From tech to sports: HCLTech celebrates Women’s History Month in Amsterdam | HCLTech

From tech to sports: HCLTech celebrates Women’s History Month in Amsterdam

HCLTech observed Women's History Month in Amsterdam, celebrating the incredible accomplishments of women in tech and sports worldwide
9 min. read
Mousume Roy
Mousume Roy
APAC Reporter, HCLTech
9 min. read
From tech to sports: HCLTech celebrates Women’s History Month in Amsterdam

At an event in Amsterdam, several remarkable women leaders across both sports and technology shared the stage as part of HCLTech’s #ShePowersProgress initiative during Women’s History Month.

Coral Navarrete, Head of Financial Services for Iberia at HCLTech, Monica Visser, CEO at KNCB (Cricket Netherlands), Bela Evers, Chairperson at Dutchess of the Sea Rowing team and Mimmi Nurmela, Captain of HJK Helsinki football team exchanged their perspectives on how women can 'Take Charge and Define Progress’.

Opening the panel, Sudip Lahiri, EVP and Head – Europe, Financial Services at HCLTech, inaugurated the event with a discussion on the #ShePowersProgress platform, highlighting HCLTech’s commitment to creating an environment that offers equal opportunities to all.

“All it requires is the unwavering determination to lead the change. With HCLTech’s Women First Program, we are constantly striving to create an environment that welcomes more women from the industry,” said Lahiri.

“Women should always be prepared to take the lead, instead of waiting for opportunities to come knocking at their doors,” said Visser, who shared her journey of how she became a CEO.

“You need to earn your place on the table,” she added.

Women in sports – tackling challenges and inequalities

On the topic of creating the exceptional sporting talent of tomorrow and building a more inclusive and diverse community in the workforce, the panelists stated that the only barrier to sporting success should be potential.

Bela Evers, a digital consultant, tech influencer and a professional Atlantic Ocean Rower spoke about balancing her love for extreme sports and technology.

“Digital transformation is about a journey, where you take a company from A to B, where you prepare for the goal of the journey, setbacks and roadblocks. You work as a team to break down the goals and find a synergy,” she said.

Comparing the same approach to rowing, she continued: “When you are rowing in an ocean, there are a lot of obstacles and roadblocks—and you learn step-by-step how you navigate the journey. It’s 80% of mental and 20% physical work. Whether it’s a journey at work or in extreme sports, it doesn’t matter. What matters is how you go about doing it. Synergies of these beautiful experiences complement each other.”

The sporting world needs to be cognizant of women’s needs. As an example of this in action, another panelist, Nurmela added: “In Finland, it’s so much hard to be a professional female player as compared to a male. We need to see a shift in attitude, and sometimes there is a lack of perspective when it comes to women’s sports. "For instance, if we would develop equipment (for example cleats) and other circumstances for women’s physique and bodies instead of mainly men’s physique, there could be fewer injuries."

Talking about gender equality, Visser mentioned: “If I talk about the Cricket Federation, the empowerment is about having female board members and making women cricket a priority. We need more equality in programs and allowances for both men and women.”

“I crossed the Atlantic Ocean in 2020 and I am targeting the Pacific Ocean in 2024. So, I am really planning, preparing and training hard to achieve this. I aim to take inspiring stories like this to more people—to help them find a spark. HCLTech is making things accessible and hosting inspiring events, like this one. That is the foremost step: enabling and inspiring people to pursue their interest or goals,” added Evers.


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Women in Technology – the changing landscape

Women remain underrepresented at every level, starting from entry-level jobs to C-suite roles. Zhilla Noorbakhsh, IT Head, SEPA Payments Processing at ING, Adina Duma, IT Head, One Pega Platform at ING and Tessa Reef, Partner Manager at Google Cloud Enterprise Segment also joined the panel on the topic of 'Powering Progress for Women in Tech’.

Talking about the significant changes women faced over the years in technology, Zhilla stated: “The acknowledgement that there is an issue named “Gender Inequality in Technology” has been a major change over the years in my view. During my time at university and the early start of my career, it was almost common to be the only female in technology at university classrooms or being the only female in a department of 150 employees, but now it’s NOT ok and proactive actions are being taken across the industry.”

She continued: “Over the years, things have changed. You see a lot of women in technology leadership roles, and that has been possible due to the support they have received from society, organizations and family.”

Commenting on the changing environment and how it shapes women, Adina mentioned: “I was lucky to always have the support of my family. I also grew up in a communist country where equality was highly promoted, and the environment I grew up in mattered a lot as that gave me the confidence that we are equal and therefore my mindset and behavior during the years was based on this early conviction that was given to me by the society I grew up in. All these early age experiences and the environment around shaped me and made me who I am now.”

“When it comes to diversity, it has grown and there is a lot more attention on it at present,” added Reef.

Women empowering women

Harvard Business Review research has found that both men and women benefit from having a network of well-connected peers across different groups. Women who also have an inner circle of close female contacts are more likely to land executive positions with greater authority and higher pay.

We need to tap into the potential of women. We all have a greater responsibility.It’s not so much about the challenges you face in your career, but mostly about your attitude towards them and how you react to them. For me, the key to solving any challenge is talking to other people about it. I discuss it with my network of friends, colleagues and mentors, and that always helps because I gain more clarity and different perspectives that in the end leads to a better outcome,” added Adina.

When Zhilla was asked about the best advice she had received from a female mentor, she said: “Careers are all about ups and downs. During one of the bad phases, a pep-talk with my mentor about keeping my head-up, moving forward and believing in myself pulled me out of that phase. As women, we can be harsh on ourselves—we need to support each other more.”

The event was graced by over 60 HCLTech women employees in the Netherlands along with Dr. Tanu Priya, First Secretary, Indian Embassy to the Netherlands. Her address inspired everyone to find their own spark.

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