Category: testimonial, gender, Gender Focus, Gender Equality, International Women's day, Working Parents, Digital Inclusion, Gender Balance, Staff Testimonial, Siemens, digital, parent, digital career, International Women's Day 2020
Nilam Akbar is head of the Customer Business Centre at Siemens and is responsible for Digital Sales, Business Operations & Business Excellence at the company.
Nilam has been with the company for 23 years and over that time has developed her career from a data entry worker to a customer service team member. Now she is a senior manager with a team of around 60 people across Manchester, Leeds and Worcester.
As a single mum, who also looks after elderly parents, Nilam has to juggle her work and family life.
“I use these insights and experiences within my wider team to give the flexibility available at Siemens and trust to help my team grow and thrive.
“I lead a wonderful team that are 4th in the world in our digital customer service standards and am so proud of them and all they have achieved.”
Nilam’s team has also won the European Foundation Quality Management Awards.
“Nilam is a compassionate and empathetic leader. She has progressed and taken every opportunity available at Siemens, moving up the levels. She is a true role model” said Harriet Padina, Diversity & Inclusion Community Manager at Siemens.
Siemens encourage cross company sponsorship and mentoring to create a culture of development and support for all employees as they progress with their careers.
“Female and male leader sponsors at Siemens have encouraged me to go out of my comfort zone to take on new challenges within a supportive environment. They've always advised me to "Take on different challenges, if it's not for you - that's okay. Just experiment!". This is my moto and that's what I always encourage my teams to do. If it doesn't work, that's okay, we look for an alternative way. This approach and making everyone feel like they matter has always been it for me,” said Nilam.
Nilam has never felt held back in her career because she is a woman but has noted that because a lot of women lack confidence it can stop them applying for more senior roles.
Research has shown that women are less likely to ask for promotions and pay increases than men. They are also less likely to get what they ask for because of the way they ask.
“When I first started out in my career it was harder as a woman, especially in an engineering company, but things are improving. There are STEM groups and there are things that encourage women to step into more senior roles.
“Women supporting women encourages them to go for roles they wouldn’t normally consider,” said Nilam.
Nilam had coaching through Siemens with a senior female leader which unleashed a realisation “on the place I wanted to be in”. This was followed by the women into leadership programme.
Siemens have run a Women into Leadership programme, designed to support women and encourage them to apply for leadership positions within the company. Nilam was one of the first women to be nominated for the programme.
“At that point we didn’t know how successful this programme would be. I was selected as I was managing quite a big team at the time as a Business Operations Manager. I’d been on leadership training courses and training before but never anything as tailored to women as this.”
“My manager was excellent. He nominated me to go on the programme and would regularly sit down with me and constantly give me feedback on how I was developing and changing and giving advice on areas to focus on for continual growth.”
“For me it massively helped with my confidence and increased my awareness on the fact that men and women are different and that’s okay and made me feel comfortable in my own skin and being an authentic leader,” said Nilam.
When asked what advice she would give to young women on taking their careers forward Nilam said:
“One thing apparent for me is the importance of networks. You do need to be proactive and surround yourself with a good network of people and use it strategically to help steer both others and yourself, focusing on core topics that are going to have an impact and to drive change. Network don’t just come from ‘being’. You have to put work into this. Most of my networks have been men due to the industry however, I have always been conscious of the importance of balance and seeking out and building strong supportive relationships with fellow senior females to have a balance of perspectives,” said Nilam.
We’d like to thank Nilam for taking the time to share her experience of being a female leader at Siemens and wish her every luck in her future career.