Stories

Inspiring future leaders: women in technology at Vodafone share their stories

June 27, 2018

A note from Anne Sheehan, Enterprise Director, on women in technology:

Photo of Anne Sheehan, Enterprise Director, Vodafone UK. Credit: Ed Robinson/OneRedEye
Anne Sheehan, Enterprise Director, Vodafone UK. Credit: Ed Robinson/OneRedEye

I believe there’s an opportunity to demystify science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) for girls and young women still in education, and encourage them to feel more excited and curious about these subjects.

That’s why this April we partnered with Girls Talk London to launch the next stage of our STEM mentor scheme, Step into STEM. This provides support, skills development and career assistance to girls studying STEM subjects.

As the first female Enterprise Director at Vodafone UK, I’m excited to be part of a great movement that encourages young girls and women to explore their professional potential in information and communications technology. Technology sits at the heart of incredible change and opportunity for UK businesses, and I think it’s our responsibility to inspire future generations to become technology leaders regardless of gender or background.

Women in Technology at Vodafone

Read on for more about women in technology at Vodafone, starting with a Q&A with Jade Knight, Vodafone UK’s Head of Network Deployment for the South. In April 2018, Jade took part in a major telecoms milestone: the UK’s first call using 5G spectrum across a live network.

Check out our Careers page for information on the programmes we support to encourage more young women to pursue careers in technology, including coding workshops led by Code First: Girls, which will run this summer.

Q&A with Jade Knight, Head of Network Deployment for the South, Vodafone UK

Photo of Jade Knight, Head of Network Deployment for the South, Vodafone UK
Jade Knight, Head of Network Deployment for the South, Vodafone UK

What do you do at Vodafone on a daily basis?

I am a Senior Manager in the Networks team in South Region. Essentially, I head up Network deployment in the South of England, so my team are accountable for delivering the best network for our customers. That involves building new sites in key locations and upgrading our existing sites with the newest technologies so our customers always get the best network experience.

A major project you worked on was the UK’s first call using 5G spectrum across a live network, connecting Manchester and our Newbury HQ. Could you tell us about that experience?

It was a massive achievement for Vodafone, and it was great to be a part of that! We deployed an Active Antenna (Massive MIMO, a key building block for 5G) on our cell site located in Newbury and a second Antenna at our offices in Manchester. We successfully held a call using our recently acquired 3.5MHz spectrum. This is the start of some really exciting things to come, so watch this space!

Vodafone UK’s Jade Knight, Head of Network Deployment for the South, and Peter Rodriquez, Head of 5G Delivery, pictured conducting the UK’s first test of new 5G spectrum
Vodafone UK’s Jade Knight, Head of Network Deployment for the South, and Peter Rodriguez, Head of 5G Delivery, pictured conducting the UK’s first test of new 5G spectrum

What brought you to Vodafone?

I started my career in telecoms at Vodafone and I’ve been here ever since. I’m hugely passionate about the Vodafone brand and I love working for a company that has given me so many opportunities to succeed.

I started my journey eight years ago as a customer services adviser after deciding University wasn’t for me. I have always had an interest in technology, and ultimately I knew this was the path I wanted to go down. I joined the Mobile Networks team in 2012, and haven’t looked back.

What’s the most fulfilling part of your job?

Working with such an amazing bunch of people has to be top of my list, I am incredibly fortunate to work with such a fabulous team. Close second is when you know what you have delivered is making a real difference to our customers’ experience and opinion of Vodafone.

We have been driving lots of exciting network improvement programmes over the past twelve months and our performance and user experience indicators show us that our customers are seeing and feeling the benefits. It’s really rewarding to know that I have directly contributed to that.

What are some of the challenges you face in your work, and how do you resolve them?

In the deployment area we face a lot of challenges that most people wouldn’t necessarily think about. Accessing new site locations where we need coverage can be tricky, as is upgrading existing sites. We work closely with local authorities and landlords to unblock these issues, but sometimes it takes longer than we would like.

The Great British weather can also be challenging. We had a particularly rough winter which slowed down a lot of our network build programmes. Our engineers will sometimes be rained off of sites where they need to climb, to replace antennas, for example. These challenges are all part of the fun of network deployment, it would be boring if it was easy!

What tips and advice do you have for young people who would like a career in the tech sector?

The most important thing is not always the qualifications you have, I would say it’s more about your attitude and work ethic and ability to adapt to change. Technology is the future and it’s evolving at such a rapid rate, that’s what makes it so exciting. I would say that if you are open to embracing change and love a challenge, then a career in technology could be for you.

What are you looking forward to this year – any projects you can tell us about?

We have some really exciting projects on the horizon. We’re continuing to upgrade our 4G network with the latest technologies so our customers get the best experience. Because our customers are consuming more data, there is a lot of focus on carrier aggregation – combining different bands of spectrum, or radio frequencies used to transmit mobile signals – to significantly improve network capacity and speed. We’re deploying more new sites in key locations where our customers work and travel, and of course 5G is coming – keep a look out via @VodafoneUKComms for more updates on that!

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Click below to read more stories about women in technology at Vodafone:

Meet Andreia Martins – Head of IT Operations

Photo of Andreia Martins, Head of IT Operations
Andreia Martins, Head of IT Operations

Meet Tatiana Artahona, Global ERP Strategy and Portfolio Manager

Photo of Tatiana Artahona, Global ERP Strategy and Portfolio Manager
Tatiana Artahona, Global ERP Strategy and Portfolio Manager

For more employee stories, please visit Life@Vodafone