Fei Peng, CGEIT, is a cloud professional with more than 10 years of global and regional experience in cloud product strategy management, architecture, solution design, governance, service management, risk management and service delivery. She has worked with leading IT companies and accounting firms. Here she shares her experience as a principal product strategy manager at Oracle and as a woman in tech.
Q: What is one of the biggest obstacles you have faced when stepping into your product strategy manager role at Oracle?
A: As a global cloud business team member at Oracle, long, irregular hours are required. I have been up late at night and early in the morning to collaborate seamlessly with teams around the world to make sure the initiatives I was responsible for were implemented successfully and in a timely manner.
Q: What are the most important internal (of your own effort) factors that led you to this role?
A: I completed my Master’s in business administration (MBA) in Singapore before I started in my position at Oracle. This helped prepare me for the role when combined with my previous experience as a solutions architect and consultant. I also think that the image I built (both intentionally and unintentionally) over the years correlates with how senior management considered me a fit for the role. Personal branding can have a great deal of impact on what roles you take on and for which you qualify.
Q: What challenges do you see women face in being ready to take on management positions?
A: I have observed that women in different regions face different challenges, but challenges for women pursuing management positions vary even more according to individual personalities, the nature of work, the organization and the industry. The biggest challenge for anyone taking on a management position is having the right qualities and skills to take on the job.
Q: What challenges do you see organizations face as they look to hire more women in your area of expertise?
A: Although women often face more challenges than men, I do not see as big of a divide in my area of expertise. As long as the job role requires a combination of skills and qualities that can be gained through many years of professional experience, women can be just as good of a fit for the role as men. Personalities also impact hiring since the methods an individual uses to problem solve and collaborate with others is important to success.
Q: What do you think organizations can and should do to address retention issues for technology professionals, especially women?
A: Oracle has a program called Oracle Women Leadership (OWL) and it has created an inclusive culture across the organization. Various activities are organized at each Oracle location, across regions and around the globe. Women professionals at Oracle are connected via the program and are able to find opportunities as a result. I know some other organizations have implemented similar leadership programs, and these help demonstrate that organizations care about the women they employ and hope to retain. These programs have even helped to address some retention issues as women professionals often find new opportunities to grow within the organization through connections in the program.
Q: What progress do you see in your industry toward addressing the gap of women in tech?
A: There are definitely some areas of expertise in which it seems that women hold more roles than men, for example, risk management, compliance, marketing and sales, and training. In the fast-paced tech industry, however, new technologies, new business models, and new compliance requirements may emerge at any time and these create equal opportunities for men and women. An important thing that women professionals should keep in mind is to be ready to make a change when the opportunity presents itself.