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By Christine Persaud
The latest candidate in our series of Q&As with influential women in the technology business in Canada is Claudia Pizzi, Vice President, Sherpa Group
Name: Claudia Pizzi
Job Title: Vice President & General Manager, Sherpa Group
Years in the Industry: 14 yrs altogether (separated by 18 years in the Pharmaceutical industry)
The Quote That Most Inspires You: “Always remember W.H.Y.: be Well…. be Healthy… be You”
What drew you to a career in consumer electronics?
I started back in 1984 at Sanyo Canada. I met my husband there (Felix Sweeney) who continued in that field (at Lenbrook Canada). We always had the latest products, so it was always something that I enjoyed, and I always had interest for consumer electronics. After 18 years in the pharmaceutical industry, I was offered a position at Sherpa Group as sales coordinator. This appealed to me because Sherpa was a growing company with a bright future. A few years after I joined, my role within the company expanded and encompassed account management, finance and operations. As the company continued to grow, I eventually became Philippe Rayes’ business partner.
Have you encountered any roadblocks along the way that were related to your gender?
I was well accepted in this industry, despite the ongoing stereotyping of women in consumer electronics.
What unique characteristics or perspective do you feel you bring to your organization as a woman?
I think I provide complementary qualities to our team. I believe that I bring some extra attention to detail and structure to our company, and this is reflected in many of our processes that aim to improve efficiencies and customer experience. Actually, I’m not sure if this is because I’m a woman or Italian!
Technology is historically a male-dominated industry, yet the use of tech is fully embraced by women, and many studies even suggest that females are the primary buyers of tech in the home. What do you feel the technology industry needs in order to attract more women, particularly into high-level positions?
I believe the industry has come a long way and is already attracting more women in high-level positions. Technology today is so diverse that women are also more interested in being a part of the industry. In my experience over the years, I have entertained many business relationships with women in high-level management positions, which must be an indication that more women are getting on the bandwagon.
If you had to sum up what it is like being a woman in this male-dominated technology industry in just a few words, what would you say?
If you have a passion for technology, are competent and able to adapt to change, you will succeed, regardless of your gender.
Are there other women in the tech industry who inspire you? If so, why? If not, why do you feel that is?
My inspiration is my mother who held a managerial position back in the ‘70s. This wasn’t an easy task back in the days of a male-dominated workforce. She was living proof that a high-level position was always within reach. She will forever be my inspiration.
What are some of the misconceptions/myths about women working in the technology space that you’d like to dispel?
That men have a better understanding of technology and are better suited to hold high-level positions than women. Also, that women do not have the personalities and business acumen to hold such positions. I, obviously, am of the opinion that this is a complete myth.
Are you optimistic for the future in general and for the industry?
I am optimistic for the future in general and for the industry. I think there are very bright days ahead. The increasing presence of technology in our lives is inevitable. Like in many industries, the key to a long successful career in this business depends on your ability to adapt and to learn. I look forward to new technologies and challenges.