Guardians in the Workplace
Inspiring stories and tips from working women for National Women’s History Month
While March 8 is International Women’s Day, March is celebrated as National Women’s History Month around the world. In Part 2 of our interviews with the working women of NETSCOUT, they discuss their professional histories, describe the most women-friendly policies they’ve encountered, and offer advice for other working women.
How did you get started professionally?
“My first job was with [a communications service provider] right out of college. I started as an entry-level telecommunications engineer working on Tier 3 troubleshooting and routing. I learned a ton about the telecommunications business and found it fascinating. I love solving problems, so to be in a role where I got to do that was also very rewarding.”—Heather Broughton, Area Vice President, Product Marketing, Allen, Texas
“I started working in the telecommunications industry through a university coop/internship program. That opportunity is what set the path for most of my career. I have been fortunate enough to work with some great companies that have enabled me to grow from what originally started as an engineering role into other roles in their operations and business parts of their organizations.”—A. Gutierrez, Program Manager, Engineering Operations, Allen, Texas
“I studied two degrees in business and languages at university. After graduating, I took a few months of interim jobs to get me out of the house and keep me sane before I was invited to an interview at a large finance company. That was probably the start of my professional journey. I started out on a call desk dealing with financial advisors and their customers before progressing to training new starters at the company. It was a great job for a graduate, experiencing many different areas of the business whilst surrounded by 20-somethings to build up a great social atmosphere after having lived abroad for three years! Unfortunately, after a couple of years, I was made redundant. This turned out to be great because I took a year to travel the world, having great experiences of different cultures, foods, and the odd jumping out of planes for fun!”—Elizabeth Wilde, International Renewals Manager, Bracknell, England
“I studied electrical engineering in college and worked for a sensor company in China. In 1995, I landed on U.S. soil and started my new journey. I experienced challenges I never imagined before. In the late 1990s, a computer science major was really attractive for newcomers because of the job market. I graduated with a master’s degree in computer science in 2000 and joined my current company as an entry-level software engineer.”—Jessica Yu, Engineering Manager, Shanghai, China
“My first job after my bachelor’s [degree] was in IT, and I continued to grow my learning to grow my career.”—Raji Srinivasan, Director, Business Systems, Westford, Massachusetts
“I started as an employee at 19 years old—I’m 54 now—doing import-export tasks in a small local company with a single owner, full powers and centralized decisions, no career opportunities, only business aimed at making money. Few values and no respect for people, especially women. When I became pregnant, he wanted to fire me. Luckily the law didn’t allow it. Bad beginning, but I left that workplace very soon.”—Stefania Santunione, Office Administrator, Modena, Italy
“Twenty-six years ago, after having done my last year of study in Germany, I returned to France and was hired by a telecommunications software company sales team to develop applications for our French customers and to train them on our protocol analyzer/tester, starting with one-year ‘training’ in Berlin R&D. When I was hired, my n+2 manager told me he was happy hiring a woman because there were only men in the sales team (except the sales assistant), and he was looking for diversity in gender and culture. Funnily, my first manager in Berlin R&D was a woman. We were just a few women in R&D, but in our protocol team, we were four women and one man. Then the proportion was reversed when I joined the sales and support teams.”—Claire Baron, Principal Sales Proposal Engineer, France
What are the most women-friendly policies you’ve ever encountered at work? In your life?
“I have been blessed to work for managers who see women having children as a blessing and not a curse. I think these managers understood that working women want to work and that they also need a balanced life. None of them set me back or looked at me differently because I wanted to balance being a mom and a professional.”—Heather Broughton, Area Vice President, Product Marketing, Allen, Texas
“There used to be a program called Women On Their Way. I really enjoyed having the opportunity to interact with other women in the company and hear about their personal experiences, how they got to where they are, and felt supported in a very male-dominated workplace. As a recent graduate just starting out, it was very daunting to have zero female role models, so just having a space to see how many women there were within the workplace and to get advice and support was invaluable. It’s a shame the program stopped. I think things like that are a great way to make women feel more supported in male-dominated workplaces.”—Elizabeth Wilde, International Renewals Manager, Bracknell, England
“An equality environment respects women in the workplace. Our CFO [Jean Bua] plays an important role in our company. It’s very encouraging, and recently, we added two females to our board of directors. I’m so grateful to work with such a women-friendly company. That’s why I’m still here.”—Jessica Yu, Engineering Manager, Shanghai, China
“Flexible work schedule especially during/after pregnancy, and equal employment opportunities.”—Raji Srinivasan, Director, Business Systems, Westford, Massachusetts
“My present company has the most women-friendly policies I’ve ever worked with.”—Stefania Santunione, Office Administrator, Modena, Italy
“As a woman, it was easier to move from full-time to part-time after my second daughter was born. At that time my manager was German and that also helped. The culture in Germany supported women working part-time, particularly to care for children.”—Claire Baron, Principal Sales Proposal Engineer, France
Any career tips for other women?
“Build those relationships. Every touch counts, good or bad. I have always wanted to be a leader and help others get their jobs done. If I want to make that happen, I need to not just know people but to build relationships with them so we can work together more easily and see things from each other’s point of view.”—Heather Broughton, Area Vice President, Product Marketing, Allen, Texas
“Don’t try to tick off every requirement on a CV. If men can apply for a role only being able to do 40 percent of the role, so can you. Those small jobs in pubs and cafes bring a whole skill set that is invaluable to the workplace; talk them up and show off the skills you’ve learnt. Don’t feel restricted to a certain industry. If something different appeals to you, take the leap: You never know where it can lead, and sometimes it leads to seven years later and being a manager of 10 people!”—Elizabeth Wilde, International Renewals Manager, Bracknell, England
“Define what you want for yourself and share openly and honestly your demands. Do not underestimate yourselves, and never be afraid to ask—promotion, pay rise, or new tasks.”—Elena Peev, Account Manager, Government, Schwalbach, Germany
“First, know yourself well. Make working both hard and smart your default. Good work/life balance benefits both and is sustainable. At work, listen objectively and respect others’ time and work styles. Effective communication makes work/life easier. In life, be independent, be content, be grateful and joyful.”—Jessica Yu, Engineering Manager, Shanghai, China
“There is nothing you cannot achieve. Just put your heart and efforts into it, and you will see the results.”—Raji Srinivasan, Director, Business Systems, Westford, Massachusetts
“Do your career escalation without a sense of guilt, but don’t abstain from finding some important moments to stay with your family.”—Stefania Santunione, Office Administrator, Modena, Italy
“I did not manage my career. I just wanted to have a job that interested me and challenged me, with a good balance with my family life.”—Claire Baron, Principal Sales Proposal Engineer, France
NETSCOUT and the Command Shift Coalition
NETSCOUT is a founding member of NPower’s Command Shift Coalition, a national consortium that advocates for strategies that invest in and inspire the advancement of young women of color in tech careers, with a particular focus on women from underrepresented communities and nontraditional pathways. NPower’s research report, “The Equation for Equality,” shows that only 5 percent of tech workers in the U.S. today are Black, Latinx, or Native American women of color. The Command Shift Coalition wants to double that percentage over the next 10 years.
Learn more about National Women's History Month.