Women Leading Tech: Samba TV’s Yasmin Sanders Discusses Why We Need To Support Diversity In Tech

Women Leading Tech: Samba TV’s Yasmin Sanders Discusses Why We Need To Support Diversity In Tech
B&T Magazine
Edited by B&T Magazine

Yasmin Sanders is the managing director at the advertising and analytics company Samba TV where she builds innovative market-first solutions and executes digitally-led technology, data, product marketing and commercial strategies to achieve commercial outcomes.

For Sanders, diversity in the tech industry is so important. She’s spent the past two decades working at a variety of media, tech, and start-up companies amongst some of the biggest business names in Australia and found the role of women in the workplace paramount.

Sanders has also managed and worked with swaths of people and worked as the founder and director of Zipp Media Solutions, and then found herself in her position at Samba TV.

With Samba TV graciously sponsoring this year’s B&T Women Leading Tech Awards, we caught up with the industry veteran to talk about everything from being the only woman on a tech conference shuttle bus, to getting told she was “too ahead of her time,” imposter syndrome, and how men can support women in tech.

For you why is it so important to support Women Leading Tech (WLT)?

I’ll never forget attending a broadcast technology conference in Las Vegas only five years ago. I hopped on the shuttle bus back to my hotel and did a headcount: 48 blokes on the bus and me! At least 50% of the population identifies as women. It is imperative for women to have a seat at the table to help shape the industry to be representative and inclusive. The benefits are indisputable. McKinsey’s 2019 analysis found that companies in the top quartile for gender diversity on executive teams were 25% more likely to have above-average profitability than companies in the fourth quartile. The only way that it’s going to happen is if everyone does their part in participating and building for a diverse and representative future in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Samba TV and I are passionate that, as an industry, we all need to lean into creating and supporting diversity across all tech sectors.

Can you tell us about your work history and current role and what some of the biggest challenges/obstacles you’ve faced are?  

I’ve been in the industry for over 20 years. In fact, I used to put on my headset and sell “Women’s Daytime” on broadcast TV, a daypart slot that advertisers would buy into between the hours of 12pm-4pm when women were assumed to be home doing chores, the kids were at school, etc. We’ve come a long way since then! Throughout this time, I’ve worked very hard every day to authentically learn the space (because it certainly didn’t come easy to me) and work to stick my foot in the door to be a part of the conversation. That door has been shut a few times on me over the years, but I have always managed to ‘jimmy it open’ eventually through tenacity and patience.

In recent years, I’ve been named one of the top 50 game-changing women at Verizon Media worldwide and won Technology Leader for Women Leading Change Across JAPAC from Campaign Asia.

What is your most-career defining moment? How has this changed you?

Two moments come to mind. The first encapsulates how allowing women a seat at the table can bring about real change for a company. I was working at a media sales startup business in my mid-20s when I proactively wrote a SWOT analysis designed to lower their operational burdens as they were moving out of their start-up phase. I spent my Christmas break perfecting it. I was excited to present it back to our sales leadership team, although nervous I truly believed I held a proposal that could take the business into its next growth phase. After a cool reception from a key stakeholder, I was told that my ideas were “just too ahead of the times.” However, it took the persistence of my manager to drop it on the CEO’s desk six months later and within a day I was walking him through the proposal. Within a week, the recommendations were put into action based on my proactive analysis.

The second defining moment that really stands out to me was when I was recognised as one of Verizon’s 50 most game-changing women globally within the business. This was an impactful experience attending the Makers Conference in California and promoting the importance of “The Time Is Now” with regards to equality of women in the workplace. I remember listening to Carla Harris at a session there and both men and women alike were inspired by her. Spare 15 minutes and watch Carla’s Pearls.

What advice would you give to young women hoping to become leaders in a statistically male-dominated technology space?

Thanks to social media, it’s never been easier to immerse yourself in opportunities to learn and grow. Align yourself with organisations, meet-up groups, or people that inspire you. If you can’t find them, ask people you trust for their recommendations. These have helped me throughout my career and continue to be of utmost importance. Above all else, however, take the time and invest in a sponsor relationship, it is critical to the success of your career. This is someone in your organisation that has your best interests at heart and has the power to get “it” (whatever “it” is for you) “done” behind closed doors on your behalf. This sponsor must have a seat at the table, real exposure to your work, and can be a strong advocate to support your interests.

Being in a management position, what have you discovered to be the best way to promote and nurture women’s careers? 

It’s essential to use your position and the leadership you hold with other decision-makers to promote and lift up other women. Two of my greatest achievements happened not only because of my tenacity, but also because I was supported by great men. It’s not only women that have to support women, but it should be men and women supporting the drive for a more diverse and representative workplace. 

On the same token, how can we empower and encourage more young girls to consider a career in tech? 

It’s so important that we start early. This development should be supported in our school’s curriculum and beyond with more initiatives where women are highly visible, active, and supported by women and men for their work. It’s already great to see a new wave of this happening with initiatives like Fck the cupcakes, which will create a groundswell to further support and encourage women to consider any career that has been traditionally male-dominated. Of additional importance is the impact that people like Alison Shamir (an imposter syndrome and confidence expert coach, as well as a speaker and former tech executive) are having on women and others in male-dominated industries. Imposter syndrome is estimated to affect 70% of individuals in their lifetime and Alison is on a mission to help empower women to overcome this misconception.

Which women have inspired you and played a role in becoming the leader you are?

The women who have inspired me the most and had the most impact on my career have been my sponsors. These women used their seat at the table and were not afraid to use their voice to promote my best interests. Thank you, Angela Goodsir, Karelle Healey, Sarah Keith, Amanda Powter, and Nikki Retallick!

Can you outline the best ways women can support other women in their organisations? 

Some of the best ways women can support other women within their organisations and beyond is by sharing your knowledge and advice! Do this with the women in your organisation to help them grow and become the best they can be. As Carla Harris says, “Don’t be afraid to give away your knowledge and power. This is how we can all grow together!”

Find out more about the Women Leading Tech Awards HERE.

Tickets to the awards are now on sale HERE.

As an initiative created to support gender parity and representation across the tech industry, Women Leading Tech is an event inclusive of non-binary and gender diverse members of the tech industry, as well as any individual identifying as a woman.

Thank you to our Women Leading Tech sponsors:

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