Fujitsu’s Veronica Rahneberg discusses opportunities arising from remote work and cybersecurity, and how she progressed into a leadership role.
Veronica Rahneberg is the sales director for Fujitsu Ireland, the local arm of the Japanese ICT company that provides Irish customers with IT services. Her role involves delivering business growth for Fujitsu’s Ireland operation and representing sales on the Ireland management team. She has also recently taken on a new role at European level, working on sales strategy for Fujitsu Europe.
Rahneberg has decades of experience in technology and has worked in a number of senior management roles. She studied computer applications at Dublin City University, got an MBA from Trinity College Dublin, and is now completing a postgraduate diploma in technology commercialisation at NUI Galway.
She also has a part-time role at Trinity as an adjunct teaching fellow on the executive MBA course. This involves coaching a team of six executive MBA students through a year-long consulting project with an Irish company, using the skills they learned in the course.
‘More than ever, organisations need to operate in a state of constant evolution’
– VERONICA RAHNEBERG
What are the biggest challenges facing your sector and how are you tackling them?
I think the biggest challenge is also what makes our sector so exciting to work in – the pace of change and the ability to respond.
More than ever, organisations need to operate in a state of constant evolution. The pandemic was a once-in-a-generation shock, creating unprecedented turmoil and continuing disruption. In the face of unprecedented stress, trying to promote a growth mindset and the creativity that underpins it can be challenging.
By implementing technology in a human-centric way, we can create workforces that are more creative, inclusive and sustainable. In the future of work, agility and resilience can be achieved through using the right technology, in combination with a great culture to enhance the employee experience.
Enabling our teams is about having the right level of customer and employee centricity, a supportive culture and working processes which are enabled by technology.
What are the key sector opportunities you’re capitalising on?
The pandemic and the shift to remote and hybrid work has been a catalyst for an increase in the pace of digitisation. This digital transformation will affect all sectors and those who do so most effectively will give themselves the greatest chance to succeed. This process will have a disproportionate effect in Ireland, where we are largely a services-based economy.
The other major opportunity is in the increased emphasis that organisations are placing on cybersecurity. High-profile cyberattacks continue to abound, and organisations need to be able to respond.
What set you on the road to where you are now?
When I think back on my journey to this point and the various twists and turns that have led me here, two things come to mind.
The first was a teacher I had the pleasure of learning physics from in secondary school. In a small class, Mrs O’Neill was a big influence on me and instilled a curiosity in science and the way things work. I enjoyed the exactness of science and this was a foundational step for me before starting my working life.
Secondly, I guess I was an unusually mature child and self-financed a session with a guidance counsellor from money I had earned from working in a shop. She assessed me and came to the conclusion that I would be ideal for a degree in computer science, so that’s what I ended up doing as a primary degree.
What’s the biggest risk you’ve ever taken?
Without question it was to take on a global account director role. It was a huge step into the unknown at the time – I had never managed a global team before that point.
I had an excellent relationship with a particular client as a business consultant. When the customer had a global ambitious project, they asked me to represent the Fujitsu proposal, and I led the Fujitsu team for over a year as we engaged with the client and delivered a proposal to meet the requirement.
We won the business and I stayed on as the global account director. In that role, I had to move from being hands-on, as I was used to, and instead put my trust in the people around me. Managing a team of 175 people globally, while making sure the customer was happy, was a big step at the time.
How do you get the best out of your team?
I place a big emphasis on the culture we create and ascribe to as a group of people. I try to stress the cultural values of supportiveness, fairness and empowerment.
I require a commitment to live up to those values in a manner that is open and honest so there is real accountability. I want to give people the space and supports they need to flourish, but with that space comes accountability. When people are willing to be accountable to themselves, and to each other, we thrive as a collective.
Have you noticed a diversity problem in your sector?
I think it is well acknowledged that diversity is an issue across the entire ICT sector. We need to do better, and we need to do more.
I am doing my piece by being the executive sponsor of the Women’s Business Network @ Fujitsu, which is looking to promote greater diversity and inclusion among the workforce. I have also recently been accepted onto the newly launched 30% Club Senior Women in Technology Programme sponsored by EY, and I’m looking forward to engaging with my peers and getting advice from the advisory panel.
What’s the best piece of career advice you have ever received?
I’ve been lucky to receive some excellent advice from colleagues, peers and friends over the years, but the one which I lean on most heavily is to trust yourself. While it is right to regularly assess what we do and how we do it, there is a balance needed where you must trust yourself and your decisions.
I was also very lucky to learn from Prof David Venter, who worked as director general for communications for Nelson Mandela. He taught me some valuable lessons about shared values and mutual gains in negotiation.
What books have you read that you would recommend?
- Daring Greatly by Brené Brown
- Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni
- Surrounded by Idiots by Thomas Erikson
- Becoming Lean by Richard Keegan
- All the David McWilliams books
What are the essential tools and resources that get you through the working week?
This one is really simple – having a supportive team.
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