By Aulia R. Sungkar. Published in The Jakarta Post on April 12, 2014.
Helen Masters is climbing the corporate ladder in a highly male dominated sector.
The IT industry is often seen as not being a female-friendly environment, but Helen Masters has proved otherwise.
Having spent most of her career life working at various IT firms, she has witnessed the fact that women are still under represented at the executive level in the IT industry. However, as women are becoming more aware of the opportunities the world’s fast-paced IT environment can offer, the situation is gradually changing.
“I see that the current globalized movement of information has actually provided more opportunities for females to leap forward in the industry. And I’m glad to see more and more IT companies empowering women in leadership roles,” said the Infor vice president of ASEAN sales.
One of the leading providers of enterprise applications and services, New York based Infor has established its presence in 194 countries with over 12,400 employees assisting around 70,000 customers from various sectors across the globe.
Infor’s regional ASEAN headquarters is in Singapore. In her current position, Masters is responsible for the development and promotion of the company’s products as well as enhancing customer experience and establishing market presence in the ASEAN region, including Indonesia.
“I’m optimistic about the Indonesian market. We are already the fastest growing EAP [enterprise application platform] company in Asia, and we are climbing higher in Indonesia with 26 percent growth year-on-year. We want to continue our double-digit growth across the archipelago. Undoubtedly, there is huge potential here being Southeast Asia’s largest market,” Masters said during a recent visit to Jakarta.
Confidence to succeed
With over 25 years of IT and marketing under her belt, Masters still believes that IT is a male dominated industry.
“It’s not about gender. It’s nothing to do with femininity and masculinity. It’s more about personalities. Just like engineering and other fields of sciences, IT seems to be dominated by men. Likewise, more women are seen doing administrative and marketing jobs,” she explained.
Having both skills in IT and marketing, Masters seems to enjoy her successful career as a woman in the IT industry.
The mother of two furthermore said that “confidence” is a powerful tool to achieve success in IT industry. “I have business confidence, which is what it took to become a leader in the world of IT. But we need more than just confidence.”
It is important that any leader — especially a woman leading an IT organization — shows executive credibility, she advised. “This should include the ability to assert yourself; communicate with others; have empathy with your colleagues and team; possess an understanding of your environment; and above all else — organization. Being organized is the key. And I adopt my direct leadership to achieve such goals.”
Masters needs to execute various strategies to grow business, including maintaining product lines and focusing on customer and partnership management. “I wouldn’t have been able to achieve this without a solid team. So I have to apply a smart and effective approach to maintain and continuously improve the solidness of my team.
“I’m a very direct and open person. Most of the time, members of my team know what I’m thinking, especially when it comes to business matters. I’m very competitive. I’m keen to succeed and I’m taking them along for the ride. We work together toward success. My ambition is to eventually make Infor the fastest growing region in APJ [Asia Pacific Japan]. Right now, we are running second. I would say my ambition is feasible,” she concluded.
Vice president, Sales, ASEAN at Infor since July 2013; head of the emerging and transformational alliances group at Cisco Systems (2012-2013), both in Singapore.
Previously, she worked in Australia as vice president, commercial and emerging markets at SAP (2011-2012); general manager SME and Indirect ANZ at SAP ANZ (2009-2010); sales director at Business Objects (2005-2009); northern region sales director at Computer Associates (1996-2004).
Certificate in computer programming from TAFE, Sydney (1984-1985); Bachelor of Arts in economics from Macquarie University, Sydney (1980-1983).
Exploring the horizon
I have travelled extensively, especially in Asia. From Malaysia to Thailand to Indonesia: each has their own uniqueness and beauty. I’m planning my next trip to Cebu in the Philippines. I would like to see the manufacturing facilities there. As for Indonesia, Bali is unquestionably magnificent. But Bintan is exceptional. Not only is the island close to Singapore, but there are also beautiful beaches and amazing resorts.
Foray into food
Appreciating local cuisine is a great way to learn more about a particular culture. I find it hard to state my preference over one particular culinary fare, as my tastes embrace varieties of food, from Western and Mediterranean to, of course, Indonesian cuisine.
A laidback weekend
As I am involved in sales, I find socializing important for my leisure time. My weekend is where I socialize with friends but I also like to walk my little poodle dog. Reading is another love. I’m learning Bahasa Indonesia now, I always have my Indonesian books beside my bed.