SVP & Managing Director
Inspirational leader Paola Doebel, SVP & Managing Director of Ensono North America is leading the way for more women to follow a career in technology.
“I think it's exciting and brings a lot of opportunity certainly for women or any underrepresented group who feels like there's no way in. I would say in technology there is always a way in - technology is the land of startups, bold ideas and entrepreneurship,” said Doebel from her office in Chicago.
“Technology is dynamic and fast and takes a lot of mental and intellectual agility. You have to be willing to fail fast and pivot, or fail fast and adjust, and really accept the bold moves necessary to be successful. You also have to be a constant learner because it moves so fast. Just be fearless.
“This is an industry of fearless leaders and bold ideas and if you want to be a part of that you've got to embrace that edginess and be a contributor,” said Doebel.
Addressing a mentorship program at Ensono with Chicago Science and Tech High School, she said: “By injecting ourselves into that process and embracing their potential as students and as members of society and contributors to the technology industry, regardless of what they look like, what their socioeconomic status is, we then open a window of opportunity for them to see what is possible.”
Doebel joined Ensono in May 2020 following an international career when she worked for Dell Technologies and HPE.
“I spent 8.5 years working between Seoul, South Korea and Singapore. I've had multiple roles across multiple regions, including product marketing management, product development, channel, sales, alliances and even strategy and operations - so I've sat in a lot of different seats. But my final role before moving back to the US was the VP of the hybrid cloud and data centre business for HPE in Asia Pacific. As I think about the role of a managing director, having that varied perspective, I believe is very important.”
Doebel said that when she moved back home to the US she did miss some of the “intellectual gymnastics” required to work overseas in highly diverse and complex environments. “But I gained experience in the US of just sheer scale, density and the speed of innovation. So there's pros and cons in that from a professional perspective.”
She describes her leadership style as aligned to a pragmatist. “I know there's some negative connotations with that, as very results-driven almost over everything else. But I believe that I am slightly outside of the purest form of that style, which is, I think I have a little more situational awareness and I really do understand and believe in the importance of employee engagement.
“I have a strong sense of ownership, responsibility, and accountability. I'm not afraid to make hard decisions. I am sure everyone assumes that's a standard trait as a leader, but it's not. How many leaders have you seen punt hard decisions or waiver about their ability to make them?”
Doebel cites having a vision and being mission focused as two of the essential traits of a great leader naming Elon Musk from Tesla for his bold ideas which created a market and disrupted an industry and Satya Nadella from Microsoft - who revised its mission statement to "empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more" - and Mary Barra the CEO of GM as three leaders she admires.
“I really admire Barra for her work at GM as she took a more than hundred-year-old industrial company and had to make extremely bold and aggressive moves to reposition the company. She shifted the company’s investment strategy and focused on the future with the launch of autonomous and electric vehicles. I think she's incredibly effective and I think what she's done will be talked about years from now.”
Finally, Doebel’s message to women seeking a career in IT is: “Be bold and fearless and don’t be afraid to fail fast and quickly pivot.”
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The fundamental question is always how much control am I willing to lose versus how much risk I want to reduce when moving to the cloud, and then making a choice based on the business value