how to get over those vulnerabilities”.


    Laura McGirr

    Post-programme, Bronagh expects to see “a big shift in someone’s confidence” and hopes the leadership programme “will have a multiplying effect on the people around them” which Aisling agreed with.

    She said: “I would hope it has a domino effect. A mentor doesn’t have a be someone in a senior position, it can be a peer.”

    So, the aim is that those participating in the initiative can in effect, ‘rub off’ positively on those around them, to encourage future leaders within their own circles.

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    Laura explained: “I’d hope they would come away with none of the barriers in their mind that they might have had going into the programme, and that they feel inspired.”

    Aisling emphasised diversity in leadership, saying that it doesn’t have to be the stereotypical picture of a man in a suit as it might have been years ago.


    Aisling McGibbon

    “We have strong female representation in Bazaarvoice, and we want to continue to see that pipeline of future female leaders,” Bronagh concurred.

    There are only 5% of female CEOs currently in Fortune 500 companies, meaning there are more CEOs in these firms named John than there are women.

    In fact, according to the New York Times, among chief executives of S.&P. 1500 firms, for each woman, there are four men named John, Robert, William or James. 

    The Women Transforming Digital Leadership programme hopes to help change this narrative, one small step and one changed mindset at a time.

    About the author

    Niamh is a Sync NI writer with a previous background of working in FinTech and financial crime. She has a special interest in sports and emerging technologies. To connect with Niamh, feel free to send her an email or connect on Twitter.

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