July 2015 | Cynthia Rodrigues

'We believe in diversity'

Julie Woods-Moss was recognised in 2012 by Women of Inspiration & Enterprise as a member of the Global Power 50 — one of 50 chief marketing officers to watch. As the chief marketing officer of Tata Communications and the CEO of Next Gen Business, she works with companies such as Google, Facebook, Alibaba and Amazon, which are among the biggest consumers of internet services. Julie has more than 20 years' experience in senior executive roles with leading international corporations including IBM, UPC and BT. She is also an advisory board member to The Boston Consulting Group on big data as well as to the Tata brand.

What are your core responsibilities?
As the chief marketing officer, I manage the Tata Communications brand, our relationship with industry analysts, the press and media, besides all aspects of internal communication, digital marketing, product marketing, segment marketing, partner marketing and marketing insights. We have set up a global centre of excellence for marketing and communications, so that we can take every aspect of the cycle and have it work in an integrated business.

The NextGen business works with companies in the social media, ecommerce and cloud space that require enterprise services, mobile, unified communications and voice services to connect their offices and to collaborate across global organisations. While we provide traditional services to NextGen companies and help them build their own networks, we also manage and operate those networks, and look for ways to penetrate their platforms with our components. We also partner some of the biggest cloud companies, like Microsoft, Amazon and Google in delivering cloud services. We are also very excited about our IZO™ cloud enablement platform that enables an enterprise chief information officer to use cloud services with far less complexity and shorter lead times.

You are a very successful woman in an industry that doesn't see too many women. To what would you attribute your success?
Success is not the result of being as competent as a man or being better than a man. I believe that if you choose a career that you are passionate about and work hard, success will follow. I have consciously tried to develop skills that allow me to successfully operate in a predominantly male-dominated world.

Business is a combination of intuition and fact. Because I started my career as an encrypter decoding satellite systems, I understand the technology and tend to look at business challenges in a very structured way. I then add the creative insight and the marketing context that will help me to interact better and more credibly with my stakeholders.

Business is also about relationships. I've always been interested in other people's cultures and have looked for opportunities to learn about them.

Tell us about the Diversity programme at Tata Communications.
Tata Communications believes in diversity in terms of gender, age and culture. We devised a programme that would embrace women and enable their development. The Diversity Group helps build community groups at the local level so that women feel motivated and have the confidence that their ideas and insights will be acted upon. Many locations have a diversity leader, who isn't always a senior executive or an HR person.They are often just people who are passionate about wanting to empower women.

We created a framework and provided a budget within which leaders could operate, and set about initiating informal and formal dialogues around relevant subjects. We have started introducing customised women-friendly working policies such as work from home and part-time working. We also set up a mentor programme with a company called Everwise that matches employees with external mentors, male and female.

You are an active blogger on the Tata Communications site, LinkedIn and your own site. What role does your blog play in furthering your communication goals?
I find writing very therapeutic. My blog offers me the opportunity to write about some of my experiences. It's very rewarding when you meet somebody and they say they read my blog. I also use the blog to reinforce my beliefs that one must never stop learning; that one should always be reading and engaging with people. I tell my readers to learn, network and be healthy, to invest in themselves because if they have no reserves, they will have no energy.

One of your posts is called "You can find inspiration in everything." Where do you find inspiration and how do you ensure your own continuous learning on the job?
I try to read one book a week. My inspiration is based around whether I am making a difference, and whether I am working for a company that is making a difference.

In the tech sector, there is something new to learn every day. I believe in empowering people to run the business. That gives me the freedom to set the strategy, be disruptive and drive change.

This interview first appeared in Tata Sphere, the magazine for Tata employees. Read the latest edition of Tata Sphere here