Nicole Oei, Account Manager for AI adtech company Quantcast, sat down with B&T to talk about her experience as a woman in tech, and why it’s so important to create diverse working environments.
From England to Australia, Oei has held roles at a range of organisations both large and small. Her career experiences so far have given her valuable insights into creating a supportive and encouraging team that brings out the best in each member.
Can you tell us about your career and how you came to work at Quantcast?
Nicole Oei: I did a degree in commerce and majored in marketing and human resources. My first job was at a point-of-sale company, where we did in-store and window displays. Then I moved to the UK and was based in Leeds for a couple of years. The industry I was in at the time was declining while digital media was evolving. This got me excited about changing directions in my career.
When I came back to Australia, I fell into the programmatic advertising space and have been working in the sector for the last five years. I have really enjoyed it because it’s constantly changing. There’s so much excitement, nothing is ever the same, I continue to be challenged in different ways every day. I loved my previous company but it was quite small, so when an opportunity came up to join Quantcast, I really jumped at the chance.
In my previous role, I was also surrounded by a majority male-dominated environment as well. The lack of diversity was restrictive in my opinion, so I was really looking forward to working with more women again!
Are there any noticeable differences between your previous role and Quantcast?
NO: One of the things I noticed as soon as I joined Quantcast was that it was evident that the people in the business are all happy, excelling at what they do, and are completely supported every step of the way.
The culture here is one where everyone genuinely wants each other to succeed, and it still feels the same today after almost two years of working here. There are some really smart and amazing women I get the chance to learn from every day, who are generous with their time and knowledge. It has really helped to open my eyes to the possibilities that can result when people are genuinely thriving in their working environment.
Do you think there are more opportunities for women to support women in larger companies compared to smaller ones? Or does it depend more on who works in the company and what sort of industry it operates in?
NO: Larger companies probably have more opportunities (and more resources) to make a bigger impact in more diverse programmes to support women in the workplace, compared to smaller businesses. But more importantly, I believe it has to do with who is in the company, and who is there to advocate for women and gender equality, particularly in industries that tend to have more men in leadership roles such as science, tech, and finance.
In my view, there are still unconscious biases that people don’t realise they have. As much as women can band together, we also need the men in our lives and workplaces to support more awareness-building initiatives that shine a light on the facts — when women succeed, so do men and vice versa.
What specific steps or initiatives has Quantcast provided to empower you at work?
NO: Quantcast is very good at encouraging a learning environment. It’s always been okay to fail or ask if you need extra help in the team. It’s also a very supportive and welcoming environment. When I started, I was partnered with a male salesperson and he was instrumental in my onboarding, how I developed my relationships with my clients, and eventually how I positioned myself within my team.
Quantcast also has a 6-monthly internship programme that pairs junior to mid-level employees with senior members of the global business, to help people develop and grow.
Every company says they hire people who are different, to get diverse experiences and skills. But at Quantcast, you can really see that our people have a complementary nature. Everyone is mostly able to work with everyone independently of their teams, and there is always someone who knows the answer to the question, or at least, where to find it. Seeing how problems are approached from different perspectives has allowed me to learn different ways to better do my job.
We also have a culture of recognition in the team. In many companies, the sales team tends to be the one receiving most of the glory, but at Quantcast, it’s not always just about the commercial wins. We celebrate each other’s achievements, commiserate over losses together, and support each other.
You have been with Quantcast for about a year. What initiatives is the company working on to champion women in the workplace?
NO: One real positive is that women make up about half of our executive leadership team.
We also have a diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEI&B) initiative, where we create different initiatives throughout the year to promote inclusivity and help people learn about different cultures and backgrounds.
We recently celebrated Lunar New Year for example with a simple team lunch in the office. My family originally comes from China, and the Lunar New Year is traditionally spent with family gathered around a meal. I thought it was a nice way to celebrate the holiday with my co-workers in this way.
We also have the Quantcast Women’s Network (QWN), which originally started as a book club but has now evolved into something much larger globally. The group drives initiatives around International Women’s Day, Women’s History Month, and education around navigating challenges in the workplace from well-known speakers. All of our initiatives are completely gender neutral, as well, and are well-participated by men!
Where do you think Quantcast’s supportive culture comes from?
NO: One of our guiding principles is ‘We’re not a team of stars. We’re an all-star team.’
When your company is led from the top to be all about winning together, the supportive culture comes naturally. There are of course people who can do their jobs well individually, but the ethos is that we are a team.
Our founder and CEO Konrad Feldman, alongside our executive leadership team, has strongly driven this culture from above. But locally, I’d say everyone in the team reinforces this daily. Whilst we’re all here to work, we’re all also human, and this sentiment is echoed every day in the office in my opinion.
How have the marketing and advertising industries changed over the time that you have been working in them?
NO: The digital and marketing industries are already very fast-paced, but COVID accelerated that significantly. Audience behaviours have changed, and so have customer journeys and measurement.
I feel that a lot of people became less guarded, and we also became more human during COVID. I feel like that has also seeped into the industries we work in. The face-to-face time I have with my colleagues and clients is so much more valuable now somehow. There is a lot more flexibility at work because we’ve recognised that we can still get things done away from the office after working from home for two years. The conversations I’m having in marketing steer towards a partnership angle, rather than a servicing agreement. I’d say it’s much improved in many ways.
What changes would you like to see to improve the experience of women in the tech industry?
NO: We need to keep encouraging more women to keep joining the tech industry. I think that many women are daunted by a career in tech, but my personal definition of success is to be able to have it all – excel at my job, raise a family, take time for myself, and be able to have a good work/life balance.
I’d love to see the tech industry engaging in more activities to help women pursue their goals and dreams comfortably, in and out of work. If the goal is to eradicate gender bias in the industry, addressing real issues such as gender pay gaps, longer parental leave, and equal opportunities regarding promotions are where we can use a lot more improvement at the moment.
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