Shirley Islam joined Dassault Systèmes in 2019 and is based out of Melbourne, Australia. As a pre-sales industry consultant, Shirley assists sales executives build relationships with customers. An enterprise sales journey could take anywhere from 12 to 18 months; so it is essential to keep the customer dialogue open, continue to focus on challenges they face today and how we as an organisation can support them along their business transformation. This means demonstrating the value of our platform, across brands and industries as well as delivering true sustainable business transformation to our customers. Part of the consumer packaged goods and retail (CPG-R) industry segment, Shirley looks at everything from food & beverage, retail, home & lifestyle.
In this interview, Shirley shares her experiences on diversity and inclusion. Here is what she had to say –
1. Tell us about a woman that inspires / inspired you? And what are some of the key takeaways you would share?
Maya Angelou said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” This resonates with me both in my personal relationships and as a customer facing business consultant. At the end of the day, what people will remember most is how you made them feel – it’s less about process, tools, deliverables and more about how comfortable you make them feel, whether you have been able to build the trust and confidence needed to move past being ‘just another face’. This is the key human element to success.
Maya Angelou as a minority, civil rights activist and black woman was fearless beyond her time. As a woman in technology, I have faced my own set of struggles and her words remind me to continue to be grounded, strong and fearless. There will always be constraints for women in tech – but times are changing and we really are making strides forward; louder, prouder and are all the better for it.
2. Please share a story related to inclusion/ gender diversity that occurred in your career?
A great memorable moment was during our last in-person Value Up event in Monaco. During the plenary session, in his opening remarks Bernard Charles asked all the females in the auditorium to stand-up to celebrate our contributions to Dassault. To my surprise as I looked around the dark shadows of a couple of hundred people, I could just about make out another 10-15 women whom had stood up. Yes, we may have a long way to go, but the acknowledgement and sincerity from the gesture truly made me feel like Dassault could be the place where diversity and inclusion are true company values.
3. What is the one piece of advice you would wished someone had shared with you 10 years ago?
Be fearless. It is the same advice I would give to my daughter. A task or situation may seem daunting, or you may feel that you do not have the right credentials or experience to do it justice; just do it anyway. What is stopping you from learning a new skill, a new talent, a new hobby? We live in a world where information and knowledge has no bounds, and so, therefore, we should not have any bounds, either in terms of what we want to do, or in terms of where we want to be.