Ulrica is a VP of Product & Strategy at Indeni with over 30 years experience developing software in networking & security technologies. She loves explaining complex technology and building high-profile and high-performing teams. 

In this exclusive CyberTalk interview, Ulrica shares a bit about how her passion for technology and solving challenging customer problems has driven her career growth. She then delves into the three tenets that have enabled her to succeed.

On this International Women’s Day, she also shares her thoughts on the importance of embracing equity and offers valuable advice to emerging women leaders. Don’t stop reading now; the best is yet to come!

Please share a bit about your role as Vice President of Product and Strategy at Indeni?

As VP of Product & Strategy at Indeni, I lead Indeni’s product businesses with a focus on building a network automation platform for security infrastructure in a multi–cloud environment. As a technology leader, I’m passionate about building innovative technologies to solve challenging customer problems.

What has your career path been like?

My background is in technology and I started my career as a network engineer. As a user in IT, I was exposed to complex network technologies very early in my career. I started off as a user before I joined Cisco as a software engineer. Being on the vendor side of the house, I saw a gap in technology development. Developers are not users of the technology they develop. Quite often, they don’t understand the real-world problems. Consequently, it was a natural progression for me to become a product manager to help bridge that gap. The latter part of my career in product management is about growing the business and solving many challenging problems with technologies.

What are the primary factors that have enabled you to succeed and reach new levels of achievement?

The main three tenets that enabled me to reach new levels of achievement have remained the same throughout the years. They are:

  • Being passionate about everything I do. I believe passion is the fuel that ignites success. It gives me the energy and motivation to perform any task the best possible way.
  • Make the impossible possible. It doesn’t matter how difficult or unfamiliar the job is, I’m determined to get it done.
  • Inclusion has always worked. Whether it’s inviting colleagues to work on a new idea, or seeking feedback for improvements, I always believe two brains are better than one!

Who inspires you the most?

Margaret Thatcher has always been my unsung heroine. This fearless leader was also known as the “Iron Lady”, for a reason. She was the first female prime minister of the United Kingdom. Despite all the odds that were stacked against her, she was able to make many reforms to the country. With an uncompromising leadership style, she couldn’t care less if she was liked. She cared about getting the job done and doing what was right for the country. The greatest legacy of her leadership was being strong and courageous. If you adopt those traits, you can do anything that you put your mind to.

What does International Women’s Day and its theme this year #EmbraceEquity, mean to you?

It’s about leveling the playing field to achieve diversity. To me, working with people from different cultures and backgrounds sparks innovation. It is also about working together to close the gender gap in the high-tech workforce. Embracing equity will attract more women to our industry. Let’s create an environment where more women would want to pursue a career in technology.

Women want to have more advancement opportunities. There needs to be diversity across the ranks, especially among the highest positions.

Why do you think that it’s also important to celebrate Women’s History Month?

Creating awareness is always the first step towards addressing any issues. Women’s History Month is a platform for women to learn and help each other. In my mind, there is a lesson learned for every success story. If we can step back and reflect on our experiences in the workplace, we can effectively identify areas for improvement.

What professional advice would you give to emerging leaders (who are women)?

A few years ago, I had the opportunity to speak about women in technology to a group of high school senior girls. I was surprised to learn that none of them planned to pursue a career in technology. After digging deeper, these young girls thought they would be labeled as nerds with a career in high-tech. Instead of thinking of themselves as nerds, I asked them to name a career that could potentially touch hundreds of millions of individuals and change the way they live, learn and play. A career in technology is about being as creative as you can be. How cool is that?

For years, I’ve been tracking the number of women in the technology industry. Despite more women entering the workforce and more opportunities in higher education, the number of women in tech today is less than the number in the 1980’s. Sadly, there has been an astoundingly high number of women leaving the industry. The overtime culture and extremely fast pace of our industry have made it particularly challenging for mothers. Many women feel that if they take a career break to start a family even for a few months, they may find their expertise outdated. Instead of leaving the industry, consider a different role when you return to work. For example, if you are a software engineer, consider moving to a more customer facing engineering role such as a support or sales engineer. Experiences from different parts of the business can broaden your horizon and eventually pay back, even if it may feel like a step back in your career.