We had the opportunity to interview Jane Canny, Chief Digital Officer at Edcon. Jane is one of the speakers of Women in Digital & Data running on 27 September 2018 in Johannesburg.
Can you tell us a bit about your background and how it leads to a career in digital?
The first 20 years of my career was in Finance and Business Management, thereafter I moved into IT as at the time there was a significant gap between business and IT and, having knowledge of both areas felt that I could make a difference helping IT and Business to understand each other better – this lead to 20 years in IT, ultimately being Chief Operating Officer of Business Connexion. During this period, I did extensive work in Retail and in building and implementing a digital Financial Services strategy.
The combination of business and IT expertise lead to this third era of my career, as Chief Digital Office of Edcon and the Chief Executive of ThankU Digital.
Women in the field of technology are definitely in the minority, so why did you decide to pursue a career in digital?
I didn’t decide to pursue a career in digital – it chose me due to the combination of my knowledge and expertise
What challenges have you faced in the workplace, especially your experience in a male-dominated environment?
- Being taken seriously, when meeting people for the first time – prior to having the time and appropriate context to demonstrate ability and knowledge. The workplace is male dominated, but this should not intimidate anyone who has the knowledge and expertise, which will trump any other behaviour.
- The person who is best prepared will be best positioned in any scenario – so always ensure that you are the most prepared person at the table.
What can women in the workplace do today to help build the foundation for successful careers?
- Be themselves, don’t feel you have to be hard and callous, nor match men’s behaviour.
- Always be better prepared – lean-in – take responsibility.
- Personal integrity is at the core - build trust - deliver on your promises.
What are three key pieces of advice that you would give to women in digital struggling with digital transformation?
- Understand that success is less about the “cool” tech and more about driving efficiency and effectiveness (whether driving improved Customer Experience or driving Backend automation and fundamentals). You will only occasionally, find yourself in a position where you are solving for an entirely disruptive business model.
- Solve for the business problem or opportunity
- Be commercially savvy - Understand the commercial benefits of the change
What advice would you give to other women who are interested in pursuing a similar career path to yours?
Beware of focussing on the technology - Solve for the business problem or opportunity
You have to not only understand the tech, but also understand the business and make decisions based on commercial value