Lizzi Long: Innovating at work and developing female talent in technology
Insights 5 minutes read

Lizzi Long: Innovating at work and developing female talent in technology

lnteractive's Lizzi Long is a finalist in the 2021 ARN Women In ICT Awards. We spoke to her about award nomination, seizing opportunities and dream dinner party guests.
Published on
August 20, 2021

ARN Women in ICT Awards [WIICTA]

The WIICTA honour incredible female talent across the industry in eight categories; Innovation, Technical, Entrepreneur, Graduate, Rising Star, Shining Star, Achievement and D&I Champion (Company and Individual) awards. We are immensely proud as three of lnteractive’s team members have been recognised.

Lizzi is the National Sales Manager for the Data Centre and Business Continuity team at Interactive. She’s in the Shining Star category. This award recognises a standout candidate with a strong record of achievement, spearheading company initiatives and driving strategic change.

We spoke to Lizzi about the award nomination, seizing opportunities, Al, attracting more female talent to IT, and dream dinner party guests.

Interactive: Lizzi, congratulations on the awards nomination, how does it feel to be recognised as a shining star?

Lizzi Long: Being recognised by the IT industry is definitely an honour. There are so many women driving change in technology and achieving remarkable feats daily, so to get recognised amongst them was a very proud feeling.

This award recognises excellence in spearheading company initiatives and driving strategic change. What ingredients do you think are necessary for a company to allow people to do those things?

Firstly, you need people who are going to back you to really affect change, and the support of your organisation is paramount. Working for Interactive, I really felt that I had this right from the outset.

You also need to be surrounded by talented people who share your passion for driving change. No one can achieve meaningful and lasting strategic change on their own – being able to build a team to facilitate this is vital.

There’s a skill in recognising industry opportunities, what’s your process to qualify them?

Firstly, to accurately assess other industry opportunities, you need to understand your existing capabilities. From there, you produce a gap analysis – one that clearly shows your current position and where you need to get to. Review the competitive landscape, if it’s product-related, is the product in growth, stagnated, or declining? And also, what phase of the product lifecycle is it in?

It’s important to be thorough and interrogate your findings, and remain open-minded throughout the entire process. Sometimes the opportunities I’ve been most excited about when I walk through the process, don’t stack up. It’s never a waste; they are always learning opportunities for myself and my team.

You also need to be surrounded by talented people who share your passion for driving change. No one can achieve meaningful and lasting strategic change on their own - being able to build a team to facilitate this is vital.

You have to back yourself to ask the company to make those changes or take those changes to your Executive Leadership Team, what’s your advice around that?

Always prepare. Prepare what questions you may get asked and make sure you have the answers already thought out. Do your research. Think about it practically from your audience’s perspective. What would they want to know?

Is the change you are requesting going to have a positive impact on the business – whether that’s people, process, or our products and services? Make sure you’ve thought through the change fully and know what outcome you want to achieve from a conversation with ELT or a Board presentation. If you are asking for something, what are you giving back in return?

We want to ask you about some things you seem passionate about. First, Al, how do you see it changing the way we all work over the next 10 years?

Al has been around for a while, however, I see so much change coming from this in the next 10 years. It’s an area of technology that has the capability to impact all of us. The opportunities for innovation will lead to changes in the way we all lead our lives – both in and outside of work. And it will impact every industry; from traffic signaling to healthcare to general business.
For example, it has the capability to save lives in healthcare by detecting cardiac arrest. It can help prevent traffic accidents in automobiles. Those two examples I’ve mentioned only scratch the surface of the capabilities. It’s for all these reasons that I love working in technology and what lies ahead in terms of Al.

The second thing is developing female talent in IT, what are things you want to do and other individuals can do to accelerate this?

There is nothing I love more than developing female talent in technology. I’d like to lead more female­specific development programs and mentor more females in the industry. Seeing other women be successful is a real motivator of mine personally. The more females in IT we can showcase as having those successes can only be a positive.

With that, however, we need more grassroots initiatives being provided to females from an early age and more active involvement in attracting talent to the industry. This is essential. It needs to occur early on in education programs at schools and universities. I feel tech companies need to recognise this and take action in order to introduce more female talent to our industry and retain them.

Final question, you can invite three people to your dream dinner party, who are they, and a quick why?

  • Amanda Gorman – She’s a truly inspirational activist and poet. ‘The Hill We Climb, If Only We Dare’ is her best-known work. If you haven’t heard of her, look her up!
  • Bob lger – He transformed Disney with acquisitions of Pixar, Marvel, Lucasfilm, and the entertainment assets of Fox. He also transformed my life in lockdown with the launch of Disney+!
  • Britney Spears – My last choice is purely personal because she was my favorite pop star when I was a teenager, the one and only, Britney Spears.

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