Women engineers: we have our place, our rightful place.
Women engineers: we have our place, our rightful place
In a calm but determined voice, this is Bochra, head of department for the Orange Tunisia network data core. At only 40 years old, she manages a team of 12 people. Her work contributes to a better quality of service for Tunisian data and internet customers.
First engineer from her family
Bochra was not predestined to a technical career. With a magistrate father, a mother working in healthcare and an older sister who is a doctor. "My father wanted me to follow the same career." She couldn't decide between law and architecture.
In the end, it was a preparatory year in maths and physics and a telecoms engineering school
At the time, the field of networks was buzzing, with the technology constantly changing. Bochra got it just right. She joined this almost unknown profession. "It was a challenge. I am the first telecoms engineer in my family.”
Technology, and more technology
At the end of her studies, Bochra was straight away taken on by the second biggest private operator in Tunisia (Ooredoo). She worked there as a planning engineer for airwaves before moving on to ICT networks. At the time, it was the very beginning of much higher speeds. "I was quickly promoted to team leader.”
At the end of five years, Bochra was approached to join the team that launched Orange Tunisia. She became head of the transmission department. The pace was relentless, with everything starting from scratch. "There was nothing: no tools, no teams, no networks, nothing." She was one of the first to join Orange Tunisia. "It was a crazy time." Everything had to be deployed in six months in the major towns and cities.
After seven years, Bochra moved to another area: the IP backbone. She continued to challenge herself on new technologies, a new area entirely. She stayed for three years before moving to her current position as head of department. "The job was available, I applied, and I got it.”
Although she has moved rapidly into management, Bochra has always remained up to speed on technology, "it's necessary if you want to be able to challenge the people and solutions that are proposed, the studies and updates, and so on".
Hello, I'm listening
She owes her career to her greatest quality: listening. In fact, it is thanks to this that her various managers spotted her management potential. "I know how to lead a team, guide them to achieve good results, and help them to see the shared objectives we need to reach. I know how to get a team round the table and discuss things together and listen to their ideas.”
This is Bochra's natural way of working. She likes to consult each team member and get their opinion.
I believe that any resource, any colleague, even if they only have a year of experience, can bring a fresh pair of eyes or a good idea to the party.
Which does not mean (on the contrary) that she does not have a results focused leadership style. "It is. And it is also team focused." The important thing for this manager is that her team gets as much as possible out of each experience, whether it is in terms of technical expertise, people skills, etc.
I always check the pulse and the atmosphere in my team; if I feel that someone is not alright, not on their best form or has difficulty following, then I talk to them. And my door is always open.
An approach that means spending time with every member of her team. "I have learned to develop my listening skills, so I go to see people to ask them loads of questions that generally appear to be quite innocent, but the purpose is to find out what is really bothering them; is it a personal problem, is it a problem in the workplace, is there too much work, or are they under too much pressure? And so on. And I work on it over time.”
A man's job?
Bochra has built a wonderful career in a profession that was long thought to be a "man's job".
For her, succeeding as a woman in this field is a source of personal satisfaction. "It's worth giving it a try, experiencing it, not saying it's all too difficult or complicated. That's not true."
And what's more, she now has more women than men engineers in her team.
"We have our place, our rightful place.”
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