TechFemme Interview
Wendy Johnstone: Kids, career and leadership

These are exciting times in the technology business. As the 4th Industrial Revolution unfolds and the pace of global digital transformation accelerates, demand for technically skilled specialists is high. So why aren’t more women entering and rising through the ranks of the tech world? To help understand the issues surrounding this, Microsoft is hosting #UnlimitedYOU at TechFemme – an annual event in Singapore to inspire female talent to join the tech industry.

As part of this program, we’ve sought some perspectives from Wendy Johnstone, Microsoft’s General Manager, Marketing & Operations, APAC. A marketer with more than 20 years of experience in the technology industry, Wendy has built an excellent track record in generating leads and driving growth. She has also held senior marketing leadership positions at EMC, IBM, and Salesforce, where she was most recently Vice President of Marketing for Asia Pacific for three years. She is an ardent advocate for diversity and inclusion. She is also a champion for women in technology. Previously, Wendy was the APAC gender diversity executive sponsor at Salesforce, and she continues to promote this passion at Microsoft.

Who is Wendy?
WJ – I have four core values that I live by: family, integrity, achievement, and fun. By family, I mean my husband and kids, as well as my team at work. They are always my top priority. I am honest and open. And, I appreciate people being the same in return. I am an outcome-driven person. I believe my role as a leader is to create an environment for people to do their best. It is important that we have a positive impact on the business and communities in which we work. Lastly, I feel having fun at work is very important. Work hard, play hard! I’m a huge fan of ‘Peter Pan’ and love the character ‘Wendy’! (chuckles).

What has your journey been like?
WJ – I come from Scotland and I did a ‘sandwiched’ degree in law and marketing. Having a career in tech was never my grand plan. I landed an internship at IBM in London. After finishing my degree and travelling the world, I went back to IBM. Ever since then, I’ve never wanted to leave the tech world. The industry offers everything I need – growth, travel, different experiences. The fast pace of the technology world excites me.

“… as a senior leader I have a role to play inspiring, empowering and supporting women in the industry.”

As a female leader, did you ever encounter situations that made you apprehensive about pursuing a career in tech?
WJ – Honestly, I had never really questioned why I was the only woman in a boardroom full of men until four years ago – having become a mum. Since then – and having a daughter – I feel that as a senior leader I have a role to play inspiring, empowering and supporting women in the industry. I strongly believe that a culture of inclusive diversity should be encouraged. Once you start understanding this, you realise that a lot of men want to support you in the cause. But they don’t know how exactly, and in what capacity, they can help. I have been very vocal about having an inclusive culture and strongly feel that both women and men need to come together to support each other to drive change.

“to be a good mum, I need to work and do well in my career. “

When I had my kids, I struggled initially to adapt and find balance. I took a short break to do some soul-searching and realised that to be a good mum, I need to work and do well in my career. I have my set of non-negotiables. I prioritize having dinner with my kids every night. And, when I am with my kids, my full attention is on them – no devices. That’s how I find my work-life balance.

What advice do you give young women who are starting out in their careers?
WJ – I have three pieces of advice. Figure out your career plan. Have a sense of what you want to do. Build a strong network of people who will help you achieve your goals. And, don’t be afraid to ask for what you want.

This year, TechFemme’s theme is “Borderless Technology, Unlimited You”. If you are a female university student studying in Science, Technology, Engineering or Maths (STEM), or an MBA student passionate about tech, grasp this opportunity to learn more. Interact with some great women tech pioneers and hear their stories. Come and learn about the different opportunities available and how you could succeed in the tech space!

Time: Aug 23rd 5:00pm-8:40pm
Venue: Auditorium, L21, One Marina Blvd, Singapore 018989

Tickets are free and registration is on a first come, first-served basis.

Register now:

Read – Women in IT: Moving the Dial. One girl at a time

Watch – Microsoft: The future of women in technology

Watch – Change the Odds


Related Posts