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With more than 30 years of experience in the technology and telecommunications industries, Debbie Taylor has had senior leadership roles at PwC and Vodafone. Today, she’s the CIO of NBN Co – the giant of the wholesale broadband industry that is also focusing on investing in gender equality.
After studying a Bachelor of Science at the State University of New York in Albany, Debbie went on to develop and execute key IT-related strategies across a number of organisations, where she focused on the current technology trends at the time throughout the years as technology advanced in order to bring value to businesses. In 2014, she joined NBN Co where she was accountable for establishing the executive level governance for the organisation before taking on the role of Executive General Manager for technology delivery. Debbie was appointed the prestigious role of NBN Co’s Chief Information Officer in January 2019.
Asked by Game Changer host Melissa Doyle how she achieved such a distinguished career, Debbie described fearlessness as a key trait because she says: “If I’m not, I don’t achieve the objectives and I’m not heard.”
NBN Co, established in 2009, had the goal of designing, building and operating Australia’s wholesale broadband access network. Today, they’re providing all Australians with the fastest broadband at affordable prices. But, a big part of what nbn stands for is its support for gender diversity and equality.
With STEM being a very male-dominated industry, there exists “deep-rooted unconscious biases” that need to be nipped in the bud from an early age in order to change what girls are thinking and promote an environment where they can feel like they belong.
As a strong female leader, Debbie is using her experience and her position at nbn to support women’s career development by providing tailored programs like nbn’s sponsorship and online mentoring programs. Additionally, gender diversity networks across nbn are constantly helping to improve engagement and working relationships, and enhance career opportunities.
Debbie is also actively involved in programs such as Code Like A Girl – a social enterprise providing women with the confidence, tools, knowledge and support to enter, and flourish, in the world of coding. It is collaborating with NBN Co to run coding camps for girls.
“I think that we need to change the way girls think from a very, very early age,” Debbie told Melissa Doyle in her Game Changers interview.
“At Code Like A Girl, 8 to 12-year-olds attend camps where they learn to code. They have a really great time and we teach them about how exciting tech can be.
“We also have a program called the ‘Stempreneur’. In 2019, we worked with eight schools from Alice Springs to Cairns. We combined STEM subjects with entrepreneurship and had a really innovative competition to get them to see what it’s like to innovate between technology and being an entrepreneur.”
“We’ve got a target of 33% for women in leadership by 2020. We’ve increased our women in leadership by 9% over the last three years and actually, when I joined nbn six years ago, there were no females on the executive team… today there are four.”
Ahead of International Women’s Day on March 8, NBN Co as an organisation is breaking down barriers, challenging bias, and focusing on inclusion so that women working at nbn may have equal access to career advancement and leadership opportunities. On top of that, their talent acquisition approach supports gender balance in the overall hiring process.
So what’s Debbie’s advice for women looking for a career in STEM? This fearless leader says unequivocally to speak up for yourself and back yourself and your capabilities, because if you don’t, no one else will.
For more information about NBN, check out the website: https://www.nbnco.com.au/