Interviews, News

“Every woman should pursue her dreams regardless of what others may think” – Sirin Akrouk, Pure Storage

Sirin Akrouk, Marketing Manager, Middle East and Emerging Africa, at Pure Storage spoke to CNME Editor Mark Forker about her experiences working in IT, what needs to be done to level to address the glaring inequalities that still exist in the sector – and how the role of a marketeer has evolved in tandem with the development of disruptive new technologies.

We know that despite the progress that has been made, the IT and technology industry remains a male-dominated environment. As someone that has enjoyed great success in the IT industry, what advice would you give to a young woman considering a career in IT – and can you outline to our readers some of the challenges you have had to navigate and face during your career?

In my career I’ve seen a couple of big challenges, firstly, overcoming negative stereotypes around women not understanding or excelling in technology.

I’ve seen companies develop programmes to attract talented women such as diversity and inclusion quotas, graduate programs targeting women, learning and development opportunities provided to women in the industry.

These can help dispel the myth that women aren’t interested in tech and also encourage more women into tech companies.

Another challenge many women talk about is achieving work-life balance. I find the tech industry is amongst the best in offering measures to help achieve a good balance, especially for women.

Measures including working remotely, flexible working hours, focusing on performance rather than attendance, long maternity leaves, exceptional health benefits, extended leave programmes all helped me navigate challenges throughout my career.

In terms of advice I would give: every woman should pursue her dreams regardless of what others think. Self confidence is key and always strive to bring the best version of yourself to work.

Also, ensure that you surround yourself with people who support and appreciate you. Build allies. Seek mentors. Ask questions. Always be open to learning new things throughout your career.

Many businesses are guilty of talking a good game when it comes to levelling the playing field, and addressing the gender disparity that exists within their own organizations. We know that many of them come up short in terms of delivering tangible results. However, from your own perspective, what do you think businesses in the IT and tech sector can do to really promote greater inclusion and diversity within their organizations, and in the boardroom?

While there can always be room for improvement, my experience in the technology sector has been a positive one. I have been lucky to enjoy many of the benefits the industry provides especially when it comes to being a mother.

I had the opportunity to take a six-month maternity leave for both of my children which was instrumental for their healthy development and my recovery. Programs like these do promote greater inclusion as they attract women into the industry regardless of which stage they are in life.

Another aspect which I recently experienced that promoted greater inclusion is the opportunity to join Pure Storage after a sabbatical. I took some time off to prioritise family and look after two small children.

While other industries might not have accepted this career gap or been judgmental, Pure Storage made their decision based on my previous experience, achievements and skill set without being concerned about my decision to take some time off to care for my family. It’s an inclusive attitude.

I would like to see more women in top positions and not just because of quotas but because of merit as I believe there are many qualified women that can make the cut.

Digital technologies have been credited by many analysts as significantly increasing gender equality and empowering women, especially amidst the backdrop of our ‘work from anywhere’ world. Do you believe that technology has really empowered women and provided them with greater opportunities in the IT industry, or do the age-old barriers facing women still exist despite the advent of disruptive tech?

Yes, tech has helped and I believe the tech industry has always been more advanced than others, even before the pandemic.

It is very much a result-oriented environment and women, just like men, have the chance to organise their time to suit their needs without jeopardising their deliverables at work.

Can you tell us more about your own roles and responsibilities as the Regional Marketing Manager for Pure Storage in the Middle East and Emerging Africa?

My role as a marketer is to bring unconventional marketing strategies in alignment with Sales and Channel teams to create brand awareness and increase overall pipeline for the Middle East and Emerging Africa region.

Bringing together the entire customer and partner ecosystem to create marketing plans that help in achieving the desired results remains on top of my priorities. I look at different ways to achieve the highest ROI while maintaining high quality and positive customer experience.

How has the role of a marketeer evolved over the last 3-5 years? We have seen huge global brands leverage social media applications like TikTok and Instagram to promote their products to new demographics, so has the fundamentals of the job completely shifted, or do the traditional basic principles still apply in our fast-paced and volatile digital economy?

It is a mix of both.

Though B2B marketing tactics tend to be more conventional one cannot deny that the near future will be almost entirely digital.

Being present in some digital platforms is essential for the company growth and building brand awareness.

My approach is to adopt Omni Channel Marketing to leverage both traditional and non-traditional tactics.

Pure Storage is having huge success, not only in the Middle East, but on a global scale, but how important is the role of marketing in elevating the company’s products and message to those that they need their solutions and services?

As a marketer, I am a strong believer in the role that marketing plays in growing and sustaining a business.

Customers make decisions based on the awareness and education they receive about our products and services and the interaction they have with the brand.

The role of marketing becomes crucial to effectively communicate our unique offerings which lead our customers to make important investment decisions.

We have a wide range of products and services and marketing is essential to link each customer to the product or service that best suits their needs while ensuring a positive customer experience with the brand.

Another important role that marketing plays at Pure Storage is to build and maintain a strong strategic partner network.

We support our partners with co-marketing GTM plans and tools that enable them to sell our products and reach a wider audience.

Previous ArticleNext Article


The free newsletter covering the top industry headlines