Joanna Gilfoy, Vodafone Ireland
Joanna Gilfoy, head of enterprise product, Vodafone Ireland. Image: Vodafone

On the Vodafone enterprise product team, no two days are the same

2 Mar 2017

Do you aspire to lead a department some day? How confident are you about what that entails?

We all dream of climbing the ladder. Remaining in an entry-level role forever is no one’s idea of the optimum career path. But how many of us know what it’s actually like to lead a team?

Here, Joanna Gilfoy, head of enterprise product at Vodafone Ireland, gives us some insight into the scope of her work.

What is your role within Vodafone?

I am the head of enterprise product at Vodafone Ireland.

If there is such a thing, can you describe a typical day in the job?

The beauty of working in product is that there is never a typical day. However, looking at my current week, these are some of the tasks I have lined up:

A technology collaboration workshop: The unique role of product is that we touch all parts of the business, customer solutions and product life cycle, so we influence the designs of new solutions, fix issues or upgrade new ones.

A product launch: Ireland is one of the lead markets launching a series of global security products. This week, we are finalising the launch plans of one, including refining the marketing message and sales support, and engaging partners around it.

Team coaching and mentoring: Whether formal or informal, I work closely with my team on their professional development.

Customer sales bids: About 40pc of my time is spent supporting the sales teams on customer bids, problem solving and training.

Global community workshops: A great part of Vodafone as a global company is the wealth of skills, experience and best practice we have to share. This week, we have been focusing on delivering a best-in-class customer experience on our flagship unified communications product, One Net Business.

Presentations: I like to make sure that we keep the company up to speed on our roadmap and on global market trend developments that will influence our strategy. This week, I presented at our company ‘all hands’, and at two team meetings on our strategy.

What types of project do you work on?

My team looks after every enterprise product, so I am involved in anything from fixed voice, data connectivity and mobility to internet of things, unified comms, and cloud and hosting. I also work on wider strategic projects with other Vodafone operating countries.

What skills do you use on a daily basis?

  • Stakeholder management and negotiations
  • Simplifying complex problems and requirements to deliver simple solutions
  • Marketing and communications
  • Technical knowledge
  • Leadership

What is the hardest part of your working day?

Ensuring I give enough of my time to everyone who needs me. I am interested in everything, but I can’t – and shouldn’t – be involved with every project, so I need to strike the right balance.

Do you have any productivity tips that help you through the working day?

Understand when you are at your most productive and schedule your action time and hardest tasks for around that time.

I am an early morning person, so I get in by 7am and have a defined list of tasks to get through before the day starts in earnest, but I know that by 6pm I am mentally flagging, so I don’t have meetings after that time.

Do the administrative tasks for 30 minutes every day so you keep on top of it all and it doesn’t become one arduous task every month.

When you first started this job, what were you most surprised to learn was important in the role?

How important we are in representing Vodafone externally as an inclusive and diverse employer. My team visits schools and colleges to talk about STEM, and is active in LGBT and Women’s Networks.

How has this role changed as the telecoms sector has grown and evolved?

The skill requirements have grown as the role has moved away from a more technical role to one where product managers need to be highly skilled in customer experience, technology, commercials, process mapping, communications, project management and insights.

This means that the product managers in my team have a really diverse range of backgrounds, including teaching, engineering, journalism and data analysis, which makes us an interesting and highly skilled team.

What do you enjoy most about the job?

I work with a team of intelligent, skilled people whose approach to life and work make our working environment fantastic.

I also really enjoy the diversity of my role and that no two days are the same!

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