Thanks to Stefan Bakx’ do-it-yourself approach, he learned all his skills online, enabling him to become a successful business consultant at an early age. After seeing a vacancy at Philips, he applied and now, six years later, he is working as a Digital Innovation expert. ‘It makes me proud to work in a company committed to contributing to society. When I moved here from India, I was given an opportunity. Now, I want to help others. Especially because there are so many opportunities in the tech industry. For men and women.’
The coming months we will introduce female and male role models who act upon increasing diversity in the tech industry. By telling their personal and career stories, we can inspire and learn from each other.
What does diversity mean to you? My desire to advocate for equality comes from a personal reason. When I was seven months old, I was adopted from India, and I had the opportunity to move to the Netherlands. This has always stirred my desire to give the opportunity to someone else as well. My message as a role model at the Female Tech Heroes Network is to welcome more women to join the tech industry. The Network provides a wealth of opportunities, it will flourish even more if we embrace diversity and become more inclusive for all talents.
And of course, we need diversity within the companies and teams. Diversity in gender, ethnicity, and balance of masculine and feminine skills, to understand and meet the needs of customers and ensure fair representation of the society we live in.
What do you do as a Digital Innovation Lead at Philips? At the IT Digital Services team, we are supporting the Philips marketing community with content updates on the website, we are enabling the email marketing campaigns for our stakeholders in the markets and central organization. And while I’m not the one making the MRI-scanners, supporting our markets and central organization with making sure that people are familiar with our equipment and our solutions, is really amazing. We all share the same mission that drives our work – use innovation to improve the lives of three billion people around the globe.
When we talk about diversity, how is Philips doing? I’d say that open culture is one of the most important reasons I like working there. It feels like a family. And when you look at leadership roles, you will find multiple inspiring, diverse leaders including women from different backgrounds. I think it’s really important that our leadership is inclusive and balanced. I think it will invite people from all walks of life to join the company.
We organize events like International Women’s Day, are one of the sponsors of the Amsterdam Pride and we also initiated ‘Be The Change’. This initiative empowers each employee to start carrying out their own projects and drives an exchange of ideas across different countries. With these initiatives, we are stimulating diverse groups in society to join the company but also help retain the ones who are already working here.
How can we create more diversity in the tech world? I believe we have to start by showing the youngest generation, the children in primary schools, what an equal society looks like. By changing the stigmatized images and addressing unconscious biases we can inspire children to choose a profession in life based on their own interests, not on the common gender images of the professions. That’s why one of the things I would like to do in the future is to go to schools and universities to inspire young women to look at the world in equal opportunities and what they can do together to make it better.
Also, when it comes to the company, we are not only looking at how to attract the best female talent but equally invest in building an inclusive environment in which they can thrive. Retaining diverse talent is one of the areas of focus in Inclusion and Diversity.
What would your advice be for early career starters? Follow your dreams, set short-term goals, and celebrate achieving them. Network with people, and try to look for a coach that can really support you. I am currently also coaching a young woman in the innovation domain, as a part of the reverse mentoring program where senior and junior professionals share experiences with one another. This way we mutually learn from this program and gain from each other’s perspective.