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Women in Tech - Angela Coble, Johnson & Johnson

Angela Coble

IT | 7 Mins Read | 30-05-2019
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At Morgan McKinley we are passionate about diversity and we recognise that Women in Technology can be underrepresented. Technology is all around us and we believe there are so many amazing opportunities out there for more females to build their careers in Technology. We are also delighted that there are so many inspiring women in Technology today that we can learn from.

Angela CobleAs part of our 2019 Women in Tech Blog series, we will bring you interviews with some of the leading women in Technology in Australia today. We were delighted to be joined by Angela Coble Director Business Technology at Johnson & Johnson, to get her thoughts on the opportunities that exist for Women in Technology and her advice and guidance on what it takes to get to the top. 

Profile: An executive technology leader and internationally published author, with experience in healthcare, utilities and finance, Ange is passionate about using technology to improve wellness in the community and creating value to organisations in an ever-evolving, dynamic profession. Ange has more than two decades of academic studies in Leadership, Organisational Change and Behaviour, balanced with practitioner-level technology qualifications as a Certified Information Security Manager (CISM). With qualifications across various domains, Ange has embarked on her PhD (Leadership and Women in Technology) and is an Advisory Board Member with CEC (IDG company), regularly contributes to publications and events such as CeBIT, Women In Tech and emerging technology start-up advisory’s. An inquiring mind - continuously learning, coaching others and mentoring our next leaders, Ange co-leads the Women Leadership & Inclusion chapter in Australia and New Zealand for J&J, providing a strategy to foster an inclusive organisational environment that champions the advancement of women.   

What are the elements you attribute your success to?
When I look back I think part of my success has come from an inability to say no. Usually, when I am asked to take on a new challenge my natural response is "Sure I'll give it a go.". Until eight years ago I wasn't even in technology – I “grew-up” in operations and performance working in utilities for much of my earlier career - another male-dominated environment. I was very fortunate to spend my informative years around independent women and men who treated me with as nothing less than an equal – I was always playing with motorbikes and cars after school and on weekends, when not hitting the netball court. I think what my early life taught me was that I could do anything I wanted to do. That doesn't mean to say you have to become one of the boys - I think it is important to find yourself and be authentic it is ok to be you whatever that is -  it brings something a little different to the equation and we all need to embrace diversity. 

What were the pivotal moments within your career? 
I started my career in a more traditional role for females in banking admin but quickly progressed through to the Senior Manager Operations. It’s interesting to reflect that it was male sponsorship that pushed me at my crossroad moments – that is why I am so passionate about the balance between mentoring and sponsorship in advancing women. One of those vital career moments for me was as a 26-year-old when the then CEO of my financial institution gave me a nudge – more like a major push - to achieve my potential. I think he saw energy and tenacity in how I showed up. I remember after I had my second child I had made a decision to go softly into learning and had enquired about extending my financial services licence through TAFE. Well, did that fire up my CEO and as a result, I enrolled in my first degree. I won’t go into detail but should your readers reach out, I’d be happy to tell them the very funny story of this two hour period in my life. This ignited a life-long passion for learning in me and I am currently undertaking my PHD. 

You really do need to pause and reflect and I did that when I was just 24 years old. This set my compass for every decision I would make and how I would show up from that point forward. I remember it so clearly like it was yesterday – it’s now nearly 20 years ago! I was rushing out the door with my daughter who was all of seven months old, harassed and stressed that I was going to be late for work – all this gorgeous little girl wanted was to be with her mummy and I was pushing her to the daycare so I could spend my day with other people; and to be clear, it was me that made us late that day not her.  I realised when I got to work that day, calm and ready for the day ahead that the people closest to me weren't always getting the best of me. This really made me reflect on how I showed up and the importance to take a step back and be present which has served me well in all aspects of my life. 

Finally, I should probably mention my move into Technology at J&J. I didn't just go into Technology, I went into Cyber Security, an area of technology that women are seriously under-represented. For me it was a strategic choice to get into technology, I had skirted around the edge of technology until this point in my career. Back in my banking operations role, I had been involved in a number of technology project implementations and at J&J, I was involved in implementing their Healthcare Compliance Platform. What I got from this experience is:

  • a)  I realised I loved Technology, it piqued my interest to learn more about Technology
  • b) It got me noticed by my Technology peers – I was a bit of an anomaly, not easy to put into a usual career pathway.

All my study to this point had been very business and leadership-centric, so embarking on a technology qualification was daunting. Having decided to go into Cyber I wanted to study and why not go for the top course. I started my CISM which is one of the most important and prestigious InfoSec qualifications in the world today. It took me six months to complete it and at that time, I was the first J&J employee in Asia Pacific to obtain this level and one of a few globally. J&J is an employer of choice and has always supported me – in my professional and personal life. They supported me in an immersive experience, taking my technology passion and helped put it into action. They provided me with an ability to work, study and grow. I have been able to pay this forward in my own mentoring, coaching and sponsorship focus in and out of J&J and directly for my J&J family through my role as co-lead of the Women Leadership & Inclusive chapter in Australia and New Zealand – advancing women advances business and it’s my passion to provide strategic programs for a diverse and inclusive environment for everyone to thrive. I have been very fortunate in my career having many male champions, strong female role models and being able to work in varied industries and roles – all this I am sure has driven my passion for learning and is the inspiration for me to help others.  

What advice would you give to other aspiring females career in Technology? 

  • Just back yourself and be authentic 
  • Be curious; Be comfortable to ask questions don't be afraid – no one has all the answers! 
  • Remember that in most cases you are the expert in the room! Own it!
  • Continue to learn, a thirst for knowledge is key
  • Push outside your comfort zone if you are given an opportunity – what is the worse that can happen? You give it a go and it’s not right for you, so you start again…either way, you have just learned something that you did not know before.

Don’t jump when you feel you have all the skills – that is too late. Did I ever think I would be a CIO when I was a teller on the front desk of the financial institution or when coordinating actors for an advertising campaign? Nope! I just keep in my mind – I’ll give anything a go as what is the worst thing that can happen? And can I look back with no regrets? Honestly, I have no regrets – that makes me smile every day.

On behalf of Morgan McKinley I would like to say a huge thank you to Angela for taking the time to participate in this series and share her thoughts and advice. The sheer drive passion and energy that Angela shows and her commitment to give back should be an inspiration to us all. I have to say I have felt very grateful to spend time with so many great women who have contributed to this series. They are all amazing women in their own right but what has impressed me most is their generosity to give back and help others along the way.

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