Empowering Women in Tech: Insights from Microsoft’s #10kWāhine

In an industry that is known for its gender disparity, Microsoft has taken a stance of inclusivity and leadership with their #10kWahine initiative in New Zealand.  

As part of Microsoft’s wider commitment to helping close the gender gap by increasing representation amongst women, the program was designed to empower female who are eager to advance their technical education and gain valuable knowledge from experienced entrepreneurs and Microsoft members whether they are just getting started or looking to take the next step in their tech career. 

By providing access to mentorship opportunities, network connections and advice on business operations, 10kWahine is playing a critical role supporting diversity initiatives throughout New Zealand’s IT sector.  

10kWahine: Unlocking Industry Solution Selling Event 

As part of the initiative, in February Microsoft hosted a webinar focused on Unlocking Industry Solution Selling. Steve Lewthwaite, Solution Specialist at Microsoft New Zealand, and Natasha Brownlie, Solution Specialist at Microsoft New Zealand, covered Industry Solution Selling with Modern Workplace and Eisa Quelette, Sr. Partner Development Manager at Microsoft New Zealand hosted a Panel for Experience Sharing: Unlocking Industry Solution Selling with Vanessa Sorenson, Chief Partner Officer ANZ, GM Microsoft New Zealand and Ashleigh Vogstad, CEO and Founder, Transcends Marketing. 

Here are three key takeaways from the event: 

  1. Productivity Paranoia This refers to the significant gap between the number of hours people report working versus how much leaders believe they are working. This disconnect can create a sense of distrust and pressure, leading to burnout and low morale. To overcome this, leaders should be more transparent and open in their communication with employees to build a culture of trust and collaboration.
  2. The work environment and company culture. According to a survey referenced in the workshop, 75% of employees and 79% of business decision-makers in Australia and New Zealand stated that they need a better reason to go into the office than just company expectations. This insight emphasizes the importance of fostering a positive and supportive work environment where people feel valued and connected to their colleagues.
  3. The importance of re-recruiting employees. A key part of this is providing learning and development support to your employees. The survey found that 77% of employees in Australia and New Zealand would stay longer at their company if they could benefit from learning and development support, and this number increased to 83% among business decision-makers. The speakers stressed the importance of investing in employees’ professional development to increase employee satisfaction and retention, which can ultimately benefit the company’s bottom line.  


What are we hearing from the industry? 

It was noted that various industries are adopting different strategies to enhance their work environment.

For instance, the Financial Services industry is:  

  1. Seeking to better understand the experiences of their people during new hybrid working practices. 
  2. Looking to reduce the burnout and change fatigue ignited by the pandemic. 
  3. Solving the need for new and emerging skills, while also dealing with a tight labor market. 

Whilst the Retail and Manufacturing industries are:  

  1. Improve communication and engagement with workers on the frontline. 
  2. Simplify the digital experience for Frontline and support their digital literacy. 
  3. Focus on retaining talent to maintain productivity and performance of key business groups. 

These initiatives aim to enhance employee satisfaction and productivity by fostering a more inclusive and collaborative work environment. By prioritizing employee well-being and engagement, companies can build a stronger, more cohesive workforce that can better adapt to the ever-changing demands of the modern workplace.

Panel for Experience Sharing: Unlocking Industry Solution Selling

The event concluded with a panel discussion with Vanessa Sorenson, Chief Partner Officer at Microsoft ANZ, Eisa Quelette, Senior Partner Development Manager at Microsoft New Zealand and Ashleigh Vogstad, our founder and CEO.
The panel discussed the resources available to women to keep learning and exploring the field, digital transformation trends and valuable insights into their own experiences, including advice on navigating the challenges and opportunities for women in tech.  

Our three key takeaways from the panel speakers: 

The sky is the limit: The sky is truly the limit for women in tech, as new advancements in cloud computing and artificial intelligence (AI) offer endless opportunities for innovation and growth. The rise of cloud technology has opened a world of possibilities for businesses and individuals alike, allowing for seamless access to data and applications from anywhere in the world. 

Upskill yourself: As Vanessa Sorenson said, “Keep learning, the day we stop is the day we go”.
There are numerous resources available for women looking to explore and upskill themselves in the field. Taking certifications, upskilling yourself to a level of proficiency and knowledge in tech makes it easier to land jobs and advance in your career. 

Available resources from Microsoft: Our CEO, Ashleigh Vogstad, mentioned various programs from Microsoft that help women keep learning and exploring the field, such as Partners for Purpose, a webinar program where you can hear inspiring stories, learn about different industry perspectives and gain fresh insights to support your purpose-driven goals whether they are gender equality, the empowerment of Indigenous people, accessibility, sustainability or social impact. Ashleigh also spoke about the Women Rising Program, a Microsoft’s tested method to help women show up with authenticity, confidence and leadership skills that will create breakthroughs not only for them, but also for their businesses.  

You can hear a short clip of Ashleigh in action here  

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