Victoria Hernandez is formerly a C-Level executive of major telcos such as BT, Orange and Proximus, and is now based in Paris. She is also a Founding Director of the GTWN, a Business Angel, Board Member and “C” Leader in the telecoms industry and fintech in Europe and Abroad.
How have you deployed your passion and innovation as a leader or entrepreneur? What is your secret sauce or pixie dust?
My secret passion is for constant learning- about the industry and the emerging technologies and their application, but also about human beings and society and how they relate and use technology. The telecoms sector has one of the most complex business models in the industry. So many variables to take into account! Macroeconomics, regulations, consumers’ cultural differences and of course the technology. If you are not in a state of constant learning your knowledge can become obsolete very quickly. To build a successful business you need motivated and diverse teams who can keep up with such a fast and challenging environment. This is what makes technology really exciting.
Give an example of a project or business that you’re really proud of?
The project I am most proud about is when I was at the front line of market liberation in Europe. I was Alliance’s Director of BT at that time and I set-up a number of national telcos in continental Europe which today are up and running very successfully. Being the challenger of the former monopolies was hard work but also very exciting. Nobody remembers now that at that time getting a telephone line could mean more than a one year waiting period and communications tariffs were outrageously expensive. Bringing competition to the European telco markets created thousands of jobs, made communications much more widely available and affordable with better services and brought about new business models. It was good for the economy as well as consumers and contributed to real progress in our society.
I am also proud that I have been a member of the Global Telecom Women network for many years and can count as close friends so many inspirational women who belong to our association.
What tips or lessons would you pass on to the younger women networked into the GTWN?
I would suggest to younger women that you need to be competent at your work, but you also need to be yourself. Don’t give-up your own personality and your own aspirations, dress however you want, put make-up on and wear heels (but only if you want) and learn to say no, because if you are an expert in your domain, the business world will recognise and respect the professional you are.
Name a challenge for women in the GTWn to achieve in the next 25 years as we step up to the complex world in this current “Mobile Century”
The challenge of the next 25 years is to make a good use of technology as human beings. I am referring, in particular, to questions around the ethical use of, for example, biotechnology. We need to ensure that, as we roll out new technologies we continue to respect the privacy of individuals, that we are responsible in how we use Big Data combined with Artificial Intelligence applied to Social Networks, and that we do not undermine our freedom of choice as individuals and of our democracies. There is a lot of work to be done on this front and in parallel to the development of these emerging technologies. I would also include, in this regard, the obligation we have as parents to teach our children to use technology wisely and appropriately from a very early age. Kids need to jump, run and play, and should not be just texting each other all the time. There is a code of “good behaviour” we, as parents, need to provide to our children as an essential part of their education.