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This exclusive feature unveils the pivotal roles played by women leaders from Somos, TELUS, Verizon and EXA Infrastructure. Through their diverse roles and remarkable contributions, these women exemplify resilience, creativity, and excellence, driving forces behind innovation and progress in the ever-evolving landscape of technology.

In the spotlight are the following female executives: Gina Perini, Chair of the Board of Directors and CEO, Somos; Rola Araji, Ing., Director of Sales and Business Development, Large Enterprise, TELUS Business; Jennifer Parkhill, Senior Director, Project Management & Strategy Execution at Verizon Partner Solutions; and Ariadna Ilie, VP Global Content and Hyperscalers, EXA Infrastructure.

We are on the cusp of digital transformation. How is your organization making progress in this journey?

Gina Perini: Digital transformation has been a part of Somos’ strategy for several years to ensure that we are ahead of the curve in all areas of our business. This strategy has allowed us to gain a competitive advantage and truly bring value to our customers and stakeholders through enhanced operations, improved customer experience, and new innovative solutions.

Rola Araji, Ing: TELUS is embracing its digital transformation to become a software-centric and cloud-enabled organization, ensuring competitiveness in the rapidly evolving digital landscape. This shift to a cloud and insight-enabled environment supports all of our business models, applications, services, networks and IT infrastructure. Here are few examples of TELUS’ commitment to embracing digital technologies, enhancing customer experiences and fostering a culture of innovation: (1) significant investments in advanced technologies such as 5G, fiber-optic networks and IoT; (2) leveraging data analytics and digital solutions to improve customer experience, using real-time insights to personalize our clients’ interactions with team members; (3) strong collaboration with strategic partners to gain access to cutting-edge technologies, expertise and innovation to accelerate new solutions to market; (4) empowering TELUS team members with continuous development opportunities through tailored  training programs to enhance their digital skills and increase participation in industry conferences. Additionally, TELUS fosters a culture of knowledge sharing, and encourages experimentation and innovative ideas.

Ariadna Ilie: EXA Infrastructure is at the forefront of the digital transformation journey because we serve and support some of the world’s high-growth, hyper-bandwidth businesses. We’re seeing the demand for international bandwidth more than double every two years, according to TeleGeograhy. Our entire industry is now looking forward to see how the AI/ML demands will shape up the bandwidth forecast; there has never been a more important time to be a digital infrastructure provider that is be focused but also committed to building the network to support this demand. We are also hungry to continue to grow and invest by supporting our customers innovation for years to come. EXA provides its customers with straightforward products that they need most, with solutions fit for the exponential data growth we’re seeing today.

Jennifer Parkhill: Focusing on the customer has always been a top priority for the Verizon Partner Solutions (VPS) team.  The ultimate goal of digital transformation is to make it easier for our partners to do business with VPS. We embarked on a multi-year transformation program and launched the Verizon Partner Solutions Exchange platform in 2020. The platform provides a core set of quoting and ordering functions for our strategic products (including Ethernet, Internet, Wave, Broadband, Toll-Free) and service assurance capabilities.  We actively engage in industry forums to conform with MEF and TMForum standards and recently were awarded the MEF award for Best Global on-demand MEF 3.0 CE (Carrier Ethernet) service provider of the year and Telecom Review award for Best Digital Customer Experience – North America. I am very impressed with the cross functional teams who continue to keep the customer at the center of all they do.

With your important role, how do you contribute in solidifying the organization’s position as a key industry player?

Gina Perini: As the leading telephone number administrator in North America, it is our duty to use our position to help the industry tackle key issues and be fully prepared for the future. This doesn’t mean just talking about these issues – it means actively doing something about. We do this by bringing together thought leaders in the industry to create concrete steps to ensure that our industry is not only prepared but thrives in the future. An area of particular focus for us is the importance of trust in telecommunications. The rise in fraudulent robocalls and robotexts have undermined that trust in the eyes of consumers. We are actively working with the industry to combat fraud through partnerships, information sharing, and advancing solutions through regulatory and industry forums. As a key industry player, this is how we do our part to ensure the long-term viability of the industry as a whole. It’s a win-win for all.

Rola Araji, Ing: As a Sales and Business Development leader, establishing strong customer relationships is key. By fostering innovation, a client-centric culture and cross-functional collaboration, we can leverage the expertise of different teams to improve customer experiences by understanding our clients’ objectives. It is imperative to become our clients’ trusted advisor by providing strategic insights, innovative ideas and recommendations. Understanding new technologies, industry trends and continuously evolving with the changing landscape allows me to stay ahead of the curve. Bringing back valuable customer feedback to my organization contributes to the development of new services and new business strategies, strengthening TELUS’ position in the industry.

Ariadna Ilie: I am fortunate to represent EXA in front of some of our largest customers and partners, what we call “Hyperscalers”, meaning our largest cloud and content providers. The scale of their initiatives drives this industry and offers the possibility to partners like ourselves to grow alongside them. We have invested more than 200 million dollars in our infrastructure in the last two years and built new routes or overbuilt the main corridors of our network. Driving growth alongside our biggest customers allows us to have an unparalleled scale of our fiber network and unique assets. The big cloud companies and content providers need strong and reliable suppliers, that prove their capabilities by investing and building a future-proof network, and this is where EXA plays a vital role in the European landscape.

Jennifer Parkhill: As the Director of Project Management and Strategy Execution for VPS, I am committed to solidifying Verizon’s position as a key industry player by delivering world class solutions over the best network to ultimately meet customer requirements.  VPS prides itself on regular engagements with customers through events such as Customer Advisory Boards and Partner Summits so we can listen and evolve our offerings.  Looking externally to market research and technology trends is key to proactively building the capabilities that we need to compete and lead the industry.  My team leads the identification and communication of these trends and subsequently leads the transformational efforts for VPS to drive the change needed. One of the cornerstones of our industry is having the teams of talent to move the industry forward. I am encouraged by the leadership across Verizon and in the industry to support diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives so that we can ensure that all voices are heard.  By empowering our employees, we are investing in Verizon’s future, fostering an inclusive and diverse workplace environment where all team members feel valued and solidifying our position as a key industry player.

As a female professional working in the field of ICT, what has been your motivation to excel in this career?

Gina Perini: The ICT sector impacts all areas of our personal and professional lives. Because of this, it also never stands still. Rapid advancements in technology allow for amazing opportunities and significant challenges. This requires us to be creative and agile in our work to ensure that we are capitalizing on those opportunities and addressing the challenges head on. All of these factors add up to a career that is never boring and keeps me motivated to see what the future will bring and how I can make a positive impact.

Rola Araji, Ing: I am driven by a deep passion for technology and its transformative power. The ICT field is dynamic and ever-evolving, presenting exciting challenges and opportunities for growth. I am motivated by the chance to contribute to innovative solutions and be at the forefront of technological advancements. Our TELUS Enterprise clients each have over 1,000 employees, and being a part of major projects for these organizations has been an incredibly rewarding experience which involves true collaboration for significant and impactful changes for each business. Having the promotion of women in ICT at heart, and as a proud Diversity and Inclusion ambassador at TELUS, I am motivated by the desire to challenge bias and remove barriers for team members. I value the opportunity to inspire and mentor young women as they follow their passion and evolve their careers in the exciting ICT field, and look forward to more mentorship opportunities in 2024.

Ariadna Ilie: Indeed, I am representing a still small percentage of women in this industry, a percentage that we all work on increasing every day. Being one of the few can be challenging and at the same time very motivating, as you want your efforts to matter and to create a path for others. I have a natural inclination towards performance and the desire to learn and improve myself as a professional, but also as a person. The more I witnessed the challenges women have in this industry, the more I wanted to prove we do own a seat at this table and create an easier access for the generations to come. Limitation are real only if you acknowledge them, and I always chose to focus on the path ahead and constantly reminding myself I have a voice and I need to use it for myself and for all the women who still feel the pressure of the glass ceiling.

Jennifer Parkhill: As a female professional working in the field of Information and Communication Technology, I bring a passion and eagerness to work with me everyday. The ICT industry is ever-changing and has continuous learning opportunities. Technology is shaping our future, and my desire to impact not only the industry but my community has been one of the driving forces to develop my career in ICT. I hope to inspire other female professionals looking to work in the technology industry as it provides the opportunity to make an impact by connecting people, places and things across the world. Internally, I have worked to create a culture of mentoring and networking opportunities and recently joined the emPOWERED global team created for women in tech and telecoms, it’s a one-stop shop for ‘women supporting women’ in the industry. My work with the GLF Community and as an executive champion for volunteering at Verizon Partner Solutions has allowed me to bring my enthusiasm for DEI and integrate it into not only Verizon, but the greater ICT community as well.  Driving ongoing engagement in 2024 will be one of my focus areas and I look forward to all of the Telecom Review readers joining me in this journey.

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