October 11, 2022

Outstanding Women: Continuing to celebrate women in STEM

It was sad to hear this week that this year's Ada Lovelace Day, an international celebration of Women in STEM will be the last due to a lack of funding for the event. However, it is vital that we as an industry continue to push for diversity and inclusion across our teams, so in this week's blog we celebrate four more of the outstanding women here at RFS.

Radio Frequency Systems,

Started in 2009, for over a decade the second Tuesday in October has seen Ada Lovelace Day. This is an international celebration of the achievements of women in science, technology, engineering, and maths (STEM). It raises the profiles of women in STEM professions and aims to inspire the next generation of women scientists, engineers, and mathematicians. Sadly, organizers have announced this year will be the last event due to a lack of ongoing funding. 

In the announcement, Ada Lovelace Day founder Suw Charman-Anderson said along with global factors like the pandemic and energy crisis limiting contributions from businesses to fund events, they are also battling the misconception, that the problem of the lack of women in tech had been fixed. Although there has been progress it is wrong to think that initiatives and work to bring women into senior positions in STEM organizations is complete. Charman-Anderson commented "Women are still struggling to fulfill their ambitions and engage with work and industries that they love because they're being pushed out."

At RFS, we are committed to creating a work environment that supports women both to enter the industry and to progress to senior positions in the company. With this in mind, we continue to celebrate the outstanding women making significant contributions to our organizations and demonstrate, in the words of Apple CEO Tim Cook that there are “no good excuses” for the lack of women in technology. 

Suzanne Kasai
Business Development and Channel Sales Manager
North America

What route led you into your current position at RFS? 
My current position is Business Development and Channel Sales Manager, North America.  I started my sales career at RFS in Latin American Sales and transitioned into North America Business Development.  My focus has been growing sales and strategic relationships in vertical markets with a focus on government, utilities, transit and mining sectors. 

Do you think this gives you an interesting perspective within your role?
My job has enabled me to work a wide variety of customers that have need of wireless communications systems. This has given me good insight into the critical nature of communication systems on many levels and has allowed me to show how RFS can be an effective partner to our customers.

How does the industry still need to change to become more accessible?
My experience is that this industry is generally accessible and offers many diverse opportunities to learn new communication technology as it develops while also offering a wide variety of options to network professionally within the industry to form key relationships. One area where improvement could be made are offering more mentoring programs to attract diverse talent. 

Why should diversity be a priority for businesses?
Diversity is a key factor in business as it allows people to come together in a collaborative environment, using each other’s strengths while encouraging innovation and building an inclusive culture.

Who are your role models, do they impact your approach to work?
One of my role models is Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a pioneer in gender equality and women’s rights. As the second woman ever on the U.S. Supreme Court, she faced incredible challenges with grace and determination.  One of my favorite Ruth Bader Ginsburg quotes is “Fight for the things that you care about, but do it in a way that will lead others to join you”.  By treating colleagues and customers with respect, empathy, and a true desire to listen and learn we can create an environment of equality and inclusion that benefits all. 
My other role model is my mother who has always led by example showing that kindness, compassion, and integrity are indeed some of the greatest gifts we can share with each other both in business as well as personal life.

Kitty Sun
RFS Shanghai Lab Engineer
Shanghai site, China

What is your current position at RFS?
I joined RFS 16 years ago and currently hold the positions of RFS Shanghai Lab Engineer, Labor Union Chairman and Party Branch Secretary. It is a varied role; my main job function is as a lab engineer working on IEC/ISO 17025 CNAS system certification and testing business processing. Beyond this, I have a wider role within RFS, leading the team as Labor Union Chairman focusing on enriching the social and cultural life of the employees with initiatives such as recreational activities for employees. The aim is to enhance the relationship and communication between the company and employees. In addition, I also work with local government departments as Party Branch Secretary making for a very varied and interesting work life.

Do you think this gives you an interesting perspective within your role?
As my job encompasses multiple roles within the company it has encouraged me to adjust and grow professionally to meet the requirements of the different roles, rather than limiting myself to one role. It is full of challenges but has given greater growth opportunities and a broader perspective to bring to each job function. 
How does the industry still need to change to become more accessible?
In the 16 years I have worked with RFS, I have seen what a fast-growing industry we work in and enjoyed seeing the transformation within the sector. Traditionally, Chinese women are responsible for taking care of the family, however, the number of women joining this industry has increased significantly. They are starting to hold higher positions, but they need to be able to balance their family and career – this is a change the industry needs to make to be more accessible.

Who are your role models, do they impact your approach to work?
There is a group of people who switch identities between work and family and experience more challenges and difficulty than any other - working mothers. They have significant advantages when it comes to emotional management and areas such as conflict resolution. They are patient and able to prioritize within a work environment. They achieve their self-value from strong, brave and independent spirit and become more confident to live their own lives. This makes them both great employees and role models in the workplace.

Cécile Philippo
Communications Specialist
Paris site, France

What route led you into your current position at RFS?
I studied international communication and translation and had the opportunity to both study and work abroad before joining RFS. I was looking to gain experience in a company with an international scope and RFS, with its close-knit dedicated teams, was an immediate choice. I then had the opportunity to grow into my role until my current one as Communications Specialist.

Do you think this gives you an interesting perspective within your role?
I hadn’t worked in telecoms before joining RFS, it was a new industry for me. However, taking my background and applying it to this environment was a definite advantage. In this role, you need to take a lot of different aspects into consideration to deliver your message effectively, even more so when you work within a diverse workplace. Being agile and knowing your audience are two especially important skills.

How does the industry still need to change to become more accessible?
It is as much the industry as the society that still need to change. Women and men should be able to pursue the career path they desire, no matter their gender, age, previous work history. Already established industry professionals should lead by example and foster a diverse work environment. We all have a role to play in becoming a more inclusive society and we need to pave the way for the next generation.
Why should diversity be a priority for businesses?
We live in a diverse world and so diversity should be the norm for any business. Open-mindedness, empathy, creativity, thirst to learn and to do better are all qualities found in diverse teams. Through our different backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives, we get to grow as people and, in turn, change companies into organizations that make a positive, sizeable impact on their community.

Who are your role models, do they impact your approach to work?I don’t look up to a single role model – I value diversity here too! I learn a lot from the people that surround me, whether it be in my personal or professional circle, or from historical figures. I believe every person has a story to tell and lessons can be learned from everyone. In my work, this leads me to work with my peers with an open mind and to collaborate in the pursuit of a greater goal. We may be individuals, but we achieve so much more as a community! 

Korina Scholtz
HR Manager
Hannover site, Germany

What is your current position at RFS?
Before joining RFS, I worked for a company with personnel responsibility for a small team; planning, recruiting, and conducting personnel interviews. I also held a position in retail as a buyer, however I had to leave this role with a heavy heart as the working hours were not compatible with my role as a single mother. Almost exactly 25 years ago, I joined the then Alcatel Kabel & Co KG via an internship before joining the personnel/payroll department. 

A lot has changed since then. The organization has evolved into the RFS we know today, and I have moved to a completely differently organized personnel area. For many years, I worked together with my colleagues on payroll accounting and personnel administration. In addition, I supported the personnel manager in many labor and collective bargaining law issues, as well as preparing and helping to negotiate various works council agreements. At the end of 2019 I was offered the position of HR Manager. This position presented me with a new challenge as until then my activities were focused locally. It has been a great opportunity and made me realize how much I enjoy working in a global team and the opportunities it offers.

Do you think this gives you an interesting perspective within your role?
Absolutely, in HR there are so many opportunities but also risks and changes that we must grow with. With the changes in the labor market, we have to seriously rethink and react quickly. For us to remain an attractive employer, we cannot just talk about work/life balance, we must adapt to the circumstances, create flexible working hours and offer fair pay and benefits. Having empathy for this is a significant advantage. 

Why should diversity be a priority for businesses?
Quite simply, the diversity of our employees with their different skills and talents opens up opportunities for innovative and creative solutions.
Who are your role models, do they impact your approach to work?Jawahir Roble is a Muslim woman living in the UK, rather short in stature and wears a headscarf. She is a successful award-winning referee in professional men's soccer. She is committed to ensuring that one day her Muslim sisters can play sports without any worries and therefore coaches women’s and girls' soccer teams. This shows that there is still a lot of work to be done in terms of equality/diversity and she is part of the solution.