In this segment of Women in Tech we feature Carina Engelbrecht, a Solutions Consultant at Itec SA who believes that being a female can be a huge advantage in the sales industry.
The 39-year-old is a trailblazer and changing perceptions as she works to close the lingering gender gaps in the local IT industry. She was recently named as Itec’s top salesperson for the year, an award she puts down to working for an organisation that has the flexibility and technology capabilities to implement the solutions she co-crafts with her clients and the very experienced product managers at Itec.
“There’s no doubt that there’s still a gender gap in the IT industry – in the way men and women are treated, in the way they are perceived, in the way they are paid. But that’s changing. What clients value today is relationships: the ability to listen, think and act creatively, look for opportunities and solve problems that most miss,” said Engelbrecht.
Here is more of what she said during her interview with IT News Africa:
1. As a Solutions Consultant at Itec, what does your job entail?
At the core, I am a technology consultant to corporate industries. This entails effective relationship management and providing relevant solutions to my clients. I manage key accounts by strategically cross-selling our range of products. I work closely with my corporate clients to identify opportunities that will simplify their processes, reduce their costs and increase their overall business efficiencies. Effective networking and ensuring that they sustain momentum are key.
2. What does your typical day look like?
My typical day starts at 7 am, where I get as much admin done as possible in the office. I then go out onto the road and visit my clients for a variety of reasons: sales, services check-in, reporting and cost analysis. At times there is also crisis management required which I need to be flexible for and attend to immediately. Being efficient and effective multitasking are imperative in my day-to-day.
3. What are the advantages of being a female in the sales industry?
My ability to listen, thinking and acting creatively, looking for new and often missed opportunities and my overall attention to detail. I can effectively identify business areas that require consolidation, organisation and strengthening therefore, positively impacting the outcome with managed solutions for my clients. I am extremely organised, flexible and always prepared so that I can provide proactive key account management to my clients.
4. How has being named top salesperson of the year by Itec impacted your life?
I was totally surprised by this! The acknowledgement was truly humbling. I am not very competitive by nature and I am just very grateful that all my hard work has paid off over time. It is great to know that my integrity and my strategic sales tactics have been recognised. The pressure has increased but I will keep pushing to succeed in the art of sales. Teamwork was an integral part of this award with my success coming from numerous departments and colleagues working towards a common goal. I could not have it without them.
5. What inspired your career choice?
I began in sales by accident when I was in my early twenties. I had no work experience and we all know how hard it can be to catch a break without it. However, someone believed in me and saw my fire. They gave me a real opportunity and before I knew it, I had grown from strength to strength and never looked back. I have been fortunate enough to have great mentors from the beginning who have enabled me to learn and grow over time. I constantly learn from the inspiring leaders in our business and then I add my own style to this process.
6. In your opinion, how important is it for organisations, especially in South Africa to support women in technology?
Now is the time for women to stop being underrepresented across all industries in South Africa. We choose to follow a successful career and we want to achieve in our professional lives. I have so many successful friends who I am extremely proud of and they have faced the same challenges that, we as women, face every day.
7. What/Who would you attribute your success to?
My classical ballet and dance background have taught me discipline and persistence. It has made me tough and helped me not to spend too much time feeling sorry for myself. I have to keep my chin up and really perform under pressure. Hard work should never be underestimated, and the rewards will follow. Maintaining a good name is key in the business world. Honesty and integrity are priceless as the world is actually a very small place.
“Integrity is the seed for achievement. It is the principle that never fails” – Earl Nightingale
8. What does Women’s Day/Month mean to you?
It truly resonates with me. All I want is recognition, equality and fairness for women. Unfortunately, ‘the boys’ club’ culture still exists, and South Africa is still very conservative. Historically, the 8am-5pm workday was designed for men to work and for women to look after the home/children. When this norm is challenged (for example: when a Dad must stay at home to look after the children or do the school run) it is often frowned upon. This gender inequality is fundamentally wrong, and we need to change the way people think. It shouldn’t matter what gender you are in the workplace (which includes career progression and salary/bonus negotiations) or whether you are raising children and looking after the home. It should always be a fair and collaborative effort that benefits everyone involved. Life is tough but it could be made easier if things were more equal and fairer.
“There is more to being classy than simply being stylish and confident. Being classy means being kind, respectful and polite even to those who are unkind to you”