By Charndré Emma Kippie
As Sales Director, Charlene Smith looks after the needs of all customers, specifically focusing on new business, account management and customer satisfaction. Customer success is her core responsibility and focus within the field of Sales. Coming from a corporate business intelligence environment, Charlene joined Insight Consulting in 2011. At Insight Consulting, she works with like-minded, driven individuals who are equally passionate as she is about people, data and problem solving.
Charlene Smith has always been in the IT space and comes from a technical background; for the past 15+ years she has specialised in Business Intelligence and discovered Qlik over 10 years ago – She has come to love Qlik’s product suite, the only true end-to-end data solution. Charlene is a graduate of Nelson Mandela University, and holds a B.Com in Computers Science and Information Systems (Accounting major).
What got you into the world of Sales and Data?
I am one of the lucky ones who knew from a very early age of 11 that I want to specialise in the IT industry, initially having a keen interest in programming. 3 Years into my Oracle programming career, I was introduced to the world of Data, which provided me with the perfect balance of coding, problem solving and working with people. The Business Intelligence industry offers me the perfect balance and exposure.
What excites you the most about your role?
Besides the balance mentioned above, I never stop learning in my role. Always growing and improving, both personally and professionally.
In what ways do you think your organisation/business is enhancing the South African economy?
We work closely with many clients and help them understand their business by activating their data. Understanding their data allows our customer to grow, thereby enhancing the SA economy.
Do you think your field is diverse in terms of gender equality?
Yes. Even though the IT industry is normally dominated by males, I think our industry provides equal opportunity for both genders. I am privileged to work side-by-side with leading businesswomen. I have never seen myself as any different to any male in my industry, at the end of the day your work speaks for itself, irrespective of gender.
What are your top 3 tips for ensuring the success of women in your field?
- Attitude creates experience (especially in Sales) – this could be attitude towards challenges, co-workers (of all genders), challenges, conflict, continuous learning and upskilling. Your attitude determines your experience and outcome.
- Be prepared for continuous learning, upskilling. There is no comfort zone in our field, you need to push yourself and be on top of your game at all times.
- Partnerships are of utmost importance in our field. Partnership and strong, healthy relations with clients, colleagues, even competitors in the same industry. We are stronger together and it is way more fun with someone supporting your journey.
What have been some major obstacles in your career, as a woman, and how did you overcome them?
I have never allowed anyone to treat me differently just because I am a woman. Not personally, not in my career. Even though I specialise in a male dominated industry, I have always proven my worth and earned respect by working hard, creating solid partnership and relationships with all around me.
What are your goals for the future?
Grow our reach in Africa, to assist African business to grow and prosper, like we have helped SA clients.
What important/life-changing books have you read?
Jesus CEO – Using Ancient Wisdom for Visionary Leadership – Laurie Beth Jones
What advice do you have for young women entrepreneurs who aspire to work in your field?
Make sure you have a mentor, keep learning and be persistent. Not everything happens overnight.
*For more, check out our bumper 16th edition of the Standard Bank Top Women Leaders publication on Issuu – Digital Publishing Platform – here.
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